I don’t know about you but in my family, we’ve been raised to eat fruit right after a meal. A chat with various friends yielded the same info too so I gather this might be an Asian thing or maybe it’s even universal. In addition, many doctors and nutrition specialists are also encouraging for fruit to be eaten at any time. However, a trendy dieting fad that is currently circulating exhorts that we should only eat fruit on an empty stomach. So which is which?
Since I’ve been eating a lot more variety of fruits lately, I decided to “investigate” the what’s what behind these two school of thoughts. So today, I’ll like to share with you what I’ve found out from my various readings, as well as what I’ve discovered from my own experience. I’m sure many of you eat fruit so this topic will probably interest you too.
Why fruit should be eaten alone
First, I need to establish that I couldn’t find any science to support this view. It looks like the view was popularized by Dr Oz but surprisingly, it originated from Singapore! According to Snopes.com, this view was first shared in an article titled “The Correct Way of Eating Fruits,” which has been floating on the Internet since August 2001. The said article was written in 1998 by Devagi Sanmugam, a chef and culinary writer who lives in Singapore (source). Well, well…who would have guessed?
Anyway, this is not a mainstream view and most of its supporters are wellness gurus. The general reasoning is that fruit digest so quickly that by the time they reach your intestines, they are already partially digested. So if they’re mixed with other foods, those foods will prevent the fruit from being digested as quickly and that’ll create fermentation and cause indigestion, bloating and other sorts of discomforts.
Some even suggest that the properties of certain food will cancel out the benefits found in some fruit and that is why fruit should be consumed alone (not even eaten with vegetables). A more reasonable explanation I’ve come across is that eating fruit on its own allows us to reap all the benefits of the fruit through maximum absorption.
Dr Wayne Pickering, a naturopathic physician in Florida has very clear reasons for not eating fruit with other foods. Here’s what he supports, as extracted from Mercola.com: “Fruit are either a single or double sugar. Fruit mechanically break down in your stomach, but chemically, they don’t break down until they reach the third and fourth stage of your digestive system, which are in your small intestine. If you combine fruit with other food, it gets trapped in your stomach with all that other food, where it starts to rot as it’s not being chemically digested there. Therefore, fruit should be eaten 30-60 minutes before a meal or two hours after a meal.”
Why fruit can be eaten any time with other foods
The mainstream view about eating fruit is, it doesn’t matter when or what you eat them with. In fact, this view is strongly supported by scores of doctors and nutrition specialists. I’m just going to show you a few of them.
According to Karen Collins, MS, RD, CDN of American Institute for Cancer Research, it is untrue that eating fruit with other foods will cause fermentation, indigestion or heartburn. In fact, she maintains that eating different types of foods together does not inhibit digestion. Also, the stomach puts out large amounts of acid and food does not sit there rotting or fermenting. Plus any undigested food passes out as waste material and will not convert to fats. (source)
Dr. Pochapin, director of the Monahan Center for Gastrointestinal Health at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, says nothing can rot in the stomach. “Rotting, or fermentation, means bacterial action on food resulting in decomposition. And because of the presence of hydrochloric acid, the stomach has very few bacteria. The place where fruit produces gas is in the colon, not the stomach,” Dr. Pochapin adds. “The colon is loaded with bacteria and acts as the body’s sewage system.” (source)
On the homefront, here’s what Dr Shanker Pasupathy, Senior Consultant and Director of the LIFE Centre at Singapore General Hospital (SGH) said: “Fruit can be eaten at any time and it can be eaten along with other foods. The body produces digestive enzymes for protein, fat, and carbohydrates which help it digest mixed meals. Besides, since the stomach has a high concentration of hydrochloric acid, bacteria is killed before it is able to reproduce so fermentation cannot take place in the stomach.” (source)
My experience and thoughts about eating fruit
Personally, I think science is good but there are also some truths to why fruit should be eaten alone. This is afterall a new fad and it’ll probably take more time to gain credibility. It’s like how doctors have initially said that acne could not be due to diet but those of us who have had acne issues know it’s simply not true.
I think it’s fine to eat fruit with other foods or right after other foods if you’ve not experienced any issues doing that. But if you’ve been practicing this and you’ve experienced some discomfort, it might be time to re-adjust your fruit-eating habit.
However, having experimented with eating fruit alone on an empty stomach, I think this dieting habit may yield more benefits than eating them in combination with other foods. Now why do I say that?
I’ve been eating fruit alone either in the morning or about an hour before my meals and I realized that I detox a lot better. For those who don’t understand detox, then let me help you by being more graphical in my explanation—when I eat fruit alone, I poop better. This is in contrast to the constipation that I sometimes still suffer on days when I eat fruit in combination with other foods.
Granted, the constipation may not be due the combination of eating fruit and food or eating fruit right after other foods but I do feel I detox better when I consume fruits alone. As a matter of fact, I can visit the toilet twice a day and I view that as “cleansing”. My theory is that when I consume the fruits alone, I’m able to fully absorb the digestive enzymes that help to clean out the residue left over from what I’ve eaten. Makes sense?
But that doesn’t mean I’m only going to eat fruit on its own all the time. Well no, I’ll still like to add some fruits into my salad or into my breakfast. Some food combination are simply too delish to give up altogether no?
I don’t know what you’re thinking so far after reading all these but I would love that you share with us how you’ve been eating your fruit or if you think the unconventional view on eating fruit makes sense. If you’re sitting on the fence somewhat, I’ll suggest that you experiment. If you’ve not tried eating fruit alone without other foods, try it. See for yourself if there are any tangible benefits. Maybe it won’t make any difference. Maybe it will. If you don’t try, you’ll never know. Anyway, it’s not going to do your body any harm.
Oh by the way, tomatoes are considered fruit and if we go by the non-combination principle, pastas should never have tomato sauce. (-_-)