My love affair with fruit is still going strong, and it’s led to increased curiosity about the benefits of the many varieties of fruit. It’s also made me wonder just how many people in the ancestral health community eschewed fruit for years (or still do) because of the sugar content….Now, I’m on a mission to illuminate to people what they are missing out on by not including fruit in their diet, as well as what else they can do to take their diets and health to the next level. While I still think an animal-based diet (particularly one that incorporates organ meats) is the most nutritious one you could eat, I don’t see the rationale to systematically restrict all forms of plants and carbohydrates to gain membership in a prestigious full-carnivore club. As I state at the outset of my recent video describing my new morning pattern of consuming a huge bowl of fruit and a huge Superfuel smoothie every morning (instead of my historical pattern of fasting until midday), I challenge anyone to proclaim that my morning bowl of fresh fruit is unhealthy.
Interestingly, even many who support consuming fruit will pass on fruit juice or dried fruit. After all, we are missing the fiber and water content for a more concentrated, less filling dose of carbohydrates. In my case, I am now consuming dried fruit liberally when I want a quick convenient source of energy and don’t have the time, access, or inclination to prepare and eat real fruit. For example, I typically nibble on a couple of pieces of dried fruit before my morning exercise routine–immediately after waking up. It’s after the 40-minute session (and sometimes a piggyback track or gym workout) that I take the time to prepare the big fruit bowl and big smoothie. I also have dried fruit with me when driving or traveling; again, a huge change from my historical pattern of fasting when traveling and trying to minimize all fruit in the name of a “low-carb” ancestral or even keto-style strategy.
When it comes to fruit juice, I don’t consume it very often, but I’m intrigued by emerging research on the health benefits of juicing. There is good support for beet juice as a performance enhancer for endurance, and also an incredibly potent remedy for men dealing with erectile dysfunction. Aloe vera juice has been shown to help with digestive issues and gut health. Other studies have shown potato juice helps those suffering from gastritis and that cabbage juice can get rid of ulcers in just three weeks, and that it even has shown promise when it comes to eradicating the increasingly antibiotic-resistant H. pylori bacteria (which an estimated 60% of the population is thought to have).
I think it’s important to take a balanced and open-minded approach when considering the role of plants in the diet. As we know from the emergence of the carnivore diet, many of the most popular plants in the categories of roots, seeds, stems, and leaves are high in natural toxins. While fruits have been marginalized in the interest of a low-carb or keto lifestyle, it’s time to go beyond black-and-white thinking and realize that nutritious, easy-to-digest fruit can be a dietary centerpiece. Since social media often feels like a giant game of telephone, taking diet and medical advice from people who don’t know what they’re talking about or don’t do research can be a serious risk. People say onions and garlic are super healthy, but they contain the plant toxin, idioblasts, which can actually tear apart the mouths of insects and mammals as they feed on them, and unsurprisingly, can cause digestive issues because they contain fructans, which are not absorbed well in the small intestine. And think of how many people you’ve seen shove handfuls of leafy greens or raw spinach into a blender to make a smoothie—probably without knowing how the oxalates abundant in spinach can harm the body, inhibiting nutrient absorption and even promoting kidney stones.
On the other hand, research has shown us many specific benefits we can find in certain plant foods—for example, strawberries contain anthocyanins, the kind of flavonoids that can help boost heart health, and oranges are an abundant source of Vitamin C, something we MUST get from our diets since our bodies cannot manufacture it, and they also decrease inflammation, cholesterol, and post-meal blood sugar. Grapefruit contains the kind of flavonoids that help protect against inflammation, obesity, and even some types of cancer—research has suggested that the compounds in grapefruit called furanocoumarins have anticancer properties, can help protect against oxidative stress and tumors, and may even support bone health. One of my favorite fruits, papaya, contains the enzyme papain, a powerful digestive aid, and is packed with vitamins, minerals, and flavonoids. Papaya’s benefits include improving heart health, reducing inflammation, strengthening the blood, and helping prevent macular degeneration. Bananas are a great source of potassium. Not only do they help prevent high blood pressure, but research suggests eating bananas could help preserve kidney function and even protect against kidney disease. They also reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke by regulating circulation, sodium, and water retention in your body, and can improve your mood since they contain tryptophan—the amino acid used to produce serotonin, one of our brain’s main “happy hormones.” Speaking of dried fruit, dried apricots are an even better source of potassium than bananas. Studies show apples actually can aid in the removal of heavy metals like lead and mercury from your body since they contain pectin, which chelates (binds to) any heavy metals present in your body, and that the high level of anthocyanins in blueberries are (the flavonoid and plant pigment that gives them their distinctive color) lowers your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, certain types of cancer, and even cognitive decline….You can see why fruit has now been added to the “Global All Stars” category of my Carnivore Scores food ranking chart.
Not all plants are created equal though, so I was so happy when a B.rad listener, Joe Douglas of IntelligentWellBeing, reached out to me to let me know he put together this incredible resource covering everything that pertains to eating an animal-based diet. He goes over the benefits of the diet, what to eat, what to avoid, as well as some approved snacks, just to make grocery shopping a little easier. I particularly like the section on plant defense chemicals as it really helps highlight the differences between high-toxicity and low-toxicity plants, and the whole article is such a detailed and helpful guide for anyone looking to optimize their animal-based diet. Check it out here.