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Can You Live Off Nuts and Berries? | What You Should Know

When trekking through the wilderness, some of the most common edible foods are local types of nuts and berries. Nuts and berries have many of the nutrients that the body needs to have on a consistent basis in order to survive. In particular, most berries have high concentrations of vitamins and minerals, while nuts are often high in protein, calories, and healthy fats. As such, it’s easy to wonder if you can live off of nuts and berries alone.

It’s entirely possible for someone to mostly survive on a diet of nuts and berries, as these two types of foods can provide most of the nutrients that the body needs to stay healthy. However, you would have to consistently eat a large variety of them and will likely need some form of supplementation.

If you are learning how to identify edible plants and berries, I highly recommend getting this field guide found on Amazon. It’s by far the best I’ve seen on the topic.

Now let’s take a closer look at why it’s possible to at least mostly live off nuts and berries.

Nuts and Berries in a Bowl

Living off Nuts and Berries

Most individual types of berries and nuts have a limited range of nutrients in them. In order to obtain the many different types of nutrients that you would need in order to survive, you would have to eat a huge variety of them to make sure that you got enough of your required nutrients.

Even so, even with variety, anyone who only eats nuts and berries may become deficient in Vitamin B12. As a result, it’s best to take some sort of supplement to ensure that you don’t have health problems.

What the Human Body Needs to Live

In order to maintain physical and mental health, there are a number of nutrients that the body needs on a consistent basis. You’ve likely been hearing about most of them since you were young: vitamins, minerals, proteins, etc. You know, the things your parents and teachers talked about every time they told you to eat your veggies?

What you probably haven’t heard about is that, in general, the different types of nutrients that the body needs in order to survive and thrive are divided into two categories: macronutrients and micronutrients.

Related How Long Does Starvation Take to Kill?

Man with backpack and bucket looking out into wilderness
Gathering nuts and berries in the wild is a good short-term source of nutrition.

What are Macronutrients?

Macronutrients include proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. These types of nutrients are considered to be the backbone of the human diet as they provide the most energy for the body and need to be consumed in large quantities.

  • Proteins provide the body with the amino acids that help maintain your muscles and give your body the energy it needs to keep going throughout the day. Along with that, proteins help our body regulate it hormones and antibodies.
  • Despite what low-carb diets tell you, carbohydrates can be good for your body in moderation as they keep your brain and nervous system healthy.
  • Although certain types of fats can be unhealthy for you, there are other types of fats that your body actually needs to balance your blood sugar, build cells, and regulate muscles movements. Healthy fats are also one of your main sources calories that your body converts into energy.

What are Micronutrients?

Micronutrients include different types of vitamins and minerals that the body needs in order to survive. Although micronutrients don’t need to be consumed in large amounts like macronutrients do, they are necessary for regulating a number of bodily functions and are an important part of any diet.

In particular, the multitude of different vitamins provided by a balanced diet strengthens the immunity system, helps the body heal from injuries, and keeps your vision healthy. Minerals such as calcium, copper, zinc, and iron help you build and maintain strong bones, maintain healthy blood pressure, regulate nerve transmission, and regulate metabolism.

Usually, health experts advise people to include a variety of foods in their diet because most types of food do not have everything that you need by themselves. However, some foods have most of what you need in them and certain types of dietary combinations can give you all of your necessary nutrients. Nuts and berries are one of those types of combinations.

Health Benefits of Berries

Berries, like all types of fruit, contain significantly high amounts of antioxidants and almost all types of berries contain high amounts of Vitamin C ad Vitamin K. Along with that, many types of berries have Vitamin A, B1, B2, and B6. Most berries are also high in minerals such as copper. Certain types of berries, such as blueberries and raspberries, also contain enough iron to provide you with what you need so long as you eat enough of it.

As such, berries will provide you with many of the micronutrients that you should get from your diet in order to stay healthy. Aside from providing many of the primary vitamins and minerals that you need to survive, berries also provide other nutrients such as fiber and folic acid.

Fiber will regulate your bodily functions (particularly your waste production) and folic acid helps you produce new cells throughout your body.

Health Benefits of Nuts

Nuts are also high in many of the nutrients that your body needs to survive but many of the nutrients in nuts are the ones that you don’t find in berries. As such, nuts provide a nice dietary balance to berries.

In particular, nuts are notoriously high in proteins and can provide you with most of the amino acids that you need to survive and remain healthy.

Along with that, nuts also contain most types of healthy, unsaturated fats that your body needs and provide a large number of calories for your body to convert to energy. Thus, nuts will provide many of the macronutrients that you need. In addition, nuts also have a number of micronutrient vitamins and minerals that do not commonly occur in berries, such as Vitamin E and magnesium.

Young Woman Eating Nuts and Berries
Nuts and berries are an amazing addition to any diet.

Nutrient Deficiencies of Nuts and Berries

Although nuts and berries can give you the majority of what you need to survive and stay healthy, you should bear in mind that there are certain nutrients that you cannot get from nuts and berries alone.

Vitamin B12

One of the main things that is missing in this type of diet is Vitamin B12, which is only found in meat and dairy products. Vitamin B12 helps with the production of red blood cells and helps regulate the body’s nervous system, so it’s extremely important to have this in your diet. While you can survive without consuming more B12 for a little while, you may start to suffer from symptoms like weakness, reduction of healthy red blood cells, and an impaired nervous system.

Other Possible Nutrient Deficiencies

A diet consisting of solely nuts and berries may also not give you all of the Vitamin D, zinc, and amino acids that you need.

Going without these nutrients for long periods of time can cause you to develop symptoms like muscle weakness, exhaustion, and an impaired immune system.

You should also keep in mind that you will have to consume a large variety of berries and nuts on a consistent basis to get all of the nutrients that you need as most individual types of nuts and berries won’t have all of the macro and micronutrients that you need.

In addition, you will have to consume a lot of nuts and berries, particularly nuts, to get the amount of nutrients that you need in order to stay healthy.

Overall, if you were in a survival situation where you had to live off of nuts and berries in the wild this diet could certainly sustain you if you ate enough. However, you would have to find a supplement for Vitamin B12 and other nutrients as well if you were to limit your diet to nuts and berries long-term.

What Happens If You Eat Too Many Berries?

It may sound funny to read, but you actually can get too much fiber. Signs that you may be eating too many berries and getting too much fiber include:

  • Bloating
  • Cramps
  • Excessive Gas

However, keep in mind that this is a small concern. It’s much better to have a lot of fiber than to have too little… even if it does mean being a little gassy sometimes.

What Happens If You Eat Too Many Nuts?

We all know that eating a lot of nuts is good for heart health. But is there ever too much of a good thing when it comes to how many you eat?

There are two major consequences of eating too many nuts.

  1. Nuts are high in calories and fat- Weight gain could potentially happen if your diet is nut-heavy. Be sure to monitor your portions to keep it from getting out of control.
  2. You may get too much Vitamin E- Many nuts are packed with vitamin E. Eating too much can cause diarrhea, muscle fatigue, and even blurry vision.
Female hands holding basket with ripe blueberries
It is possible to have too much of a good thing.

Final Thoughts

When considering any type of diet that limits the variety of food that you eat, it’s always good to know what types of nutrients you need to get from your diet to make sure that you will stay happy and healthy.

If you do decide to try an extreme nuts and berries-only diet, you probably will want to supplement for a lack of Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Zinc, and amino acids. But don’t take my word for it. Please consult a licensed medical professional before you start any diet.

Thanks for reading!

For more, don’t miss Do Nuts Expire? (And How to Extend Their Shelflife).

Disclaimer: This article is based on research and is for information purposes only. Be sure to consult a medical professional before starting any type of diet.