Over the last 20 years of my work in the field of health and nutrition, I have read and heard many claims that make me sigh with deep empathy and sadness for our human species. There is no other animal species that has as much mental and emotional potential as we do, and who at the same time uses this ability so much against itself. It has been shown time and time again that our untrained human mind is highly suggestible, very irrational under the influence of our emotions, and prone to all kinds of erroneous thinking. The modern way of life has also caused us to become more disconnected from ourselves, our bodies, our food, other people, and nature as a whole than ever before. We have lost the wisdom of our inner guidance system, and rely heavily on the external world for answers about literally everything. This may have worked out okay if the external world guided us in an intelligent way that had our best interest at heart, but it doesn’t. Life on Earth as we know it, and thus most information that is provided, is predominantly governed by fear, greed, control, and manipulation. This has led to a flood of misinformation and contradictory information, much of which is blatantly used to confuse and overwhelm people for a particular agenda. The field of nutrition has not been spared from this, and at a time where we should be more nutritionally empowered than every before we have greatly lost sight of what healthy eating truly means.
There was a time when people knew that fruits (and vegetables) were good for us. And not just good, but some of the best, most natural, and most essential foods for us as human beings. In fact, fruits were amongst the most prized and perfect foods. These early humans, whether they lived hundreds or thousands of years ago, did not need a study to prove this. They were guided by their instinct and intuition, and paid attention to their food, their body, and clues from nature. We used to eat the way nature intended. Today, unfortunately, times have changed. We have a subset of people who try to convince others that fruits are “bad” or “risky” to eat and a subset of people who believe this, and in turn fear eating fruits. This could not come at a worse time, as most people already do not eat enough fruits (and vegetables) as it is, and have diets based on some of the worst foods for us, namely processed foods and animal foods.
My intention for this article, therefore, is to lead us back to our innate wisdom. If you are already eating a diet that is high in fruits, I hope this article provides with some welcome confirmation that you are completely on the right track. If you have some fruits in your diet but struggle to get enough, I hope this article ignites within you the motivation to include more fruit in your diet. Finally, if you limit the amount of fruit you eat or fear eating fruit or certain fruits altogether, I hope that this article helps you to release false beliefs that are sabotaging your highest wellbeing and helps you connect with your inner wisdom.
Putting Nature to the Test
Out of all the things that we can consider edible and which are possible for us to eat, be these plant, animal, or fungal matter, there is no other food group that gives us clearer and more obvious clues about its perfect role for us as food than fruits. In fact, fruits (as a group) are the ONLY foods that have no moral, ethical, or spiritual considerations stacked against them. Under normal circumstances this would include health considerations, but as I shared earlier this is no longer the case given that some people in our world try to negate the perfect role of these foods. Either way, if you cannot already see that fruits are the most perfect foods for us, here is a quick illustration…
Imagine that you find yourself in a part of our Earth that is most suitable for the human species. This means a place that has adequate warmth, water, and vegetation without you needing to rely on clothing, shelter, or heating. Such places can be found in the regions of the equator, tropics, and subtropics. Now imagine that you are here without anything — just you, yourself. This means no other people, no tools, and no technology. You are alone in an environment that provides lots of leafy foliage and vegetable matter, fruits on shrubs and trees of all kinds, and various land, water, and air animals. From an efficiency and sustainability perspective, which of these three main groups of food will be both the easiest for you to acquire and offer the most value and satisfaction?
The answer is fruits. While leaves and vegetable matter will be easy to acquire, most will not offer much in terms of calories and satisfaction. When it comes to meat from any animals, while this source may offer a high amount of calories, it will not offer much satisfaction when raw and unflavored, and it is the hardest and most costly food source to acquire. The human body is completely ill-equipped to capture any animal without the use of some sophisticated tools. We cannot outrun most animals, we do not have any claws to capture them, and we do not have the right teeth or jaws to pierce through their thick flesh. The best we can do is supplement our diet with insects or any carrion (decaying flesh of dead animals) leftover by carnivorous animals. We only “learned” to eat meat as we organized ourselves in groups, learned to make tools, discovered fire, and needed to depend on it for survival as we moved further and further into northern ranges where plant matter is not abundant year-round. It may be interesting for you to know that contrary to the previously proposed theories that meat eating or social interaction may have been responsible for giving primates (and us) large brains, the latest theory credits fruit eating for this phenomenon.
From this natural perspective, fruits have been the perfect human food for millennia, similar to that of many of our closest primate ancestors. We are naturally drawn to the beautiful colors, fragrant scents, juicy and pleasant textures, and delicious flavors of fruits. Nature gives us many clues with regards to what should and should not be eaten, and in what amounts, and when it comes to fruits the message could not be clearer. In a natural setting, fruits would be eaten at any time of the day when they were available or when it was time to feed, and they would be eaten in large amounts, and seasonally when each one was available. Today, we can still greatly mimic these natural eating cycles by eating locally and seasonally as much as possible, and focusing on high fruit diets during the warm months of the year, if we live in a northern climate.
The Health and Nutrition Value of Fruits
From a biochemical perspective, fruits provide us with an excellent amount of nutrient-dense calories, which are comprised of healthy sugars and carbohydrates. Sadly, many people today do not understand the difference between whole food sugars and isolated sugars, and often incorrectly perceive the natural sweetness of fruits as a negative thing. Sugars in fruits are contained and come as part of a perfectly created package that creates benefits, not harm, for our health. On the other hand, when sugars are isolated, as is the case with refined white or brown sugar and similar sweeteners, they have nothing to offset their potentially harmful characteristics. There is no fiber, no vitamins, no minerals, no antioxidants, and no phytonutrients. This makes a huge difference! The good news is that even diabetic research has finally caught up to understand that fruits are not only NOT a problem for blood glucose or diabetes, but part of the best healing and preventative diabetic diet. Fruits are full of fiber, which slows gastric emptying and regulates sugar release, as well as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients, and have been proven time and time again to be the most healthful foods, next to vegetables, for the prevention and healing of every disease condition.
When it comes to weight specifically, it is important to highlight that fruits are amongst the healthiest of foods for maintaining a healthy weight and for losing weight. The following excerpt by Dr. Garth Davis from his book Proteinaholic highlights how disconnected we have become from the foods that are essential for optimal health and weight.
Can you believe people actually avoid fruit in an attempt to lose weight? There has never been a single credible study showing that fruit consumption leads to weight gain, and yet this concept is as prevalent as any nutrition dogma. I have treated people for obesity for years and I can tell you, nobody is coming to see me because they ate too many apples or grapes. Traditional diets high in fruits, veggies and starches have worked for thousands of years, and continue to keep people slim and healthy. But our obsession with counting fat, carbs, and protein blinds us to this truth.
Garth Davis, MD — Proteinaholic
Overall, regular, daily and liberal consumption of fruits has been associated with:
- reduced inflammation levels (fruits are naturally anti-inflammatory)
- improved acid-alkaline balance in the body
- reduced risk of high blood pressure, and increased likelihood of healthy blood pressure
- reduced risk of cholesterol problems, and increased likelihood of healthy cholesterol levels
- protection against heart disease and stroke, and improved healing for such conditions
- protection against diabetes type 2, and improved healing for this condition
- protection against all cancers, and improved healing for any such condition
- protection against infections, and improved overall immunity
- protection against premature aging, and improved longevity
- reduced risk of weight problems, increased chances of healthy weight maintenance, and improved weight loss
- improved energy and vitality
- improved cleansing and detoxification
- improved mental health and wellbeing
One of the most outspoken experts about the value of fruits is Dr. Robert Morse, and although his work focuses specifically on healing people with the strong detox and cleanse properties of fruits, he makes a lot of good points about why we as humans are perfectly suited for fruits. In fact, fruit fasting has been used for centuries as one of the most effective methods for healing and prevention of acute and chronic diseases. Some of the best documented cases come from the work of German health educator, Arnold Ehret and his mucusless diet, which is based on fruits, especially grapes.
We also have research today that shows that there is no such thing as eating too many fruits, and we can feel free to indulge in eating as much fruits as we like, assuming that we are not eating more calories of total food per day than is required by our our body. In fact, instead of worrying about eating too many fruits, we should be concerned about not eating enough fruits.
Of the individual dietary risk factors, the largest attributable burden of disease in 2010 was associated with diets low in fruits. The fifth leading cause of loss of life and health, after high blood pressure, tobacco use, alcohol use, and household air pollution, is not eating enough fruit.
Everyday Fruit Tips
While fruits are the perfect foods for all humans, not all fruits will agree with all people or at the same time or in the same amounts. This is where the most important part of healthy eating is first to establish the right foundation, this being a whole food, plant-based diet, and then personalize it to best meet your needs. There isn’t one fruit or group of fruits that you must eat or feel bad about if you cannot eat. While berries are credited with the most health benefits, ALL fruits provide numerous valuable benefits for healing, prevention, and optimal health. So eat any fruits that agree with you, any that you desire and enjoy, any that are easy for your to source, and practical for you to obtain. The more you focus on eating seasonally, the more you will benefit from the freshest fruits, most nutrient-dense fruits, and the more you will have a good variety of fruits in your diet.
Be sure to eat fruits when they are fully ripe. This is when they offer us the most health and nutrition benefits. Eating unripe fruit not only robs you of their incredible health potential, but it may also cause some digestive issues, like bloating, constipation, or diarrhea. In addition, you will be missing out on the amazing flavors and textures of fruits, which only come after the fruit has fully ripened. In the following video Loren Lockman of Tanglewood Wellness Center explains why fruit must be properly ripened and which fruits cannot ripen properly if they have been picked too early.
It is best to eat fruits on an empty stomach. This means either as your first meal of the day, or in between meals as snacks, or as the last meal of your day. It is not a good idea to eat fruits with or right after complex meals, especially those that include any animal foods or foods high in fat, because fruits have completely different digestion needs. Fruits are the fastest and easiest to digest, and most digest in about half an hour (30 minutes). When we combine them with other foods that have different digestion needs and longer digestion times, we can be impeding the optimal digestion of all the foods. This may result in unpleasant acute and chronic symptoms, like feeling sluggish after meals, fatigue and energy problems, indigestion, bloating, cramping, unhealthy bowel movements, foul-smelling or excessive gas, nutritional deficiencies, gut flora imbalances, and inflammation. The younger we are and the stronger our digestive system is, the less obvious and troublesome these symptoms normally are. However, as we age and as our digestive system weakens from years of poor food choices and bad food combining, the more these symptoms become prevalent and debilitating.
If you eat fruits with other foods, practice smart food combining. Food combining is a way of eating that respects the natural biochemistry of your body and digestion needs of your food. Aside from the fact that fruits are the fastest to digest, they are divided into three main categories that further influence their digestion. These are: melons, acid fruits, sub-acid fruits, and sweet fruits. The following chart illustrates which fruits belong to which group and how they pair with other fruits.
Some fruits also pair well with other plant foods, like leafy greens for green smoothies. How much you choose to implement food combining is up to you and your health needs. It is most important to pay attention to your body and how you feel, than live by any rigid rules or be stressed out by food combining. Remember, work with the right foundation of the right foods, and then personalize it as you require at any given time. The more you clean up your diet, the more accurate your body’s feedback will be, and the more you will know what works for you and what doesn’t. To learn more about the basics of optimal food combining see my two quick videos on the subject:
Further Reading & References
In the end, we have to be aware that given how deeply conditioned ideas and beliefs penetrate our mind, it is important to educate oneself thoroughly enough to replace faulty information with accurate information. For this reason, it is valuable to spend some time learning about a topic in order to get a good understanding of it and allow our mind to change and thinking patterns to shift in the appropriate direction. The most important thing is to not cause further confusion by consulting opposing or contradictory info, which got you into a disempowered situation in the first place. For example, as mentioned earlier, the idea of fearing fruits — one of the most healthiest foods on Earth.
For more support, here is some high quality information and resources that can provide further perspectives about the healing and protective value and perfection of fruits, which I encourage you to go through if this is a topic that you are struggling with:
Is Sugary Fruit Healthy? by Conor Kerley, PhD
Is the Sugar in Fruit Healthy or Unhealthy? by Alona Pulde, MD and Matthew Lederman, MD
Top 3 Diabetes Myths, Busted: Fruit, Starchy Vegetables, and Blood Glucose by Cyrus Khambatta, PhD
Is It Possible to Eat Too Much Fruit? by Naomi Imatome-Yun
How Much Fruit is Too Much? from Michael Greger, MD
The Dangers of Not Eating Enough Fruit from Michael Greger, MD
Why You Should Have a Fruit-Filled Summer by Shivam Joshi, MD
If Fructose is Bad, What About Fruit? from Michael Greger, MD
Fruit for Weight Loss, Says Science by Eugenia Killoran
The Raw Truth About Fruits and Sugar from Robert Morse, ND
The Truth About Fruit by Liz Bunting
Get the Health Benefits of Fruit by Sally Wadyka