Friday, July 10, 2009

"Don't eat fruit naked."

This advice comes from Jordan Rubin, author of "The Maker's Diet," "Perfect Weight America," and a score of other health/diet books. (I use diet in the sense of what we eat, as opposed to food restriction.)

"Don't eat fruit naked."

This refers not to one's clothing, of course, but how we eat our fruit. Mr. Rubin suggests that when we eat fruit by itself, it causes an insulin spike (much like when we eat other sweets alone). Eating foods such as fruit and refined carbohydrates by themselves causes blood sugar to increase, and insulin is released into the body.

Excess insulin is known to cause:
  • Weight gain, since insulin promotes the storage of fat
  • Lower cellular levels of magnesium, a mineral that is essential for keeping your blood vessels relaxed and your blood circulation efficient
  • An increase in sodium retention, which leads to holding excess water in your system, which causes high blood pressure
  • Increased amounts of inflammatory compounds in your blood, which can cause direct physical damage to your blood vessel walls and encourage the development of blood clots which can lead to heart attacks and respiratory failure
  • A reduction in HDL cholesterol, an increase in undesirable small molecules of LDL cholesterol, and an increase in triglycerides, all of which increase your risk for heart disease
  • Possibly a higher risk for cancer due to insulin's ability to contribute to cell proliferation (source)

A simple way to avoid this problem is to make a habit of eating fruit, or any other simple carbohydrate, with a fat or fiber. I can't access my books right now, but if I remember correctly, this slows the absorption of sugar into the body. It's kinder and gentler to the system.

Slather real butter on your bread. Toss a handful of nuts with your peaches. Eat strawberries topped with raw cream. Drizzle plenty of extra virgin olive oil on your pasta. one of my favorite snacks is apple slices smeared with peanut butter.

These kinds of foods are delicious as well as traditional. People have been eating these way for ages and ages. I'm so startled by the tendency to view new ideas about food as being so enlightened. Faithfully removing skins from our chickens, drinking low-fat milk, avoiding butter like the plague. Who are we to think we know better than people of older societies what's healthy? Especially when our nation is ravaged by sickness and disease.

But that's another post topic for another day. :)


Andrew said...

Mindy, you know I love you and I think the choices you guys have made for your home are admirable. Can I point out a couple of things, though? One a little cheeky and the other just something to consider. As a diabetic, I am intimately involved with insulin every day. What you say is true, it IS known to cause those things you write about, but it is also known for keeping every person still living alive. No insulin = death. That's the cheeky bit. I know it didn't escape you, I just had to point it out :). Protein IS a great blood sugar stabilizer and a good addition to any snack or meal time. The other thing is this: the way people ate for ages and ages didn't result in the average lifespan of a human today. Granted, advances in medicine play a huge part in our general longevity now, but it's a little hard to argue that we're doing everything wrong as a society when we're surviving longer than we used to, disease and all. As far as butter goes, though, I tend to agree with you - it got a bad rap while margarine and other artificial stuff got pegged as somehow super healthy, and neither reputation is deserved. I can't believe I'm actually going to type this, but I just wanted to give you some -food for thought-. Ugh, sorry!

Mindy said...

Andy, I kind of gulped when I saw that you'd commented - because although I'd wanted to do this post for a long time, I wasn't able to research it as much as I'd have liked. Of course it's true that we do need insulin. But from what I understand, when we create spikes in insulin, it's incredibly hard on the body. As far as traditional diets and longevity, I'm not fully prepared to get into that yet, but I still think that our society is way, way off. Obesity is at an all-time high, in spite of the low-fat craze. This is the first generation of children *not* expected to outlive its parents. I fully believe that's because of our Standard American Diet, and that it's a tragedy.

And considering that you are a diabetic and I'm still very much in the learning process, thank you for being gentle with me! :)

Andrew said...

No need to gulp! I really didn't want to come off as a contrarian, because A) diabetic or not, my own good eating choices are a touch on the infrequent side, and B) I really agree with you that there's something - as you say - way off about the way we're treating our bodies as a society.

So insulin spikes, speaking from experience and not necessarily as an expert, aren't really a good thing - you're absolutely right about that. To use an example from your original post, if I eat an apple (or two, because I -really- like apples) by itself, I'll inject an appropriate amount of insulin to cover the carbohydrates, but because it's a simple carb, it's in to and out of my blood very quickly. The result is feeling hungry again about a half an hour later, which makes a person want to eat more. So like you were saying, the idea of adding protein or fat to a simple carb isn't new or particularly genius - it's just that, before people knew how to express this idea chemically and biologically, it boiled down to certain foods satisfying hunger better and if I feel full, I'm not likely to eat as much or too often.

Ha! Here I am typing away on a Saturday morning like a term paper's due, and in walks Evelyn to tell me that Mommy needs help getting boxes down in her room. I suppose that, fascinating as the endocrine system is, it can wait for a day when we're not trying to prepare for a move! :) Don't feel like you're underprepared for a discussion, Mindy - I won't bite, and I'm certain you know a few things about the subject that I don't, so we can learn from each other in the process.