Fruits are a very tricky topic. We hear of how amazing fruits are one day and the next day we learn that they’re full of sugar and we shouldn’t eat them. I think both groups have their points. If you end up eating a very low fat diet then more fruit seems to be OK. If you eat a higher fat diet, lots of fruit probably won’t work too well.
Because fruit is so easily digestible and usually has minerals and phytochemicals that help combat bad skin, it has the potential to be great at combating acne. However, a lot of people find that it simply doesn’t work for them. That can be because of the many issues with fruit that we talk about here.
A Problem With Fruit
I used to be under the impression that fruit was great when I was big into detoxing and raw foods, but former “semi-famous” raw foodies Kevin Gianni and Denise Minger opened my eyes to the possibility that maybe fruit isn’t the best thing for everyone. In fact, I remember watching a YouTube video of Kevin talking about how he had acne and was really concerned because he was trying to be a representation of good health, but his acne did not portray that. After going a week without fruit, his acne disappeared.
As hard as it is to admit, certain fruits do contain lots of sugar. Over time, fruits have been hybridized and bread to be as sweet as possible. The natural composition of fiber and protein and carb ratios in many fruits has changed over time to increase their sugar content and lower their fiber. I would never recommend eating the monstrous amount of fruit shown in videos across YouTube. A lot of people on YouTube might advocate eating super high fruit diets, but almost every single doctor that I follow, whether medical, chiropractic, or naturopathic, recommends keeping fruit intake to low or moderate levels.
This is also practice in functional medicine. Even the prestigious Hippocrates Health Institute, the top raw food healing center in the world, advocates very little to no fruit consumption when trying to heal from a disease and get blood sugar stable. Dr. Mark Hyman recommends the same thing in his New York Times bestselling book “The Blood Sugar Solution.”
For many people with acne, their blood sugars are swinging up and down all day long. If this is the case, I recommend lowering fruit consumption to no more than 1 or 2 servings of low glycemic fruit per day.
Other Possible Issues With Fruit
Along with blood sugar issues, there is also fructose malabsorption that can make fruit a problem. For me, fructose is highly inflammatory in my body, so I do better if I keep my fructose consumption under a certain amount a day. Perhaps this will change in the future, but right now I try not to eat too much fructose.
Someone can also have gut dysbiosis that can be an issue and lead to certain fruits high in FODMAPs to be problematic. This is something else that happened to me because of my severe gut problems I used to have.
FODMAP stands for “fermentable oligo, di, and monosaccharides, and polyols (sugar alcohols).” Basically they are fructose-containing carbohydrates that ferment in your gut and feed bacteria. Normally carbohydrates get broken down and absorbed in the small intestines. With FODMAP intolerance, the person either doesn’t have enough enzymes to break down the carbohydrates or they don’t have enough transport units in their intestines to transport the sugars through the intestinal wall. Even in healthy people FODMAPs are inefficiently absorbed in the small intestine. In those with gut issues, FODMAP intolerance may cause bloating, gas, an extended stomach and other gastrointestinal problems after eating foods higher in FODMAPs. Apples, pears, watermelon and mangoes are the higher FODMAP fruits. FODMAPs are also in other foods too like grains, which helps explain why so many people feel so much better off of them as well.
FODMAPs and fructose malabsorption is something that I suggest looking into if you follow a paleo diet yet still have digestive complaints and acne.
When Fruit Might Be Good
Here’s the caveat to fruit. If you live in the tropics, somewhere such as Costa Rica or Jamaica, then your body might be able to handle fruits better. I heard of a girl who was living in New York doing the raw food diet. She came up in a discussion I was having with a doctor and he said that it’s only a matter of time before she moved to some place warmer. Not even a week later she moved to Costa Rica.
Our diets depend on our environment and our bio-individuality. When we can find a specific problem we’re trying to solve, we can use the science that’s available as a good place to start. From personal experience and doctors’ recommendations, fruit is something we should greatly limit and even eliminate for a short period of time in the beginning as we try to get our blood sugar and candida under control.
The main issue with fruit is its sugar content. If you have blood sugar issues and can’t handle fruit, then don’t eat it. I used to eat a ton of fruit, then I lowered my fruit intake drastically. I finally smartened up and properly tested my blood glucose levels with a glucometer. I had really high blood sugar levels after eating papaya. Much higher than what they should be. After that experience (and a few more times where I re-tested my blood sugar levels and saw they were high), I started to eat only lower glycemic load fruits like berries. Because of my gut issues, I also stay away from FODMAPs. After a few months of eating limited (or hardly any) low glycemic fruits like berries, you can experiment with adding more fruit back into your diet and see where you stand. Usually, after some metabolic damage and blood sugar issues are taken care of, people can handle more fruit.
How To Know If You Can Handle Lots Of Fruit
To see if you can handle the sugar in fruits, you can get a two-hour fasting blood glucose and insulin test done you’ll know how well you can handle sugar in general. Along with getting this test done, I highly recommend getting a blood glucose monitor. I’ve tested several and like this one the best. Test your blood glucose levels fasting, one hour and two hours after eating. Depending on your scores, that will tell you if you have blood sugar issues or not. If you do, less fruit will be beneficial.
To see if you can handle the FODMAPs, go without higher FODMAP foods for a few days, then try eating some apples or a watermelon or other high FODMAP fruit and see how your digestion is. Do you have to go to the bathroom immediately after eating it? Do you get lots of gas, bloating, or indigestion? That can be a FODMAP issue.
Doing an elimination and reintroduction diet is the gold standard in seeing how your body reacts to foods. Eliminate the foods and then reintroduce them using a food journal to see how you react. Getting a food sensitivity test like the MRT and/or IgG can tell you if there are any specific foods you should avoid because they cause inflammation. I suggest getting both.
Tips on eating fruit
- When eating fruit, try to eat it earlier on in the day. Also, try not to mix it with very heavy meals. Fruits are pretty easy to digest and move through the system fairly quickly. By mixing fruits with other, heavier foods, the sugars have a greater chance of fermenting in your gut. Greens and other higher fiber foods can be eaten with fruit without an issue.
- Always eat whole fruits. Skip the fruit juices. Stick with eating whole fruits filled with fiber and phytochemicals not found in fruit juices. Be careful not to load up your smoothies with too much fruit. Smoothies should be 0 – 30% fruit and 70 – 100% vegetables.
- Fruit can be a great fuel source, but only if your body can handle sugar properly.
- Even so, it may be possible that you either have a sensitivity to certain fruit or the FODMAPs in certain fruits. You can get test your reactions to different foods by doing an elimination diet and food journal. You can also get food sensitivity testing like the MRT and/or IgG to check for sensitivities.
- Check your blood sugar levels to see if you can handle more fruit. To read more about blood sugar levels check out other posts on the topic.
- Berries tend to be the fruits with the highest levels of antioxidants and the lowest glycemic load, so they are recommended as the first fruits to have.
- If you suspect fruit is contributing to your acne or other health issues, eliminate it (or drastically reduce it) from your diet for a few months, then reintroduce it if you want.
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