Fruit: Friend of Foe?

Just because Adam and Eve had a negative experience with fruit, doesn’t mean you need to fear it as well! Unfortunately, however, it appears that there is a very real fear of eating fruit these days. There are countless misconceptions about fruit mostly promulgated by high-fat and high-protein diets, but also by misinformed doctors and nutritionsits alike.  But why is fruit – unarguably known by scientists to prolong life, reduce inflammation and protect against cancers, heart disease, strokes, diabetes and various other diseases – vilified?

Fruit Myths

Fruit will make you fat. This is just silly. You make yourself fat by your food choices and quantity eaten, but food in and of itself does not make you fat. There are thousands of individuals that literally live off of fruit – fruitarians – and I have yet to see one of them obese. The vast majority of people know pretty well what they need to do to lose weight but don’t want to make the necessary changes. So what do they do? They look for something to blame. And the group carbohydrates, of which fruit belongs, seems to be a popular scapegoat in our modern day. Now I will admit that there are a handful of people out there, lost in the sea of misinformation, who are trying there best to lose weight with little success. Please contact us.  Now weight gain is heavily influenced by consuming more calories than your body needs, eating a lot of foods that are toxic to the body (meat, dairy, processed foods, oils, sweeteners) or can be due to hormonal imbalances. Right now you are saying, “See! I knew it wasn’t my fault. Hormonal imbalance for sure is to blame in my case.” You may be right. But what causes hormonal imbalances? Mostly a poor diet (think lots of animal products, especially dairy products), stress (which you are largely responsible for) and some times certain medications (which 80% of the time would not be needed if following a healthy, plant-based diet). Fruit does not make you fat. Please don’t fall into the modern trap that eating slabs of butter, a cheese and meat omelette or a triple bacon cheese burger without the bun is “healthier” than a couple of pieces of fresh fruit.  Save yourself the time and effort from blaming fruit and instead use that time and effort to go grocery shopping and pick you up some delicious fruit!

Fruit is high in sugar (carbohydrates) so its bad. Nowadays I feel like many treat carbohydrates like “he who must not be named”, daring not to even say the evil word, let alone eat them! First off, you need to understand that your body and especially your brain is designed to run off of sugar! Everything you eat, be it simple sugars, complex carbohydrates, fat and even protein in some cases gets turned into a form of sugar called glucose to fuel your body. We absolutely need glucose to live a healthy life. But what about ketone bodies? Yes, our body can run off of ketone bodies but this is a safety mechanism meant for times of famine or fasting. There is no evidence that living off of ketones indefinitely is healthy in the long run. But we also need a lot more than just glucose to be healthy and thus you need to understand that there is a HUGE difference between eating a raw piece of fruit and a packet of skittles. Some carbohydrates in fruit are fiber, which is indigestible by the body and therefor has absolutely no effect on blood sugar levels (but has a lovely effect on bowel movements!). Also, one of the main sugars in fruit is fructose that is almost entirely metabolized in the liver and the rate at which it is converted to glucose is actually rather slow, much slower than other carbohydrates. Thus fructose’s impact on blood sugar levels is moderate, unless you are consuming high-fructose corn syrup which not only spikes blood sugar levels but also leads to other negative health consequences. So yeah, I guess a lot of fruit at one time (like 20 bananas) can spike blood sugar levels and lead to fat production and fat storage, not to mention be very taxing on the liver. This is one of the reasons why I am not on board with the fruitarians. But who of you eats that much fruit? I must admit that I have on occasion because dang the fruit is good down here in Costa Rica. Shame on me. Fruit also hosts various vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals which are necessary for proper functioning of all major organs, metabolism, good health and prevention of all major diseases that plague us today. The broad potential health benefits of eating fruit far outweigh a couple of very minor potential disadvantages. Do yourself a favor and taste the rainbow of natural, whole, raw fruit, and not just their simulated flavors in that packet of skittles.

If you have diabetes you should stay away from fruit. As I mentioned above, fruit contains fructose which is converted to glucose rather slowly. And understanding that about half of the natural sugars in fruit is typically fructose, there only remains the other half able to raise blood sugar levels significantly. But then we also need to add to the blood-sugar equation that fruit contains the carbohydrate fiber that actually doesn’t contribute at all to increases in blood sugar levels. Fruit is also mostly water, therefor a serving of fruit and a serving of cake will have dramatic differences in impact on blood sugar levels. This concept is accounted for with the glycemic load (GL), rather than the glycemic index (GI). Glycemic load is pretty much the saturation of carbohydrates in a food and any number below 10 for glycemic load is considered low with regard to impact on blood sugar levels, 10-20 considered moderate, and above 30 considered high.  Let’s look at watermelon, for example, that has a GI of 72 (high), but only a GL of 7.2 (low) and skittles with a GI of 70 (high) and a GL of 31 (high). You would need to eat 4-5 servings of fruit to equal a serving of skittles.

You also need to remember that most diabetics have type 2 diabetes (95%) and that carbohydrates, regardless of their glycemic index, are not really the problem when it comes to this form of diabetes. The real problem is fat. A diet high in fat, especially animal fats and processed oils, leads to high levels of fat in blood which then can cause accumulations of fatty deposits inside the cell called intramyocellular lipids. These fatty deposits inside the cell are responsible for blocking insulin from allowing glucose to enter the cell, called insulin resistance. You can read more about type 2 diabetes in my blog post: Diabetes Mellitus – You Are Not a Victim of your Genes. Thousands of people who suffered with type 2 diabetes have actually been cured with a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet. There are various medical doctors leading the way with the idea of treating diabetes (and almost every other chronic disease) with a low-fat, high-carb, vegan diet, such as doctors John Mcdougal, Joel Furhman, Neal Barnard and Caldwell Esselstyn. Once you remove the animal fat and processed fat from the diet, the fatty deposits inside the cells are burned up and eliminated allowing insulin to do its job properly.

So when all is said and done, fruit’s impact on blood sugar levels really is minimal and you should not be afraid to eat it or other healthy carbohydrates (unless you continue eating a lot of fat), even if you are diabetic!

Fruit should be avoided if you have Candida overgrowth. 

Why would we deprive ourselves of one of nature’s greatest healing foods when the body is at a time when healing is most needed? Fear of “sugar” once again. While it is true that the candida bacteria feed on sugar, so what? Your own cells function and thrive on sugar too, not to mention all of the beneficial bacteria needed to keep candida in check! The idea of “starving” candida out of the body by severely limiting carbohydrate intake can also be problematic as this is a known trigger that causes the normal candida to convert to its pathogenic fungal form (1). And again, I need to make myself clear that not all sugar is the same. A package of skittles and a bag of grapes will be digested very differently and have different effects in the body. Similar to diabetes, sugar is not the real problem here, especially not fruit. In fact, most carbohydrate/sugar consumed is absorbed by cellular activity before it can even be considered as food for candida.  If carbohydrates (sugar, fruit) were to blame for candidiasis, why are there so many people that have healed themselves by going on a high fruit low fat diet? Heck, there are even some people who have adopted a diet entirely of fruit – that is a lot of sugar – and have healed themselves of candidiasis (2, 3, 4).  The real problem is the imbalance in gut flora, allowing the Candida to over populate and eventually convert to a problematic fungi. Imbalances in gut flora can be influenced by an acidic diet (think the standard American diet full of animal and processed foods and devoid of fresh vegetables and fruit), use of antibiotics, poor immune system, diabetes, stress and intestinal diseases such as IBS, Chrohn’s, leaky gut and colitis. Concentrating on helping repopulate the good bacteria and healing the gut is what is needed, and fruit helps significantly in this effort!

*A great presentation given by a doctor on Candidiasis can be viewed here.

Benefits of Fresh Fruits

Easily digested.

No need to cook.

Loaded with vitamins, minerals, and various other micronutrietns and phytonutrients which are crucial for overall health, wellness and a strong immune system.

Loaded with fiber (soluble).

Low on the glycemic load.

Very little packaging.

No labels, so naturally nothing has been added or removed.

No toxic byproducts are produced through digestion, only byproduct is water.

Helps prevent and manage various diseases like diabetes, heart disease, colitis, hypertension and the list goes on and on.

Keeps your body hydrated.

Helps satisfy your “sweet tooth” cravings in a healthy way!

Remember, fruit is your friend, not your foe!

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