Is too much fruit giving you IBS symptoms and weight gain?
Whenever I write about this subject I brace myself for the inevitable hate mail. But hear me out. Have a look at the list below - does any of it ring true with you? I’d love to hear your comments.
Can you eat too much fruit?
We love fruit, and it’s an ‘allowed’ food right? And super good for us? It sure is - there's no argument there. However, as with everything, you can have too much of a good thing. Too much fruit could be causing you the following:
1. Cramping, wind and IBS-like symptoms
As well as glucose (sugar), fruit also contains fructose (also a sugar, which behaves slightly differently in the body). We naturally have a limited amount of the enzyme that breaks down fructose and although, of course, we’re all different, many people have a limit as to what they can digest comfortably.
A person who might feel this a lot more, is a person with an imbalanced gut flora or with SIBO (an overgrowth of an inappropriate type or amount of flora higher up in the gut in the small intestine), as any fructose not immediately digested and absorbed gets attacked by bacteria.
Bacterialoves fermenting the sugars - creating gas as an interesting byproduct. Funnily enough, when I grew up in Sweden, we were always told not to eat another apple or we’ll get a tummy ache, and it was just a completely accepted fact.
2. Stagnated weight-loss
Or you may even experience weight gain. Of course, if you’re swapping a pack of hobnob biscuits for fruit, we’d all agree that fruit is the better option by far. However, if you feel that you have a healthy diet, you’re really trying hard but you’re simply not losing weight, try cutting down and see. Often the effects can be really quick.
Why is this? Well, other than the obvious increasing glucose content, there’s a lot of speculation and research into the fructose effect on appetite and insulin. Much of the research is more pointing to the health risks associated with consuming the free fructose found in HFCS (high fructose corn syrup used in the US in sodas and foods), and very little research is done on natural fruits where fructose is often bound to glucose and together with fibre, forming a more complex sugar.
Preliminary research, however, has shown that fructose could have a stimulatory effect on appetite and energy storage hormones, perhaps speaking to our body’s survival genes on a different level. It's possible that this plays an important part also, and I shall be following and reporting on the emerging research with interest.
3. Sweet cravings
Some time not that long ago, fruit was only available when in season. That’s once a year pretty much. If you’ve tried eating wild apples that have been stored for a couple of months, you’ll know there’s nothing treat-like about that at all.
Many types of fruit have little resemblance to natural fruit, as anyone who’s ever picked wild fruit will know. Our in-house UK fruits, such as apples, are considerably sweeter than they use to be. UK food politics has meant immense pressure on growers to develop the sweetest tasting fruits, tasting delicious of course, but perhaps at the expense of a more complex flavour.
You may also find that you're eating more and more but without the fullness.
How much fruit is the right amount?
One to two fruits or a handful of berries per day is absolutely fine for most people (unless you have a fructose intolerance, in which case you may struggle with this amount.)
But, why not choose vegetables? Have a carrot. Often, we’re only satisfying a nibbling urge anyway and, although veg also contains sugars, it's much less. See fruit more as a treat rather than a free calorie.
Try this experiment. Go five days of no sweet-tasting foods at all other than vegetables! So that’s no sweet drinks, no alcohol, no honey, no fruit, and keep dairy products on the low side. You’ll feel very different, will probably lose some weight or water, and will eventually find that you’ll have much fewer sugar cravings. It’s the best way to kick a sugar addiction.
Let me know how you get on!