I thought I’d do a little post on fruit – how exciting! – given the coverage it’s received in the news more recently. For years, we’ve been told to eat fruit and veg and to make sure we’re getting our 5 a day. It’s become a staple expression, but a new study suggests that we should be aiming for 10. That’s right, 10 portions of ‘healthy’ goodness.
The first thing I’d like to point out is that the study actually shows that even 2.5 portions can benefit health. The second thing is that you should take everything you’re told and all the junk you read with a pinch of salt. I’m a strong believer in individual differences and in balance : What works for some may not work for others, and that listening to your body and what you actually want is the best way to balance what you eat and indeed how you live.
What irks me is how this ‘advice’, in a similar way to the advice about increasing fibre intake, is so one sided. They don’t tell you that for many people high fibre comes a high cost and results in digestive misery. That nugget of information is often overlooked. The same can be said about your five or ten a day.
Most fruits and veggies are quite high in sugar, fructose, and it’s this that some people can struggle to absorb in the small intestine, especially in larger quantities. Malabsorption results in the fructose fermenting, which causes gas and this can result in a bloated tummy and abdominal pain. It’s also suggested that it can cause low mood because of its interference with serotonin.
If you eat fruit and veggies, especially those with higher fructose levels like pineapple, fruit juices and apples, and find digestive discomfort afterwards, it may be worth considering whether they are the culprit. This malabsorption issue is often noted with IBS sufferers but I think for many it’s one of those things that goes unnoticed because you wouldn’t have thought the good stuff could do you harm.
That’s not to say you can’t eat a balanced diet and still enjoy fruit and veg. If it does cause you problems, you can look for alternatives that have lower fructose levels; these contain more glucose, which aids fructose absorption, such as strawberries, kiwi, grapes and bananas. But take that ‘advice’ with a pinch of salt too because, like I said, everyone is different. I used to love grapes but they always hurt my tum so much after eating them. It’s a case of seeing what works for you and finding ways around what doesn’t so that you’re still getting some healthy nom noms.
Not eating 5, let alone 10, portions of fruit and veg can make you seem like a social outcast, like somehow you should be ashamed. I want to say that it’s not that black and white. The good stuff can be bad for some people, and what is deemed to be ‘good’ today by the media will probably be proved ‘bad’ tomorrow by another research study.
Know your body and listen to what it needs. You control what goes in to your mouth and it’s your choice. Balance, appreciation and awareness.
And stuff the clean eating, the faddy diets and the social media I’m-better-than-you gang!
Has anyone else found an issue with eating fruits and veggies?