I’ve just watched an inspiring video by a young lady called Sabrina Rae who is healing from multiple sclerosis by changing her diet. Sabrina was a vegan for several years. Then she was diagnosed with M.S.
How can this be, she wondered, when I’m eating such a “healthy” vegan diet? Her doctor said M.S. was incurable. She would have to take medication for the rest of her life. The doctor said diet had nothing to do with it!
Thankfully, Sabrina followed her intuition. She declined the medication. Instead, she discovered the Wahl’s Protocol, which has had amazing success helping people heal from M.S.
The Wahl’s Protocol is a Paleo-type diet, low in carbohydrate and higher in fats and protein.
Now, before you jump to conclusions and think I’m recommending a Paleo or low-carb approach for everyone – no, I’m not. But the big lesson, which Sabrina was wise enough to learn, is that her previous vegan diet was wrecking her health.
Not so much that she was vegan. But more particularly, she was eating a lot of fruit and juices. She should have listened to the warning signs much earlier. She often felt a burning in her pancreas after eating.
So, here is the real point I want to make. Many people think fruit is “healthy”. They think they can eat as much fruit as they want, and drink unlimited fruit juice.
The truth is, fruit is a double-edged sword.
Certainly, fruit is a natural food. It contains lots of beneficial nutrients. It’s good to eat. In moderation.
I’ve found it fascinating to study the diets of traditional societies, where people live long, healthy lives. In particular, I have recently been looking at the Greek island of Ikaria and also the traditional Japanese diet.
Looking at typical meals of the elderly people in Ikaria, I could not help noticing the lack of fruit. They eats lots of vegetables. But none of the meal plans I’ve seen include any fruit!
Certainly, they do eat fruit. But only fruit that is locally grown and when it is in season. And they don’t eat much of it. They do drink wine (in moderation) which of course is made from grape juice.
Likewise with the Japanese. Traditionally, they have eaten very little fruit. Again, it is only local fruit and when it’s in season.
In all traditional societies, fruit was a sweet treat, to be enjoyed in moderation. They knew this instinctively. The surplus fruit was either dried or made into juice and fermented. It was consumed in limited amounts, usually with a meal.
In America, Europe and other developed countries we have so much fruit in the supermarkets all year round, we take it for granted. We also have massive amounts of fruit juice, which is marketed as being “healthy”.
Many modern fruits are also artificially bred to increase their size and sweetness. So a typical apple today contains the equivalent of 5 – 6 teaspoons of sugar. Certainly, it also contains essential nutrients and fibre. But that sugar will still affect your blood sugar and insulin levels.
Particularly if you have a tendency towards hypoglycaemia, chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia, adrenal fatigue, thyroid issues etc. you need to be careful with fruit.
You might have come across the 80/10/10 diet. This is a popular fad diet, devised by Dr Doug Graham. It involves getting 80% of your calories from carbohydrate, 10% from protein and 10% from fat.
The only way this is possible is to eat a lot of fruit. For example, some 80/10/10 dieters will have 10 or 12 bananas for breakfast and lots of fruit smoothies.
You will read testimonials from 80/10/10 dieters of how they have transformed their health by switching to this type of diet. But don’t be sucked in. This is not a balanced diet. You might be able to get away with it for a while if you are young and fit. But eventually these kinds of unbalanced fad diets will wreck your health.
My advice regarding fruit is to limit yourself to one piece per day. And don’t worry if you miss a day or two. Eat plenty of vegetables and you will get all the vitamin C and other nutrients you need that are found in fruit.
Just to conclude, because I recommend caution with fruit does not mean I am promoting a “low carb” diet. I do recommend a diet that is low in simple carbohydrates i.e. sugars, which includes fruit sugar, honey and other “healthy” sweeteners.
But complex carbohydrates are different. They break down more slowly. They don’t cause such a spike in blood sugar and insulin. You do need complex carbohydrates. So don’t lump all carbs in together as being “bad”. Don’t be afraid to eat wholegrain bread (avoid white bread, particularly the processed type found in supermarkets), rice, potatoes etc.
These complex carbohydrates are beneficial.
I’m sorry you can’t put me in a box of being either “low carb” or “high carb”. The truth is somewhere in the middle. It’s called moderation. This will never sell diet books. (To do that, you need to come up with an extreme idea and market the heck out of it, preferably with a doctor’s endorsement).
But moderation is what you need if you want to be healthy long term!