Monday, 4 January 2016

Fear Not Fruit!

In recent years, there has been a fair amount of awareness developing about how bad processed sugar is for us. It has been realised by many health-seeking people that processed sugars are not our friend, and that insulin resistance, candida, raised triglycerides, obesity and even cancer may be associated with our culture’s high sugar diets. We have witnessed the rise of such successful books as Sarah Wilson’s Why I Quit Sugar, as well as the recently popular That Sugar Film. How about the surge of dietary approaches that limit carbohydrates- Low Carb, Ketogenic, even the popular Paleo? 

The casualty of all this new understanding that sugar may be far more implicated in our culture’s obesity epidemic than butter, has been eating fruit. Fruit tends to get lumped in with processed sugar- with high fructose corn syrup, agave syrup, cane sugar, beet sugar, all those sugars that are added to sweeten processed foods to make them taste good. But fruit is not a processed food. It is a whole food. It is a completely different thing. 

Mankind has always valued fruit- we have evolved eating fruit. Whether it’s the berries and grapes of England, the figs, dates and mangoes of the Middle East or the bananas and avocados of South America, fruit is deeply embedded in our culture. Access to fruit was highly valued and allowed the royalty to live longer lives than the peasants who had to survive winter on dried meat and grain. Fruit is associated with prosperity in our language- a “fruitful” business deal. Children are the fruits of our loins. Apparently the Bible mentions fruit over 300 times! On some level, we know fruit is important and it has been valued till recently.

Fruit provides incredible nutrition. Many phytonutrients are jam packed inside all that juicy goodness. Fruit is easy to digest so does not put a strain on our digestive system- instead fruit gently cleanses our bodies. Fruit is full of soluble fibre, including prebiotics which feed the healthy bugs in our guts. While science has managed to define single important nutrients from fruits- such as the anthocyanins that make blueberries blue, the lycopene in tomatoes and watermelon, flavanoids in grapes and citrus and the polyphenols in berries- it is not the isolated  nutrients that are important. It is the whole package!  

Whole fruit does not cause diabetes. In fact, fruit consumption is associated with lower incidence of diabetes type 2, although fruit juice consumption is associated with higher incidence of diabetes type 2.(1) Fruit does not mess around with blood sugar and is generally low to medium on the glycemic scale- a piece of wholemeal bread can raise blood sugar more than a piece of fruit!(2) In one study, even 20 pieces of fruit a day did not create adverse blood sugar or triglyceride effects and only benefitted.(3) Even dates do not raise blood insulin.(4) And fruit does not cause or worsen candida- candida is a symptom of other conditions and fruit can actually help balance your body so that candida can no longer thrive.

Fear not fruit! I will even go as far as to say....which animal in the animal kingdom are we most like, and what do they mostly eat? Apes and chimpanzees, and fruit. We have long arms and wonderful hands perfect for picking fruit. I have also been on a journey around fruit eating, as I have hashimotos disease, and found than a gluten free diet led me to a grain free diet which led me to a Paleo diet, and even a stint of ketogenic. I have felt good on Paleo, but too much meat and not enough fruit is not a good balance! I was also suffering from fear of fruit, a current epidemic! Currently my husband Dave and I are feeling great on a high fruit diet, a summer cleanse. It has felt amazing at this time of year to indulge in fruit, and let go of heavier foods. I feel light, bouyant, sweeter!

I think throwing the fruit out with the processed sugars is a very bad idea. Fruit contains nutrients that are very difficult to get elsewhere. It is a whole food. It is easy to eat and it is a source of sweetness that we should not deny ourselves. We are far better throwing out the croissants, or the raw cheesecake made with hard-to-digest nuts, and enjoying a luscious mango or piece of watermelon. Just as our ancestors have done for thousands of years.
Eat fruit, be happy :) 

1.    Muraki I, Imamura F, Manson JE, Hu FB, Willett WC, van Dam RM, et al. Fruit consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: results from three prospective longitudinal cohort studies. BMJ. 2013;347:f5001.
2.    Myth: I can't eat fruit if I have diabetes [Internet]. [cited 2015 Dec 11]. Available from:
3.    Meyer BJ, de Bruin EJ, Plessis Du DG, van der Merwe M, Meyer AC. Some biochemical effects of a mainly fruit diet in man. S Afr Med J. 1971 Mar;45(10):253–61.
4.    Alkaabi JM, Al-Dabbagh B, Ahmad S, Saadi HF, Gariballa S, Ghazali MA. Glycemic indices of five varieties of dates in healthy and diabetic subjects. Nutr J. 2011;10:59.

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