Fruitarianism: Too Much of a Good Thing?

We all know that eating fruit keeps us healthy, but some believe that we need more than an apple a day to keep the doctor away… a lot more. How about 12 apples, 10 bananas, an entire watermelon, and maybe 2 cantaloupes all before dinner? Excessive? Not to the fruitarian.

Fruitarianism is an extreme subset of raw veganism where followers take the standpoint that fruit should be the main component of our diet. Some followers of this diet commit about 75% of their diet to fruit, with the other 25% consisting of vegetables, nuts, and in some cases small amounts of grains. On the other hand there are extremists that commit 100% of their diet to just raw fruit. But despite the level of intensity, one thing is certain: fruit is always the star of the show.

So what’s the big deal? There’s no such thing as too much fruit, right? 

Well, counter to what you may think, many health professionals have criticized fruitarianism, expressing it can have adverse health effects.

Although fruits provide high levels of fiber, natural sugars, and antioxidants, many dietitians claim that an all fruit diet is severely lacking in necessary nutrients required for a healthy diet. Some of these deficiencies include: vitamin B-12, calcium, vitamin D, iodine, and omega-3 fatty acids. These deficiencies can lead to anemia, lethargy, and potentially osteoporosis (source: The Cleveland Clinic). 

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Additionally, a fruitarian diet contains high levels of sugar and carbohydrates that some believe can lead to diabetes and pancreatic issues, especially in people with predispositions to these conditions (The Cleveland Clinic). In fact, some doctors believe a fruitarian diet can cause pancreatic cancer.

We all recall when Steve Jobs, founder and CEO of Apple Inc., died of pancreatic cancer in 2011. However, what most people may not know is that Jobs was a dedicated fruitarian. His obsession with fruit even inspired the company’s name, Apple. Some doctors believe Jobs’ high fruit diet contributed to the development of pancreatic cancer. This claim was further supported in 2013 when actor Ashton Kutcher was rushed to the hospital after experiencing extreme pain, shortly before he was to start shooting for the movie Jobs, in which Kutcher played a young Steve Jobs. 

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About a month prior to his hospitalization, Kutcher adopted the fruitarian diet to get in touch with his character. Doctors found that Kutcher’s pain came from strain in his pancreas. In an interview dietitian Keri Gans told US News that Kutcher most likely experienced pain because he was overworking his pancreas due to the excessive consumption of carbohydrates from fruit (US News). 

Despite negative reviews from the medical world, many fruitarians claim that dedicating their diets to fruit has caused them to feel healthier and more energetic, some even say they feel super human. For example, Michael Arnstein, long-term fruitarian and founder of the Woodstock Fruit Festival, credits his success as a marathon runner to fruit, encouraging others to join the movement towards a raw fruit diet through various YouTube videos and his website, TheFruitarian.com. 

Substantial research on fruitarianism is lacking, so there is no clear answer whether this extreme diet causes you to become super human or leads to serious health issues. However, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Most dietitians and health professionals suggest a diverse diet and eating in moderation, along with exercise is the best way to lose weight and stay healthy without risking imbalances in nutrition. 

So, if you are looking for a diet to keep you on track with your New Year’s resolution to get healthier, be smart. There are a lot of radical diets out there that all claim to have life changing effects, but don’t just take their word for it. Whether it is the new super food, Jenny Craig, or fruitarianism, make sure to do plenty of research and consult a doctor before starting any extreme diet, especially those that consist of restrictive food groups. 

Be safe. Be healthy. Be happy.

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