Fruits are such a delight to the senses. Of all the foods available to us, fruits are the most attractive, delicious and enjoyable. Of all natural foods, that is, the foods we can eat in their natural state, fruit is the food we are most attracted to and that first entices our senses. Humans are born with a natural instinct for sweet foods and in nature, that instinct naturally draws us to fruit.
When we are hungry – and I mean really hungry – fruit is often the most satisfying food we can eat. Is there anything better than to devour a delicious ripe mango on a hot summer day? Or to bite into a luscious, freshly-picked apple? Or to enjoy a sweet, juicy ripe orange? Is there any man-made dish that can beat the perfection of a fully ripe cherry?
Fruits have been consumed by human beings going as far back in time as we know, where as grains, legumes and dairy products have only been cultivated for 10,000 years or less, which is just a breath in the life of humanity. Anthropological studies have shown that fruit has been an important part of the human diet for hundreds of thousands of years.
Fruit has always been recognized as one of the healthiest foods there is. In the minds of most people, fruit is seen as a healthy food we should eat more of due to its vitamin content. But even when realizing the exceptional nutritional qualities of fruit, very few people actually give it the place it deserves in the diet. Fruit is still eaten as a “snack” or a “dessert,” but is rarely seen as a staple food. In the mind of the masses, fruit is a “healthy snack” but not something that can really sustain a hard-working man, like meat or bread. They don’t realize that fruit should be a staple in the diet, and has been for thousands upon thousands of years, long before bread and rice were cultivated, and long before cheese, sandwiches and twinkies were invented.
Fruit eating offers many benefits:
* Fruit is the best source of the natural sugar needed for energy.
* Fruit is packed with vitamins, and still represents the best source of vitamins in any food.
* Fruit is packed with anti-oxidants.
* Fruit is easier to digest than grains. Fruit is basically pre-digested. Digesting ripe fruit hardly requires any digestive enzymes, and is thus less taxing to the body.
* Fruit is alkaline forming (whereas meat, fish, grains and legumes are acid-forming).
* Fruit contains an abundance of pure water.
* Fruit is easy to eat. It doesn’t require much preparation.
* Fruit is beautiful. All of our senses are nourished by fruit, not just our taste buds.
* People who eat lots of fruit live longer. A study published in the British Medical Journal (September 2001), showed that fresh fruit offers the best bet for a long life. The results of a study showed that frequent fruit eaters had a 32 percent lower risk of dying from cerebrovascular disease such as stroke, and a 24 percent lower risk of dying from ischemic heart disease, than those who ate fruit less than once a day.
* Fruit contains lots of fiber, which is necessary for optimum digestion.
How To Eat Fruit
Natural Hygienists have known for a long time that fruit doesn’t combine well with other foods. The reason is that fruit contains simple sugars that require no digestion. Thus, they will not stay for a long time in the stomach. Other foods, such as foods rich in fat, protein and starch, will stay in the stomach for a longer period of time because they require more digestion. So if you eat fruit after a meal, the fruit sugar will stay for too long in the stomach and ferment. This is why people experience digestive trouble when eating fruit that way. They then blame that particular fruit for their trouble and claim that they are “allergic” to it.
Natural Hygienists have been recommending for a long time that fruit be eaten alone with no other foods. They have also recommended eating melons alone and avoiding mixing acid fruits with sweet fruits such as bananas. These are great recommendations, but can be definitely be simplified.
Many people have a difficult time eating a meal of fruit alone. They’ll eat a meal of melon and not so long after they’ll be hungry again, for the simple and obvious reason that melons are not calorie dense. Eating a small cantaloupe (200 calories) is not going to sustain you for very long. But because they have read somewhere that mixing melons with other fruits is not allowed, they’ll try to wait until the next meal to eat something else and then will often in the meantime overeat on dried fruits and nuts to compensate.
The solution to this is very simple: since fruit digests so fast, it is possible to eat fruit before any other food. You can, when you are hungry, eat as much fruit as you care for. One type of fruit only would be ideal. Then wait a little bit, 20 – 30 minutes, and have any other food you desire. This can be a salad, a little avocado with tomatoes, some nuts, or anything. It can be cooked food too. If you’ve been trying to follow food-combining rules without success, this new information could be very valuable to you.
The same goes with mixing other fruits together. You can eat all the melon you want, and then, if you are still hungry, eat another type of fruit to satisfy your appetite. It is not necessary to eat melons alone if they are eaten before another foods. You can even have melon and then have an avocado after. The only thing that is important to remember is to have the fruit first – not after, and ideally only have one variety at a time.
A great way to eat more fruit is to make fresh fruit smoothies. Smoothies need not to be complicated to be tasty. For example, I like to blend bananas with water and have that as a smoothie. When I make that smoothie, I will blend a few bananas with about 1 cup of water and drink it after my exercise session. I also like blending mangoes with other fruits. For example, mango blended with papaya or peaches is amazingly delicious.
Frozen bananas go pretty well in all sorts of fruit smoothies. Try, for example, blending a few frozen bananas with a little water and some fresh berries. You’ll be amazed by the taste.
I hope that this article will encourage you to incorporate more fresh fruit into your diet. In conclusion, remember the following formulas:
Fresh fruit + more exercise + less grains and refined foods = better health and energy
Less fat + more fruit + more green vegetables = even better health and energy
Akilah M. El, N.D. is a Naturopathic Doctor and board-certified Master Herbalist with a private practice in Atlanta Georgia and Berlin Germany. Join Dr Akilah El on Facebook and Twitter