Tag Archives: fruit

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Science-based dietary recommendations: How much do we really know?

The authors of a key, highly-cited (close to 900 times) paper on bioactive compounds [1], report that numerous bioactive compounds discovered in fruit and vegetables appear to have positive effect on health:

Bioactive compounds are extranutritional constituents that typically occur in small quantities in foods. They are being intensively studied to evaluate their effects on health. The impetus sparking this scientific inquiry was the result of many epidemiologic studies that have shown protective effects of plant-based diets on cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer. Many bioactive compounds have been discovered.”

The authors emphasize that “Much scientific research needs to be conducted before we can begin to make science-based dietary recommendations” and note that the list of bioactive compounds is “ever-expanding“. Nevertheless, they conclude that

On the basis of a large population database, there is sufficient evidence to recommend a diet high in food sources rich in bioactive compounds”.

Interestingly, in another study, reporting the inhibition of colon and breast cancer cell proliferation by fruits and berries [2], we read that there exists “a synergistic effect of vitamin C and other substances” that may play an important role [emphasis mine].

So the compelling questions that emerge are: How many more different compounds and complex synergistic processes that link them exist? What does our lack of knowledge mean, practically speaking, in relation to the desirable concept of ‘sound nutritional advice’? Considering the complexity of the human body, is it possible to fully grasp the complete mechanism of nutrition through the studies performed in artificial laboratory environments?

Notably, the authors of a very recent publication citing [1], which reviews current evidence regarding the relationship between vegetarian eating patterns and cancer risk [3], report that

A vegan diet, aside from its deficit of vitamin B12 activity (readily compensated by supplementation), is typically more micronutrient-dense (per calorie) than the diets favored by omnivores

and

Fears that a vegan diet may be inadequate in protein quality or quantity are unfounded”.

Importantly, the authors emphasize that

a broad body of evidence links specific plant foods such as fruits and vegetables, plant constituents such as fiber, antioxidants and other phytochemicals, and achieving and maintaining a healthy weight to reduced risk of cancer diagnosis and recurrence”.

In conclusion, modern science may only begin to understand the full benefits of plant-based diets. It may take a lot of research to unravel the various pathways that lead to better health through nutrients-rich fresh fruit and veggies. Enough evidence indicates nevertheless that such diets may not only offer superior nutrition, but also reduce the chance of serious diseases through simple and achievable lifestyle choices.

Let us not waste time waiting until science figures it all out.

References:

[1] Kris-Etherton P.M., Hecker K.D., Bonanome A., Coval S.M., Binkoski A.E., Hilpert K.F., Griel A.E., Etherton T.D. Bioactive compounds in foods: Their role in the prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer (2002) American Journal of Medicine, 113 (9 SUPPL. 2)

[2] Olsson M.E., Gustavsson K.-E., Andersson S., Nilsson A., Duan R.-D. Inhibition of cancer cell proliferation in vitro by fruit and berry extracts and correlations with antioxidant levels (2004) Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 52 (24) , pp. 7264-7271.

[3] Nagarathna Purada Kattimani Matada, Mukumbayi Mulumba Philippe, Raju Koneri. Department of Pharmacology, Karnataka College of Pharmacy, Bangalore, Karnataka, IndiaA Study on Plant Based Dietary Patterns and Cancer Risk (2013) Int. J. Pharm. Sci. Rev. Res., 23(2), Nov – Dec 2013; no 45, 265-278.

Stocked up on mangoes!

Why a High-Carb (Fruit-Based) Diet for Type 1 Diabetes?

When someone discovers that I eat raw foods for the purpose of allowing my type 1 diabetic body to heal, they are normally surprised that I choose a diet high in fruit carbs.  The immediate question is, “But don’t you want to do as little insulin as possible?  Eating a lot of fruit just seems backward, since eating more carbs means taking more insulin.”

True, it does.  But I have good reason for my dietary decisions.

I began my raw food journey in an attempt to heal my diabetes and epilepsy, after reading some very inspiring testimonials.  I experimented with various approaches, including a raw food program that claimed to heal diabetes.  On this diet, my foods were raw vegetables and fats.  My “sweets” were non-sweet fruits (tomatoes and cucumbers) and grapefruit.  It was hardly an appealing diet.

On this “no carb” diet, my insulin needs were drastically reduced.  I got down to one unit of insulin per day, and probably could have gotten off insulin altogether.  But at what cost?

I constantly craved sweets.  I felt very unsatisfied with my food intake.  I had no energy.  I was miserable, running on fats for fuel.  This lifestyle was simply unsustainable for me.

What happened afterward…once I gave in to the carb cravings?  I binged on unhealthy carbs.  Also, because of my high fat intake on low-carb raw, my insulin sensitivity had become very poor.  I needed a lot of insulin for the carbs I ate.  Furthermore, despite getting “thin” on the diet, my body fat percentage was quite high.  I quickly re-gained the weight I had lost, and it took a very long time to reduce my body fat.

I may have had short-term results of lowering my insulin intake (as one might guess, since lowering carb intake lowers insulin needs), but the long-term results were not in my favor.  It was totally not worth it for me to eat the unappealing low-carb diet.

Fast-forward to the fruit-based (low-fat) raw food diet.  My insulin sensitivity is greatly increased.  I am satisfied and absolutely love the foods I get to eat every day.  My meals contribute to feeling energetic, rather than sleepy and weighed down.

Owing to my now-improved insulin sensitivity, my endocrinologist says I do the same amount of insulin as his other type 1 patients, despite eating three times as many carbs as they do.  And because I am satisfied by the carbs in the fruit I eat, I have no need to binge or “cheat” on unhealthy junk and processed foods.

I see how much easier it is to control my blood sugars with a low-fat, high-carb diet than with low-carb.  Is it tricky at times?  Sure it is!  Fruits vary in size, ripeness, and type/variety, among other things.  If they came uniformly, with individually-marked nutrition info like all the processed foods, it would be much easier to control blood sugars on a fruit diet.

However, for me, the sometimes-imperfect blood sugars are worth it, for the wide variety of tastes, nutrition, and positive effect on health that eating a fruit-based diet provides.  Overall, my blood sugar control is the best it has ever been (5.6-5.9% HbA1c).  My body shows many evidences of healing.

Shall I elaborate?  I no longer take epilepsy medicine; I went off of it “against medical advice”.  I no longer have the grand mal seizures that used to predictably occur with very low blood sugars.  I no longer get the frequent colds, headaches, and sinus infections that used to plague me.  My thinking is clearer.  My teeth have gone from yellow and translucent to white and opaque.  My hair and nails grow faster than ever in my life.

My body is more flexible and recovers much more quickly from exercise.  My bad breath and body odor are gone.  My sense of smell has improved.  My periods are lighter and shorter.  My libido has definitely increased.  My candida symptoms have gone away, and only re-surface when I have sustained high blood sugars (as a result of a very high fat intake).

Because of these noted changes (and many more), I am confident that I am giving my body what it needs for healthful living.

In summary, the reasons I choose a high-carb (fruit-based) over low-carb (high fat) diet as a type 1 diabetic are these: 1) satisfaction with my food (not craving sweets); 2) increased insulin sensitivity; 3) improved blood sugar control; 4) feeling good; and 5) improved overall health (in countless ways).  In light of all these benefits, I feel that “amount of insulin per day” is probably not the best predictor of my long-term health.  I do not plan to lose out on these amazing benefits by restricting carbs, simply to keep insulin levels below an arbitrary number.

Tasha Lee

Tasha Lee

Tasha Lee is passionate about sharing the gift of fruitful living with others. She is a fruit & diabetes blogger, health coach, and author of the book Healing Diabetes with Fruit. As a type 1 diabetic and epileptic, Tasha's own health has vastly improved on a fruit-based diet. In addition to promoting healthy living, Tasha also loves to serve in sign language, music, and disability ministry.

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