Earlier this year, did you hear about Ashton Kutcher having to spend time in hospital after he gave the fruitarian diet a shot? Playing Steve Jobs in an upcoming biopic on the Apple founder’s life, Kutcher attempted to adopt a Jobs’ style diet as well, to completely get into the skin of his character. Unfortunately, this apparently led to him being “doubled up in pain” and needing medical help.
Stories like this often give alternative diets a bad name, so today I thought I’d dig deeper and see what a fruitarian diet is really all about. Can it be bad enough to put you in hospital or can there be long term benefits of this diet?
What Is a Fruitarian Diet?
Often known as a subset of veganism, fruitarianism involves adopting a diet that is made up of 75% fruit. Further, depending on individual preferences, diets can be made of nuts and seeds and other vegan and raw food.
Animal products are an absolute no-no. Some fruitarians don’t eat grain while others do. Some only eat fruit that has naturally fallen from a plant and not been picked.
Fruitarian diets aren’t new and have been around for a very long time. In fact, many fruitarians believe being “fruitivores” or fruit eaters is the natural state for humans and by eating, whole, raw organic fruit, humans will go back to the Eden-like paradise of Adam and Eve.
The Upside Of A Fruitarian Diet
So is eating fruit and mostly just fruit going to help you in any way? Fruitarians believe there can be long term benefits of adopting such a diet. The benefits of fruitarianism include:
Low in Calories
Fruit is good for you and is often recommended for being so good on the calorie scale. 1 serving of some fruits like strawberries and cantaloupe often contains less than 100 calories.
On the other hand, a fruit like banana is also a great choice because it not only contains only about 100 calories but is also very rich in a multitude of other nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and fiber.
No Cooking Required
Many fruitarians believe food should be consumed raw in its whole, natural form. And why wouldn’t they, when most fruit can be consumed without any cooking needed. Fruitarian diets can be convenient, especially for those on the go.
Due to a fiber rich diet, fruitarians are often less prone to constipation. Additionally, a regular intake of vitamins and other nutrients strengthens the body’s immune system making you less susceptible to allergies and viruses.
Fruits contain plenty of good things and are an excellent source of nutrients and fiber, as discussed above. Did you know, one cup of raspberries pack in a whopping 8g of fiber?
This is already a third of the daily recommended fiber intake for women! Additionally, fruits like prunes and berries are also all-natural anti-oxidants.
The Downside Of Fruitarianism
Before you go adopting an all fruit diet, don’t forget also that a fruitarian diet has a number of pitfalls.
Not Enough Nutrients
The biggest problem most people have about fruitarianism is that you cannot possibly get all the nutrients your body needs from fruit alone.
Fruitarian diets are by their very nature, pretty restrictive and therefore you could end up with a number of mineral and vitamin deficiencies.
- A fruit-based diet can enhance your chances of developing anemia due to the lack of iron in your body. Lack of iron would also lead to you constantly feeling fatigued.
- Vitamin B-12 is usually only found in animal based foods and very often fruitarians develop a vitamin B-12 deficiency due to their choice of diet. Meat, poultry, eggs, fish and dairy products are common sources of the vitamin, however, fruitarians don’t consume any of these foods. Many take dietary supplements to make up for this however many end up with low levels of this crucial vitamin and this can lead to a variety of neurological problems.
- As most fruitarians don’t consume dairy products, there is often a high risk of being calcium-deficient as well as low on Vitamin D. These in turn can lead to brittle bones. While Vitamin D can be derived from the sun, most of us don’t spend enough time outdoors and rely on milk or fish to supply us with our Vitamin D needs. Without these nutrients, your bones might become more susceptible to breaking.
This might sound a bit far-fetched, and in fact, many fruitarians will argue the opposite is true, but fruitarian diets have been known to lead to psychological problems too.
A common reason for this is that fruitarianism is a pretty extreme diet, and it may be hard to fit in with your friends and family, and even socialize properly if you have such strict eating habits.
Sometimes people adopt fruitarian diets to cut down their calorie intake. With a fruit diet, if your body doesn’t get enough calories it needs from the diet, it often goes into a state of catabolism.
This means it starts to try to derive energy from it’s own tissue as it doesn’t have any food to break down for energy. As a result of this, your metabolism will slow down while your body tries to conserve as many calories as possible for energy.
This will also affect your electrolyte balance and can also have adverse effects on the way your muscles, especially heart muscles function.
Too Much Sugar
Fruit provides us with natural sugar options, yes. But if fruits make up your entire diet you are consuming way too much fructose (i.e. sugar)!
For the average person, it is recommended that you don’t consumer more than 25g of fructose per day, even less for those with diabetic problems. By consuming just 3 sweet fruits a day, you will have reached your 25g/day limit.
Going over and above these consumption amounts can lead to many problems such as insulin resistance, diabetes, obesity. fatty liver disease, high blood pressure and more.
Excessive amounts of fructose consumption have also been linked to cancer, most notably pancreatic cancer.
The general consensus about the fruitarian diet seems to be a “no, don’t do it”. While eating enough fruit daily should definitely be part of your diet, a diet comprised solely of fruit can end up doing more harm than good.
Dietitians around the world strongly assert that you cannot get all the nutrients your body needs if you adopt a fruit based diet permanently.
If you’re considering a fruitarian diet because you think it might help you to lose weight, I would strongly advise you to speak to a health care professional first. Extreme dieting is never a good idea.
Personally, I am not a believer of extreme, fad diets. Moderation is the key to healthy eating and living. But I’d like to know – what are your thoughts on a fruitarian diet?