30 Bananas a Day!

30BaD FADs: Starchy Foods vs Fruit n Lettuce

30BaD FADs:  Frequently Added Discussion

What about starches?  Are they optimal?

Can I live without grains?  

Why do we need fruits and lettuce greens?

What are the pros and cons of a starch diet vs a fruit diet?  

The 30BaD team promotes eating a low fat raw whole fruit and lettuce green based diet.  But, we do not want people starving, calorie restricting, or binging.  Therefore, we promote eating starchy foods such as grains, beans, and tubers as a back up plan.  However, starches are sub optimal foods, and should only be eaten on an emergency basis.  There are many reasons starches are not a optimal food for humans, and here are a few of them:

  1. Vitamin C and Nutrient Deficiencies
  2. Cooking Decreases Nutrients
  3. Common Toxins in Starchy Foods
  4. Importance of Calcium
  5. Poor Calcium Phosphorus Ratios 
  6. High in Protein
  7. High Blood Sugar and Hyperinsulinsm
  8. Promotion of Weight Gain
  9. Problems With Whole Grains 
  10. Starchy Foods and Oral Problems
  11. Raw Fruit and Lettuce Greens to the Rescue

Introduction

Starches are complex carbohydrates and or complex sugars.  The commonly recognized starchy foods are tubers such as potatoes, legumes (beans), starchy vegetables such as corn, whole grains and breads, refined starches like corn starch.  For dietary discussions, starchy foods can interchangably be called starch, starches, or starchy foods in writing, dicussion, and for ease of  understanding. (1)

Read more here:  Dietary Starches Defined


While this blog post might be a long one, it answers many of the frequently added discussion members ask here regarding starchy foods.  

 

Vitamin C and Nutrient Deficiencies

Humans and primates cannot manufacture their own vitamin C.  Vitamin C is an antioxidant. Antioxidants are substances that may protect your cells against the effects of free radicals. Free radicals are molecules produced when the body breaks down food, or by environmental exposures like tobacco smoke and radiation. Vitamin C is important for skin, bones, and connective tissue. It promotes healing and helps the body absorb iron. Vitamin C comes from fruits and vegetables. (2) (3)

Lack of vitamin C in the diet may lead to scurvy.  Scurvy is a disease that occurs where there is a severe lack of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) in the diet. Lack of vitamin C and or scurvy causes general weakness, anemia, gum disease, and skin hemorrhages. (4)

Some starchy foods such as wheat flour and rice have no vitamin C. A cup of steamed rice has o mg of vitamin C and other key vitamins such as A, E, and K.  Vitamin A is good for vision, bone growth, reproduction, cell functions, and the immune system.  (5) (25)  

An ounce of whole grain flour has 0 mg of vitamin C and very low levels of other nutrients. (24)

In contrast to that, a large orange has 97.9 mg of vitamin C, 414 IU of vitamin A, and 73.6 mg of calcium as well being dense in other nutrients.  (16)

 

Cooking Decreases Nutrients

Most starchy foods need to be cooked in order to digested, a process which further depletes their nutritional value and or possibly increases their pathological effect. (28)

Cooking may render some vitamins and or minerals useless.  Some starchy foods such as wheat and  navy beans have little or no vitamin C.  While some starchy foods like potatoes have some vitamin C, what vitamin C content there is may be damaged and or rendered useless by cooking.  

The vitamin C content of food may be reduced by prolonged storage and by cooking. Steaming or microwaving may lessen cooking losses. Fortunately, many of the best food sources of vitamin C, such as fruits and vegetables, are usually eaten raw. (Another plug for raw fruits from the National Institutes of Heath!)  (6)

Here is an example of vitamin C loss in cooking of a large potato: (12)

Raw potato with flesh and skin 

72.7 mg of vitamin C

Baked potato with flesh and skin

37.7 mg of vitamin C

Common Toxins in Starchy Foods

Solanine

Some starchy foods contain high levels of toxins.  For example, raw potatoes contain the toxic alkaloid solanine which may cause solanine and or potato plant poisoning in some people.  While cooking may reduce the affects of solanine, the risks of ingestion and side effects are still present.  Symptoms of solanine and or potato plant poisoning include: delirium, diarrhea, dilated pupils, fever, hallucinations, headache, loss of sensation, lower than normal body temperature, paralysis, shock, slow pulse, slowed breathing, stomach and or abdominal pain, vomiting, and vision changes. (7)

Phytates

Some starchy foods such as wheat bran, legumes and beans, and most nuts and seeds are high in substances called phytates. Phytates can prevent the body from absorbing calcium and other minerals.

Oxalate Acid

Almost all starchy foods including grains, tubers, legumes, and most nuts and seeds high in oxalate acid. The body does not absorb calcium well from foods that are high in oxalates (oxalic acid). (8)

In addition, cruciferous vegetables like kale and spinach are also high in oxalate.  Starchy foods and cruciferous vegetables may cause the following health issues:

Immediate symptoms of high oxalate consumption include burning mouth and throat during consumption, digestive upsets including sour stomach, stomach pains, diarrhea, blood in stools, constipation, bloating, gas in its various forms including burping, belching, flatulence, and flatus, breathing and asthma symptoms, skin eruptions and acne, arthritis flare ups, kidney stones and kidney problems, urinary pain and or problems, irritation of the genitalia, body odor, and slowed digestion which makes it difficult to eat enough calories during the day.

Long term symptoms and diseases related to high oxalate consumption include kidney stones and kidney disease, urinary problems, breathing and asthma problems, digestive system irritation and or IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), prevention of calcium absorption and assimilation with risk of osteopenia (bone softening), osteoporosis, and jaw, oral, and dental problems, iron deficiency anemia, and other systemic problems such as calcification of tissues and arteries also known as hardening of the arteries and or arteriosclerosis which can lead to heart problems and cerebrovascular accidents and strokes.  Systemic circulation of calcium oxalate crystals can also cause them to be deposited in the visceral organs, bones, cartilage, and synovial fluid of joints resulting in pain, swelling, and arthritis.

Oxalate Health Impact

 

Purines

Starchy foods such beans, peas, whole grains, (and even nuts), are high in purines, and potatoes are moderately high in purines.  Other produce that may have moderate amounts of purines are avocados, mushroom, spinach, asparagus, and cauliflower. (9)

Purines can cause high uric acid levels in the body.  Uric acid is a chemical created when the body breaks down substances called purines. (10)

Most uric acid dissolves in blood and travels to the kidneys, where it passes out in urine. If your body produces too much uric acid or does not remove enough if it, high levels of uric acid in the body can occur also called hyperuricemia.  Early stages of blood uric acid may be asymptomatic, but if left untreated could lead to gout.  Gout is a common, painful form of arthritis and causes swollen, red, hot and stiff joints. Uric acid buildup can lead to kidney stones. Untreated gout can cause permanent joint and kidney damage. (11)

Importance of Calcium

Calcium is important in the body for several reasons including that the body has more calcium than any other mineral. Calcium has many important jobs. The body stores more than 99 percent of its calcium in the bones and teeth to help make and keep them strong. The rest is distributed throughout the body in blood, muscle and the fluid between cells. The body needs calcium to help muscles and blood vessels contract and expand, to secrete hormones and enzymes and to send messages through the nervous system. 

Calcium is used for treatment and prevention of low calcium levels and resulting bone conditions including osteoporosis (weak bones due to low bone density), rickets (a condition in children involving softening of the bones), and osteomalacia (a softening of bones involving pain). Calcium is also used for premenstrual syndrome (PMS), leg cramps in pregnancy, high blood pressure in pregnancy (pre-eclampsia), and reducing the risk of colon and rectal cancers.

Lack of minerals such as calcium can cause weak bones, imbalanced hormones, irregular heartbeat and fatigue.  Osteopenia (bone softening), osteoporosis (brittle bones), and low calcium levels may also put one at risk for poor dental health, and cause erosion of teeth from the inside, pain, and possibly crumbling of the teeth.  (12)

  

Poor Calcium Phospohorus Ratios

Not only is consumption of vitamins and minerals important, so too is how they are consumed.  Phosphorus is an important element in building bone, but cannot be utilized by the body without calcium, and may need equal parts calcium to be properly absorbed. Calcium absorption may be decreased by high dietary levels of phosphate, oxalate, or phytate compounds.

If calcium intake and or absorption is too low, the body will release a hormone to try to increase digestive absorption of calcium, and then pull calcium from the bones to compliment the phosphorus which long term could result in osteopenia (softening of bone), osteoporosis (brittle bones), and dental problems.  (13)  

Calcium to phosphorus ratios should remain at about 1:1 or better to prevent calcium depletion in the body, to promote bone growth, and to maintain overall health.  (14)

An example of a starchy food with a calcium phophorus imbalance is that a potato has 43.3 mg calcium to 210 mg phosphorus. Therefore, potatoes are not in balance, and may actually promote the leaching of calcium from the body and bones. (15)

In contrast, one orange have  73.6 mg of calcium and 25.8 mg phosphorus.  This is almost a 3:1 ratio!  This is conducive to keeping the body alkaline, calcium supplies balanced, promoting bone growth, and enough calcium left over for other body functions.  (16)

High in Protein

Many starchy foods are also high in protein.  Too much protein in the diet may increase the amount of calcium excreted in the urine and decrease the amount available for building bones. (17) 

High Blood Sugar and Hyperinsulinsm (In sensitive Individuals)

Starchy foods consist of starches which are complex carbohydrates.  

Starch and dietary fiber are the two types of complex carbohydrates. The body uses carbohydrates (carbs) to make glucose which is the fuel that provides energy and helps keep everything going. The body can use glucose immediately or store it in the liver and muscles for when it is needed.
Starch must be broken down into the simple sugar glucose through digestion before the body can use it as a glucose source. (18)

When starches are ingested, the pancreas is stimulated to release insulin.  Insulin is a hormone formed from proinsulin in the beta cells of the pancreatic islets of Langerhans. The major fuel-regulating hormone, it is secreted into the blood in response to a rise in concentration of blood glucose or amino acids. Insulin promotes the storage of glucose and the uptake of amino acids, increases protein and lipid synthesis, and inhibits lipolysis and gluconeogenesis. (19)

In some sensitive individuals,  a diet high in starchy foods such as beans, whole grains and bread, starchy vegetables, and tubers, may contribute to elevated blood sugars.  Elevated blood sugar levels may lead to chronic elevated insulin levels.  While not everyone will become diabetic, chronic high insulin levels may lead to hyperinsulinism.  Hyperinsulinism is a condition marked by excessive secretion of  insulin by the islets of Langerhans, resulting in hypoglycemia.  (20) (21)

Hyperinsulinism may contribute to  hypoglycemia and or symptoms such as double or blurry vision, fast or pounding heartbeat, feeling cranky or acting aggressive, feeling nervous, headache, hunger, shaking or trembling, sleeping trouble, sweating, tingling or numbness of skin, tiredness or weakness, and unclear thinking.  In rare cases there is fainting, seizure, and coma.  (22)

Promotion of Weight Gain

The hormone insulin not only promotes the transport of glucose into cells for energy, insulin forces fat cells to take in glucose and blood lipids, which are converted to triglycerides. So in theory, one could eat fatty foods, but without triggering insulin release, there would be little or no weight gain, and this is why some low carbohydrate diets seem to work short term although long term they are not healthy because they have little to no vitamin and mineral content and or promote eating animal products and foods that may be high in protein, fat, and cholesterol that can be detrimental to the health of some people.  

But, a high fat diet combined with a diet high in starchy foods and foods promoting insulin release could lead to weight gain long term in some sensitive individuals.  

A steady diet of starchy foods means a steady stream of glucose entering the blood stream, and chronic high insulin levels.  One role of insulin is to act as a glucose transport into cells.  If there is too much glucose, body will convert that glucose to tryglycerides, that may be stored as fat by insulin.  

In contrast to that, fruits contain simple sugars such as fructose.  When fruits are eaten, there is no initial insulin release, and only a little insulin is need to transport the glucose into cells.  Fructose does not require insulin for transport, and unlike starches which can only be broken down into glucose, fructose can be broken down into other metabolites in the liver as needed by the body.  (23)

Eating fruits and greens may also contribute to steady and stable blood sugars, and control of hyperinsulinism and or hypoglycemia. (29)

Besides the glucose and insulin issue, starchy foods such as rice tend to be calorie dense.  For example, once cup (about 132g) of steamed rice has about 199 calories, and this may promote overeating on rice and or other starches. In contrast to that, one cup and or one large raw orange has 85 calories. One could eat 2-3 oranges with the volume providing more satiety and or a feeling of fullness with less calories.  (16) (24)

 

Problems With Whole Grains

In popular medical and nutritional culture, whole grains are the love child.  Whole grains are touted with doing miracles and wonders such as lowing cholesterol levels.  Whole grains do nothing in and off themselves.  It is elimination of consumption of cholesterol containing foods that lowers cholesterol, not whole grain, or even fruits for that matter.  

Whole grains are also lacking in some valuable vitamins and are out of balance with other acid forming minerals like phosphorus.  The whole grain wheat, usually used in flours to make breads, cakes, cookies, and other baked goods has 0mg of vitamin C.  As mentioned before, humans cannot manufacture their own vitamin C, and eating a diet low in vitamin C can promote a host of problems and or even death from scurvy.

Whole grain flours are also high in protein which inhibits calcium absorption by bone and promote calcium excreting in the urine, and may also contribute to kidney stones and problems.  

The whole grain flour calcium to phosphorus ratios are out of balance with one ounce having 9.5 mg of calcium and 96.9 mg of phosphorus.  This may contribute to poor absorption and assimilation of calcium and lead to poor bone health and oral health. (24)

Gluten containing grains are also harmful to some individuals and may promote Celiac  disease, Crohn's disease, alopeica (hair loss), acne and other skin disorders, kidney stones and kidney problems, inflammation, autoimmune disorders, arthritis, brain fog and fatigue, brain disorders like Alzheimers disease, schizophrenia, depression and panic attacks, optic nerve and eye problems, and tooth defects and bone deficiencies. (26)

A summary that is not favorable in grain consumption includes:  grains are deficient in important nutrients, contain substances poisonous to the human body, need to be cooked which further depletes nutrients, may cause hypertrophy of pancreas, cause unnecessary depletion of enzyme levels, result in flatulence and gas, damage intestinal villi, acid forming and cause cancer and arthritis, skin problems such as dry skin, subcutaneous cysts, exasperate MS, cause brain disorders such as schizophrenia, deplete the immune system and increase susceptibility of head colds and allergies and other infections, promote tooth decay and enamel erosion, may permanently damage infant digestive systems, promote arteriosclerosis meaning hardening via calcification of arteries long term increasing risks of stroke and or heart disease. (28)

 

Starchy Foods and Oral Problems

This summary of tooth decay and oral problems comes from MedlinePlus, the official medical search engine of the US government.  This explains the connection between carbs and starchy foods and tooth decay. 

Tooth decay is a common disorder, second only to the common cold. It usually occurs in children and young adults but can affect any person. Tooth decay is a common cause of tooth loss in younger people.

Bacteria are normally found in your mouth. These bacteria change foods -- especially sugar and starch -- into acids. Bacteria, acid, food pieces, and saliva combine in the mouth to form a sticky substance called plaque. Plaque sticks to the teeth. It is most common on the back molars, just above the gum line on all teeth, and at the edges of fillings.

Plaque that is not removed from the teeth turns into a substance called tartar. Plaque and tartar irritate the gums, resulting in gingivitis and periodontitis.

Plaque begins to build up on teeth within 20 minutes after eating. If it is not removed, tooth decay will begin.

The acids in plaque damage the enamel covering your teeth, and create holes in the tooth (cavities). Cavities usually do not hurt, unless they grow very large and affect nerves or cause a tooth fracture. An untreated cavity can lead to a tooth abscess. Untreated tooth decay also destroys the inside of the tooth (pulp), which leads to tooth loss.

Carbohydrates (sugars and starches) increase the risk of tooth decay. Sticky foods are more harmful than nonsticky foods because they remain on the teeth. Frequent snacking increases the time that acids are in contact with the surface of the tooth. (29)

And, this is the recommendation for dental care:

Healthy teeth are clean and have no cavities. Healthy gums are pink and firm. To maintain healthy teeth and gums, follow these steps:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice daily, preferably after every meal and at bedtime.
  • Floss at least once per day.
  • Schedule an appointment with a dentist for a routine cleaning and examination. Many dentists recommend having the teeth professionally cleaned every 6 months.
  • Keep dentures, retainers, and other appliances clean. This includes regular brushing and may include soaking them in a cleansing solution.

Ask your dentist:

  • What toothbrush you should use, and where your problem areas are located. Ask if an electric tooth brush is right for you. Such brushes have been shown to clean teeth better than manual tooth brushes.
  • How to properly floss your teeth. Overly vigorous or improper flossing may injure the gums.
  • Whether you should use any special appliances or tools, such as water irrigation. This may sometimes help supplement (but not replace) brushing and flossing.
  • Whether you could benefit from particular toothpastes or mouth rinses. In some cases, over-the-counter pastes and rinses may be doing you more harm than good, depending on your condition.

Regular teeth cleaning by a dentist removes plaque that may develop even with careful brushing and flossing, especially in areas that are difficult for you to reach on your own. Professional cleaning includes scaling and polishing. This uses various instruments or devices to loosen and remove deposits from the teeth. (30)

Raw Fruits and Lettuce Greens to the Rescue

  1. Raw fruits and lettuce greens are high in vitamin C and need to be eaten to ward off scurvy.  
  2. Raw fruits and lettuce greens do not need to be cooked and keep nutrient content in tact.
  3. Raw fruits and lettuce greens have minimal toxins and or anti nutrients, and are gluten free.  
  4. Many fruits such as oranges and lettuces greens contain calcium and have perfect calcium to phosphorus ratios of 1:1 or better with oranges being 3:1 and romaine lettuce A head of romaine lettuce has  207mg of calcium and 188 mg of phosphorus.  (27)
  5. Raw Fruits and lettuce greens are high in calcium.
  6. Raw fruits and lettuce greens have simple sugars like fructose for easy digestion and assimilation, and low insulin impact. 
  7. Raw fruits and lettuce greens promote easy digestion and are difficult to overeat.  
  8. Most long term vegetarians, vegans, and raw fruit eaters are slim.  (31)

 

In conclusion

For overall health and optimum digestion, a diet high in raw fruits and leafy lettuce greens is ideal.  Read more:  Benefits of Lettuce Greens

Of further reading interest:

Dietary Starches Defined

References

  1. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002469.htm  Carbohydrates, complex and simple, starchy foods defined.
  2. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/vitaminc.html Vitamin C
  3. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/antioxidants.html Anitoxidants
  4. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000355.htm Scurvy
  5. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/vitamina.html  Vitamin A
  6. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-QuickFacts/  Cooking may damage Vitamin C.
  7. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002875.htm Solanine and Potato Plant Poisoning
  8. http://www.nof.org/aboutosteoporosis/prevention/foodandbones phytates oxalate
  9. http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Gout/default.asp#do List of foods high in purine.  
  10. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003476.htm Uric Acid
  11. http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Gout/default.asp Gout, Uric Acid, Purine
  12. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/781.html  Calcium Benefits
  13. http://www2.kumc.edu/instruction/nursing/nurs466/lecture%20notes/el...  Calcium digestive hormone, pulled from bones.  
  14. http://www.livestrong.com/article/472289-calcium-phosphorus-ratio-i... Calcium Phosphorus Ratio 1:1
  15. http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-produc... Raw Potato Nutrition and baked potato nutrition here.
  16. http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/1966/2 Orange Nutrition
  17. http://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/nutrition/Pag...  Protein and Calcium
  18. http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/basics/carbs.html  Starch, Carbs, Glucose
  19. http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/insulin Insulin Defined
  20. http://www.mayoclinic.com/print/hyperinsulinemia/HQ00896/METHOD=print  Hyperinsulinism
  21. http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/hyperinsulinism  Hyperinsulinism
  22. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000386.htm  Hypoglycemia
  23. http://www.ajcn.org/content/76/5/911.full  Fructose
  24. http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/cereal-grains-and-pasta/5744/2  Whole Grain Flour
  25. http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/cereal-grains-and-pasta/10641/2 Rice nutrients
  26. http://gluten-free.org/hoggan/  Conditions caused by grains and gluten.
  27. http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-produc... Romaine Lettuce
  28. http://soilandhealth.org/02/0201hyglibcat/020149imp.on.pritikin/020...  Improving on Pritiking, You Can do Better by Ross Horne (The whole free ebook, but specific to grains is chapter ten: "Grains Are For The Birds")
  29. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001055.htm  Dental Cavities
  30. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001957.htm  Dental Care
  31. http://www.mayoclinic.com/print/diabetes/AN00845/METHOD=print  Long Term Vegans

 

Disclaimer:

This blog is for informational purposes only.

The medical and/or nutritional information on this site is not intended to be a substitute for professional  medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health 
provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional 
medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you have read on this Web site.

Updated September 6, 2012 By PK

Views: 7422

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Comment by Javoszia Sterling on April 11, 2014 at 8:16am

I have a question regarding the spinach and kale thing. I dont think I am oxalate sensitive but I LOVE kale and spinach! Like I eat about 2 cups of it a day. Are their any dietary recommendations for this or is what I'm consuming fine? 

Comment by Cloudfox on January 22, 2014 at 10:28pm

Powerful wisdom-filled PK, thank you for sharing all of this.

You have no idea how helpful and exciting all your writing is too me (and

no doubt to many others here).

Comment by Lailah Morid on September 19, 2013 at 2:54am

Hi!

I was trying to research why it seems that fruitarians are thinner than those who follow the Starch Solution or eat a healthy plant based diet - not high fruit and I landed on your post.  I figured it either had to do with a difference in calories, carbs or that fruitarians tend to be more athletic so they're getting more exercise. 

But, how about this study: http://www.drmcdougall.com/misc/2006nl/sept/sugar.html

I copied and pasted the main section here:

The Human Body Does Not Turn Sugar to Fat 

The process of synthesizing fat from sugar is known as de novo lipogenesis—the new production of fat.  This activity is highly efficient in some animals, such as pigs and cows—which is one reason they have become popular people foods—these animals can convert low-energy, inexpensive carbohydrates—grass, say, in the case of cows and grains for pigs—into calorie-dense fats.5  However, human beings are very inefficient at this process and as a result de novo lipogenesis does not occur under usual living conditions in people. Thus the common belief that sugar turns to fat is scientifically incorrect—and there is no disagreement about this fact among scientists or their scientific research.5-8 

Under experimental laboratory conditions, however, where people are overfed large amounts of simple sugars, the human body will resort to converting a small amount of sugar into a small amount of fat (triglycerides) in the liver.  For example, in one recent study, trim and obese women were overfed with 50% more calories than they usually ate—note, 535 of these extra calories each day came from four and a half ounces (135 grams) of refined sugar.  In this forced-fed situation, the women produced less than 4 grams (36 calories) of fat daily from the extra carbohydrate.8 Extrapolation from these findings means a person would have to be overfed by this amount of food and table sugar every day for nearly 4 months in order to gain one extra pound of body fat from the conversion of sugar to fat—by de novo lipogenesis. Obviously, even overeating substantial quantities of sugar is a relatively unimportant source of body fat. (So where does all that fat come from?—the fat you eat is the fat you wear.)

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