Most of the fruit diet is raw fruit. A person following that diet may call himself a fruitarian.
In this article, we look at what is considered by people to be a fruit diet, the different types and possible benefits and risks.
What is a fruit diet or fruitarian diet?
A fruit diet is a vegan diet which consists mainly of raw fruit. People who follow this diet may also consume some fruits, seeds, and nuts, but typically only eat raw foods and avoid grains.
While a fruit diet is not precisely specified, people who follow it tend to consume 70–80 percent of their daily fruit calories.
A fruit diet may include many fruits typically considered as vegetables, such as:
There’s no limit to how much fruit a fruitarian can eat— most people tend to eat just as much as their appetite satisfies.
A fruit diet is very restrictive with many food groups omitted. It does not include the variety of nutrients the body needs for optimum health.
A fruit diet also has a high sugar content, which can cause a number of health problems.
The body alone can’t absorb the nutrients it needs from the fruit. Anyone who takes a fruit diet can lack vital nutrients, including
- vitamin D
- omega-3 fatty acids
- B vitamins, including B-12
These nutrients have crucial roles in the body’s functioning. Excessive consumption of these nutrients can lead to health problems, such as:
- dry skin and brittle hair
- low mood
- weakened bones
- reduced immunity
- weakened muscles
- cognitive difficulties
- life threatening complications
Lack of protein
One of the major risks of a fruit diet is a lack of protein. Though some nuts and seeds may be consumed by a person following the diet, these may not contribute enough protein to maintain health.
These are the recommended dietary requirements for protein in adults according to an article in the journal Food & Function published in 2016:
- adults with minimal physical activity: 0.8 to 1.0 grams (g) of protein per kilogram (kg) of body weight
- adults with moderate physical activity: 1.3 g of protein per kg of body weight
- adults with intense physical activity: 1.6 g of protein per kg of body weight
A lack of protein can cause a number of health problems, including:
- a weakened immune system
- physical weakness
- problems with blood vessels, which can lead to cardiovascular diseases
- stunted growth
Fructose and the glycemic index
Of course, fruits contain sugar, known as fructose, and some have more sugar than others.
A type of fruit with more sugar ranks higher on the glycemic index (GI), a measure that measures how easily specific foods cause a rise in blood sugar.
Higher GI standards Fruits include:
- tropical fruits
Fruits with lower GI values have slightly smaller effects on blood sugar. Some of these fruits include:
Both fruits increase blood sugar regardless of their GI values, since they contain carbohydrates.
The focus on portion size and a balanced diet are two important ways of stabilizing blood sugar levels. That can be hard on a fruit diet for people.
Controlling blood sugar levels is vital for the overall health of people with diabetes, and particularly important. For people with unstable blood sugar levels, a fruit-based diet is probably not a good option.
It is also a good idea to avoid drinking lots of fruit juice to prevent spikes in blood sugar.
The fruits contain acids including citric acids and fructose. If a person lacks a good oral hygiene routine, some fruits and fruit products can dissolve tooth enamel over time, leading to tooth decay.
Other fruits, such as oranges, lemons, grapefruits and limes, are especially acidic. Juices from these fruits and the like are especially acidic too.
Drinking 100 per cent fruit juice, according to some research, may increase the risk of developing cavities.
Rinsing with water can help prevent dental erosion after eating acidic fruits. However, even with a fruit-based diet, the teeth are likely to be subjected to more acid than in a more balanced diet.
People can help reduce their risk of tooth decay by:
- brushing twice a day
- not brushing immediately after eating, to help prevent enamel erosion
For a variety of reasons, a person may follow a fruit diet. People appear to be inspired on social media sites and blogs by the following goals:
- to reduce caloric intake
- to lose weight
- to detox
- to have a more environmentally friendly diet
- to avoid cooking
- to increase vitamin and antioxidant intake
- to avoid killing anything for food, including plants
- to have a more hunter-gatherer type of lifestyle
Fruit is an excellent source of antioxidants and vitamins — including vitamins that are deficient in a regular US diet.
Many fruits contain high levels of:
- vitamin C, which helps repair tissue and maintain healthy gums and teeth
- potassium, which is vital for keeping blood pressure at a healthy level
- folate, which helps the body create red blood cells
Fruits are of course calorie free. If a person changes from a standard diet to a fruit diet, their caloric intake may be lowered and weight lost.
Even, fruits are an excellent dietary fiber source. Most people in the U.S. do not eat enough food, according to the Department of Agriculture. It is a vital component of any diet and can help:
- reduce the risk of heart disease
- lower blood cholesterol levels
- improve bowel functioning and reduce constipation
- create a feeling of fullness, which can cause a person to consume fewer additional calories
Nevertheless, fruit juices contain little to no fibre.
It’s important to note that a fruit diet does not provide the variety of nutrients the body needs to function properly, given its fiber and vitamin content.
Also, a person can take advantage of a fruit diet by adopting a less restrictive diet that is still rich in food, including fruit.
There are various types of fruit diet, some being more stringent than others.
Some people on a fruit diet eat only what drops from the tree or plant, to avoid harvesting or picking. The aim is not to do anything that would damage the plant.
Some avoid grains, nuts, and seeds due to beliefs about what is natural for a human being to eat.
Some fruit growers eat only raw fruit before a certain time, for example at noon or at a point in the evening, after which they introduce other food.
Others take a more flexible approach and may eat small quantities of the following all day long:
Overall, diets focused on fruits are highly restrictive and do not provide the key nutrients.
However, adopting very restrictive diets leads to an unhealthy food relationship for some individuals.
A person can often enjoy a less restrictive diet that still includes plenty of fruits and vegetables and few, if any, foods refined.
Most of the fruit intake is from fresh fruit. Some people eat small quantities of nuts, seeds, vegetables, and grains, too.
Fruit is a very good source of vitamins, antioxidants and fibre. Nevertheless, eating a diet that consists mostly of fruit can lead to nutrient deficiencies and serious health problems.
For example, a fruit diet is low in protein, and may result in spikes in blood sugar. A fruit diet is not ideal for a person with diabetes, for this reason.
Everyone contemplating a diet on fruit should first consult a doctor. Most healthcare professionals will not recommend a long-term fruit diet because it does not contain the nutrient range needed by the body.