Whether you are following a voluntary or enforced dietary plan that limits yourself to consuming only fruit and water, you may wonder how nutritionally sound that diet may be. Or, how long can such a diet maintain a healthy body and are there benefits to following this highly-restrictive vegan diet called fruitarianism.
Can you live off of water and fruit? In the short term, you can live a healthy life with a restricted diet of fruits and water only. It mostly depends on your body’s stores nutrients, like vitamin B12 that fruits scarcely provide which fruits you have access to during the diet. Almost certainly, your health will decline as you succumb to a deficiency-related disease or illness.
Now, let’s cover a few additional questions you might have such as:
- What are the risks of eating fruit only?
- What are the signs, and symptoms that you are suffering from a nutritional deficiency?
- Does a certain mixture of fruit exist that can provide you with sufficient calories and the macro and micronutrients that the human body needs to survive and thrive in the short-term?
- Are there benefits to consuming a fruit-only diet?
Risks of eating only fruit and water
While fruits contain many compounds that our bodies need and/or benefit from, they do not have everything we require to live a long, healthy life. While fruits will provide you with plenty of carbohydrates, you may find it difficult to supply your body with the other two macronutrients: protein and fats.
Getting enough protein
Avocados and guavas contain approximately four grams of protein per cup, meaning you would need to consume around twelve cups of these fruits per day to get your recommended daily amount of protein (50 grams). In doing so, you will have consumed 2,808 calories eating exclusively avocados or 1,344 calories while getting all your daily protein from guavas.
Although it is not impossible to meet your daily protein needs eating only fruits, it is challenging. Without ingesting enough protein your muscle mass will decrease, your appetite will go unsatiated, and your immune system will suffer.
Don’t forget healthy fats
While guavas seem to take care of the protein needs, a fruit that is dense in fat will need to be consumed to keep you healthy. Luckily, avocados are the best at this, with their make up being 77% fat. For one cup of avocado, you will consume 21 grams of fat or 32% of your recommended daily intake.
Therefore, if you correctly mix guavas and avocados into your diet you can keep your macronutrients within the normal range, without over-consuming on calories which will lead to weight gain.
While you may be able to balance the macronutrients, the micronutrient deficiencies cannot be resolved. Fruits are low in vitamin B12, calcium, vitamin D, iodine, and omega-3 fatty acids and over time these deficits will lead to poor health.
That’s a lot of sugar
Another major pitfall of a fruits-only diet is the amount of sugar you will consume. While it will be all naturally occurring sugar, your body doesn’t know the difference. This makes a fruit-only diet an especially terrible choice for those with diabetes, prediabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome, kidney disease or insulin resistance.
The high sugar content can also exacerbate tooth decay; an apple is just as corrosive to your teeth as soda. Oranges and other acidic fruits will erode the enamel of your teeth.
Signs of deficiency
While your current reserves of vitamins and minerals will fill the gaps in your diet for a period of time (even up to years), eventually you will start to feel the effects of a nutritionally deficient diet.
- Early signs will be fatigue and a higher susceptibility to infections from a weakened immune system.
- The lack of vitamin B12, which is needed to maintain the body’s nerve and blood cells, will cause anemia and poor balance.
- Calcium deficiency in your diet will lead to bone deterioration (osteoporosis), while a prolonged protein-deficient diet will result in loss of muscle mass.
Additionally, vitamin D is needed for many processes, but a significant one in an unbalanced diet is the uptake of calcium and magnesium into the bloodstream. As a fruitarian diet is already lacking calcium, the lack of vitamin D only exacerbates this issue.
Lastly, you might have chosen to switch to a fruit diet to improve your cardiovascular health. However, omitting omega-3 fatty acids from your diet deprives you of their benefits to heart health.
Find Balance If You Can Only Eat Fruit
Unless you are in a survival situation where only fruit is available, you will want to eat more than just fruit. Balance is the keyword here.
Doctors and nutritionists implore you to eat fruits as part of your diet because they provide many health benefits. By eating the right balance of fruits, you can maximize their impact on your health. The consensus in the field is to only allow for fruits to account for 50% of your diet to ensure you don’t become nutritionally imbalanced.
However, if you are forced to eat only fruit for a while here are some things to keep in mind in order to stay as healthy as possible for as long as possible.
Vitamin C is key
To boost your immune system, take in high amounts of vitamin C from oranges, red peppers, and strawberries. Vitamin C is required to assist in the growth, development, and repair of all body tissues. Add in a few black plums, prunes, and some berries to assist your immune system further by supplying antioxidants.
As antioxidants kill free radicals, you will see an improvement in the health of your skin as well as assisting in fighting infections. Anti-oxidants are also linked to reducing the risks of cancer and other chronic diseases.
Don’t forget potassium
Electrolyte balance is essential to maintaining a normal blood pressure and fruits can help tremendously with this. In particular, high potassium intake has been associated with a 20% reduction in the risk of mortality. This is due to potassium lowering the risk of stroke by keeping blood pressure low.
Additionally, potassium will preserve muscle mass, bone mineral density, while lowering the risk of developing kidney stones. Everyone needs some potassium to regulate the body’s fluid balance, enable muscle contractions, and deliver never signals.
Luckily, you won’t be deprived of potassium by exclusively consuming fruits with your water. Make sure to eat some bananas, guavas, cantaloupe, and mangos as these fruits are some of the most potassium-rich available.
Fiber balances it all out
Eating apples, pears, blackberries, and raspberries will infuse your daily intake with plenty of dietary fiber. Not only will these choices help with regular bowel movements, but they will also lower cholesterol. A major benefit is that fiber will also assist in maintaining blood sugar levels, which will spike if you are only eating fruit as they are sugar-rich foodstuffs.
A neglected nutrient
An often overlooked benefit of eating fruits is the folate they can provide. Folate is one of the B-vitamins (B9) that is required to maintain cellular division and keep DNA replication functioning normally. It also helps with the development of a fetus and as such folic acid (derivative of folate) is often prescribed to expecting mothers.
To get this essential vitamin naturally, eat tropical fruits such as mangos, or add in a few oranges to ensure you’re getting enough folate in your diet to seize these benefits.
If you were stuck on an island surrounded by fruit, consider yourself lucky. It wouldn’t take much to sufficiently supplement your diet in order to maintain good health. Just make sure you don’t get lazy and only consume fruit for more than a few weeks.
Which fruits have the most protein? Although fruits tend to not contain as much protein as vegetables, beans, nuts, and of course, meat, some do still pack quite the protein punch. Guavas are the most protein-dense fruits, with 4.2 grams per cup, followed closely by the avocado with 4.0 grams of protein per cup. Apricots, kiwifruit, and blackberries are the next proteins rich fruits, but these only have 2.2, 2.1, and 2.0 grams of proteins per cup, respectively.
What can you eat on a fruitarian diet? Fruitarianism is a form of veganism where you only consume fruits. Typically, fruits are consumed raw, and some will only eat those that have naturally fallen from the plant or tree. Many fruitarians opt to supplement their diet with a few vegetables, dried fruits, and nuts to help with nutritional balance. This diet will always omit any animal-based product, including dairy.