50 Bananas a Day: Welcome to the World of Fruitarians

Veganism has millions of followers, and even raw vegan lifestyle is becoming more common. But what about fruitarianism - can eating nothing but fruit possibly be good for you?

Image Credit: Betsie Van Der Meer / gettyimages.com

On fruit alone

Followers of fruitarianism have a hero to look up to: Michael Arnstein, an ultra-marathon runner and the author of The Fruitarian blog. Arnstein runs over 300 km a week and consumes over 50 bananas and 5 melons daily. 90% of his diet are raw fruit and 10% are nuts and seeds. Fruitarians use him as an example that raw fruit diet is not only healthy and natural for humans, but that it’s actually more healthy than any other, especially those that include meat and dairy – “poisons”, according to fruit-eaters.

Why do they do it?

There are many reasons that fruitarians cite for such an extreme lifestyle:

  1. Moral superiority – not only they don’t hurt or exploit animals; some fruitarians eat only fruit that have fallen off the tree by themselves!
  2. “Natural” – humans are not created carnivores and are not designed to eat animal products; further, no other animal cooks its own food, so eating raw is natural.
  3. Connection with the vital life force, chi, or prana;
  4. Heightened energy, creativity and concentration;
  5. Weight loss, detoxification, glowing complexion, etc.

Of course, fruitarians get a lot of criticisms of their diet. Indeed, what about proteins? Isn’t it unhealthy to eat so much sugar? Where will calcium come from? Their reply is that our whole concept of nutrition is wrong – we don’t actually need much protein, calcium serves only to break down acids that come from digesting meat, and sugar is not the enemy – dairy is. The proof? Michael Anstein and other famous fruitarians, such as the YouTube vloggers Mads and Mikkel Johnsen .

The true risks of fruitarianism

While the proponents of raw fruit diet praise their endless smoothies, banana pancakes, and avocado slices with nut butter, professional nutritionists are very concerned. While some exceptionally healthy people may be able to thrive on fruit alone for a while, most of us cannot, and the risks are serious:

  • Iron – as we have written before, iron from plants is badly absorbed, and plant-only diet carries the risk of anemia (more info here);
  • Calcium – its deficiency results in fractures and osteoporosis;
  • Vitamin B12 – it’s found only in animal products, and the deficiency is expressed in fatigue and weakness;
  • Omega-3 fatty acids – from attention deficit to rough skin, its deficiency has nasty symptoms

Wrong premises

In the time when the mass consciousness is mainly formed by Instagram and YouTube, it’s not surprising that completely unscientific ideas gain great traction. Unfortunately, proponents of very risk diets, such as fruitarianism, reject any criticism as “hate”.

Humans have developed as omnivores, and our ancestors practiced scavenging, ate grains, fish, eggs – anything they could find. But no culture on earth has ever followed a fruit diet. What’s more, while it’s true that no other animal cooks its food, our cooking methods actually release a lot of nutrients that are not available from raw foods, such as beta-carotene and iron.

If you are intrigued by fruitarianism, you can try it for a week or two, but make sure to take iron, vitamin, and calcium supplements. In the long run, however, the best diet is always one that is varied, free from processed foods, and based on true science – and not on claims on the Instagram.

References:

Reality Check: 5 Risks of a Raw Vegan Diet – Scientific American

Fruitarian Diet – Vegetarian. Love to Know

Simply Raw: Making overcooked claims about raw food diets – ScienceBasedMedicine

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