Should We Eat Fruits Outside Meals?
“We should not eat fruit at the end of the meal”. It is what we read and hear everywhere, “physiological” justifications in support. Thierry Souccar explains why these arguments are fanciful.
This is a bizarre question, but as it is often asked in conferences and dozens of sites give a detailed answer, I looked at this fruit and digestion story.
There are three types of justification for saying that no fruit should be eaten at the meal
- ” The fruits digest very quickly, much faster than other food categories. This means that if we eat cherries or strawberries after the meal, they will stay in the stomach for a long time, on other foods. Until these other foods are digested. Now the stomach is a warm, humid environment, which favors fermentation.
- ” Strawberries and cherries will ferment. Especially since they contain, like all fruits, a lot of sugars. Their fructose then turns into alcohol … To the detriment of general health. So people who have never used alcohol sometimes discover that they have cirrhosis of the liver! “.
- ” We are all used to eating a fruit at the end of a meal or as a dessert. We believe that this action is beneficial to health. Fruits contain many vitamins and minerals but also acid compounds (especially citrus fruits). Eating a fruit after a meal will increase the acidity of the stomach and therefore cause stomach aches. It is therefore advisable to eat fruits outside meals, or 1 to 2 hours before or after a meal .
Here is why these arguments are whimsical
- Fermentation requires bacteria. The stomach is a medium rich in hydrochloric acid, which means that there are very few bacteria. Since it takes 6 to 10 hours for food to reach the colon, the time at which a fruit is eaten is of little importance.
- Fructose and glucose are not metabolized in the stomach but in the tissues after passage through the intestine and blood transport. They enter into the cellular energy production called glycolysis. A small part of the carbohydrates is taken care of by the intestinal flora and fermented by the bacteria to produce a little alcohol (ethanol). This endogenous production of alcohol was measured around 0.000039 g / dL. By way of comparison, the limit of detection of ethyltests is 0,01 g / dL and it is forbidden to take the road with a blood alcohol level of 0,05 g / dL. So the contribution of carbohydrates to alcohol is minimal. If cirrhosis occurs in people who do not consume alcohol, it is not because of the fermentation of fruits taken after the meal, but rather by an excess of carbohydrates in the diet, which leads to an infiltration Of the liver by fats (and their consequences: fibrosis, cirrhosis …), exactly as happens with corn fed poultry.
- The consumption of a fruit at the end of the meal does not increase the acidity of the stomach. The pH of the stomach is very low (acidic) between meals: around 1.5-2.During a meal, it rises to values between 3 and 4. In fact any ingestion of food, including a fruit, transiently diminishes the acidity of the stomach. Studies conducted in the 1960s concluded that a meal with proteins reduces gastric acidity (during, and especially after meals) more than a high-carbohydrate meal. Whether it is breakfast, lunch or dinner, all meals usually bring protein: so it would be better, to limit the rise acid, eat his fruits (by definition rich in carbohydrates) during the meal Than do it remotely!
Another major interest of eating fruit at the meal: they help to protect the body against potentially toxic substances, for example those that can promote cancers. A meal often brings foreign substances that the body needs to get rid of: drug residues, additives, pesticides, alcohol and others. Initially, these substances are metabolized by so-called phase 1 enzymes, which unfortunately often make them more dangerous. Fortunately, the new compounds formed are then supported by phase 2 enzymes that bind to them and neutralize them for disposal (urine, feces). In order to be effective, these phase 2 enzymes must be activated. This is what a small number of foods do: cruciferous, including mustard, but also turmeric, garlic, onion, soy, rosemary, sage, thyme, dandelion, tea . And fruits, especially berries and … citrus fruits, the very ones we are told should be eaten away from meals.
If you find yourself better eating fruit outside meals, continue. But, if you deprive yourself of fruit at meals because you have read that it ” ferments “, makes you ” alcoholic ” or increases gastric acidity, resume your old habits without delay. And if you suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), be aware that there is no reason to avoid citrus fruit or even to limit it. This is the conclusion of a 2006 US study that analyzed available scientific data. What you can do more effectively against GERD is: stop smoking, lose weight if you are overweight, avoid fried foods, coffee, alcohol and especially good chewing at meals because by mingling with food, Saliva secreted during chewing buffers gastric acidity.