Can your fruit and veggies be making you sick? How about making you fat?

A lot of us have been told that fruit was a healthy snack. Is this true or simply outdated information?

While most plant foods are good for us, we are all different individuals with different microbiomes (the needed bacteria in the gut) and in different stages of health.  For some people a vegetarian diet helps them to feel great, they thrive on it.  For others, they are much healthier adding meat into their diets.  There simply is not a one diet fits all.  

Science has figured out that we are bio-individuals.  Bio meaning life or living body, so we are individual living bodies. Bio-individuality is a term referring to the fact that each person’s unique body has different needs and requires different foods.

The same is true for fruits and veggies… to a point.  Some people thrive on all the veggies this wonderful planet has to offer, while others have reactions to some plants/fruits. 

There is a class of vegetables that can cause inflammation and allergies.  Nightshades!  

Have you heard of nightshades?  

Maybe you’ve heard of them but don’t really know what they are.  Nightshades are a class of vegetables that cause a negative reaction in some people.  The most common nightshades are bell peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplant.  That’s a list of healthy and yummy veggies for most of us.  For others, they are a source of joint pain, bloating and they can lead to chronic inflammation. 

People with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, or other joint problems should avoid eating any nightshades. 

When inflammation is not controlled it can lead to insulin resistance and that is the beginning of a long list of diseases. So if you experience sinus issues, unexplained weight gain even though you’re eating a lot of veggies, fluid retention, irritable bowel syndrome, depression, you get a lot of headaches, or joint pain, you many be experiencing a reaction to your food. 

Inflammation is really an entire article all by itself.  Here’s a quick rundown of what it is.  When you bump your toe and it hurts and turns red, you’re jumping around yelling, OUCH, your body has a biological response. It rushes to the area to attack whatever is hurting you and it starts trying to heal the location.  That includes when you eat something you shouldn’t have or inhaled a cold bug.  That’s inflammation which is a good thing.  We need inflammation at times like that.  Then, after we’ve cleared up the invader the body settles back down.  

But when things get out of balance in the body and our body sees food as an invader there can be a build up of inflammation that just keeps coming and doesn’t get the signal to settle down.  That’s when it’s out-of-balance and bad things can start to happen.  Okay, that’s the quick explanation of it. 

So, as I was saying, one of the many things inflammation can cause is insulin resistance.  And that can lead to metabolic syndrome and diabetes.  Science is now finding that Alzheimer’s starts with inflammation. They have started calling it Diabetes III.  

What should we watch out for?  We should watch out for foods that have a high glycemic load (GL), (That’s different from glycemic Index, see side note.)

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Foods that have a high glycemic load can raise a person’s blood sugar.  For the average healthy individual, our blood sugar can go up and down and the body handles it.  We adjust internally as the body sends out insulin to transport the glucose into the cells for energy.  Any glucose that isn’t needed can be stored in the liver and muscles for later use.  We go about our day unaware that this is all happening inside of us.  For others, it’s not that simple.

Repeatedly raising our blood sugar can be traveling down a slippery road.  We have what are called insulin receptors that help with the transport and when bombarded with a constant overload the receptors get a bit tired and start refusing to collect the glucose (sugar). High blood sugar, also called hyperglycemia, leads to pre-diabetes, diabetes, pancreatitis, Cushing’s syndrome, pancreatic cancer, and more. Some medications can cause hyperglycemia while on the medication.  Speak with your doctor if you experience the following; dry mouth, frequent urination, increased thirst, fatigue, lightheadedness, blurred vision, headache, nausea and weakness.

High blood glucose levels are also associated with cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s.

Two of the highest GL foods include baked russet potato and microwavable potato.  This is really sad because I really enjoy a good baked potato. 

To get the most of your veggies eat low glycemic and eat seven to nine servings of vegetables a day, making a good portion of them leafy greens.  Seven to nine servings averages about four cups. 

See the side notes for a list of veggies to include in your diet and the ones to limit or avoid. (Sidebar is not currently functioning. Notes can be found at the bottom of this article.)

As for the fruit, we were told they were healthy snacks.  Don’t get me wrong, fruit contains a lot of good stuff like fiber, vitamins and phytonutrients.  Sadly, some of them can also raise your blood sugar.  

Who doesn’t love a sweet juicy fruit for a treat? I know I do.  I’m not saying you shouldn’t eat fruit, you should eat it, but I am saying it’s best to limit how much you eat and which kind of fruit you eat.  Grapes along with most of the melon varieties are the top offenders for raising our blood sugar. And once again, that leads to inflammation, and inflammation can result in weight gain.

If you’ve started eating fruit to save yourself from eating ice cream and cookies you may simply be swapping out one sugar for another.

Years and years ago, fruit wasn’t as sweet as it is now.  We’ve taken what was growing wild and manipulated it into the perfect looking, and sweeter tasting, fruit we now find in our supermarkets.

Ok, after all that negative talk about fruit, let me say, fruit is healthy.  Try to pick fruits that have an 11 glycemic load or lower.  Pick fruits with fiber so the sugar doesn’t spike as fast. Fruits contain antioxidants, they are anticancer, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory. Berries are the best choices for a healthy diet.  While delicious and healthy, it is still best to limit your fruit to two servings a day.  

Avoid canned fruit, all fruit juice (that’s an article in itself), dried fruit, bananas, grapes and melon for the most part. 

What’s better, fresh or frozen? 

One way to increase the nutrient value is by buying frozen fruit. I’ll bet that came as a surprise.  Buy frozen, it’s often better for you, (and that goes for veggies as well as fruit), and it’s generally cheaper.  When they freeze fruit they pick fruit that is at it’s peak ripeness and freeze it right away.  It holds its nutrition while frozen.  Whereas, fresh fruit needs to be picked prior to ripening so it can ripen in route, which can be over a thousand miles.  And ‘ripen in route’ really means it’s starting the rotting process. 

So, by all means eat fruit, just choose low glycemic load and high fiber fruits.  They really do make a healthy and delicious snack.  

You can find a list of fruits to eat and to avoid in the side bar. 

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Fruits and veggies are some of the best nutrient based foods available to us.  Please eat plenty of them.  But if you’re someone that has a reaction to foods, pay attention to the foods that seem to be affecting you and try to eliminate them for a few weeks to see how you feel.  

For questions or more information please contact me.  

Cathy Ostema

Mountain Sun Healing 

Glycemic Load –

Refers to how much and how fast a particular food will raise a person’s blood glucose level after they have eaten it. It determines how much carbohydrate is in the food which turns into glucose in the body and how much insulin will be released into the system. So a food that has a high glycemic index may actually have a low glycemic load and be healthy to consume.

Glycemic Index –

Is a measure of how much a food, once eaten, causes the level of glucose in the blood to rise. It however, does not calculate the insulin production of a food. So two different foods could have the same glycemic index but produce different amounts of insulin in the body.

It’s best to consume veggies with a glycemic load of 11 or less.

The following list for glycemic load came from, What the Heck Should I Eat? by Mark Hyman, MD

Fruits with a low glycemic load –

Apricots – 3
Oranges – 3
Watermelons – 4
Nectarines – 4
Wild blueberries – 5
Golden Delicious apples – 6
Pineapple – 6
Kiwis – 7
Mangoes – 8
Cherries – 9
Black grapes – 11

Fruits with a high glycemic load

Bananas – 16
Dried figs – 16
Raisins – 28

Veggies to eat freely –

Salad greens
Bok Choy
Tomatoes (unless you shouldn’t eat nightshades)
Peppers (unless you shouldn’t eat nightshades)
Eggplant (unless you shouldn’t eat nightshades)
Brussel Sprouts
Swiss chard
collard greens
turnip greens
beet greens
mustard greens
purple or red or white fingerling potatoes
rainbow carrots
Jerusalem artichokes

Veggies to avoid –

Iceberg lettuce
White potatoes
raw white button mushrooms
alfalfa sprouts
Nightshades if you have arthritis or inflammation
Baked russet potato
microwavable potato