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Who doesn’t love having a big glass of orange juice for breakfast? And if you’re a fan of chugging OJ or other fruit juices for that matter, it would be a better idea to give it a rain check. It’s certainly not as healthy as you think it is. Read on to know why...

THE STUDY

Researchers have suggested that consuming fruit juice on an empty stomach ‘overwhelms’ the digestive system and may disrupt beneficial gut bacteria. The reason being, fruit juice contains high levels of the sugar fructose, which is quick to reach the small intestine after consumption, they found. Following periods of ‘fasting’, for example, mornings, the organ is unable to process large amounts of fructose, causing it to ‘spill over’ into the large intestine. As per the researchers, once in the large intestine, fructose comes into contact with the good bacteria, which are not equipped to process sugar. Though the results don’t reveal if this has a negative health impact, researchers believe “an effect is likely.” 

FRUIT JUICES AREN’T THE BEST FOR HEALTH

Cold pressed or not, fruit juices aren’t the best for health, opines Luke Coutinho, Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine — Holistic Nutrition. “All vitamins and minerals in fruits are heat-sensitive and in the whole form, the fructose in them is bound to fibre. Juicing fruits not only denatures the nutrients, but also strips away all the fibre. 

This results in a glass of juice that has little or no live nutrients and a whole load of free fructose. When such high doses of fructose go into our system, it can totally overwhelm the liver as well as intestines,” he says adding that this excess fructose can feed the bad bacteria as well as yeast (like Candida) and create an imbalance in our digestive health.

Dr Deepti Bagree, head of department, healthcare, RESET — Holistic Living Concepts says, “Having fruit juices on an empty stomach may affect the pH balance, as all healthy bacteria thrive in a particular pH level, the imbalance may be detrimental to their growth. Although juices are given to individuals in some cases when digesting solid foods is a problem but it should not be made a habit.” She adds that vegetable juices being alkaline can be very well taken on an empty stomach.

EATING FRUITS IS THE BETTER OPTION

Dr Roy Patankar, gastroenterologist and director of Zen Multispeciality Hospital, disagrees with the study, saying, “There’s no scientific evidence to prove this. The time taken for fructose to pass from the stomach to the small intestine is about 45 to 70 minutes, and from there to the large intestine 70 to 90 minutes. As a result, the fructose cannot harm the good bacteria in there. One can have fruits and fruit juices at any time of the day.” But speaking of fruit juices, he means unprocessed, freshly squeezed fruit juices. The processed ones have added sugar and devoid of fibre, vitamins and minerals. But it’s best to eat fruit instead of drinking its juice. 

CHOOSE YOUR FRUITS

All fruits are healthy, what one needs to understand is the time, quantity and combination with which fruits are eaten in the day, says Dr Bagree who advises sticking to apple, pear, papaya, pineapple, pomegranate, peach, kiwi, banana as they provide required nutrients, minerals and vitamins to the body especially, if there has been a prolonged gap in eating.

Coutinho says, “Fruits that are fresh, seasonal and local are the best and most superior in terms of nutrition. We may have classified fruits as low glycemic (low sugar) and high glycemic (high sugar), but what really matters is how you portion control and balance it. One can choose mango (high sugar), but in small quantities and by adding nuts and seeds, they make it more balanced and lower the overall glycemic index of the snack.”

AVOID FRUITS POST SUNSET?

Some health experts are of the opinion that fruits and raw vegetables should not be consumed post evening because it puts strain on the digestive system. Do our experts agree? Coutinho says that most of us have weak digestive systems and fail to chew properly, which is why raw veggies and fruits might bother if had post 5 pm. 

It’s anyway best to consume fruits before sunset as the body’s demand for sugar is way too less towards the evening. As for raw veggies, if consuming those causes bloating or indigestion, one can choose to slightly steam, sauté or juice it.

Dr Bagree too agrees that eating fruits after sunset should be avoided as metabolism of body naturally drops and so body should be given foods that are protein and fibre-rich, carbohydrates should be tapered. Fruits being simple sugars should be avoided unless someone is active enough at the end of the day too. Vegetables can be eaten in stir fried, salad form as they provide fibre, making one eat less and yet feel full.



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