It’s true, eating a low-fat fruit-based vegan diet does seem to be a magical remedy for many, many health issues including auto-immune diseases, high cholesterol, heart conditions, type 2 diabetes, asthma and eczema, as attested to by hundreds of people who have healed from chronic health conditions.
But what if you switch to fruit and you STILL suffer from irritable bowel syndrome-like symptoms like bloating, abdominal pain, distention, gas and reflux? What if you still suffer from fatigue and poor concentration?
Could it be the fruit?
Switching to a fruit-based diet has given me huge benefits, including relief from asthma and eczema, reflux, constipation, bloating, PMS and period pain, chronic sinusitis, fatigue and extremely low immune function.
But even after months of consuming fruits and veggies, and small amounts of nuts and seeds, I’ve found I’m still having some minor problems, mainly to do with mild abdominal pain and loose stools, mild mucus and occasional breakouts.
In comparison to what I suffered in the past these complaints seem so miniscule, and they certainly don’t impede my excellent quality of life. But they’re still annoying signs that my body isn’t functioning at it’s very highest level of health.
Since I’m in the business of discovering the keys to supreme health, and helping people achieve that, I’m also making it my business to leave no stone unturned with regards to my health.
Lately there’s been a lot of research coming out about fructose malabsorption (aka fructose intolerance) and so I decided to investigate whether I might be fructose sensitive.
Oh Nooo! – Not Fruit!!
I have to say that when I first heard about it, my initial reaction was “Not fruit!!! I’m NOT cutting out fruit.” because that would leave me with little choice but to go back to eating rice, corn and meat for sustenance.
But since investigating I’ve discovered that cutting out fruit entirely is NOT necessary if you suffer from fructose intolerance.
But first let’s look at what Fructose malabsorption actually is and what causes it?
What is Fructose Intolerance?
Here’s some basic anatomy and physiology to begin with…
The small intestine has the job of absorbing the building blocks of food, and it’s in the small intestine that problems of fructose absorption start.
Basically, in healthy people, there are two pathways for fructose to be absorbed across the membranes of the small intestine.
One pathway is where it is freely absorbed and doesn’t require glucose for its transfer across the membrane. So, in other words fructose is absorbed on its own with no relationship to glucose. This is called the Glucose independent pathway.
The other pathway for absorption is through the presence of glucose, where glucose is needed to ‘piggyback’ the fructose across the intestine.
People with fructose malabsorption have simply lost the ability to absorb fructose freely across the intestine independent of glucose.
Why is Fructose intolerance bad news?
The problem is, if fructose is not absorbed then it will pass through into the large intestine and will be a food source for bacteria, causing fermentation, bloating, wind and abdominal distention.
There can be a few reasons why people can begin to suffer with fructose malabsorption and all have to do with damage to the intestinal lining, through physical/emotional stress, prolonged or heavy use of antibiotics, gastroenteritis or travel (ie contracting Bali or Delhi ‘Belly’).
So what can you do if you suffer?
Proper food-combining made a huge difference to my digestion. That is, making sure fruit is always eaten before anything cooked, and that fats are kept until the last meal of the day to ensure that fruits are not held back by fats and end up fermenting in the gut.
But even with proper food-combining it was clear that there were some fruits and veggies that I just couldn’t digest easily, and these, it turns out are generally foods which are high in FODMAPS…
FODMAP is an acronym, which stands for:
If you suffer from fructose intolerance you need to avoid high FODMAP foods.
These are all found in particular foods, which if avoided or severely limited can give you tremendous relief.
On a high-carb raw vegan diet, many of high FODMAP foods like honey, grains, dairy products and High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) are already eliminated, but there are still some fruits, veggies and legumes which will cause problems.
Here’s a list of high FODMAP foods recommended to avoid (I have highlighted the fruits and veggies that could be problematic on a vegan diet):
Honey, apples, pears, mango, watermelon, HFCS, onion, garlic, leek, shallots, spring onions (whites only), wheat, rye, barley, yoghurt (inulin), milk, icecream, custards, soft cheeses, legumes cherries, peaches, plums, cauliflower, snow peas and mushrooms.
If you are fructose intolerant then you need to experiment and listen to your body.
I seem to run into problems with pears (unless they’re super super ripe), watermelon, onion, leek, shallots, garlic, legumes, broccoli, cauliflower and mushrooms, so it is highly likely that I’m fructose intolerant.
When I consume watermelon and pears for instance I get extremely loose stools and some mild abdominal pain, but rarely get any bloating or gas anymore, since I stopped eating grains and dairy.
However, apples and mangos I seem to have no problem with.
I’m also very interested to find out if it’s possible to heal the lining of your small intestine so that you can begin to absorb fructose independently of glucose once more. I figure that, since the rest of the body is able to heal, that the small intestine is no different.
I have noticed that the longer I stay on a close to 100% high carb, low fat raw vegan diet the less these symptoms seem to occur, even with FODMAP fruits. For instance I can eat half a watermelon now and it doesn’t cause the severe pain and distention that it used to. I still get some mild discomfort and loose stools with it, of course, so I’m obviously not completely healed yet.
My FODMAPS experiment
So I’m going to try a period (let’s say 30 days) without eating certain high FODMAP fruits and veggies and see if I can completely heal my small intestine.
The question I have now is…What the hell do I do with the four watermelons I have left from my recent shop? Luckily the rest of my family love melons!
The great thing is that you don’t have to avoid fruit altogether if you have fructose intolerance. You just need to be careful that the fruits you eat have an equal amount of glucose present as well so as to facilitate the transfer.
FODMAP-friendly fruits are: ripe bananas, blueberries, grapefruit, grapes, honeydew, cantaloupe, lemons, limes, passion fruit, raspberries, strawberries, tangelos, kiwi, and oranges.
Vegetables such as bok choy, bean sprouts, bell peppers, butter lettuce, carrots, celery, chives, corn, eggplant, green beans, tomatoes, potatoes (these would have to be cooked), and spinach are also fine if you’re fructose sensitive.
I shall give this new regimen a go for the next 30 days and report back on my experiment in due course!
Conclusion – While a raw vegan diet has been AMAZING for much of my healing, sometimes you need to do a bit of personal tweaking to get things right. People have intolerances and allergies to all sorts of things. Just because someone is allergic to mango doesn’t mean that they cannot follow a fruit-based diet. There are PLENTY of other fruits available!
After more than two years following this lifestyle I finally feel like I’m getting closer to the optimal diet for me, and it’s so exciting!! This is after YEARS of muddle around in a cloud not knowing what to do about my failing health…
Have you experienced any issues with consuming certain fruits and veggies?
Leave your comments below. I’d love to hear from you…
Anthea Frances is an author, raw food health coach and host of the Raw Life Summit series. Grab a copy of her free Balanced Raw Vegan Nutrition Checklist and start improving your health today!