There are many actors who adopt unhealthy diets in order to achieve what is perceived to be the most realistic body composition and size for the character they are playing. Many of them achieve shocking results from ridiculous calorie deficits and cutting out vital macronutrient and micronutrient food groups. The difference between Renee Zellweger’s weight in Bridget Jones’ Diary (~145-150lbs) and Chicago (~105lbs) within one year was pretty astonishing, but not merely as astonishing as an emaciated Christian Bale in The Machinist who reportedly survived on coffee and one apple per day!!
Ashton Kutcher is the latest actor to fall victim to an unhealthy and drastic diet not intended for weight loss but to mimic the lifestyle of Steve Jobs or as they call it in the business ‘method acting’. Steve Jobs was reported to be a fruitarian and ironically (or not) was the founder of Apple. Ashton adopted this unorthodox way of living until he was hospitalised due to severe pancreatic pain two days before filming was due to start. Steve Jobs died of pancreatic cancer aged 56 in October 2011. Is this a coincidence?
The Fruitarian Diet
Fruitarianism is a subset of veganism which involves consuming a diet consisting ONLY of fruit, nuts and seeds. There are many ways to follow this diet from those who consume a diet which is 75% fruit to those who will only consume fruits which have fallen naturally and may not eat seeds as they think it is improper to eat something which contains a future plant. The diet stems from what is considered the original diet of mankind in some cultures and is based around the idea that Adam and Eve consumed a fruit diet while in the Garden of Eden. Fruitarians view their diet to be a simple and holistic approach to eating; others view it as excessive sugar consumption and deprivation of essential macro and micronutrients.
Sugar And The Pancreas
Fruit is a rich source of fructose and therefore high in carbohydrates. As we already know, carbohydrates are required for energy. Carbohydrates are broken down in the digestive system into glucose molecules which are then transported to cells via the bloodstream. This process increases blood sugar levels which causes the secretion of insulin. Excessive sugar consumption increases blood sugar levels to a degree which causes the pancreas to respond with a strong hit of insulin. Frequent excessive sugar consumption places the pancreas under a great deal of pressure and causes long-term wear which can lead to pancreatic failure over time. The issue with beginning to consume a diet high in sugar is that it can become addictive relatively quickly.
The pancreas is not the only part of your body which is at risk from consuming an all fruit diet because not only is excessive sugar consumption highly likely, so too is the deficiency of important nutrients leaving you vulnerable to an array of issues including increased susceptibility to illness, anaemia, digestive problems, decreased metabolic function, weak bones and decreased muscle mass and function.
Fruit IS Good For You
There will be those (I am certain of it) who will jump on the back of the Ashton Kutcher story convincing themselves and trying to convince others that fruit is bad for you and as per usual, their ‘proof’ will be based on consumption in excess.
The British Dietetics Association (BDA) is in full support of the currently recommended five-a-day scheme which encourages us to consume five portions of fruit and vegetables each day. One portion consists of ~80g and depending on the fruit will vary how many of them you eat. For example, one medium banana equates to one portion and so does two prunes or three tablespoons of sweet corn. Your five daily portions should ideally come from a wide variety of fruit and vegetables and not the consumption of the same foods each day.
Fruit is packed with essential vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals which enable the body to function optimally and provide the body with antioxidants necessary to rid the body of free radicals. Consuming the recommended amount of fruit is also associated with lowering the risk of developing high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, stroke and some cancers.
Before fruit becomes the bad guy, it is important to note that a fruitarian diet is pretty much a non issue in our culture. In fact, the majority of the population do not eat enough. On average we only consume three or less of our recommended daily portions and only 15% of the population actually meet the recommendations.