Eat fruit on an empty stomach?

FruitSalad

photo by Pink Sherbet Photography via Flickr

New fad alert:

Eating fruit on an empty stomach is better than consuming it with other foods. The breakdown of mixed foods in the stomach has apparently caused some concern. The idea behind this is that when fruit and fruit juices are mixed with other foods in the stomach, it causes the food to ferment or “spoil.”  This can supposedly cause gas, bloating, indigestion, or other GI symptoms. Another claim is that the carbohydrate in fruit is hard to digest in conjunction with macronutrients in other foods. According to this fad, eating fruits on an empty stomach has a “detoxifying” effect on the system.

Myth Busters

In order for fermentation to occur, bacteria must be present. The stomach is a highly acidic environment, and it is not a comfortable home for bacteria.

Also, the body’s system is not as simple as this idea is suggesting. Our pancreas produces enzymes that digest carbohydrate, protein, and fat at the same time. It does not make sense that our digestive systems could only digest one macronutrient at a time because most foods are a combination of multiple components. Fruits and vegetables are not just 100% carbohydrate. There is also protein and in some cases, small amounts of fat in many fruits and vegetables.

The body’s renal (kidney) system’s purpose is to rid our bodies of toxins that can be dangerous to the body and maintain electrolyte balance. Fruit eaten with other food is not a toxin. The whole idea of “detoxifying” the body by eating or drinking certain a food is invalid.  A healthy body has a very efficient system of “detoxifying” and it is not affected by eating fruit on an empty stomach.

Conclusion

There is no scientific evidence to back the idea that fruit should be eaten on an empty stomach. However, there is research that provides evidence that a diet high in fruits and vegetables can lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. Instead of worrying about when and how you are eating fruit, focus on just eating more of it!  Fruit is full of antioxidants and vitamins! In fact, some nutrients are more readily absorbed in the presence of fruit. For example, when iron is taken with a source of vitamin C (think citrus fruits), it is better absorbed by the body. Americans on average only eat about 3 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, not including potatoes. Aim for at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables every day- with or without other food.

photo by Pink Sherbet Photography via Flickr

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