Citrus nice and early!

It’s now nearly 40 years since I first began my day with a freshly squeezed orange, lemon and grapefruit – which I have at least 30 minutes before breakfast. But why 30?

I always knew citrus fruits were rich in vitamins A and C, but what I didn’t know was that while citrus tastes acidic, it has an alkaline reaction in the body when eaten on an empty stomach! I also learned that fruits in general pass through the digestive system within half an hour, and are the body’s BEST CLEANSERS!  

In particular, low glycaemic fruits, including citrus, blackcurrants, apples, papayas and kiwifruit are rich in vitamins and phytochemicals – giving your immune system a tremendous boost. As nutrition professor Luigi Fontana says: 

“These phytochemicals seem to play a synergistic role in decreasing the risk of multiple human disorders including cancers, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension and cognitive impairment”

Fontana, L. (2020). ‘The path to longevity: How to reach 100 with the health and stamina of a 40-year-old’, p.127. Richmond, Victoria: Hardie Grant Books.

Importantly, I also learned that the pith of oranges and grapefruits contain just as much Vitamin A and C as the fruits themselves (pink grapefruits have little extra), plus much more fibre: so important in cleaning out debris in your large intestine. 

From then on, I skimmed the outer skin of the grapefruit and ate the fruit with the pith, together with a large tumbler of water with lemon juice. (If you’re taking statins, know that the drug does not react well with grapefruit; oranges work just as well.)

Dieticians, nutritionists and medical practitioners don’t think it matters, but it’s when you have your fruit (citrus especially). Dr Norman Walker maintains that fruits eaten together within an hour or two of a meal “ … have a tendency to ferment in the digestive tract and sooner or later a chemical reaction, frequently called acidosis … is likely to result.” 

Walker, N.W. (1940/1970). ‘Diet & Salad’, p.25. Norwalk Press: Summertown, Tennessee.

Having fruits only on an empty stomach (or at least 2–3 hours after any meal) and not having them as part of a dessert cured my gastritis. No more bloating! And with my metabolism working well, it kept my weight in check. 

My citrus regime first thing in the morning has also kept me fit and protected me from harsher strains of colds and flu. The colon absorbs and utilises yellow or orange fruits rich in alpha-carotene far better than any vitamin pill. 

“Some phytochemicals are heavily marketed as food supplements, often because of their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Evidence that these supplements actually work, however, is limited at best. Far better to get your phytochemicals by eating fruit and vegetables.”

Raubenheimer, D. & Simpson, S. (2020). ‘Eat like the Animals’, p.213. HarperCollins Publishers: Sydney.

While it’s alkaline in your digestive system, acid from citrus can wear down tooth enamel – but some water with your own saliva will neutralise the acid. Try it!