The internet is going crazy over the so-called “fruitarian” diet, ripe with claims about weight loss and healthy living. But the fad diet can actually lead to weight gain, nutrient deficiencies, organ damage or even death.
Let’s take a look at what a fruitarian diet is, and the science behind the risks.
What is the fruitarian diet?
The fruitarian diet suggests that fruit should make up 75% of your daily food consumption. The thinking behind it is that fruits contain high levels of antioxidants and vitamins. These chemicals have been shown to reduce cell damage. In turn, they can even help prevent cancer.
However, it’s important to remember that fruits are only the reproductive organs of the plant, not the entire plant itself. Therefore, fruits are missing certain key essential nutrients that we would otherwise get from vegetables, grains, meat, and dairy.
Vitamin B12 helps keep the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy, and helps make DNA, the genetic material in all cells. But we can only get this key nutrient from animal products. Even vegans are encouraged to take a B12 supplement. So it’s no shock that fruitarians will suffer from a B12 deficiency, leading to lethargy and low energy levels.
Iodine is another nutrient that is missing from the fruitarian diet. This ion helps your thyroid gland produce hormones that play a key role in regulating your metabolism. If your diet is low or lacking in iodine, you can develop a disorder called goiter where your thyroid swells, forming a tumor-like growth on your neck. This can be reversed by eating foods that are high in iodine such as seafood and dairy products.
Omega-3 Fatty Acid
Fruits are high in sugar, but have no fat. And while fat has a bad reputation, it is crucial for insulating our nerve cells and brain cells. And Fruitarian diets lack omega-3 fatty acids. Fruitarians ought to supplement their diet with fish oil capsules or vegetables that are high in this macronutrient.
Our bodies require calcium for healthy bones, teeth, and muscles. This mineral is responsible for every single contracting muscle in your body, from your legs when you walk to your intestines as they churn and digest food. Fruits contain no calcium and no Vitamin D, a vitamin that helps your body use calcium efficiently. Without these two nutrients, fruitarians can end up suffering from osteoporosis, a condition in which bones become weak and brittle.
Fruitarian diet can make you really sick
If you’re still anxious to try out the fruitarian diet, it’s vital that you speak with a doctor or registered dietician about trying out the regimen in a safe manner. Jumping into the diet head-on could lead to drastic consequences, as actor Ashton Kutcher discovered in 2013.
At the time, the performer was preparing for the lead role in the film Jobs. Kutcher adopted the eccentric diet of Apple founder Steve Jobs, whom he played in the movie, which meant sticking to a fruit-centric diet. But he had to quit the practice after being rushed to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with pancreatitis.
While the fruitarian diet will not cause pancreatic cancer, which killed the real Steve Jobs in 2011, it can cause massive complications to the pancreas, as Kutcher discovered.
Moderation is key
When it comes to healthy eating, there are no miracle foods. Healthy eating and healthy living are all about doing things in moderation. Humans are, after all, omnivores, which mean we crave a variety of foods. Even healthy foods like fruits, vegetables and lean meats need to be consumed in moderation. Diversifying your palate will help you avoid a deficiency in any particular nutrient.