Healthy Hollywood: Ask Keri Glassman -- What Is The Fruit Only Diet?

Nutritionist Keri Glassman, who regularly shares her expertise on Access Hollywood and Access Hollywood Live, is answering your nutrition, diet and health questions.

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This week's question...

I heard Ashton Kutcher was admitted into the hospital after following a fruit only diet. What's the deal? -- Angela B., Sacramento, CA

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Keri says...

While Ashton Kutcher was prepping for his role in jOBS, he tried the fruitarian diet, the same diet Steve Jobs followed in one form or another for most of his life. (You've got to love an actor with that kind of dedication!) No wonder Jobs named his company Apple! Ashton said he ate only fruit and carrot juice for a month. A few days before filming began for jOBS, he was taken to the hospital and doubled over in pain. Docs found he had pancreatitis which is inflammation of the pancreas. There is no definitive research that shows a connection with fruitarianism and pancreatitis, but there is some that suggests a possible connection with pancreatic cancer. What we do know for sure is that fruit is an important part of eating a well balanced diet that includes lean protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates.

What is the fruitarian diet? The fruitarian diet is an extreme form of veganism composed of nuts, seeds and fruits. A more extreme form of veganism? Does that mean it is more healthy? No! There are no animal products, no grains, and no vegetables allowed on the diet! You heard me right, no vegetables! Some diet followers are even more extreme than others. Some fruitarians will eat only raw fruits that have fallen from a tree, or fruits that can be harvested without harming the plant. Some won't eat nuts or seeds because they believe it is killing a future plant. Some allow themselves to eat olives, cucumbers and tomatoes as well as beans, peas and legumes. So, where did this diet come from? Followers believe that it was the diet of early humans like Adam and Eve. I guess "forbidden" fruit could be a double-entendre in this population?!

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Is the fruitarian diet a good idea? I'm all about REAL food. How much more REAL can we get than eating a bunch of fruits, nuts and seeds? But, the fruitarian diet is simply too restrictive. A vegan diet, followed in a responsible, well thought out manner can absolutely meet nutrient needs and have many health benefits. Research shows that vegans have a lower risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Additionally, some studies are now suggesting that the vegan diet may prevent cancer. If a vegan diet is not followed responsibly, followers may come up short in calcium and vitamin B12. Calcium can be found in leafy greens like spinach and kale. For B12, those on a vegan diet are often advised to take it in supplement form since it's found in animal products. If following a fruitarian diet, in addition to calcium and vitamin B12, you also may miss out on protein, essential fatty acids, iron, zinc, and more B vitamins. If you want to be vegan, do it responsibly. If you want to get more fruit in your diet, do it! But don't skimp on other nutrients.

-- Terri MacLeod & Keri Glassman

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