Six Grapefruit benefits…but could they do you harm too?

  • The fat burning fruit that we should all enjoy, but…
  • …this common medication stops you from having it
  • Why I’m not sure that the doctors have this right

Eating 5 portions of fruit and vegetables every day is a nice, simple way to get us to be healthy and avoid becoming a burden to the NHS.

No argument from me on that one.

As long as what you eat is as fresh and seasonal as it could be then it will be packed with nutrition.

BUT not all fruit is created equal.

For instance, take the grapefruit.  It’s a lovely tangy breakfast treat and one with a good track record for improving health, backed by data from many trials.

One of the most recent was research conducted by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) which discovered compounds within the fruit that actively encourage the liver to break down fats and carbohydrates.

This basically means that the body gets all the benefits of a low carb diet……… without actually having to diet. Hurrah!

The humble yellow fruit has long been associated with a range of health benefits which include:

  • High levels of vitamin C – just half a grapefruit contains 80% of your daily needs.
  • Weight loss – Low in sodium and high in fat burning enzymes, the grapefruit will not only burn fat, but also help flush out excess water.
  • Lowers cholesterol – studies have shown that cholesterol can be reduced by around 15% by including a portion of grapefruit in your daily diet.
  • Helps fight cancer – especially prostate and lung cancer. A flavenoid present in the juice called naringenin helps cell DNA to repair, and has been found to be particularly effective in certain cases.
  • Prevents kidney stones. The high acidity of the juice maintains urinary pH levels so that stones are broken down before they can form.
  • Puts a spring in your step – Grapefruit is excellent at jump starting your metabolism, particularly when eaten within 2 hours of waking up. A high water content combined with the acids and enzymes in the juice causes an increase in metabolic activity.

So far so good – but what our friends at MGH didn’t highlight, is that grapefruit is not a good thing in every case.  In fact, it could be FATAL.

But only under certain conditions.

Before you rush out to bin your breakfast, let me explain…

How could eating grapefruit be fatal?

Basically, it’s the return of one of my pet hates. Statins.

These cholesterol lowering drugs seem to be given out by GP’s with increasing regularity.

However this practice has long been questioned from within the medical profession itself.

Several leading cardiovascular specialists question the validity of giving out these drugs as a precaution, and they cite a growing body of evidence that statins can lead to serious health problems on their own.

I’ve written about my concerns many times in the past, but today I wanted to highlight something that many statin users don’t know.

Worryingly, many GP’s don’t make mention of it either.

Statins are broken down in our bodies by enzymes; unfortunately grapefruit juice blocks this activity and allows statin levels to rise, to the point of danger.

When a constituent of the juice, bergamottin, interacts with the enzymes in our bodies it stops them working – leading to kidney and liver failure as the drugs build up in the body.

“What’s the problem?” argue the manufacturers “It isn’t the drugs, it’s the people on them eating grapefruit”.

That just isn’t right.

By being unaware of this potentially lethal cocktail, patients could be triggering some of the serious side effects being reported.

This is the kind of flawed logic that makes me see red.

Clearly, the problem is with the toxicity of the drug, not the fact that someone chooses to drink a glass of natural juice.

How can we allow ourselves to begin to blame a wholesome, honest product of nature rather than a synthetic compound?  We need to get our priorities right, and not allow the pharmaceutical industry to set the agenda.

Is cholesterol the true cause of heart attacks?

There is a simple medical belief that high blood cholesterol levels leads to an increased risk of suffering a heart attack.

No doubt we have all heard our doctors mention this.

But there is more to the cardiac risk story than this.

An American study from a few years back showed that half of all heart attacks happen to people with perfectly normal or lowered cholesterol levels.

This baffled researchers for some time, until they looked elsewhere.

By measuring another component of blood it became clear that systemic inflammation was actually the real cause of the heightened risk.

High levels of circulating Low Density Lipoprotein bound cholesterol (LDL) was linked to the formation of plaques and blocked arteries, but it was inflammation that makes these unstable and dangerous.

So, what is the cause of systemic inflammation?

Sugar, that’s what.

The increased amount of sugar in western diets has been directly linked to a rise in inflammatory states in our bodies.

Another pet hate of mine.

But there are a few things you can do to help lower inflammation in your body in addition to cutting out the low quality foods.

  1. Increase your intake of Omega 3 fatty acids… these powerful nutrients contain EPA and DHA, which are the basic building blocks of your body’s anti-inflammatory defences.
  2. Go yellow with Curcumin… this is the substance that gives tumeric its distinctive colour. Curcumin blocks the activity of Cox-2, which converts certain acids in our bodies into complex substances that can cause inflammation.
  3. Enjoy some Cat’s Claw… this Peruvian herb has been used for centuries for its anti-inflammatory properties. Again, it prevents one of the main aids to inflammation from doing its job.
  4. And a Good Life letter favourite… Ginger… this is something I try and include in my diet every day, and it’s not hard! I tend to grate it and adding it to lemon and Manuka honey to make a lovely tea. Really. Try it – it even feels healthy as its slipping down! Ginger has over 500 different compounds in it, and many of them contain anti- inflammatory properties.

Oh, and just for the record, fresh grapefruit (along with other citrus fruits such as Calabrian Bergamot Oranges) is also a natural anti-inflammatory… so if you can enjoy it, please do!