Fruit is a food group that seems to confuse a large amount of people. It’s also one of the most controversial food groups considering some people, such as those on the 80/10/10 diet, emphasize fruit as a very large part of the diet, while others eating a low-carb diet, testify their bodies don’t handle fruit well at all. It’s generally not best to judge anyone else on their ability to eat fruit, in whatever number work for them. The truth is, fruit isn’t evil. It’s filled with vitamins, fiber, minerals, along with a large amount of water to keep you hydrated. The key is to learn how fruits work in the body and why they tend to be so controversial.
Why Fruit is So Controversial:
The problem with fruit for some people, has to do with the fructose that fruit contains. Fructose is a natural sugar found in fruit that digests more slowly into the blood stream than quick-to-digest sugars such as glucose, lactose, and sucrose do. While this is beneficial to blood sugar levels, it can cause some digestive issues because the fruit lingers in the digestive system, which can cause some unpleasant side effects if the fruit sits and ferments in the gut. But fruit isn’t the only higher sugar food group that has been linked to digestive difficulties or health issues. Other sugars, such as glucose and sucrose, are found in a variety of sweeteners, in refined sugar, along with some other foods that have been linked to health issues like poor blood sugar and diabetes. Lactose is the primary sugar found in dairy that often causes so many problems for people.
Fruit and Digestion 101
All forms of sugar break down in the body at different rates, including fructose. Fruit is one of the highest sources of fructose, and while many people do just fine with large amounts, others don’t. This may occur if someone has a problems with absorbing fructose, which can cause a large amount of digestive problems ranging from gas, to bloating, along with irregularity or other not-so-desirable GI issues. Many people that have difficulties with fructose may do well with a diet that reduces fructose and other forms of sugars, known as the FODMAPs approach. This helps reduce the amount of disturbing sugars in the diet to bring digestive relief, and is often helpful to those with IBS and other gastrointestinal problems.
But What About Those That Do Well With Fruit?
Many people can eat large amounts of fruit each day, at every single meal, and never have one health issue at all. This is likely due to the fact their bodies digest and process sugars much differently than other people’s do. Just like foods are incredibly different in their makeup and structure, so are our bodies and we should respect them for what they tell us they like, and what they don’t. We should also remember that everyone is different and what works for some, may not work for others. The best thing to do with fruit, is find your “sweet spot,” which will help you learn what types of fruits your body likes and how much is just enough. You’ll know by the way your body feels and the way it responds. Fruit shouldn’t make you bloated, tired, constipated, or give you blood sugar problems. If it does, you may want to reduce the amount, or take the following tips into account.
No-Nonsense Tips for Eating Fruit:
If you have trouble digesting fruit, remember the following two tips:
- First, enjoy fruit alone, without other foods to see how it makes you feel. Because fruit digests more quickly than any other food, it may not digest with other foods that take longer, such as beans, legumes, and grains. Eating fruit on an empty stomach will help you learn which fruits make you feel best, and which ones don’t. Be sure to eat something at least 30 minutes or so afterwards, particularly something with protein to stabilize your blood sugar once the fruit has had time to digest. Another option is to try just one or two fruits in a smoothie, since when blended, they can become easier for your body to process and assimilate more quickly. Just be sure to make your smoothie filling and include enough fiber, preferably from veggies and leafy greens so it won’t spike your blood sugar.
- Secondly, it’s important to remember to eat as many lower glycemic fruits as possible. These include: cucumbers, tomatoes, avocados, zucchini, lemons, limes, grapefruit, cantaloupe,coconut, berries, Granny Smith apples (which are lower in sugar than other apples), butternut squash, and pumpkin. These are all very low in sugar, especially fructose. Some people find they’re not only easier to digest, but also contribute to better blood sugar levels and weight management. This doesn’t mean you have to leave out higher sugar fruits like bananas, pineapple, red apples, oranges, etc. It just means you should take care of your blood sugar as much as possible, with low-glycemic fruits being an easy way to do that.
Lastly, it’s also important to remember not to emphasize fruit in your diet to the point where you leave out veggies and leafy greens, which are much more nutrient-dense than fruit, and make up the staples of any healthful diet. They’re not only incredibly friendly to your blood-sugar, but also packed with phytochemicals, chlorophyll, and vitamins and minerals. Both fruits and vegetables, are the healthiest, most fiber-rich, nutrient-dense foods to help your body thrive, so don’t leave out one or the other when looking to eat a well-balanced diet.
Treat fruit’s natural sugars like a true treat and use them as a daily dessert instead of processed sweets and desserts. This is just how nature intended us to enjoy it anyway!
You might also like to see this video for tips on cutting and prepping fruit to make your life simpler, and enjoy these tips on learning how to store your fruits and vegetables properly so they’ll keep longer.
What fruits work best for you?
Image Source: Strawberry Rhubarb Smoothie