Since more and more of the Western world realises that the Standard American Diet, which is deadly and consists of “base your diet around bread, pasta and starchy carbohydrates, feast on processed food, while treating saturated fat like the devil”, is completely false, tons of new diets are gaining an often cult-like following.
Firstly there’s the Paleo movement, where you eat whatever foods our ancient caveman or Palaeolithic ancestors has access to.
Then there’s the Atkins diet, where you feast on cheese, meat, and eggs while keeping carbs to a bare minimum. Atkins got a terrible reputation after the founder Dr Atkins died weighing in at a massive 258 pounds, though in reality that was actually due to his body gaining 4 stone in water weight at the hospital.
Finally, there’s a small subset of the vegan diet known as the fruitarian diet. Also known as the 80/10/10 diet, or the 90/5/5 diet, Fruitarianism believes that you can gain unheard of mental and physical perfection by getting most calories from raw fruit.
Some even advocate eating 30 ripe bananas per day, or 900 per month. Proponents believe that the fruitarian diet makes weight gain physically impossible, and is amazing for getting a glowing, radiant skin tone thanks to the copious amounts of nutrition you’re getting.
But is it true? Well in all honesty, pictures of fruitarian followers on the internet are promising – many do have fantastic skin. However, those pictures don’t represent the rank-and-file followers, and the truth is more complicated, so read on and get the definitive knowledge on the fruitarian diet.
What exactly is the fruitarian diet?
The common principles are to eliminate the consumption of any food which is alive and growing. In other words, fruitarians are only allowed to consume a food that can be taken from a plant without killing it. For instance, culinary fruits such as apples, oranges, pears, berries, and bananas are permissible. For the 5% or 10% of other foods (which include vegetables and nuts), foods such as carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes and spices like turmeric (a root vegetable) are forbidden because farming them destroys the plant beyond repair.
In that way, fruitarianism is an extreme extension of veganism; rather than simply not killing animals, fruitarians don’t want to kill anything.
However, like any diet the followers cannot agree on a set-in-stone set of principles. Many fruitarians don’t agree on the former rules and eat whatever fruits they get their hands on. A large proportion of fruitarians exclude grains like wheat and consider them an unnatural food for humans, similarly to the paleo diet, but many don’t.
Some fruitarians have a very loose definition of fruit; they go by the botanical definitions which include beans, peas, and tomatoes. Other fruitarians call themselves fruitarians but still eat chocolate, olive oil, honey, nuts, and in fact just seem to be vegans with an emphasis on fruits.
Some fruitarians believe in only eating fruits and vegetables which spread seeds when eaten. Meanwhile, many fruitarians refuse to eat fruits with seeds at all as this could prevent the plant from reproducing, hence excluding a vast swathe including berries, apples, oranges, and non-seedless watermelons.
What’s interesting is that many fruitarians bring religion into it as well. Many esteemed fruitarian scholars believe that fruitarianism was the original diet of Adam and Eve while living in the Garden of Eden. Hence, some even call fruitarianism the “Jesus diet”.
Fruitarianism has only become wildly popular in the last couple of decades, but the diet has existed for ages; Steve Jobs supposedly named his company Apple because he was his passion for the fruitarian diet in the 1970s. Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi followed a fruitarian diet for five years before returning to vegetarianism due to health reasons. Even the former Ugandan warmonger and dictator Idi Amin became a fruitarian during his exile in Saudi Arabia.
Is the fruitarian diet healthy for acne?
However the main features of high fruit, no meat, fish, eggs or dairy, and few vegetables are pretty standard. Hence, here’s what’s good about the fruitarian diet for acne:
Lots of antioxidants and phytonutrients – both fruits and vegetables are healthy for acne, but while vegetables are better for minerals and vitamin A, fruits are the kings of antioxidants. Pomegranate, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and apples are some of the best antioxidant foods of all time.
Antioxidants clear acne by defending your skin cells against free radicals and preventing clogged pores. Your average fruitarian will be pumping his or her body with tons of antioxidants day in day out.
No free radicals due to cooking – complementing those antioxidants is the lack of free radicals to deplete them. While cooking has long helped human beings to digest proteins and deactivate harmful nutrient inhibiters, and kill pathogenic bacteria, cooking meats in particular can generate harmful reactive oxygen species if you don’t take special care. An emphasis on raw fruits is a key tenant of fruitarians, so their free radical intake is lower than the standard person’s.
Phytonutrients – the flipside of the antioxidant coin is that many unique antioxidants have their own powers. Rutin in bananas lowers stress, bromelain in pineapple aids protein digestion, resveratrol in red grapes increases glutathione production. Quercetin, found in a variety of fruits like apples, defends your gut lining and increases nutrient absorption.
Many antioxidants like flavonoids have more mundane but still potent powers, such as lowering chronic inflammation. These hidden compounds are a key reason why fruit and vegetables are so important for clearing acne. A wide variety can tackle the conditions behind acne on many war fronts. The average man eats potatoes, wheat, and fried chicken, foods which completely lack beneficial phytonutrients.
Lots of vitamin C – fruitarian leaders constantly claim that fruits have all the nutrients a human being needs. That’s wrong, but almost all fruits contain good quantities of vitamin C, which clears acne through lowering stress hormones and accelerating collagen production.
Consider the average standard American diet man. He probably gets 30% of the RDA from a plateful of fries twice weekly, maybe 10% from the odd banana or apple. Meanwhile, become a fruitarian and eat 30 bananas per day and you can eat at least 450% of the RDA for vitamin C daily. In fact, your average fruitarian probably ranks among the top 1% of vitamin C eaters in the world.
No processed foods – by relying on cheap, packaged, easy to cook food from the supermarket, the average man eats inflammatory trans-fats used to improve product consistency. He eats sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup and aspartame which are worse for acne that regular sugar. He eats industrial vegetable oils like canola oil and neurotoxic flavour enhancers like MSG.
The rule with any processed food is that you never know what acne causing additive it may contain. Many processed foods even have additives within additives. Eating only fresh fruit bypasses that completely.
Well, certain phytonutrients, fibres, and antioxidant compounds in plant foods are just as excellent, and many are found in fruits. Fruits are good source of standard fiber itself, bananas are a great source of resistant starch if you eat them when they’re not very ripe, and berries contain varieties of flavonoid antioxidants which healthy gut bacteria love to feast on.
No dodgy meat hormones – I’d almost call modern meat two different foods, the production methods are so different. One on hand, we have organic, grass fed meat raised without antibiotics or hormones, free from inflammatory additives, high in minerals and with a perfect balance of omega 3/omega 6 fats.
Then there’s the cheaper meats. They’re raised in CAFOs, given antibiotics like candy, fed corn (or even gummy bears), and pumped up with hormones to achieve a science-fiction growth rate.
Unfortunately, a vast swathe of the western world eats those meats. By eating the fruitarian diet you skip all that, and importantly for acne, the bovine growth hormones, which cause acne similarly to human androgens by stimulating your sebaceous glands to pump out more oil.
Elimination of grains – many fruitarians don’t exclude bread, pasta, and cereal entirely, but most reduce them dramatically to make way for more bananas. That’s excellent; basing our diet around grains like wheat, barley and oats is one of the main causes of acne in the modern world.
Why fruitarianism will cause acne
The reasons above are why many new fruitarianism converts do enjoy staggering improvements in their acne. Particularly, they experience a healthy glow for the first few months, which I believe is largely due to the antioxidants, carotenoids, and faster pimple healing from vitamin C.
However, the fact is that few fruitarian followers stay on the diet forever. Gandhi quit after five years due to advice from his doctor. Even the acne patients who do stay clear later become so unhealthy they have to give up.
Here’s why fruitarianism can trash both your health and your skin:
Way too much sugar – by far the biggest problem is that an acne-clearing enthusiast should only eat fruit in moderation due to its moderately high sugar content. For instance, the average ripe banana contains 12 grams of sugar. Multiply that by 30 and you get a colossal 360 grams. That’s not counting the other fruit you eat. The average American man eats about 160 grams of sugar per day, so fruitarianism is even worse.
Even if you don’t go the full 30 bananas a day route, you’ll still easily be eating over 300 grams of sugar per day. How does sugar cause acne? Principally through skyrocketing levels of inflammation, by over 100% according to one study.
Many fruitarianism dismiss these arguments, claiming that only processed sucrose (table sugar) rots teeth and wrecks the body, but while fruit sugar is less harmful due to being bound up in fibres and natural compounds, it’s still very unhealthy for acne at giant fruitarian intakes.
Lots of sugar for gut bacteria – fruit does contain tons of prebiotics, but the sugar will cause equal amounts of damage to your gut bacteria by feeding unhealthy yeasts like candida. They gradually crowd out the good bacteria and cause acne through poor nutrient absorption and leaky gut syndrome.
Diabetes – a fruitarian diet entails a macronutrient ratio of over 90% carbohydrates. That’s bad news for diabetics. All that sugar will fill your glycogen stores, lead to elevated blood sugar, and potentially diabetes. That’s happened numerous times; sky-high blood sugar is a key reason why people quit the diet.
Now you need to watch out; many fruitarian leaders claim that it’s actually saturated fat that leads to insulin resistance. They claim that the danger posed by tons of carbohydrates is a silly myth. But no mechanism for saturated fat causing insulin resistance has ever been proposed, other than claims that the insulin receptors literally get coated with sticky fat that stops them from working.
Fruitarian leaders also often point to famous cyclists or athletes who thrive on a fruitarian diet. But those people are athletes, and hence are expending enormous amounts of energy through exercise each day. The average man who maybe goes for a half hour walk each day will get full glycogen stores pretty quickly, and quickly progress to insulin resistance. High insulin is bad for acne as it stimulate your sebaceous glands to produce more oil.
The case of actor Aston Kutcher demonstrates the problems of fruitarianism well. Kutcher was chosen to play Apple founder Steve Jobs in a biopic and he was highly committed to the role; hence he adopted a fruitarian diet just like Steve Jobs did in the 1970s to gain insight into the experiences Jobs had and imitate him better. Later he had this to say:
“First of all, the fruitarian diet can lead to like severe issues. 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 was really terrifying … considering everything.”
Most people who thrive on the fruitarian diet long term are pro-athletes or serious fitness fanatics. That includes the gurus in chief who look fit as a fiddle. For average people, it’s a danger both to your acne and health.
No protein – the classic argument against any vegan diet, and a completely true one. Fruitarians believe that like our primate cousins, the gorillas, we can obtain all the amino acids we need from plants. But when was the last time you had a silver back, ate bananas all day long, and could pick up a car with zero effort? Humans are not gorillas, nor are we any other animal. When was the last time gorillas started an industrial civilisation, invented cars, and rode bicycles around the jungle?
Humans are designed to get protein from animal sources. Many gorillas do eat protein from animals, in the form of bugs and insects crawling along the leaves they eat. You can get protein from plants, but the effort involved is always huge. There’s soy for instance, but regular soy is bad for acne and the healthier fermented soy is often expensive. There’s nuts, but acne patients should reserve nuts for a special treat (except for macadamia nuts). Compared to vegetables and nuts, fruits are a particularly bad source of amino acids, so you’re worse off than the average vegan, who themselves constantly struggle.
The truth is that with careful organisation, a vegan can just about get the required protein intake by choosing some of the healthier beans and nuts, even if it is difficult. But if you join the fruitarian diet your skin and muscles will be finished.
You need a proper protein intake for acne simply to keep your skin strong and tough against threats. Especially, you need the amino acids glycine and proline to manufacture collagen, which is involved with healing old acne scars and dying pimples. There are very few fruitarian options for proline and glycine.
Lack of zinc, magnesium, and selenium – the holy trinity of acne nutrients, which clear acne by controlling the immune system, lowering stress, and increasing glutathione levels respectively. You can enough selenium on a vegan diet by eating two Brazil nuts daily. Magnesium is hard to obtain without meat and fish, though macadamia nuts are a terrific source. Zinc, however, is nearly impossible to get enough of without animal foods. You have no access to the greatest source ever, oysters.
If you become a fruitarian, it’s pretty much game over, because few fruits at all are decent sources of minerals. The one exception is a medium sized banana, with 6% of the RDA for magnesium, but for selenium and zinc you’re doomed if you only eat fruit. Blackberries (4% of RDA) and raspberries (3%) are the best fruits for zinc, aside from dried ones (which are even higher in sugar).
The acne analysis
The fact is that the great benefits of fruitarianism caused by avoiding various foods can be obtained through any healthy diet. Paleo diet followers also eschew processed foods, ditch grains, and hunt down high amounts of antioxidants. It’s the same story with many vegans, which is why they sometimes “feel 20 years younger” initially.
Almost all diets that reject the standard American diet work terrifically in the first few months. However, it doesn’t mean that the specific diet is the ultimate way of eating, or without its own problems, and fruitarianism is a classic case of that.
Paleo newbies are often delighted to observe beautifully clear skin within a few months. The difference is that the paleo diet is far more sustainable and less extreme than the fruitarian diet in the long run.
Fruits have a major role to play in an acne-friendly diet: as a source of antioxidants, vitamin C, and phytonutrients. However, you cannot get enough minerals, proteins, and healthy fats by eating them exclusively.
There’s no need to eat so much fruit either. Herbs, spices, dark chocolate, and coffee are also terrific sources of antioxidants and phytonutrients. In fact, I generally advice you to limit yourself to three pieces of fruit per day to keep your sugar intake low.
The fruitarian diet has many great features for acne, but just as many bad ones. Furthermore, it’s totally unnecessary to adopt such an extreme diet to get the benefits fruitarianism does have.
Here’s a piece of advice to take to heart: getting knee deep in dogma is always a bad idea.
The fruitarian diet hates all foods that are animal related, insisting that humans are really herbivores and you can see that with our small canines, and digestive systems identical to that of a rabbit. They argue that we’re so bad at digesting protein that meat literally sits there and rots in our stomach for months.
In reality the hippo (an herbivore) has the most gigantic canines on earth, the human digestive tract is in-between the length of a rabbit (herbivore) and a dog (carnivore), and it’s actually plant matter (fiber) that rots in our stomach as it gets fermented by bacteria.
Out of all the popular modern diets, the paleo diet is probably the closest to optimal for human health, but just because a food was available to cavemen doesn’t mean you should feast on it.
Bees have been making honey for millions of years but honey is far too high in acne-causing sugar to eat in anything but small amounts, as a moderately nutritious alternative sweetener. Many foods and protein bars that have “paleo-approved” slapped onto them are just as unhealthy for acne as standard processed food.
The ultimate dietary sect to join for both acne and health is the common sense dietary sect, featuring the strategy of robustly analysing each food group, nutrient, and individual food in turn using top-notch scientific information, and then making an informed decision.
Thanks for reading!