Things I get asked a lot:

Why do you eat so much fruit? Isn't it really high in sugar?

Yes, fruit is high in sugar. That is exactly why I eat so much of it. Every living cell in the human body is fueled by glucose. Before our body can utilize any food as a fuel, whether it's a carbohydrate, fat or protein, it must first be converted into simple sugars. Of the three, carbohydrates are the easiest for our body to convert. The sugars that are in fruit are already simple sugars, and thus can be absorbed directly into our bloodstream through the intestinal lining, without the need for conversion. There are other types of carbohydrates with short-chain or complex sugars (rice, corn, potatoes, yams, carrots, beans, etc…), that need to go through a complex stage of conversion before they can be utilized by the body as a simple sugar. To do this uses the body's energy and is therefore not efficient or ideal. Many of these more complex carbohydrates also need to be cooked to be digested without extreme difficulty, which is another can of worms I'll get into at another time…

Simple sugars can also be found in many processed *junk foods*, such as cakes, cereals, cookies, soda, etc… So when a human body doesn't get the glucose it craves from a natural source, we are often drawn toward other sweet foods—junk food. Now, don't think that eating tons of cookies and cakes will be just as good for you as fruit—that's entirely the opposite of the truth. Junk foods have had their sugars refined, and anything healthy and nutritious about them have been removed. That means other than satisfying our sweet tooth, there is nothing good for us in processed, refined sugars.

Fruit on the other hand, is a 100% whole food—containing the perfect ratio of sugar, water, fiber and nutrients. Nothing has been removed or added—it is precisely as mother-nature intended it to be.

What about protein?

How much protein do you think the human body needs in a day? I often hear that people think protein (especially animal protein) gives their body energy. If you read above about what was said on fruit, you'll know that our body is fueled by glucose—that is what gives our body energy. I'm not sure where the idea came from that energy comes from protein. Think about it for a second—how do you feel after eating a big steak, or turkey dinner? Are you full of vibrance and ready to go run around the block? No, I didn't think so. You're ready to sit still for an hour or so and digest. If anything I'd say that eating animal protein depletes the body of energy.

That said, how much protein do we need? Despite the advertising from meat and dairy industries, humans require a VERY LOW amount of protein. A human mother's milk provides a growing infant with 6% of calories from protein. An infant has the highest need for protein per calorie of all humans, as their growth rate is amplified. The US National Academies' Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council suggest that eating 10% of our total calories as protein is sufficient. The average American eats about 21% of their calories from protein.

So let's say that 10% of our daily calories should be from protein. I'm not going to get into discussing the difference between plant proteins and animal proteins, as it's a lengthy topic. However, it's interesting and fascinating stuff—I suggest looking into it. I don't eat animal protein, so how do I get 10% of my daily calories from protein? Fruits and veggies contain amino acids, which are the building blocks our bodies need to create proteins needed by the body. Many fruits and veggies contain the required percent of protein or more than what we need. Here are just a few examples:
• Apricots 10%
• Bananas 4%
• Tomatoes 12%
• Watermelon 7%
• Broccoli 20%
• Spinach 30%
As you can see, it's easy to obtain 10% of the daily calories while eating just fruits and vegetables.

Too much protein is associated with all sorts of health problems, yet we rarely hear of any health problems associated with eating too little protein. Protein based foods (especially animal based proteins) form an acidic environment in the body, thus leading to depleted calcium levels—causing osteoporosis, as well as premature aging, impaired liver function, kidney failure, etc… Take a minute to read more about acidic vs. alkaline foods. Reading it could save your life.


Jacques Cousteau! said...

I believe that most people do not think proteins provide energy, but instead believe that proteins are the building blocks of muscle mass.

The flaw in this thinking is that the proteins our body uses are created BY our body, from amino acids.

Proteins eaten directly are unusable by the body, and must be broken down INTO amino acids before being reconstituted into usable proteins which are then integrated into the body.

Compared to eating amino acid sources, this is an inefficient process that burns more energy and is therefore less efficient.

Mary said...

Great post, Kristin! I am already getting comments like "What about protein?" from a few people... sigh. I used to feel so sluggish eating meat and grains; I don't feel that way now. This tells me that this is right for me!

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