Apparently, it goes almost without saying: fruit is good for you. Although you will hear warnings, however unscientific, of the dangers of saturated fat or consuming meat, you will scarcely ever hear a word of criticism about fruit. Is this respect for nature’s way of passing on its progeny justified?
Plants, in general, are masters of manipulating animals to do their bidding. They manage this in a number of ways such as using toxins to stop animals eating them (unsurprisingly, they don’t actually want to be eaten) and making their fruits attractive in order to use the consumer of that fruit as a spreader of its DNA.
Some plants, of course, don’t actually want or need animals to spread their seeds. For simplicity, we need to distinguish between naked seeds and protected seeds. Naked seeds are grown on various grasses and vines. The parent plants drop their seed right where they are, although there is some scattering due to factors such as the wind. As the parent plant does not want their offspring consumed, the seeds come laced with various chemical toxins to ward off predators.
Perhaps the most commonly known problem with such seeds is gluten which leads to a range of issues from celiacs disease to leaky gut, and from some very serious nervous system challenges to cognitive issues such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Beyond the plants own defences of course, many of these naked seeds are produced using glyphosates (Roundup) and are GMO. Best avoided wherever possible!
On the other hand, plants that produce protected seeds actually need animals to spread those seeds in order to avoid having to compete for space and light with the child plant. In order to do this, plants tempt animals by encasing their seeds within what we know as fruit. The animal is enticed to eat the fruit and the matter that encases the seed enables that seed to pass through, relatively unscathed, the animal’s gastrointestinal tract. The animal then poos somewhere, hopefully far from the parent plant, and thus enables the plant’s progeny a place to grow complete with a suitable growing medium (the poop!). Pretty sneaky, eh?
In order to attract animals (humans included), plants that produce protected seeds use a range of seductive devices. Colour would be one example. These tend to be bright and vibrant in order to capture the attention of an animal. The animal is then used as a transportation device to the plant. Aroma is another device oft used to attract a potential consumer.
Fructose, Leptin and Obesity
Beyond the attraction phase, they make the taste immediately pleasant to the animals taste buds by lacing the fruit with sugar. The particular sugars that they use are known as fructose. One of the many downsides of fructose is that this particular sugar does not stimulate leptin. This is the hormone that our bodies use to signal to us that we are full. As this signal is quashed by fructose, we will go on eating this stuff ad nauseum (quite literally!).
Several years ago, back in my vegetarian days, I was a more-than-willing victim of fructose. Whilst living for several months in Thailand, my regular diet would be a range of fruit but, in particular, bananas. I would buy a bunch of 10 or 15 the night before and consume the lot for breakfast the next morning. At the time, I considered this a healthy diet. Now I realise that I was simply a victim of plant manipulation.
Anyone who has eaten such huge amounts of fruit will have noticed another effect of consuming so much fructose-laden matter: you poop often and copiously. As far as the plant is concerned, this means it is more likely that its offspring will be distributed complete with the nutrients it needs to start its life.
Beyond the dangers of fructose, fruit comes with a range of other dangers to us …
Flavonoids are found in many fruits and are mostly promoted by those advocating plant-based diets for their antioxidant effects. Beyond this, however, it is also known to be a phytoestrogen. Because of this, it can disrupt endocrine and hormone function and have estrogen-like effects which, clearly, is not particular good news for the men out there(1).
There is also a wide range of symptoms associated with flavonoids, though the information tends to be harder to find, buried as it is beneath a welter of sites online trumpeting their benefits. Common symptoms for those sensitive to these polyphenols are blurred vision, dizziness, headaches, nervousness and irritability, and arrhythmia of the heart.
Salicylates are organic chemicals containing Salicylic acid. They are found naturally in many fruits, as well as in various nuts, vegetables and herbs. As with so many other plant-based chemicals, Salicylates serve a protective mechanism in foods, as well as preventing rot and disease. They are contained within the most vulnerable plant parts such as leaves, bark, roots, skin and seeds.
If we regularly consume salicylates, as many of us undoubtedly do, our bodies will need to work at ridding itself of these chemicals before they can accumulate to dangerous levels. The main enzyme responsible for this process belongs to the phenol sulfur-transferase (PST) group. Salicylates build up within us until a critical threshold is reached. Some folks have greater tolerance than others, partly dependent on how prevalent the PST enzyme is in our bodies.
Once the threshold is breached, we will start showing many of the allergic and inflammatory symptoms associated with salicylates. Typical symptoms are such things as asthma, headaches and migraines, irritability and restlessness, sleep disturbances and sleep apnea. Joint pains due to inflammation is also an oft-reported problem. Given the range and severity of the symptoms, it may well be wiser to attempt to avoid salicylates in the first place rather than trying to deal with the consequences once the threshold is passed (2).
These particular toxins are found in a huge amount of plant species. A few of the more common examples would be apples, apricots, cherries, peaches, plums, quinces, and cassava. Cyanogenic Glycosideare typically found in the seeds of such fruits. Being exposed to cyanide from the consumption of cyanogenic glycosides can lead to acute intoxication. Because these chemicals cause damage to our central nervous system, the results are characterized by the retardation of growth and neurological symptoms.
It is a scary thought that when you bite into a fruit containing this substance, the glycosides mix with activating enzymes and create cyanide. Cyanide, as you are no doubt aware, is a particularly deadly toxin. In concentrated form, it can kill you in seconds. Even very small amount imbibed over time, however, present dangers that are wiser to avoid.
Fortunately, our bodies are capable of detoxifying small amounts of cyanide. Beyond this, though, it will start to disrupt normal thyroid function. This can lead to such unpleasant conditions as goiter and hypothyroidism. High concentrations can block cellular respiration, suffocate the mitochondria in our cells and, in very stark terms, kill you (3).
Presentation and Reality
We live in times where reality is often lost to the current narrative. Many issues are used to further a given agenda, oft times these agendas are political in nature. The whole nutrition debate that has raged on for the best part of five decades now has become highly politicized. There has been an ongoing attempt to convert people away from the consumption of meat and into plant-based diets. Much faux science has been used to confuse and divert the public.
As I write, US President Joe Biden has announced plans to advance ‘the Green New Deal’. Part of this addresses meat consumption framed as a threat to the environment. This is apparently ‘justified’ because of ‘global warming’ or ‘climate change’ or ‘the green revolution’ or whatever cute piece of terminology these people are using to serve up their narrative this month. In the meantime, we are to be persuaded that fake meat is the equivalent of the real thing.
The presentation of fruit is part of this effort. A small amount of fruit is probably not too great a threat. On the other hand, the notion that diets overly high in such foodstuffs are healthy is likely false. They come with a range of problematic issues as demonstrated above.
With fruit, as with other issues, I would urge the reader to do their own research. Be aware as you do so, however, that there are many vested interests out there. Note the source of the information and ask yourself what is the likely motivation. This goes for other information too, of course. Most of the time it is there to serve a narrative. The purveyors are often not so interested in informing you as they are in converting you to share that narrative or simply sell things to you.
Be discerning, be discriminating, stay healthy.