Updated: Mar 24, 2022
What Does ‘Fruit Intolerance’ Mean?
The idea that you could have a dietary intolerance to fruit sounds crazy, right? We all know that fruit is healthy - how could it be bad for you?
Quick recap on what a dietary intolerance is (full article about that here):
According to Dr. Zeff, having an intolerance basically means that your body doesn’t produce the necessary enzymes to digest certain foods. The food you can’t digest will putrefy in your digestive system, causing inflammation which allows toxicity to get into the bloodstream. This travels through your body, causing problems in your systems that are weakest or injured. Eventually, this paves the way for chronic illness to occur.
It’s commonly accepted that people have intolerances to foods like egg and dairy, but there are many more possibilities. Once you know what your intolerance is and avoid those foods completely, it reduces inflammation. This is a foundation for healing to happen along with whatever treatment protocols your Naturopath has prescribed for you to improve health and reverse illness.
The most difficult of the intolerances to have is Fruit.
This is because it includes so many more specific food items than the other intolerances, and is in almost all processed foods as a preservative or flavoring. And, like all intolerances, to be effective the foods you’re intolerant to must be avoided in your diet completely.
What do we mean by “fruit”, anyway?
Technically, a fruit is the part of the plant that contains the seeds after flowering is complete. However, there are foods that fit that definition but that don’t affect fruit intolerant people. Among these are: melons, squash, peppers,cucumber, and tomatoes.
Foods that are considered to be fruit for this intolerance covers a broader definition. The basic ones are:
Apples, pears, berries, grapes
Stone Fruit (peach, plum, apricot, nectarine, cherries, etc.)
Citrus fruits (lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, etc)
Tropical fruits (pineapple*, papaya, mango, tamarind, guava, kiwi, banana, etc.)
Avocado, and avocado oil (unless you are specifically told otherwise)
Olives and olive oil
Palm, palm oil, and palm sugar
Coconut, coconut oil, coconut sugar, coconut flour (unless you are specifically told that coconut is ok for you)
*Some naturopaths think that pineapple falls into a cactus category, and don’t include it with fruit. It is best to follow the directions of your naturopathic doctor.
Some spices are also considered to be fruit:
Bergamot (in Earl Grey tea)
The nut, Cashew, is a fruit.
Some thickening and stabilizing agents:
Cream of Tartar (made from grapes as a byproduct of winemaking)
And then it gets harder, because the Fruit category includes all food products made from fruits. That includes
The oil, bark, and peels from fruit.
Vinegar (balsamic, wine, and apple cider)
Any flavorings from fruit
Drinks made from fruit including wine, juices and sodas
“”Natural Flavoring” - Natural flavoring is in many foods and can mean that fruit has been added. The FDA says that items added for flavoring rather than nutritional purposes can be called “natural flavoring” without having to list the specifics. That can be a problem for people with food allergies too.
And once you have all of that sorted out, there are other preservatives and items in food products that can originate from fruit:
Note that these might not be made from fruit, and could be derived from other sources, such as grain or potato. If there’s a product you like that has one of these and you think it doesn’t bother you, contact your Naturopath about having them evaluate it for you.
Filtered Water has become a recent issue for fruit intolerant people, because most filters are made using coconut. The only bottled waters we currently know of that are ok for fruit intolerant people are Dasani, Perrier, and San Pellegrino.
You have to be careful of fruit in supplements like Vitamin C and B Vitamins. Check with your Naturopath about what supplements are ok for you.
And then there are foods that are processed in a way that makes them not okay for fruit intolerant people.
Wheat flour - not all, but a lot of white flour and the products made from them (bread, pasta, and any other products that contain wheat.). There is no commercially made bread we know of that does not contain fruit. One type of flour we know of to be okay is Bob’s Red Mill Organic All Purpose flour.
Pasta - for the same reason, wheat pasta is also generally considered fruit. Fortunately, there are a lot of pastas now made with other things: lentils, edamame, bean, rice, etc.
Soy sauce - be sure to choose wheat free ones, like tamari.
Yellow cheese - yellow and orange cheese are colored with annatto, which is a fruit.
Mozzarella cheese - can have citric acid.
Honey - some honey is ok. The treatment beekeepers used to prevent mites was citrus strips for a while, which would cause the honey to bother fruit intolerant people. But now they use other methods. Just choose honey that says its from a non-fruit source, like "clover".
Tomato products - almost all of these use citric acid. This might be ok, but it might not. We recommend ones that have only "tomato" listed in the ingredients, like Bionaturae or Pomi.
Garlic powder and onion powder - these are treated with something (we think citric acid) to prevent caking which makes them a problem for fruit intolerant people.
Chili powder - is generally a chili like Ancho that is mixed with other herbs and spices like cumin, oregano, cayenne, garlic powder, and sometimes salt. The garlic powder causes it to bother fruit intolerant people.
Lastly, is topical absorption of fruit through lotions, shampoos, and other toiletries. Try to avoid ones with any fruit extracts or oils added, although this might not be as much of an issue for you.
This list of foods and additives is a general guide to what you can’t eat. The reality of fruit intolerance is that it means almost no processed foods are going to be okay. It means learning to cook a lot of things from scratch, or using food services like what is offered here at Hazelwood Natural Foods (which was created specifically to help with this problem).
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, but if you keep your meal planning simple then you will be successful with this.
Remember that your intolerance must be followed completely. Sometimes patients will think they are doing everything correctly, but are still drinking a cherry coke every day or having just one banana or simply don’t realize they’re eating something that has fruit.
Even the smallest quantities must be avoided to do this correctly.
To people who are skeptical, Dr. Zeff generally says to try following your prescribed intolerance for two weeks. Eliminate those foods entirely for two weeks and see how you feel. Typically, what happens is that people feel better and then when they try eating the foods they’re intolerant to again, will notice adverse effects/flares they didn’t associate with those foods before, when they ate the offending foods constantly.
How can you get started?
Read ingredient labels on the foods you have at home, ask us questions, reach out to your naturopath about having food samples evaluated for you.
Check out our other blog posts and recipes for more about what you can eat!