Fruit has played a key role in human health since the earliest written history. For countless years it was the staple food eaten in the proverbial Garden of Eden. During mankind’s golden age some 2500 years ago, fruit was the predominant food. This period in Ancient Greece fostered the development of a vastly disproportionate number of history’s greatest thinkers, philosophers, artists, and athletes.
Fruit has always been recognized as a healthy food and still holds this valued position. The old adage “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” has been replaced by “Eat fruit every day, five a day”, indicating that the benefits of eating fruit are increasingly being recognised. Our government, the health industry, the AMA, nutritionists, dietitians, and any disease-fighting organization that offers nutritional advice suggest that we eat more fruit. On the other side of the coin, there are people who literally avoid fruit and others who are actually afraid of eating fruit. Indeed, some leaders in the raw food movement have suggested that we should learn to live without fruit at all. Obviously someone is wrong. Let’s see if we can figure out what’s wrong.
The last thing I ate was fruit.
In the mainstream world, it’s not uncommon for people to tell me they can’t eat fruit because it upsets their stomach. When I ask how they found that out, they tell me it’s simple: I tried this fruit in the morning and immediately got an upset stomach. I’m trying to explain that it’s very likely that the food you ate the night before is still in your stomach and that pouring orange juice or other fruit on that food is likely to result in a fermenting mess, a “combo- Subscription”. . I suggest waiting until the stomach is really empty before adding fresh fruit for better results. However, since fruit was the last thing consumed prior to indigestion, fruit is very often to blame.
Similarly, in the raw food movement, fruit blames it for problems it didn’t cause. Based on calculations from personal and professional observations, the average raw foodist gets 65% or more of their calories from fat. The fat comes primarily from eating meals where the calorie content is dominated by oils, avocados, nuts, seeds, nut and seed butters, coconuts, and olives. That is more than half more than the national average of 42%. With a diet so heavily dominated by fat, blood levels of this nutrient tend to spike extremely high. High blood fat leads to high blood sugar because sugar cannot leave the blood well when blood fat levels are high. In this scenario, the pancreas and adrenal glands are forced to work harder to bring blood sugar levels down to normal. This causes the organs and glands to eventually tire and eventually fail. This leads to wide swings in blood sugar levels known as hyper- and hypoglycemia, and eventually to diabetes and chronic fatigue. Hypoglycemia develops as a result of excessive insulin production. The thyroid soon follows suit because it is stimulated by the adrenal glands and often becomes hypoactive when the adrenal glands weaken. Other hormonal problems, cancer, heart disease and most digestive disorders are also known to be caused by excess fat consumption.
How does fruit take the blame?
Many of the above symptoms and conditions only appear when fruit is eaten. Unstable blood glucose levels are often observed immediately after eating even small amounts of fruit when the consumer is on a high-fat diet. However, almost every condition for which fruit is cited as the culprit is actually caused by the high-fat diet. While leaders in the raw food movement continue to blame fruit for a multitude of health problems, I have to agree that these effects will occur as long as the consumer is on a high-fat diet.
Avoiding fruit is not the answer as it is not the culprit. In fact, it is insufficient fruit consumption that leads raw foodists to consume more than healthy amounts of fat. The simple sugars in fruit, namely glucose and fructose, are essential. They are the very fuel used by all the cells in our body.
I get so hungry just eating fruit.
One of the most common complaints about fruit is the idea that fruit’s filling powers don’t last. “I tried this fruit in the morning and about an hour later I was starving,” that’s roughly how the story usually goes. At first glance, this might seem like a valid indictment of the inadequacy of fruit as a meal, but the situation deserves a bit more investigation. When I ask about the type of fruit meal, I’m usually told, “I had an orange, or a slice of melon, a banana, or a bunch of grapes.”
For most people, a typical breakfast usually contains nearly 750 calories. A medium-sized piece of fruit averages about 75 calories. If we eat just a piece of fruit or two for breakfast, we’re only consuming 10-20% of the calories we were previously consuming, leaving us feeling empty and lacking in energy. Even if the goal is weight loss, that’s too extreme a reduction to be filling, durable, or nutritionally appropriate. When explaining that fruit is less calorie-dense than all foods other than vegetables, and therefore fruit must be eaten in larger quantities if one is striving to get enough calories, some understanding sometimes glimmers before the curtain of dismissal is lifted falls. “Yes, but how much fruit can I eat at once?” Are you telling me to eat more than a slice of cantaloupe or two bananas?” “Yes, I say. We can practice eating comfortably filling fruit meals by allowing ourselves to actually eat fruit until we are completely full . That might mean eating a whole melon for breakfast, or six, 12, or more bananas for lunch. There are three main factors that go into satiety, and here’s how fruit goes into each one:
It’s very likely that as a child you heard your mother say, “Don’t eat sweets before a meal, it will spoil your appetite.” In fact, she explained that fruit is a filling food, although at the time she may have been talking about sweets or other less acceptable foods. Even a small increase in blood sugar into the above-normal range leads to a feeling of satiety. Fruit certainly supplies the necessary sugars for such a surge and is therefore very filling. For this reason, many people are initially satisfied with eating only a small amount of fruit.
Another reason why eating fruit makes you feel full is because it is high in essential nutrients. The nutrient composition of fruit comes closer to the full spectrum of human nutritional needs than that of any other food group. Also, the nutrients in fruit are the most readily available and absorbed because fruit requires less digestion than other foods. Many of the nutrients in fruit don’t need to be digested at all; they are easily absorbed. These include: water, sugar, minerals, vitamins and many phytonutrients. Although not digestible, the fiber in fruit is soft and soluble, thus being gentle on the delicate membranes of the digestive tract while providing relatively easy access to the nutrients locked within. These factors make fruit the most filling of all foods.
Last but not least, our degree of satiety is directly related to the amount of food we eat. So, to feel full, we need to consume a significant amount of food. All of our essential nutrients can be concentrated in one tablet or cube and consumed in just a few bites. While some experts consider such a concentrated meal to be nutritionally complete, research has repeatedly shown that people are not satisfactorily full because of the lean volume. Precisely because of its low calorie density, fruit provides perfectly filling amounts of nutrition per meal. In fact, for many people who have become accustomed to the low-volume, high-fat meals they commonly consume, deriving satisfaction from an all-fruit meal presents a seemingly insurmountable volume challenge. “My stomach can’t take it all!” people believe. However, if they accept the challenge and stick with it for a few days, they will learn that they can eat adequate amounts and they will feel content and reap the benefits of improved health.
Fruit is the ideal meal
It takes a little practice to learn how much fruit is enough for a meal that will fill you for several hours until your next meal. Equally true, it takes a mental adjustment to increase understanding of how much fruit is actually appropriate at a meal. With enough experience, the ability to eat highly filling fruit meals becomes one of life’s greatest pleasures. After all, fruit is a healthy food. Anyone interested in achieving, maintaining, and improving their health should consider consuming fruit as their predominant food.
Thanks to Douglas N Graham