I. Why You Need To Be Careful
Is Fruit healthy for you? Of course it is! Fruit is one of the healthiest foods you can fuel your body with. …or… is it? We have been programed from a young age to view fruit as a healthy, safe, worry-free food source. We all have heard the healthy claims of fruit… “Instead of sugar, it has healthy fructose, it’s water rich, it’s loaded with colors (polyphenols) and anti-oxidants. ” etc. etc. I myself was guilty of loading up on fruit, thinking it was the one worry free food my family and I could eat. Worry free is the key phrase here. We all are looking for the one food group we can stuff our faces with and not have to worry about any negative consequences. At least, that’s been my lifelong dream… ( yes, I already know I’m crazy…) How can you go wrong with fruit? However, I couldn’t help but begin to see some not so pleasant symptoms in our health. My son seemed to be catching every cough and sniffle he came in contact with, my husband and I were carrying around an extra few pounds that we couldn’t seem to shed, I was getting a post banana smoothie belly bloat. The list goes on and on… I then did some research and this is what I found.
- Fruit Can Cause Weight Gain.
- Fructose is in Almost EVERYTHING.
- Too Much Fructose can Lead to Fatty Liver Disease and MANY other diseases.
- Excess Fructose Consumption Contributes to Gut Dysbiosis.
- Fructose Intolerance is More Common Today then Every Before.
II. The Digestion and Assimilation Process
Sweet, innocent little fructose. How could it cause such a myriad of health issues? Let’s go a little deeper and find out…
1. Fruit Can Cause Weight Gain.
It’s a fact. Fruit can cause you to pack on the pounds. How does this happen? To understand this complex process, let me explain what happens when you eat Fructose. Fructose is a completely different animal compared to glucose. It has the lowest glycemic index of all sugars and therefore doesn’t raise your insulin levels. Instead, it is sent to your liver to be metabolized rather than distributed into your bloodstream as in the case of glucose. (1) How can fructose lead to weight gain? Fructose is unique to glucose in that it doesn’t ignite the hormone Leptin which is one of your main hunger regulating hormones. When you eat glucose you get a spike of insulin in your blood stream. The spike of insulin works together with Leptin, an appetite regulating hormone, and sends signals to your brain when “you’re full” so you won’t over-eat. Because Fructose doesn’t spike insulin in your blood stream it doesn’t trigger the Leptin hormone and so your brain doesn’t know the difference from you eating one grape to a 10 bananas. (1) Hence, weight can can easily ensue. Looking at how our ancestors survived thousands of years ago, this concept makes sense. Since most fruit grows during the warm summer months, eating large amounts of fruit would give you the extra calories to store away for the upcoming cold, winter months where food is more scarce. Fruit juice is often the drink of choice as kids love it and it’s ‘healthy’. However, a startling scientific research project showed that excess fruit juice consumption in preschool ages children contributed to obesity and inhibited growth in their height. The study was conducted over a 2 year period and the results showed that chidlren who drank 12 oz. of fruit choice per day were shorter and overweight compared to the children in the control group who drank less juice. (2)
2. Fructose is in Almost EVERYTHING.
You may not be aware of this but Fructose is in EVERYTHING. Literally. From pre-packaged foods such as cookies, breakfast cereal and crackers, canned soups, tomato sauce, yogurt, salad dressings, most all condiments (especially Ketchup), almost all beverages. The list goes on and on. Why sweeten everything with Fructose? Because it’s a) a cheap sweetener and b) it’s the ‘healthy’ sugar of choice. This easily leads to an over consumption of Fructose which is very unhealthy as it overburdens your liver. (3)
3. Too Much Fructose can Lead to Fatty Liver Disease and MORE…
What’s even scarier is that you don’t have to be an alcoholic to get fatty liver disease these days. There are numerous studies showing that excessive dietary fructose consumption can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. (4) What’s more, scientific research is showing that high amounts of fructose can lead to hypertension, diabetes, kidney disease, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease and gout in men. (5)(6)
4. Excess Fructose Consumption Contributes to Gut Dysbiosis.
Fructose is still sugar. Like it or not, it’s the truth. Therefore, fructose can easily become a problem if you have gut dysbiosis. To refresh your memory, gut dysbiosis is when your gut bacteria is out of balance and there are far more pathogenic bacteria than beneficial bacteria. It’s when pathogenic bacteria rules and controls your gut which can lead to many health issues such as leaky gut, depression, acne, obesity etc. To learn more about gut dysbiosis, click HERE. Like any sugar, fructose can wreak havic in your gut as it will feed the pathegic bacteria. If your gut is out of balance than any amount of sugar isn’t best and will exasperate the problem. This is why many people experience bloating and air bubbles in their ‘stomach’ after drinking a smoothie with a banana or other high sugar fruits.
5. Fructose Intolerance: More Common Today then Every Before.
We all know about Lactose Intolerance, Gluten Intolerance etc. but what you may not be as familiar with is fructose intolerance. I certainly wasn’t. However, I was very surprised to find out is that not only does fructose affect about 40 percent of the population in Western countries but is on the rise. (7) Studies are now showing that many unexplained Gastrointestinal problems such as bloating, gas, belching, pain and general discomfort in the abdominal region all are related to Fructose Intolerance. (8) Although Fructose Intolerance, also is called Fructose Malabsorption, is often an hereditary problem where the individual lacks the proper amount of enzymes to digest the fructose properly it is also thought to be caused by the excessive exposure and consumption to fructose on a daily basis. (7)
III. Should I Even Eat ANY Fruit?
After all that startling research, you are probably expecting me to say NO MORE FRUIT! EVER! However, that is NOT what I am about to say. Fruit is still, in fact, a healthy, whole food. It is water rich, filled with vitamins and minerals, and is a great source of healthy carbs. Here are my guidelines for how you can safely consume fruit and fructose:
- If you suspect you have gut dysbiosis, candida overgrowth or any imbalance of bacteria in your gut, I would recommend removing fruit completely for a couple months to help starve out the pathogenic bacteria.
- Avoid fruit juice completely as it’s a very high concentration of fructose void of the fiber from the rest of the fruit. When you eat an apple, the fiber from the meat of the apple helps slow down the absorption of fructose in your system, helping your liver from being overloaded.
- Eat fruit ONLY when it’s IN SEASON. That’s going to be a challenge, I know, as we have access to many kinds of fruit in our grocery stores 12 months out of the year. However, if it’s winter and you stumble out of a snow storm and into your grocery store to get your blueberries…that’s not the time to be eating blueberries. If they aren’t growing around you in the area you live then, don’t eat them.
- Look at the ingredients! Whatever condiment or packaged food or jarred sauce you are planning to buy, be sure to look over the ingredients list. Try to limit buying foods sweetened with fructose and work toward eating a 80 percent plant based diet with more veggies and whole, unprocessed foods. Make your own cookies at home with Stevia or Lakanto Monkfruit Sweetener (both which are sugar free and don’t feed pathogenic yeasts and bacteria).
- Eat fruit alone and a minimum or 20 minutes BEFORE eating any other food. Fruit digests very quickly and is very water rich so it’s best to eat before a meal. Avoid consuming fruit with other food or after a meal as a dessert as the fructose will be inhibited from digesting properly and will ferment in your intestines. Yuck.
- Eat small amounts of high sugar fruits such as mango, pineapple, ripe bananas etc. Berries, cranberries, lemons, and limes are much lower in sugar and so are a better alternative for regular consumption. Save the high sugar fruit for an occasional treat.
IV. Why Not?
I know all this information goes against the grain of what we grew up with. However, what if you implemented this information into your diet and lifestyle today? Maybe you’ve had unexplained bloating and digestive discomfort amidst eating super clean and healthy and you can’t seem to be able to get to the root of the problem? Or maybe you, like myself, have always struggled with a little extra weight around your midsection and can’t seem to get rid of it, despite all the exercise and ab crunches you kill yourself with.
Why not give this information a try. What do you have to lose? Often all it takes a little tweak in your day to day diet and lifestyle to get the health and vitality we all want. Let me know your thoughts and I hope you found this article to be informative and inspirational. And don’t forget…
Healthy Gut, Happy Life!
Sources: 1. Dennison, Barbara A., Helen L. Rockwell, and Sharon L. Baker. “Excess fruit juice consumption by preschool-aged children is associated with short stature and obesity.” Pediatrics 99.1 (1997): 15-22. 2.Elliott, Sharon S., et al. “Fructose, weight gain, and the insulin resistance syndrome.” The American journal of clinical nutrition76.5 (2002): 911-922. 3. Vos, Miriam B., et al. “Dietary fructose consumption among US children and adults: the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.” The Medscape Journal of Medicine 10.7 (2008): 160. 4. Ouyang, Xiaosen, et al. “Fructose consumption as a risk factor for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.” Journal of hepatology 48.6 (2008): 993-999. 5. Johnson, Richard J., et al. “Potential role of sugar (fructose) in the epidemic of hypertension, obesity and the metabolic syndrome, diabetes, kidney disease, and cardiovascular disease.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 86.4 (2007): 899-906. 6. Choi, Hyon K., and Gary Curhan. “Soft drinks, fructose consumption, and the risk of gout in men: prospective cohort study.” Bmj 336.7639 (2008): 309-312. 7. Enders, Giulia. Gut: The Inside Story Of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ. Scribe, 2015. Print. pp. 63-65. 8. Choi, Young K., et al. “Fructose intolerance: an under-recognized problem.” The American journal of gastroenterology 98.6 (2003): 1348-1353.