I have been blogging/posting/tweeting/yacking/droning on and on for a while now about how a low fat diet is absolutely essential to a fruitmonster diet regimen, but I’ve yet to explain why this is so! I should emphasize that using the word ‘essential’ is probably not strong enough! In fact, it is absolutely key to being able to eat large amounts of delicious fruits without wreaking havoc on your body with burping/reflux/indigestion, irregularities in your blood sugar levels and having downright rotten, stinky farts. To put it plainly, you simply cannot monster your way through heaps of fruitiness while simultaneously munching on fatty food items and claim to be surprised when your digestive system hops off track faster than a Chinese train wreck. There are a few key areas in your body where trying to simultaneously digest elevated levels of fat with a meal of fruits will produce unfavorable results. The first is in your stomach and upper small intestine (that’s the duodenum), the second is within the small intestine itself and the third is during the final march to porcelain infamy, within your colon (aka the large intestine).
Fats in the Stomach and Duodenum
Problems most often start in the first key area, within the stomach and duodenum. Shortly after an individual eats a sweet, innocent portion of fruit on asupposedly ‘empty’ stomach, they quickly will move to vilify that meal once they start burping, experiencing stomach discomfort and sometimes the ever-evil GERD aka acid reflux soon afterwards. All too often, nutritionists and doctors will tell victims of GERD (acid reflux) that fruit is the enemy and that they should stop eating it! Nothing could be further from the truth! These people simply need to stop eating so much fat. This type of backwards thinking is a perfect example of how ignorant we (and our ‘health professionals’) generally are with our digestive processes. What is actually happening in the above case is that the large influx of fructose (i.e. fruit sugars) has hit a festering pot of nasty, fat laden, bile ridden, half-digested ‘food’ from your previous (or even previous, previous) meal. When these two combine, the sugars in your fruit meal quickly feed into the fermentation process in your stomach, which releases all sorts of gasses, leading to bloating, burping and the habitual reach for the bottle of tums or the package of alka seltzer. This process is one of the primary causes of ‘acid reflux’! This partially digested fatty gunk I am speaking of often remains in the stomach for several hours with time periods of up to 12 hours or more for some people! So even when you think you are ready for your next meal, you stomach and duodenum are still working hard to process all that fat! We could therefore say, very generally, that fats are characterized by being ‘slow’ to digest due to their complicated hydrocarbon structures and the additional energy, organs (i.e. the liver and gall bladder), stomach acid and enzymes, needed to process and move them through your digestive tract. Fruits, being made mostly of simple carbohydrates – that fructose I spoke of earlier – are ready for absorption in the small intestine (technically this eventually involves the liver too, but is less energy intensive)! Considering how easy this is, fruits could be generally characterized as ‘fast’ within the digestive system and aren’t subject to the delayed holding time that fats are. They are so fast that they can be digested and enter the blood stream on the order of minutes!. That is, if they aren’t mixed with fats in the first place, otherwise they get ‘held up’, which has the nasty results discusses above, as well as some other negative consequences down the intestinal road. So a general rule for a happy digestive system is to ‘not mix fast and slow’. If we were to take that one step further and have a ‘Golden Rule’ – it would be to just skip the slow stuff altogether! That’s right, cut out those nasty fats! Not convinced? Read on…
Fats in the Small Intestine and Blood Sugar Regulation
After the several hours required by the stomach and upper small intestine to mix up fatty foods and cover them with the necessary digestive juices, the broken down pieces (still full of undigested fats) move along, deeper into the small intestine. In this 7 meter long tube (that’s 23 feet or so!), continued digestion is taking place (thanks pancreas!) along with the all-important process of nutrient absorption! The small intestine is covered with little finger-like protrusions called villi which you probably learned about in grade school health class. In case you forgot, just think of these villi as little portals to your bloodstream. In the small intestine, your food (hopefully) finishes the process of being broken down into its most basic elements, is injected into your blood and then carried off to the various places in the body that are in need of those nutrients. Now, I am surely oversimplifying the process, but this basic model is good for the intuitive level of understanding required to conceptualize how those evil fat globules mess everything up! Those pestilent lipid laced punks hang around in this area of your body for up to 24-48 hours, coating the inside of your small intestine and blocking those blood stream portals! It’s kind of like Stargate, except the nutrients are Kurt Russell and the stupid gate that won’t open because the evil egyptian speaking fat cells closed it off. Speaking of aliens and other slimy creatures, all of us have experienced the slimy, greasy nature of fatty things – take your cooking oils for example. If you spilled some on your counter or got it on your skin, you wouldn’t just wipe it up with a rag because it would still have a slippery, nasty film on it. Instead, you would naturally reach for a bottle of soap to finish the clean up! Well, in the absence of soap dispensers lining the walls (or Kurt Russel to save the day), our intestines have no choice but to put up with a film of fat covering every fold, turn and crevasse of that winding, twisting gut tube and coincident elevated level of fat molecules within the bloodstream (nasty!). This coating of fat has the effect of drastically interfering with the absorption and the digestion of the ‘food stuff’ that is present there. This is critically important when you consider a high fruit diet, because this film of fat a) prevents the body from correctly regulating your blood sugar level and b) prevents digestive enzymes from reaching this partially digested stream of food. Focusing on part a), this interference in the blood sugar regulation mechanisms can lead to the types of unhealthy spikes and frantic insulin responses that eventually cause Type 2 diabetes. The simple explanation is this: in the absence of that troublesome fat coating, sugars can easily enter and exit the bloodstream, making a high fruit diet a healthy, easy, efficient and awesome way to fuel your body! However when the fat intake is not kept at very low levels, that troublesome sheet of fatty slime will causes large influxes of fruit sugars to be absorbed and regulated incorrectly. This helps us to understand why ‘low fat’ is such an important component of the fruitmonster diet! But wait… there is one more component. Yes, that ‘part b’ I mentioned…funny, what timing… wait, what’s that smell? Errr.. sorry, the FruitMonster ate some peanuts yesterday and now he’s paying for it…
Fats in the Large Intestine (Colon)
Yes, so we’re on to part three, focusing on the processes that occur within the large intestine, i.e. colon, and the problems that farts…oops, I mean ‘fats’…cause in the poo tube. For those of you who are ill-informed, the large intestine is where your poop is made, and I, the FruitMonster, love to make jokes about defecation. There is pretty much nothing about the pooping process that isn’t humorous, from the grimaced faced abdominal squeezes, to the accompanying acoustics, from the olfactory aromas, to the ever pleasant and awesome ‘plops’ of the finale, taking a dump, as well as mocking the process, is full of flatulent fun. And if you are one to consume fats and fruits in concert, well… your rear-end will play you quite the symphony. This all relates back to the ‘fast’ versus ‘slow’ problem and the way that fats inhibit digestion. When you eat fats before or with a fruity meal, you are surely destined for a ‘he who smelt it dealt it’ moment with your co-workers or an extremely embarrassing/tremendously satisfying (you choose) episode in a crowded elevator. The sources of your gaseous vexation are the same as those which lead to the burping/bloating/reflux issues dealt with in the first trouble zone – the agents of fermentation. Since your delicious, fast moving, easily digestible fruits were broken down and ready to be absorbed much more quickly then the accompanying fats, they were also surely ready to ‘get the heck out of you’ much sooner then they will be allowed to, having been held back by the loathsome lipid layers and godless lard globs. Additionally, some small portions of food may have also been completely prevented from digestion/absorption, which putrefy in the bacteria rich colonic environment. So the ‘fruit stuff’ (although hardly fruit anymore, we’ll entitle it according to its origin) begins to literally rot inside of you, which leads to off-gassing, including the release of pockets of methane and the coinciding seat-rumbling vibrations that expel them. These joke ridden, pull-my-finger prone moments are not just temporary blights of all-that-is-holy, they are also a sign that toxic and nasty things are happening inside of you that you would be much better off preventing! No one wants rotten, toxin exuding chemical processes occurring inside their bodies, and only a sinister select few enjoy the ‘crop dusting’ opportunities that result.
The Low Fat Diet is Essential!
So to sum it up, a low fat diet is very important for fruitmonstering! It prevents the issues that arise with burping/reflux by maintaining a fresh and healthy stomach environment which is free of festering fat pools. It allows for the rapid digestion and absorption of your fruit meals, smoothies and juices, while allowing your body to quickly and easily regulate your blood sugar levels. This efficient blood sugar regulation is the way your body was designed to operate, making it unnecessary to worry about consuming ‘so many carbs’/'all that fructose’ as many doubters of the fruitmonster way will surely protest. There are no ‘sugar highs’ or ‘crashes’ on a low-fat, high carb, fruit driven diet and no need to pay heed to those dreaded ‘glycemic indices’ everyone seems so worried about (assuming that your sugar intake is in the form of fruit, not refined sugars!). Lastly, a low fat diet will prevent you from getting ‘fruit farts’, as you avoid the processes causing fermentation and rot inside your body, allowing you to fruitmonster your way through a mountain of mangoes or a pile of peaches without having to sacrifice your social life due to the ‘silent but deadly’ syndrome.
So eat your fruits, skip the fats and discover for yourself what being healthy truly feels like!
More on the ‘fat’ topic later!
*It takes about 48 hours for all the fats to be eliminated from your body, so if you want to try a low-fat, fruit based approach, you will need to give it a few days of effort!