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If we think in terms of an ancestral diet, where we naturally ate seasonally and geographically, we would all be eating way different than we do today. This is the main reason why I publish a FREE monthly seasonal eating guide with recipes and grocery lists for each month of the year, called the 3-Season Diet Challenge.
In nature, microbes in the soil change from one season to the next. A seasonal diet ensures that the spring soil microbial surge ends up re-populating your gut with the right bugs you need in each season. (1)
Fruits are generally harvested in the fall, as part of nature’s preparation for winter. Fruits contain varying amounts of fructose, or what is commonly called fruit sugar. Fruits also have glucose and sucrose at varying proportions depending on the fruit.
A Quick Fruit Sugar Review
Fructose and glucose are simple sugars, or monosaccharides.
Sucrose, or common table sugar, is also found in fruit. It a disaccharide, which means two simple sugars combined: fructose and glucose.
An apple, for example, has a total sugar content of 13.3 grams. It also has 2.3 grams of pure glucose and 7.7 grams of pure fructose. It also has 3.3 grams of sucrose which, remember, is a combination of glucose and fructose. Because some of the sucrose content is actually fructose, the total fructose content in the apple is 9.3 grams. (2)
Not All Fruits are Created Equally
Sucrase, a digestive enzyme secreted in the small intestine, breaks down the fruit sucrose into simple sugars, fructose and glucose. Glucose, the body’s main fuel supply, absorbs directly into the bloodstream. Fructose, however, requires processing through the liver and delivers energy much slower than glucose.
In fact, when a meal of glucose, fructose and sucrose are eaten at the same time, the glucose will be quickly delivered as energy. By the time the fructose is processed through the liver, the energy needs have often already been met by the glucose, and the excess fructose is simply stored as fat.
This is great for bears, as they will gorge themselves on fruit at the end of the summer/fall, in order to overshoot their energy needs and the extra is stored as winter insulation or fat.
So remember, the next time you eat some fruit with your granola, the granola will be quickly broken down into glucose, and the fructose portion of the fruit will be stored as fat. If you were to eat fruit all by itself, it would deliver a slow, lasting burn of energy, and little or none would be stored as fat, depending on your energy needs.
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This explains the reason why Ayurveda says to eat fruit alone. If you eat fruit with other foods, the foods will digest at different speeds. Not only will the risk of fat-storing ensue, but there is a risk of indigestion as well. This was the premise of the food-combining philosophies. Sugar breaks down faster than many other slow-burning foods and, when combined, they can cause gas, bloat or indigestion.
The sweeter the fruit, the more challenging it is to digest fruit with other foods. Berries, bitter apples and less sweet fruits can generally be digested in combination with other foods without a noticeable digestive issue.
Ancestral diets would likely have adhered to the “fruit alone” rule, as if you were to stumble upon a ripe apple tree or blueberry bush, you would stay and eat until you were full — eating the fruit meal all by itself.
A breakfast or supper of fruit is a healthy meal, although most of us do not have the digestive efficiency to make a meal of fruit last all the way from breakfast to lunch, or from supper to breakfast. When you begin to eat these fruits in season, you may find it easier to make a fruit meal last energy-wise.
- Have fruit as a meal, separate from other foods, during the warmer months of the year.
- Have fruit as a snack when a meal was not enough.
- Save the less sweet fruits to have with other foods. >>> See a Sugar Content of Fruit chart here
- Save the sweeter fruits to have as a meal, separate from other foods. >>> See a Sugar Content of Fruit chart here
Side Note: Let’s not obsess… When comparing eating fruits with a meal to the really bad things we may eat, having some fruit with a meal is a minor offense in the big picture.
Perhaps more importantly, we must avoid or reduce at all costs:
- Added sweeteners
- Processed foods
- Cooked vegetable oils
- Pesticides and herbicides on conventional foods