Why fruit isn't always the healthy alternative

Why fruit isn't always the healthy alternative

Why fruit isn’t always the healthy alternative.
Written by  TCM expert, Dr. Nat Kringoudis:

"There can be so much confusion when it comes to fruit and its benefits. Sure, it grows on trees and comes from nature. But for many, it can lead to all kinds of unwanted symptoms, and today I’d like to explore and debunk the myths around fruit and it’s downfalls.

Traditionally, raw foods - especially fruit - weren’t necessarily on the menu. We roamed the land and relied on nature to provide food, and almost all wild fruits and vegetables were cooked. This was because the ancient man simply couldn’t be sure of the toxic properties of fruit and the easiest and safest way to prevent poisoning was by cooking. Ancient man had a good understanding of which plants and produce work for therapeutic benefits and how to best combine foods as they observed the ill effects some caused. They obviously couldn’t rely on packaging to tell them the nutrient properties of food, so they listened to their bodies and recognized that some foods were perfectly ok to consume raw and others were a disaster – sometimes causing severe illness. Fast-forward a couple of hundred years and foods have been modified to remove the ‘toxic’ nature they once possessed (via genetic modification). And before you think you’re in the all clear – just because they aren’t as toxic doesn’t mean they are ideal to eat either.

Genetically modified foods are super difficult to digest and have landed us in a world of problems, placing huge strain and load on the gut. Take wheat for example – it’s so far from what wheat traditionally looks like, it's super difficult for most to digest. It’s bigger and taller to ensure that crops yield bigger harvests and fetch bigger dollars on the whole. It’s not been genetically modified for your insides and health reasons, but rather for the pocket of the grower. We’re living at a time where irritable bowel, food intolerances, allergies, celiacs and a host of other digestive and bowel issues are so prevalent – and some of which are very treatable by focusing on two key areas. Maximizing digestion and healing poor gut function. This is also one of the reasons I love Digestive Herbs (formerly Tiny Tea) so very much. It aids in helping both these factors. When the gut function is compromised it has a very hard time digesting, leading to constipation or diarrhea, bloating, poor immunity and general malaise.

Now back to the fruit. Not only was it beneficial to cook fruits to prevent toxic damage, but also to cook fruit to support digestion. As we’ve discussed previously, digestion occurs at 37 degrees. For those with deficient gut function, this is a huge deal. When we are constantly consuming raw, cold foods, the task of heating food up to be digested seems simple. However, for many, because the gut is so sluggish, this is a mammoth task and then, to go on and assimilate the food is near impossible. Furthermore, because the body is so clever, it may go on to store the toxic properties of foods in adipose tissue to protect the body. Fat stores are literally your body’s own way of saving itself in the sense that it tucks harmful toxins away from your vital organs – typically around the butt, hips, thigh’s and upper arms. But what’s even more frustrating is that adipose tissue drives hormones higher and more oestrogen (reproductive sex hormones) in the body will lead to more fat stores being created! So effectively, fat stores will continue to grow in the presence of rising oestrogen.

Fruit is also generally very high in sugar, which we now know is the culprit when it comes to weight gain. Whilst also high in dietary fibre, our bodies simply aren’t designed to consume huge amounts of fruit sugars – certainly not how we eat fruits in the west. Eating seasonally is also key. Apples can be found in supermarkets pretty much all year round, however, they are only in season throughout winter.

There is a very simple solution. Avoid cold, raw foods where possible – especially fruit and vegetables. That’s not to say you shouldn’t eat them, by any means, but simply blanching, steaming, stewing and cooking fruits and veggies can be the key to a happier digestive system and balanced healthy weight. As we are all unique individuals, this may mean a little trial and error in working out what works best for you. Some people can tolerate a little more raw food than others, and some none at all. Fruit and veggies are kept in the fridge nowadays to preserve and prolong their life – but just because they are kept this way doesn’t mean they should be consumed this way. Cold foods really have made their way into the diet – something that we previously just didn’t do.

At worst, I say to patients in the odd event that you find yourself with salad or fruit being your only option, eating these foods at room temperate is going to be kinder on your stomach. Bearing this in mind, I set the challenge that you try eating cooked produce for a period of 2 weeks and note the changes. Perhaps on the day you start, write down five things you notice about your digestion. There may be bloating, flatulence, noisy digestion, slow bowels or diarrohea. Then refer back to your notes two weeks on and see the changes. For most, huge improvements can be seen with such a small change. Honing in on the signs and symptoms your body is telling you is key to decoding what works best for you. I’m confident that by eating this way you’ll notice so many improvements, you’ll wonder why you never tried it before".

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