Many of us know about the health benefits found in fruit.
Mother Nature has the unique ability to create foods that have an entire web of nutritional and healing benefits. In fact, we are still discovering and learning about the compounds found in plant foods that contribute to our wellness and longevity.
What are phytochemicals?
Phytochemicals are compounds that have been found to protect the body from chronic disease patterns. These conditions are becoming more common, such as diabetes, heart disease, cancers, and neurodegeneration like dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Research is finding that a diet rich in phytochemicals protects the body from physical and environmental stressors that lead to chronic disease. Some of these phytochemicals are called polyphenols and phenolic acids and are abundant in fruits and vegetables. (1) Some examples are:
- Quercitin: Falls under the class of a flavonoid, and sometimes a distinction is made between it and other polyphenols. It has anti-inflammatory properties, is an antioxidant, and also has been found to reduce blood pressure and lower LDL cholesterol. LDL cholesterol can sometimes indicate the prevalence of poor, unhealthy fats in the diet and too much processed, refined sugar. Quercitin is found in green tea, red onion, broccoli, and green leafy vegetables.
- Anthocyanin: Common in berries and responsible for their beautiful colors! These include blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, bing cherries, black current, and acai. Anthocyanin actually acts as a sunscreen for plants by absorbing damaging UV light, so it any surprise that in our own bodies, it has been found to be a potent antioxidant? The sun is one source of free radical damage, and anthocyanins can help mitigate the effects of oxidative stress.
This is because fruit contains sugar. All sugary food is expansive.
- Fruit sugars are about 50% glucose and 50% fructose.
- The body’s cells absolutely need glucose to generate energy for the body, especially the brain and central nervous system.
- The glycemic index (GI) of a food indicates how much a food will affect insulin secretion.
- Fructose has no effect on insulin secretion. Glucose does.
- This is why agave nectar, which is up to 90% fructose, has a low glycemic index. Contrary to its popularity, agave nectar is not a healthy sweetener.
Other things to know:
- Fructose also does not trigger the release of leptin, which gives the feeling of satiety. Glucose does.
- Fructose stimulates the release of ghrelin, which stimulates the appetite. (2)
The leptin/ghrelin dialogue in fructose and glucose is one reason why many people overeat. People who overeat are typically binging on bread (processed breads are made with high fructose corn syrup), sugar, dairy, and fruits. Even though fruit sugars are about 50/50 glucose and fructose, it is still wise to pay attention to any amount of fructose in the diet.
Sour fruits have the least amount of sugar. Examples of sour fruits are:
Eating a sour fruit like grapefruit with a protein fat will promote healthy digestion. It’ll also prevent the spread of unfriendly bacteria in the gut that can quickly weaken the immune system!
According to the Body Ecology Principle of Food Combining, eating sour fruits with a protein fat like avocado, nuts, seeds, fermented young coconut meat, or dairy kefir is also acceptable.
- Protein fats will not slow the transit of the fruit down in the small intestine.
- When transit time is stalled, fruit sugars have a greater chance of fermenting.
- In the small intestine, this fermentation feeds opportunistic microorganisms, like Candida albicans.
- This fermentation in the small intestine contributes to an acidic environment that further nourishes unwanted pathogens.
Candida, like sugar, is expansive in nature.
Candida albicans is an opportunistic yeast organism that likes to spread and grow as much as possible. While it can make its presence known through vaginal yeast infections or oral thrush, C. albicans readily creates biofilms and sets up a community in bodies with weakened immune systems.
Many packaged foods are devitalized and filled with hidden, processed sugars like high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). These foods are - you guessed it - expansive and create the perfect environment for C. albicans to thrive. While the naturals sugars found in fruit are certainly not as toxic as HFCS, consuming excessively large amounts of fruit will allow opportunistic organisms the chance to proliferate.
In addition, there is a condition known as fructose malabsorption (FM). FM is a digestive disorder that is characterized by the impaired transport of fructose across the small intestine.
If fructose does not move, it ferments. And once again, this sets the stage for unfriendly bacteria to proliferate. While glucose does help with the transport of fructose across the small intestine, researchers estimate that FM affects up to 40% of people in Western countries. (3)
While fruits have a vast array of benefits, it is important to look at the whole picture. Because we care about our bodies and want to feel good, we can sometimes become overzealous with our diet and decide to eat as much of a nutrient-dense food as possible.
For example, many of us are attracted to the lightness and health benefits found in fruit, such as colorful fruits that are rich in polyphenols. These colorful fruits may even be the sour fruits recommended as safe while on the Body Ecology Diet. Because there are so many health benefits, it might make sense to eat great quantities of polyphenol-rich fruit or eat a diet that is primarily fruit-based.
However, eating large quantities of fruits will often support the overgrowth of opportunistic organisms. An overgrowth of Candida albicans or unfriendly bacteria in the digestive tract can lead to chronic inflammation, gut permeability, depression, and mood swings, as well as other more aggressive conditions related to a weakened immune system.
The Body Ecology Principle of Uniqueness tells us that we all have our own biochemistry that will interpret food in its own unique way. The key to health is balance - not individual beneficial compounds.
What To Remember Most About This Article:
Fruit is often praised for its health benefits, but fruit is also expansive because it’s full of sugar. On top of that, the fructose in fruit doesn't trigger leptin, which causes you to feel full. It actually stimulates the release of ghrelin, making you feel even hungrier. This quickly leads to chronic overeating!
Sour fruits are best enjoyed in small amounts with fermented foods since they contain the least amount of sugar. When you eat sour fruits with a protein fat, it promotes healthy digestion to reduce the chance of fermentation in the gut. Fermentation in the small intestine can nurture unfriendly bacteria like Candida, leading to chronic inflammation, gut permeability, and even depression.
- Beck Nielson H. “Effects of diet on the cellular insulin binding and the insulin sensitivity in young healthy subjects”. Diabetes 1978; 15:289-296
- Born, Peter. Carbohydrate malabsorption in patients with non-specific abdominal complaints. World J Gastroenterol 2007 November 21; 13(43): 5687-5691
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