The good in fruitarian diet is that it is low in calories, no cooking is necessary and it is fiber-rich. The bad is they can be nutrient-restrictive and cause anemia. People who follow this diet can have calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12 and iron deficiency. Excessive fructose can lead to slow metabolism and cause insulin resistance, diabetes, and cancer.
Fruits are loaded with healthy antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, which is why eating them in moderation is fine for healthy people. However, many can benefit by restricting their fruit intake.
Fructose, a simple sugar found in fruit, is preferentially metabolized to fat in your liver, and eating large amounts has been linked to negative metabolic and endocrine effects. So eating very large amounts – or worse, nothing but fruit – can logically increase your risk of a number of health conditions, from insulin and leptin resistance to cancer.
For example, research has shown that pancreatic tumour cells use fructose, specifically, to divide and proliferate, therefore speeding up the growth and spread of cancer.
As a general health rule, I recommend limiting your total fructose consumption to about 25 grams per day on average, and that includes fructose from fruit. However, if you have insulin resistance, heart disease, cancer or high blood pressure, you will want to reduce it considerably more.
What Exactly 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 “fructivores” 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.
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 melon 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 fibre.
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 fibre 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.
Rich in Fibre
Fruits contain plenty of good things and are an excellent source of nutrients and fibre, as discussed above. Did you know, that 125g of raspberries pack in a whopping 8g of fibre? This is already a third of the daily recommended fibre intake for women! Additionally, fruits like prunes and berries are also all-natural antioxidants.
The Not So Good.
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. Iron-deficiency anemia leads to symptoms of fatigue, weakness and susceptibility to infections.
Spinach and other greens are fruitarian foods that provide iron, but the iron from plant sources is in the non-heme form, which is difficult to absorb. Heme iron such as in meat and other animal-based foods is easier for your body to absorb. Women of child-bearing age and female adolescents are among the groups at high risk for iron deficiency.
If you do not take a dietary supplement or eat fortified foods, you will develop a deficiency of vitamin B-12 if you follow a fruitarian diet. The only natural sources of vitamin B-12 are animal-derived foods. Examples include dairy products, meat, poultry, fish, eggs and shellfish. A deficiency of vitamin B-12 leads to megaloblastic anemia, or immature red blood cells, and neurologic symptoms, such as tingling in the legs.
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.
You might think that this sounds 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 danger of a fruitarian diet is that it may disrupt your social life since you will not be able to eat regular meals with your friends and family. It may also lead to food cravings and obsessions. I would suggest that you take a careful look at your reasons for becoming fruitarian and addressing any underlying food issues that you may have. If you feel that you need to lose weight, talk to a health professional who can counsel you on healthy dieting plans and a positive body image.
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 its 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 – Fructose is associated with more aggressive cancer behaviour and may promote metastasis.
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.
Nutritionists 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?