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ith the rec ent popularisation
of the no-fructose approach,
a lot of people are giving
up fruit, at least for a short
period of time while they “re set” their
tastebuds. I’ve been a ma zed by the number
of people coming to our health retreats and
course s in recent years forgoing fruit because
they’ve gone all hard-c ore fructose-free. This
is all rather interesting from an Ayurvedic
perspective b eca use it is likely many people
will feel much better for giving up fruit. I don’t
eat a huge amount of fruit myself but this has
nothing to do with fructose and everything
to do with digestion. L et me explain...
Fruit and Food Combining
From an Ayur vedic perspective, fresh fruit
is considered very light and easy to digest
c omparatively lighter than other foods.
When it is eaten with (or after) heavier
Healthy Fruit Eating
foods, it stays in the stomach for as long as
the heavie st food takes to digest. A s a result,
it generally stays in the stomach for too long,
is “overcooked ” by our digestive juice s and
begins to ferment (think a bucket of ripe
fruit sitting in the sun).
In Ayurveda, this resultant over-
cooked, fermented mess is referred to as
“Ama” or improperly digested food toxins1.
This damp, acidic waste accumulates in
our digestive tract where it can affect our
digestion – hampering the excretion of our
digestive juic es , the absorption of nutrients
a nd potentially contributing to indigestion,
food s en sitivities a nd gut inflammation.
If it continues to accumulate, it can
“overflow” from the g a stro-intestina l
tract into our subtle channels and tissues
where it obstructs cellular nutrition and
wa ste disposal. It is here, in the tissues and
channels, that this Ama can precipitate
the manifestation of disease, ac cording to
Ayur veda2 .
If you give up fruit for any reason, you
help eliminate this cycle. A s a result your
digestion may feel more balanced and you’ll
e xperience fe wer symptoms of indigestion
(less ga s, bloating, pain, he artburn or acid
reflu x). You’l l digest and absorb your food a
little b etter and the nutrients you do absorb
will have a greater chance of nourishing
your tissues and immune system so you’ l l
have more energ y a nd get sick les s often.
Your digestion a nd tissue metab olism will
work more efficiently so you’l l produc e
better quality tissues. This may lead to
weight loss and improvements in your
complexion, teeth, na ils and hair. You may
a lso experienc e a reduction in inflammation
or other heat-related symptoms.
But you don’t have to give up fruit to
e xperience these benefits. You simply have
to follow the number one Ayurvedic rule of
Eat fresh fruit separately from other
foods, especially heavy foods like
dairy foods and grains1.
That is... simply eat your fresh fruit in
between meals as a snack and a few hours
a way from eating other foods.
If you eat a relatively healthy (i.e .
u nprocessed, home cooked) diet a lready
and just make this one change, you will
likely notice ma ny of the b enefits mentioned
a bove... without eliminating anything.
Of course, Ama doesn’t only come
from over-digested fruit. It als o come s
from environmental toxins and improperly
digested food of any kind. But the
inappropriate c onsumption of fruit is a
pretty significant contributor in our diets .
We get it wrong all the time, several meals a
day, seven days a week! How wrong? We have
strawberries on cereal with milk; bananas on
oats porridge ; raspberries and icecrea m on
pancakes; cheese and apple snacks; fruit-
filled yoghurts ; banana smoothies; fruit
juices with meals; fruit salads with cream
after meals; and fruit platters with cheese at
parties. If you think about it, when we eat
fruit or fruit juice, we nearly always combine
it with other foods, particularly heavier
foods like dairy products and gra ins.
From an Ayur vedic perspective, it is
taught that fruit also c ombines poorly
with vegetables3. Many health enthusia sts
are now getting their fruit hit as part of a
green smoothie – usually made from a
c ombination of s weet fruits with green
leafy veggies and a superfood or two. From
a n Ayur vedic perspective, these smoothies ,
a long with fruit/veggie juic e combinations ,
are also confusing to the digestive fire and
will result in indigestion a nd the production
Eat fresh fruit separately from other
foods, including vegetables.
Notice this food c ombination rule only
applies to fresh fruit. Dried fruit has very
different qualities – bec ause the moisture
has been removed, it has be come a heavier
food that c ombines b etter with other foods ,
including grains and dairy. So it is okay to
add a sprinkle of dried sultanas or desiccated
coconut to a veggie curry, cake or milky
porridge. Fruit chutneys and jams al so have
different qualities to fresh fruit and can be
used in small amounts as a condiment with
meals. But fresh fruit (and fruit juice) should
a lways be eaten separately.
While we’re on the subject of fruit juice,
Ayur veda recommends it only be con sumed
in moderation. Juic es are considered very
rich, sweet and nourishing because they a re
a concentrate of many fruits so are more
difficult to digest than whole fruit. If you do
have the occasional juice fresh is best, make
it small, don’t add ice and add a little fresh
ginger to ma ke it more digestible.
Fruit and Body Types
If you know anything about Ayurveda
it is likely you’ve read about body types
or constitutions. Because Ayurveda is an
elemental scienc e, it recognises that ea ch
individual ha s a unique influenc e of the five
elements within their body/mind – Ether,
Air, Fire, Water and Earth. Some people
are born with a predominance of Ether and
Air (known a s Vata constitutions), others
a predomina nc e of Fire and Water (known
a s Pitta con stitution s), while others have
more Water and Earth (known as Kapha
c onstitutions). Or, you might have a dual
c onstitution – Vata /Pitta, Pitta /Kapha or
Our con stitution or genetic elementa l
code if you like, provides us with a unique
balance of elements a nd qualities. These ca n
be kept in balance or drawn out of balance
by the sensory inputs we expose ourselves to
t hroughout our lives. Sounds complicated,
but the formula is simple: “Like Incre a se s
Like”. So, for example, if you have a lot
of water in your c onstitution and eat a lot
of watery fruits like melons, your water
element will become imbala nc ed. This is a
vast, complex subject so let me tackle it very
briefly from the perspective of fruits...
Vata (Ether/Air) people are light a nd
etherea l, natura lly slim, a bit spacy and/or
rac y, a nd prone to dryness , poor circul ation
a nd feeling the cold. They have variable
a ppetites a nd sensitive, va riable digestion
with a tendency towards ga s and bloating.
Each of the six tastes also has a
predomina nc e of two elements so ca n
increa se or decrea se the elements in our
body. Vata is balanced by sweet, sour a nd
salty tastes and imbalanced by pungent,
bitter and astringent tastes. Therefore, Vata
people should favour s weet and sour fruits
a nd avoid astringent fruits (unless cooked)
or dried fruits (unless soaked)4. If prepared
in the right way, Vata people can benefit
from a large variety of fruits.
Fruits that are more balancing for Vata
people include c ooked apples, avoc adoes ,
a pricots, s we et berries , ripe banan a, cherries,
coconut, dates, figs, grapes, grapefruit, kiwi,
lime, ripe mango, melon s, oranges, papaya,
pineapple, plums, soa ked prunes, soa ked
raisins, rockmelon, rhubarb, a nd ta marind5.
Pitta (Fire /Water) people are naturally
moderate in weight and build, angular,
inten se, a nd prone to c onditions of exc es s
You don’t have to give up fruit, just eat it
separately, says Ayurvedic cook Nadia Marshall.
16 © NOVA APRIL 2014
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