"Fruitarian" Diet Lands Ashton Kutcher in Hospital

"Fruitarian" Diet Lands Ashton Kutcher in Hospital

Written by Alex Reid
Posted February 1, 2013

An all-fruit diet, while extreme, still sounds relatively healthy. After all, the raw diet is gaining momentum and a diet consisting solely of fruit doesn't seem too far off. But this dietary change proved life-threatening for actor Ashton Kutcher who was recently hospitalized after trying it out.

The fruitarian diet is a subset of the vegan diet which takes it one step further by eliminating eating anything which is alive and growing (vegetables). Fruitarians eat only what can be gained from a plant without killing it. This includes 'culinary' fruit like apples, oranges, pears, etc., and 'botanical' fruit like beans, berries, cucumbers, grains, nuts, tomatoes, etc. Foods like carrots, potatoes, or spinach cannot be eaten because they require destruction of the plant.

Kutcher took on the all-fruit diet in preparation for his role portraying Steve Jobs in Joshua Michael Stern's biopic Jobs, which premiered at Sundance last Friday. Jobs, who supposedly adhered to the fruitarian diet, passed away from pancreatic cancer in October 2011. While scientists still don't know exactly what causes pancreatic cancer, some hypothesize the fruitarian diet could have been a contributer.

First of all, the fruitarian diet can lead to like severe issues,” Kutcher told USA Today. “I went to the hospital like two days before we started shooting the movie. I was like doubled over in pain. My pancreas levels were completely out of whack.”

It's likely that Kutcher's rapid switch from his normal diet to one consisting only of fruit did not help his case. But just what makes a fruitarian diet so dangerous?

According to Marisa Moore, registered dietician and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, when you only eat fruit, you're excluding a lot of valuable nutrients from your diet: especially protein. Without protein, says Moore, “you lose body weight. Protein acts like a building block for your muscles and skin and organs.”

Fats are also an important part of a healthy diet, and can be lacking in the fruitarian diet. But the most dangerous part of an all-fruit diet is how it affects your insulin levels. Fruit contains a lot of natural sugar, and all that sugar leads to the production of insulin in the body. The pancreas releases insulin, so a high-sugar diet can lead to an overworked pancreas, which may have led to Kutcher's hospitalization.

But even if you don't overwork your pancreas, the fruitarian diet could still lead to life-threatening consequences from not getting sufficient calories or nutrients, including osteoporosis, severe dehydration, and even heart failure. 

When it comes to fruit, moderation is definitely essential. Fruits are healthy and have plenty of nutritional value as part of a balanced diet. Perhaps Mr. Kutcher will think twice about the risks before he tries method acting again.

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