Fruits are amongst the healthiest, most delicious and natural foods that we can have. Our ancestors having eaten raw foods for almost two million years, our bodies have evolved to make best use of fruits, reminding us of our intricate yet simple and direct connection with the Earth.
Human beings are the only creatures on earth who cook their foods. But nature has provided all the living enzymes we need in raw fruits, vegetables and edible greens, and cooking actually kills these enzymes and nutrients. In fact, several naturopaths and other experts today say that if we eat plenty of raw foods and vegetables, and adopt a body-and-earth-friendly, low-stress lifestyle, we would never need to see a doctor or step inside a hospital.
Making fruits a daily habit – especially a daily breakfast habit, is a great way of tuning in to nature and at the same time stay healthy and fit. There are however few things to keep in mind before you decide to polish off that bowl of fresh papaya.
‘When’ and ‘How’ of Fruits
As opposed to the popular notion of having fruits as desert after a filling meal, fruits are of maximum benefit only if eaten on an empty stomach. This is because it takes only 20 minutes to digest fruits, as opposed to five to six hours required for ordinary foods.
If they are mixed with other cooked food or eaten after a meal, the fruit, which is ready to go directly to the intestines for absorption of nutrients after about 20 minutes in the stomach, is prevented from doing so, and therefore will take longer to digest, thus putrefying with the other food.
Hence, after eating fruit, leave a time gap of twenty minutes to half an hour before you eat any other food.
Since the digestive system has been at rest through the night, eating fruit is a gentle way of restarting it in the morning. This helps detoxify the system and supplies us with energy. Moreover, regular fruit eating provides the body with antioxidants to help prevent free radicals from damaging cells in our body.
Fruits that are peeled or sliced and kept for long periods before eating cannot be counted as wholesome foods. They change color, lose flavor, undergo oxidation with resulting loss of food value.
Dr Herbert Shelton, a raw food specialist, says ‘Nearly all of what we see of so-called allergy to fruits is indigestion resulting from wrongly combining the food eaten. Fruits should not be eaten with starchy, sugary foods or proteins – such combinations can cause gas, discomfort, and skin eruptions. For instance, melons, eaten with other foods may cause marked distress—eaten alone, they digest with the greatest of ease.
Fruits and Alkalinity
Most fruits are highly alkaline, especially the watery ones like melons. Sour fruits like oranges, lemons and plums are thought to be acidic. However, Dr. Gary Tunsky, a scientist who has researched the pH levels of food residues in the body, says that although they are acid fruits, they contain high amounts of calcium, magnesium and potassium which are alkaline minerals needed by the body to neutralize acids and balance pH. He recommends fresh lime juice without sugar, on waking up in the morning. This has immense impact on the pH levels.
In his book ‘What in the Cell is going on?’ Dr Tunsky adds that if we consume too much of acid-generating foods like starches and proteins, these essential minerals are robbed from the bones, teeth and joints to neutralize acids. This process leads to a range of illnesses from fatigue to cancers. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is required to maintain an alkaline environment in the cells.
If you look up health books or do a web-search you can easily find a lot of data such as ‘oranges are an excellent source of Vitamin C, they help lower cholestrol’; ‘watermelons have lycopene which is a cancer fighting anti-oxidant’; ‘papayas have carotene’ etc. By all means, one can go ahead and stock up on all this knowledge or information.
But as Michael Pollan writes in his best selling book ‘In Defence of Food’, do we really need this ‘nutritionism’? Should we be looking at it in such a piecemeal fashion? Instead, once we understand the importance of fruits for our health, it is quite enough to ensure that we eat three of four kinds of fruits every day- and enjoy them! We can also make sure that we eat seasonal fruits, since Nature changes the fruits she offers us to suit the climate and provide different nutrients. We may add that it is best to avoid the non-seasonal fruit that comes from across the globe or packaged and tinned fruit that are nutrient-dead and only add to carbon emissions.