The Time for Fruit
How to Eat Fruit
A lot has been written on when we should ideally eat our portion of fruit. There are several myths doing the rounds as everyone seems to have a different theory on it.
So eating fruits is a whole new ball game now. It’s no longer as simple as buying them from the market, cutting and popping them in the mouth. There are timings, nature of fruit and different combinations that should be considered if you intend to derive maximum benefit from them.
Before we dwell on the right time of eating fruits and should they be consumed before or after meals, let’s get some facts straight.
How does the Stomach process Fruit?
Some Nutritionists swear that fruits should be eaten alone or with other fruits only, before a meal, on an empty stomach, because fruits have high carbohydrate and water content and easily pass from the stomach to the small intestine and this process can be hindered resulting in the fruits fermenting and rotting if they are combined with other foods.
In reality, the stomach performs three tasks. First, the stomach stores the swallowed food and liquid. Next, it mixes up the food, liquid, and the digestive juice resulting in the mixture chyme. Lastly, the stomach empties its contents slowly into the small intestine.
Yes, Carbohydrates are easily digested; however fruits are technically made up of carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, water, and fiber. Higher the amount of fiber, slower will be your digestion. Moreover, fermentation occurs in the presence of bacteria, but the stomach PH is highly acidic due to high concentrations of hydrochloric acid, and so the bacteria are killed before they are able to reproduce, thus debunking the fruit rotting myth.
Enzymes digest proteins, fats and carbohydrates concurrently
You may have also heard that the body can’t digest the carbohydrates present in fruit when combined with other foods.
Factually, the body produces different digestive enzymes for proteins, fats and carbohydrates and these nutrients are broken down and absorbed at different stages of the digestive process. If the above claim was substantial, then we would not have digested even a single meal since most foods are a combination of nutrients.
Proper food combinations provide synergistic effects
Now that we’ve established that fruits can be eaten before or after meals. It is important to note that proper food combinations can aid the digestion process and optimize nutrient absorption. According to Ayurvedic principles, every food has three characteristics – taste, heating or cooling energy, and a post-digestive effect. So, if you combine foods that have opposite effects, you may experience indigestion, fermentation, putrefaction and gas formation.
e.g- Iron is absorbed better when consumed with Vitamin C rich foods and vegetables, and eating bananas with milk may produce phlegm, and cause congestion, sinus and allergies.
Although, this is a general guideline and food combination effects also depend on a host of other factors like your individual metabolism, food allergies, the adapting power of your digestive system etc. It is therefore important that you consult your doctor or a registered dietitian for specific guidance on incorporating a fruit in combination with your food in case you have a doubt.
Overall, fruits are undoubtedly one of the most delicious and healthy edibles provided by nature and the question should not be whether you eat them before or after a meal or in combination with some other food, rather you should want to know how to incorporate this health boosting food as much as possible in your diet.