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    Fruits and vegetables: a serious inquiry
    Quothmar posted:

    After a fairly comprehensive study of the basic nutrients considered essential to the proper function of the body, I have come to strongly doubt the importance of fruits and vegetables in a healthy diet. While it is true that these two food groups are universally extolled in our culture, I haven't come across a study that convincingly showed them to be necessary.

    My reasons for doubting them are as follows:

    1. When asked what nutrients fruits and vegetables contain, people respond to me, "Fiber." But you can get fiber from whole grains -- soluble from wheat bread, insoluble from oats.

    2. They then reply, "Antioxidants." But like vitamins, you can get antioxidants in pill form.

    3. At last, they mention "phytochemicals." But there are over 100 phytochemicals and their health benefits haven't even been scientifically established -- hence their name.

    4. Fruits and vegetables are hard to eat. I find that it occasionally takes me 30 minutes to eat one apple.

    5. Fruits and vegetables don't have many calories. Although calories add to weight, they are also the body's primary energy source. The more useful calories you take in, the more work you are able to do.

    6. Fruits and vegetables go sour incredibly fast. I can't count the number of times I've had to throw away old bananas, grapes, and strawberries. They just don't keep very long.

    7. Arguments in favor of the benefits of fruits and vegetables show hints of sophistry. They include the somewhat condescending reference to "your" fruits and vegetables. In addition, studies I've seen of their benefits aren't fully rigorous.

    8. Fruits and vegetables are extraordinarily expensive. It seems to me very likely that the agricultural industry, perhaps along with other groups, would have incentive to profit off these low-calorie foods, for one reason or another. The less polite may deride this as conspiracy theory, but it constitutes a serious objection.

    As it stands now, my diet is almost vegan (I abhor the thought of eating meat), and consists of mostly grains: bread, rice, some soy, and seitan as a meat substitute. As supplements, I take vitamins and antioxidants and drink protein drinks. Every now and then, I try to eat a few fruits and vegetables just to be fair.

    Although my diet is restricted and certainly not rich in fruits and vegetables, I take the advice of those who recommend them very seriously. It is for that reason that I want a persuasive argument about *why*, in light of the above objections, fruits and vegetables would be a wise decision in my life. I won't accept any arguments that simply appeal to medical authority or popular agreement. Nor will I accept any arguments that merely reassert the bare fact that "I need them."

    I cannot promise that I will accept your advice or comply with your requests, but I will let this challenge stand to indicate that I have at least given it conscientious consideration.

    jc3737 responded:
    vitamins and antioxidants in pill form,,,more and more research is showing its not the same...often pills are not effective but foods are

    More on the way.
    jc3737 responded:
    jc3737 responded:
    jc3737 responded:
    Tomato05 responded:
    You can also look at statistics of societies with great longevity - their fruit & veg consumption is high.

    Amongst the huge variety of nutrients in veg, is calcium, found in significant amounts in some veg (not found readily in grains), which protect the bones. Calcium supplements have been shown to increase the risk of kidney stones, but not calcium found in food sources.

    The full benefits of nutrients can't be duplicated in pill form - the synergy of various nutrients working together in the combinations/amounts present in vegetables and fruit is unique.
    Quothmar replied to Tomato05's response:
    Thank you for your responses so far.

    I found the studies posted to be unconvincing for a variety of reasons, including the following:

    1. Although adjustment for age was cited, few other adjustments were cited -- e.g., income. I'd be interested to find a study that examined the *ratio of fruits and vegetables to other foods consumed* as a function of income level, to see if any other factor may be interfering with the F&V studies.

    2. It is difficult for me to tell how contrived the results were. For example, in the second link, F&V intake was correlated with increased blood flow in response to certain acetylcholine injections. What if this finding was just the most *promising-looking* finding among other possible correlations?

    3. The handling of language in the links is sloppy. For example, Dr. Paolo Boffetta states, "The bottom line here is that, yes, we did find a protective effect of fruit and vegetable intake against cancer." However, the relevant study in the first link reports only an *association* between decreased cancer risk and F&V intake, not a link of causation.

    Jc3737 tells me that vitamins and antioxidants in pill form "are not the same" as fruits and vegetables. In what way does it differ? Is there any difference in absorbency rate? If so, how much? Couldn't we just increase the vitamin content?

    Tomato05 responds that societies with high longevity consume more F&V, indicating correlation but not causation. Which societies, specifically? Might there be other factors involved?

    Tomato05 also responds that the combination amounts of certain nutrients in F&V is unique. Just what sort of combination are we looking for here, and how does it affect health? Obviously, if I eat nothing but apples, I get a certain combination of nutrients. If I gradually phase in oranges or grapes, the nutrient combination changes slightly. To what extent, then, is the F&V combination "unique"? Couldn't *that combination* be duplicated in pill form, with adjustments made for absorbency rates?

    So far, I remain unconvinced that fruits and vegetables are really necessary in a healthy diet.
    Quothmar replied to Quothmar's response:
    P.S. I apologize for the spacing in my original post. Apparently some browsers and websites require a Shift Enter to space only once, whereas a simple Enter will double-space, much to the deception of the writer.
    Tomato05 replied to Quothmar's response:
    The diets of Mediterranean nations, Okinawans, and natives of Kitava (a Papua New Guinean island) come to mind; there are probably many more.

    There are likely to be lots of studies into the benefits of whole food, in particular fruit and veg, vs supplements, done over many decades. The Journal of Medical Research, or a University Health Dept. would probably have better access at their fingertips to such research.

    Maybe the best study would be your own body! You could for example dramatically increase your fruit and veg intake for 3 months (it can't do harm anyway) and see if you can detect any difference in the way you feel. If you focus honestly on signs your body is giving you, you may become convinced...
    jc3737 replied to Quothmar's response:
    I asked a friend of mine why foods work and pills often do is his reply...vit c he mentions as one good example.

    The main reason for this is simply synergy. For example, vitamin C requires bioflavonoids to work properly. With synthetic vitamin C the bioflavonoids need to be added, which is only done sometimes.
    Another factor is stability. Synthetic vitamin C for example is EXTREMELY unstable and readily breaks down in the presence of light, heat or moisture. Natural sources of vitamin C are often protected from degradation by other antioxidants such as polyphenols present in the plants. And going back to my point above adding bioflavonoids to synthetic vitamin C is not going to do much if the vitamin C has already broken down from its instability.
    Then there is simple chemistry. Researchers assume that when they make a synthetic that the synthetic is exactly identical in structure to the natural vitamin. But this is not the case. Synthetic vitamin Es for example have been shown to be less active than their natural counterparts. The problem is that there is no way for researchers to make sure that every atom is in the same position and that every bond angle is exactly the same as in the natural. For example, glucose, fructose and galactose are all C6H12O6, yet these sugars do not have the same chemistry. Depending on where those atoms are positioned exactly we can come up with a number of similar, but not exact compounds. The properties of water (H2O) can even be changed simply by changing the bond angle of the hydrogen atoms in the water even though it is still the same molecule. It is not like scientists have some magical microscope to see where every atom is positioned in a natural molecule and they can use that same magical microscope to assemble all the atoms of their synthetic in the same exact position. So these synthetics are close enough to give us a similar but not identical effect.
    By the way, the same applies for the so-called "bio-identical" hormones, which is why I hate that sales term so much.
    Heretk responded:
    Your grains diet might not be the best either, have a look at The China Study data: study

    Re: I cannot promise that I will accept your advice or comply with your requests,

    I have none!

    What made you think that we would have any requests or requirement, on this particular forum? I am curious, what other forum ("fora" if you are from Europe) did you participate in, that made some "requests" upon you and what these requests were?

    Stan (Heretic)
    Quothmar replied to Heretk's response:
    I will get back to your responses soon, as a nightclub seems to have disturbed my sleep cycle.

    In the meantime, I still don't understand why Vitamin C couldn't be adjusted in the capsule to compensate for the lack of bioflavonoids, if any.
    jc3737 replied to Quothmar's response:
    I'm not sure why either but as of now no one has found a way to do so.As of now the capsules are of limited value,when compared to food.
    DoloresTeresa replied to jc3737's response:
    Q wants to know why we can't get our vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients (of which there are thousands not hundreds) in capsule form and would like a study to show the value of vegetables and fruits in the diet.

    There was a recent experiment which you can find somewhere on the net in which some people were isolated and fed a "Gorilla" diet, that is one of just water, fruits and vegetables. They didn't like the diet, but their blood pressure, cholesterol and other risk factors were all lowered.

    On the net you can also find that some zoo gorillas had their vitamin pellets taken away (they were given to the gorillas in a form that looked somewhat like cookies) and only given their natural diet without the added vitamins and minerals. Zoo gorillas mostly die from heart disease just like people. And they are overweight. The gorillas missed their pellets but after a while adjusted to their natural diet. With the artificial pellets, they only browsed about 4 hours a day. On their natural diet it took them many more hours to eat. They lost about 65 pounds and all the risk factors for heart disease were lowered or disappeared. So here is a case with a close human ancestor, in which nutrients outside the normal food matrix did not protect the health of the animals, and in fact the artificial diet produced heart disease, but a fruit and vegetable natural diet without the added vitamin and mineral pellets promoted good health, weight loss and prevented heart disease. Essentially they ate more fruits and vegetables when the pellets were withdrawn.

    Quothmar replied to DoloresTeresa's response:
    I apologize for the exceedingly late reply, but a number of distractions have crept up and I was not yet prepared to write a response.

    Jc3737 points out that bioflavonoids are required for the proper digestion of Vitamin C. Two objections to this argument surface in my mind:

    1. Vitamin C is just one vitamin, and it can be found in something simple, like orange juice.
    2. If the amount of Vitamin C absorbed is reduced by something such as the lack of bioflavonoids, one may simply increase the Vitamin C content of said vitamin capsule.

    DoloresTeresa mentions "phytonutrients"; these are actually called "phytochemicals" because their nutritional value has not been confirmed -- or so I have read.

    In response to all studies proposed thus far, we need to go further and compare *all costs* with *all benefits* of a diet rich in F&V, rather than simply pointing out one benefit or another. Only in this way will we establish the wisdom of eating F&V.

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