Throughout most people’s whole lives, everyone has been told to “eat your fruits and vegetables.” If you are a parent, you may even say this to your kids. But fruits and vegetables, from a nutritional standpoint, are completely different from one another.
Because of modern advancements, the way people eat fruit has changed. When the main route of transportation was walking or other slow methods, people were not able to get fruit from out of their own areas, and they also were only able to eat fruit that was in season where they lived. This is especially true of people that lived in areas that had dramatic seasonal changes in the weather, and people were not able to eat fruit year round, so they would eat much more during the warmer months and pack on some extra body fat, and then be able to burn it over the winter when food was scarcer. We now know that this creates relatively consistent blood sugar levels, leading to better hormonal and physical heath.
Fructose is the main sugar in fruit. It is also found in sweet potatoes and other root vegetables. Mostly absorbed in the small intestine and digested in the liver, fructose does not create an increase in insulin or leptin, hormones involved in weight maintenance and long-term energy. When natural fructose from fruit is combined with high fructose in other areas of our diets, like processed foods and high fructose corn starch, it has been linked to obesity, hyperlipidemia, metabolic syndromes, diabetes and insulin resistance. There was even a study that found that people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and people with elevated uric acid levels suffered from lower baseline energy. This was measured by ATP levels in the liver. The study also found that when these people ate high-fructose diets, their liver ATP lowered even further, which could cause fibrosis or liver injury.
You may have heard fruit be referred to as “nature’s candy”, and it truly is and should be treated as such. As is the case with many other foods, fruit is not inherently bad for you, but consumed in overwhelming quantities, it can be detrimental to your health (those with preexisting metabolic diseases or syndromes, even more so). Another factor that can influence the health effects of eating fruit is the quality of the fruit you are eating. As a rule, you should always buy organic fruit. Also, locally grown fruit is always better than fruit that has crossed a few state lines to get to the produce section. Here are a few more tips to eat fruit the right way:
- Try to only eat 1-2 servings of fruit per day, and eat lots of vegetables too!
- If you juice your fruits or make smoothies, try to make them 80-90% vegetables and only 10-20% fruit.
- Avoid high fructose corn starch and syrup at all costs!
If you would like to learn more about functional medicine or how to incorporate it into your life, please contact Flourish Integrative Health at Info@FlourishIntegrative.com or 415.721.2990.