FRUIT: ITS HEALTH BENEFITS AND PROBLEMS
by Lawrence Wilson, MD
© February 2013, The Center For Development
Most people enjoy eating fruit, and many health authorities recommend eating it as part of a balanced and healthy diet. Reasons for this include:
Š Fruit is a whole, natural food.
Š Fruit contains vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, natural sugars and other nutrients.
Š Fruit is convenient, tasty and, at times, inexpensive.
However, in clinical experience of over 33 years, I find that eating fruit is extremely harmful for most people. This is disturbing to many of our clients and to me as well.
The reasons for avoiding fruit are somewhat subtle. Fruit is a very yin food in Chinese medical terms and in macrobiotic concepts, which I have helpful. We are also living in a very yin era, so that yin foods make our health much worse. Also, fruit today is almost all extremely hybridized and genetically modified, which generally makes it even more yin. This is the most important single reason to avoid it.
This article is intended to clarify why I do not recommend eating fruit, with just one or two exceptions such as a few olives and olive oil.
SYMPTOMS ASSOCIATED WITH EATING FRUIT
This section incorporates our own research findings and that of many others who have worked with those who eat fruit or have eaten a lot of fruit for a period of some years, in most cases.
Birth defects. Mothers of unborn children are deeply affected by vegetarian, vegan and fruitarian diets. This can cause more birth defects due mainly to low zinc in the mother’s body and a deficiency of the sulfur-bearing and other amino acids.
Attention deficit disorders, autism, cancers and other problems in children.
Deranged digestion. An area of the body that is often affected is the digestive tract. It appears to become more fragile and delicate, affecting the digestion and absorption of all nutrients. This may be due to candida overgrowth, but also to a zinc deficiency and irritation from fruit acids and other substances such as pesticide residues, perhaps.
Cardiovascular problems. This is also weakened by fruit-eating, apparently. It can cause a shortened lifespan, among other disorders and problems. Fructose affects copper metabolism, which may be the reason for the powerful effects on the cardiovascular system.
Pain syndromes. I am not sure why, but some people complain of pain and inflammation in the body. Stopping all fruit and returning to a diet with plenty of cooked, not raw vegetables often stops the pain within a few weeks. Causes for the pain may be a zinc deficiency, again, deficiency of sulfur-containing amino acids, the effects of sugar or the effects of the fruit acids, or some combination of all of these.
Diabetic symptoms. The combination of low zinc, a higher-sugar diet and B-vitamin deficiencies that can develop may result in diabetic symptoms. The most prominent is often peripheral neuropathy, which causes tingling, burning or numbness in the extremities. Other symptoms may include frequent urination, fatigue, depression and others.
Weight gain. Many people believe that eating fruit will cause weight loss, and they are seriously disappointed. Fruit is not a low-calorie food. Also, eating sugar in any form causes weight gain by many mechanisms, such as stressing the insulin mechanism of the body, impairing the activity of the thyroid and adrenal glands, causing some water retention, damaging the kidneys and liver, which become toxic, and perhaps others.
Parasitic infections. This may occur because most fruit is not that clean and is not washed perfectly. Also, a delicate digestive tract may not kill off as many parasites that occur in foods.
Pesticide poisoning. This occurs because most fruit is sprayed heavily, even if it is advertised as being organically grown. Even natural pesticides that must be used on fruit can build up in the body in a toxic fashion, affecting the liver and kidneys, in particular.
Toxic metal poisoning. Those who eat a lot of fruit seem to be particularly prone to the accumulation of mercury and copper, perhaps because they lack the balancing element of zinc. The diets also lack sulfur-containing amino acids that are needed for liver detoxification of the metals and of many toxic chemicals as well.
Mental/emotional symptoms. These are very common and include anxiety, depression, irritability, and even panic attacks. We know this because when a person who is eating a lot of fruit and having any of these symptoms stops eating fruit, often these symptoms vanish within a few days to a few weeks. If, however, the fruit habit went on for a long time, it can take longer to reverse the symptoms.
Anger and belligerence. Another interesting symptom that occurs is the development of a stubborn, and often belligerent and angry nature. This could be due to a zinc deficiency or perhaps a B-vitamin deficiency of some type.
Loss of mental acuity. This might be due to yeast overgrowth in the central nervous system, in some cases, or perhaps various nutrient deficiencies that affect the brain. Low iodine may also play a role, or perhaps low levels of some of the B-complex vitamins. Taking supplements of these nutrients may help, but frequently they are not enough to stop the progress of this mental degeneration that is very sad to observe.
Yin disease. Another symptom that is really a composite of many of those above, I refer to as yin disease. This is a general feeling of malaise or weakness, often coupled with some of the symptoms mentioned above.
A shorter lifespan. There is no question that fruitarians shorten their lives, often significantly. Interestingly, they may live apparently healthfully for years, but suddenly their health declines and they die quickly at an earlier age than most other people. I do not know the exact cause, but it may have to do with depletion of some vital nutrient or the accumulation of a toxic substance due to fruit-eating.
WHY DOES FRUIT EATING CAUSE THESE PROBLEMS?
1. Fruit is extremely yin. In the Macrobiotic conception of yin and yang, fruit is an extremely yin food. Yin refers to certain qualities such as cold, expanded, and sweet-tasting or sugary. This describes most fruits very well. In the traditional Chinese concept of yin and yang, fruit is not uniformly yin. However, it is more the case in the macrobiotic view of yin and yang, and we find this view to be most accurate.
The problems with yin foods are:
a) Most people’s bodies today are already extremely yin. Eating more yin food tends to unbalance their bodies even more. This tends to cause more weakness and illness in the body, even though fruit is a rich source of certain vitamins and other nutrients.
b) This is even more important if a person is a slow oxidizer (even more yin), if a person is ill (also more yin) or if the person eats large amounts of fruit. Eating more of a yin food tends to make the body more yin.
c) Yin foods, or anything that makes the body more yin, appears to impair mental and spiritual development.
d) Tropical fruits are even more yin, and thus the worst from this perspective. They include common fruits such as bananas, pineapple, coconut in all forms and preparations, dates, figs, papaya, citrus fruits and others.
e) Eating anything raw is even more yin, and fruit is often eaten in the uncooked state.
f) Fruit juice is even worse. It is more yin and contains much more sugar and less fiber to buffer the acids and sugar in the fruit.
g) For much more on this serious problem with fruit, read Yin Disease on this website.
2. Fruit upsets the blood sugar level and causes excessive insulin release. The higher sugar content of almost all fruit causes this reaction. This adds stress to the body, can cause weight gain or impair weight loss, and cause other imbalances deep inside the cells.
Many people are unaware of the high sugar content of most fruit. It can be extremely high, especially with fruit juices, dried fruit or fruit that is packed or dipped in sugar. These are even worse than eating fresh fruit.
3. Fruit-eating often contributes to yeast overgrowth. Most people, even those who do not eat much fruit, already have an overgrowth of intestinal yeast such as candida albicans and others. This is due to toxic metal poisoning, and especially copper imbalance. Other mineral imbalances may also contribute, as does overeating on carbohydrate foods.
The high sugar content of most fruit worsens this important condition. The yin nature of fruit also tends to worsen all fungal infections because fungus and yeast conditions are yin infections. That is, they tend to be cold and parasitic in nature. For more on this subject, read Candida Albicans Infections.
4. Fruit is a carbohydrate food, and most people are overeating on carbohydrates already.
5. Fruit dehydrates the body. This may seem very strange. Some health authorities even tell their followers that the water in fruits is “naturally distilled” and that one does not need to drink other water.
This is very bad advice. First, eating anything that contains sugar, including fruit, tends to cause dehydration due to osmosis. Also, the water that is in fruits is not distilled at all. It contains many minerals, and unfortunately it often contains residues of pesticides, which are often used on fruits even if the fruit is supposedly organically grown.
6. Fruit seems to send the body’s energy in an outward and upward direction. This is a very subtle problem that is related to the yin quality of fruit, and also perhaps with its sugar content.
Downward moving energy is healthy and life-giving, while upward moving energy and outward-moving energy is not as healthful. For more on this, read Downward-moving Energy And Healing.
7. Fruit is quite harmful for babies and children, as it enhances the oxidation rate in the short term, but slows it later. This is a harmful stimulatory effect. Sugary foods of any kind tend to speed up the oxidation rate in the short term. This is due to its low fat content and higher sugar content. This is particularly harmful for younger children, whose oxidation rate is already too fast.
For this reason, please do not give babies and children fruit, or for that matter, any sweets at all. This is hard for many parents, since children often love sweets. However, it will help your child’s health immensely if you keep them away from all sweet foods, including sweets.
Some may answer that milk is sweet as well. This is true, and it is also true that babies can handle some sweets. However, milk also contains a lot of fat and protein, too. This counteracts some of the yin and the other effects of the milk sugar. Also, milk sugar or lactose is a disaccharide and is therefore burned or utilized more slowly than fructose or glucose found in fruit.
8. Fruit can actually be acid-forming in the body. I know that this statement goes against that which is found in most nutrition books. However, we find it to be true in clinical practice.
Several reasons for this are:
A. Fruit acids. Textbooks of nutrition contend that even though fruit contains some mild acids, the mineral content of the fruit eventually causes an alkaline reaction in the body. However, we find that this is no longer the case because of the genetic modification of fruit and its lower mineral content, in general. As a result, the acids in the fruit can give many fruits an overall acidic reaction, which is not healthful at all. This applies particularly to acidic fruits such as citrus, which is often picked unripe and never ripens properly.
B. Fruit sugars. Sugars tend to be acid-forming in their internal reaction, especially fructose.
C. Imbalanced minerals in most fruit. The mineral content of fruit just does not seem to be optimum for our bodies. The potassium in it today is often toxic, due to the use of superphosphate fertilizers used almost universally. This seems to cause unpleasant reactions and deficiencies of zinc, in particular, especially if one eats a lot of it. It does not seem to matter if the fruit is organically grown, or otherwise specially prepared.
9. Fructose, a prominent sugar in fruit, is one of the worst sugars to consume. Fructose does not directly raise the blood sugar as fast as glucose, for example. Instead, it is sent directly to the liver, where it should be converted to glucose. However, most people cannot process it very well and it can instead be converted to triglycerides and other fats. This is related to obesity in some cases.
Medical eEvidence also indicates that fructose may interfere with copper metabolism, is inflammatory, and may contribute to metabolic syndrome and Type 2 diabetes. Read more about fructose in the article entitled Fructose.
10. Fruit can be hard on the enamel of the teeth. Fruit acids can damage the dentin or outside layer of the teeth. This is well known by some dentists, and is another reason be careful with eating fruit. The worst offenders are the acidy fruits, such as citrus – oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, lemons, and limes.
11. Fruit is often sprayed with pesticides, even if labeled organic. In order for fruit to grow in most areas, particularly some parts of the United States, it needs to be sprayed. Even if fruit is labeled organic, it is often laced with some pesticides and insecticides, even if they are natural. Many of them, even the natural sprays, add more toxins to the fruit.
One of the most commonly sprayed fruits are grapes grown to make wines. We find that people who drink a lot of wine usually have higher levels of arsenic and often lead in their hair. Lead arsenate and other compounds containing these metals are often sprayed on grapes.
Also, even organically grown fruit can suffer from the residues of pesticides and other chemicals that had formerly been sprayed on the fruit, or small quantities that somehow find their way into the fruit. Because fruit is so yin, it may actually pick up more of some toxic metals that are less yin such as lead and some chemicals.
12. Genetic Modification and Hybridization. Fruit today is not the same as it was 100 years ago. Modern fruit is often hybridized and genetically modified. Few people realize this unless, perhaps, you have an old crab apple tree where the fruit was small and it was not as sweet as it is today.
Most fruit today is grown for mass consumption and is larger, sweeter, less nutritious, lower in mineral content, and for these reasons even more expanded or yin.
13. Fruit seems to tire out the body. I am not sure why it is so, but eating fruit seems to have an irritating quality for many people. Perhaps this is due to upsetting the yin and yang balance, or just its higher sugar content.
Also, the seeds of some fruits are slightly toxic, such as seeds of apples, peaches, pears, strawberries, blueberries and others. This may also tire the body somewhat when eaten regularly. Eating very cold foods, such as fruit kept in a refrigerator, is even worse. The body literally has to warm up the food, which may also tire it somewhat.
14. Fruit is rich in potassium, but it appears from hair mineral analysis research to be a toxic form of potassium. I say this because people who eat a lot of fruit, when placed on a nutritional balancing program, often begin to eliminate a biounavailable form of potassium. When it is gone, the person often begins to feel much better. I suspect this potassium compound must have come from eating fruit because those with the potassium problem almost always have a history of enjoying a lot of fruit in their diets.
This potassium compound may also interfere with the absorption and utilization of other important trace minerals in the fruit.
15. The cleanliness of fruit may be poor. Fruit may be picked by hand by workers whose cleanliness is not always the best. The surface of the fruit always contains bacteria, viruses and other micro-organisms. If it is not washed thoroughly, eating it can cause hepatitis, parasites and other subtle infections.
If you must eat fruit, always wash it carefully and never eat it right from the store or even from a tree, without washing it carefully. Also, do not leave fruit sitting out on the kitchen counter overnight and then eat it without washing it again. Fruit attracts flies, mites, ticks and other tiny insects very quickly that also infect the fruit with disease.
WHAT ABOUT EATING VEGETABLES THAT ARE REALLY FRUITS?
The strict definition of a vegetable is a root, stem or leaf of a plant. The strict definition of a fruit is an expanded ovary of a plant. As a result, certain vegetables that contain seeds are really fruits, not vegetables.
Vegetables that are really fruits include:
a) All tomatoes (red, green, cherry, and others).
b) All peppers (red, green, and hot chile peppers).
c) All squashes (zucchini, summer squash, butternut, spaghetti, acorn and perhaps others).
d) Others include okra, cucumbers, eggplant, olives, peas, and green beans.
Recommendations. Peas and green beans are not too yin and are excellent foods. Olives and okra are okay, though I don’t recommend eating them too often. Olive oil is fine. Winter squashes are also okay such as spaghetti squash, butternut squash and acorn squash.
I suggest avoiding all of the nightshade family vegetables. These include all tomatoes, white and red potatoes, peppers of all kinds, and eggplant. These foods are all quite yin, and they contain a toxin called solanin that is irritating and inflammatory. I also suggest avoiding white and red potatoes, which are also in the nightshade family, for the same reasons.
I also suggest limiting summer squashes like zucchini and sunburst squash to just occasional use.
Always cook vegetables and do not eat them raw.
WHAT ABOUT CONSUMING FRUIT-BASED OILS SUCH AS OLIVE, COCONUT AND PALM OILS?
Oils used for eating and cooking that are made from fruits include coconut oil, palm kernal oil, olive oil, perhaps all nut and seed oils, and perhaps avocado, a very oily fruit. Here are recommendations regarding these foods and other fats, in general:
1. Fats are best eaten in the raw state. Most are quite damaged when cooked, and especially when overcooked, such as with deep frying.
2. The best fats are generally those derived from animal sources. These are the most yang, they contain the most essential omega-3 fatty acids, generally, and include:
a) Meat fats (tallow, chicken fat, goose fat or others)
b) Raw dairy products (butter, cream, whole milk or full-fat cheese or yogurts)
c) Fish oils (sardine, and to a lesser degree others such as salmon, cod liver and others)
3. The next best, for general use, are those oils derived from grains and beans:
Š Grains: (corn oil, wheat germ oil, rice germ oil or others).
Š Beans: (peanut oil, for example)
4. Some fruit and seed oils are good. These include olive oil, as explained above, along with some seed oils. Seed oils include sesame (one of the best), sunflower, safflower, hempseed, flaxseed, borage, primrose, canola (a hybrid that some are sensitive to), and perhaps others.
5. I do not recommend tropical fruit oils. They seem to be somewhat toxic and perhaps too yin. They include almond, macadamia, hazelnut, palm kernel, coconut, avocado and others. Many of them are sub-tropical, grow on trees up in the air, and are thus extremely yin. They are not recommended for regular use. A little, eaten on occasion, is probably fine. See below for more on coconut oil
6. Coconut oil, along with coconut milk or coconut water, is highly touted today due to its high content of lauric acid, a natural infection fighter. It also contains MCT or medium chain triglygcerides. These appear to assist energy production in some diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, and can help one gain weight easily if one is malnourished. However, coconut is a very tropical fruit that grows high up and is much too yin to be a regular food in one’s diet. It may seem wonderful, but our experience is that it is somewhat toxic. So I would avoid all coconut products on a regular basis, though a little on occasion is fine.
FINAL RECOMMENDATIONS AND COMMENTS
I am well aware that many health authorities suggest eating plenty of fruit. However, I do not agree with this policy. The only benefit is if it is a transition step as one gives up refined or “junk” foods such as white flour and white sugar. However, the sugar in the fruit can be just as bad or even worse than eating sucrose or corn syrup in junk foods!!! Fruit sugars and other chemicals in fruit are too yin and upset the body in half a dozen ways.
Nutritional balancing is concerned with the optimum diet. As a result, my best recommendation is to not eat any fruit at all. Also, avoid all fruit juices, even diluted ones, and avoid dried fruit as well.
Fruit is not that nutritious, and in fact, it is mainly sugar and water, with some fiber and low levels of vital minerals of the wrong types (potassium) and at times, in the wrong proportions. It is not needed in the diet at all. Cooked vegetables are actually far higher in phytonutrients of all kinds than are most fruits. Eating more than a very small amount of fruit will slow progress on a nutritional balancing program and will interfere with mental or spiritual development, in our experience, and is therefore harmful.
What if I crave fruits? There are several reasons for this. The first is that one is simply hypoglycemic. This condition is extremely common. This is often easy to overcome using a nutritional balancing program.
Another reason is excessively low protein or low fat in the diet. This is common with vegetarians, for example, who do not eat enough meat or eggs. Other reasons are low levels of zinc, manganese or chromium, which is also very common.
To reduce cravings for fruit, be sure to eat every few hours and be sure to include some animal protein and perhaps some fat with most meals.
If you must eat fruit. For those who cannot stop their fruit intake immediately, here are a few guidelines:
a) Eat as little fruit as possible.
b) Eat fruit from heirloom trees, as it will be les hybridized.
c) Eat smaller, cold-weather fruits such as a little apple, peach, pear or a few berries either by themselves or perhaps added to some raw milk yogurt.
d) Ideally, eat fruit alone as a snack. It does not combine well with almost all other foods.
e) Totally avoid all fruit juices, dried fruit, canned fruit packed in sugar, and all tropical and citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit. Others to avoid are most coconut, avocado and other tropical fruit. This is true for babies and children as well.
f) Dried fruit is more yin in some ways, and certainly more sugary. Avoid it, please, even as a snack. It is far better to eat turkey or beef jerky, almond butter, blue corn chips, a piece of cheese or other protein-rich snacks, than a piece of dried fruit.