One of the primary ways that new plants spread and grow involves the dispersal of the seeds. Animals eat fruit, and the seeds of the ingested fruit get dispersed through the digestive system of the animals. We know that animals only eat ripe fruit, but how do they know not to eat the unripe fruit? While plants do not necessarily have speaking abilities, they are still able to communicate this information to animals. Throughout millions of years, plants have been able to signal to passing animals when it is time to eat and when it is not (Gundry MD, 2018).
Unripe fruits have a great deal of lectin inside of them. Lectin is a chemical contained in unripe fruit which contributes to a plant’s defense mechanism. These lectins are toxic to animals, thereby causing nearby animals to stay away from the fruit until the lectin level decreases and the fruit is ripe. (Miyake, Tanaka, & Mcneil, 2007) An animal will actually get sick from eating an unripe fruit because of all the highly toxic lectins in it. This is a brilliant communication system that allows for the continuous spread and growth of fruit trees. (Gundry MD, 2018)
So if animals get sick from unripe fruit, what’s to say it is not hurting us?. You may argue that you would never eat an under-ripe fruit because the taste wouldn’t be as good. And to that, I respond, you probably have, and you don’t even know it.
Let me explain.
America is all about fast, cost-effective production. The produce industry does not have the time to wait around for all unripe fruit to ripen. So it gasses all of it using Ethylene (Giovannoni, 2004). And while that makes the fruit look and taste ripe, all of the toxic lectins do not just disappear. They are still in there, disguised inside of that juicy, red apple you just picked up from your local supermarket (Gundry MD, 2018).
When a human consumes lectins, these lectins can cause the individual to have a “leaky gut”. Leaky gut happens when these lectins target the cells lining the small intestine and open them up, which then causes them to pass through and enter the bloodstream. Once entering the bloodstream, it causes inflammation and may cause autoimmune conditions (NTC, & Lee, 2017).
But do not worry. This does not mean that you can never have fruit again. There are several methods by which one can avoid these pesticides and gas exposure.
1) Eating Organic.
Thankfully most supermarkets offer this option to an extent. Organic foods are foods grown without pesticides, genetic modification, or any alterations. And while it is the more expensive option, future medical bills could be even more expensive. So if you can prevent that expense through healthy eating, it may be a worthwhile investment. (Crinnion, 2010)
2) Visit your local farmers market
Farmers Markets are a great way to get some naturally produced fruits and vegetables. These products are less altered and usually less expensive! Farmers markets also typically only carry fruits and vegetables that are “in season”. This allows customers to know they are getting top quality, unmodified produce that grows naturally during the current time of year. Plus, they are supporting the livelihood of the farmers.
3) Grow your own fruit, vegetables and herbs.
“If you want something done right, do it yourself.” This quote may hold true when it comes to the foods we eat. Thankfully, growing most fruit doesn’t require too much extra work. So if you are able to grow your own produce, you’ll also be able to know exactly what you are eating.
It is important to be aware of what we consume daily. People are often misinformed with the idea that only processed foods are bad for them. It is important to be a bit more cautious in day-to-day life so that we can happily eat that juicy, red apple knowing that it IS indeed just a juicy, red apple.
Crinnion, W., Dr. (2010). Clean, green, and lean: Get rid of the toxins that make you fat.
Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley.
Giovannoni, J. (2004, June 01). Genetic Regulation of Fruit Development and Ripening.
Retrieved September 23, 2020, from http://www.plantcell.org/content/16/suppl_1/S170.short
Gundry M.D, S. R., & Buehl, O. B. (2018). The plant paradox: The hidden dangers in
“healthy” foods that cause disease and weight gain. New York, NY: Harper Wave, an imprint of
Miyake, K., Tanaka, T., & Mcneil, P. L. (2007). Lectin-Based Food Poisoning: A New
Mechanism of Protein Toxicity. PLoS ONE, 2(8). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000687
NTC, S., & Lee, H. (2017, October 19). When Plants Attack: Lectins, Phytates and Oxalates.
Retrieved September 23, 2020, from https://www.echoak.com/2017/10/lectins-phytates-andoxalates
Submitted by Shoshana Levine, student and intern at D-Signed Nutriton