The recent death of vegan influencer Zhanna Samsonova has brought attention to the dangers of a restrictive diet known as fruitarianism. Fruitarianism is an extreme form of veganism where individuals primarily consume raw fruits like apples, bananas, and strawberries, sometimes supplemented with vegetables and seeds.
Zhanna, also known as Zhanna D’Art online, tragically passed away on July 21 in South-East Asia due to a reported ‘cholera-like infection’ exacerbated by ‘exhaustion of the body by a vegan diet,’ as stated by her mother. The 39-year-old had been following a strict fruitarian diet for the past five years, occasionally practicing ‘dry fasting’ where she abstained from eating and drinking for days.
Fruitarianism has gained popularity in recent years, with numerous videos and social media posts promoting its virtues. Some advocates claim that this diet aids digestion, improves cognitive function, boosts energy levels, and even detoxifies the body. However, the potential health risks associated with this diet should not be underestimated.
One of the main concerns with fruitarianism is malnutrition. While fruits offer essential nutrients, they do not provide all the necessary elements for a balanced diet. Consuming predominantly raw fruits with fewer calories than required can lead to weight loss and muscle breakdown. The diet’s lack of protein, calories, and fats can result in dry skin, brittle hair, and decreased blood cell count. Inadequate nutrition may also cause pancreatitis, a dangerous inflammation of the pancreas.
Another issue arises from the high sugar content in fruits. Fruitarian diets can exceed the recommended daily sugar intake, leading to tooth decay and erosion of tooth enamel. Excess sugar can also interfere with collagen production, affecting the skin’s youthful appearance.
Fruitarians may suffer from vitamin deficiencies, as the diet lacks nutrients like iron, calcium, vitamin B (including B12), D, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids. Deficiency in these nutrients can lead to osteomalacia (softening of the bones), anemia, fatigue, and a weak immune system.
Furthermore, excessive fiber from fruits can cause bowel discomfort and irregularity. While fiber is crucial for a healthy diet, too much can lead to diarrhea, bloating, cramping, and excessive flatulence. It is essential to balance fiber intake with proper hydration.
In light of these health risks, it is crucial to approach fruitarianism with caution and ensure proper nutritional balance. Consulting a registered dietitian or nutritionist is highly recommended before adopting such a restrictive diet.
The tragic case of Zhanna Samsonova serves as a stark reminder of the potential dangers of extreme diets. While veganism and plant-based diets can offer numerous health benefits when well-balanced, it is essential to prioritize nutritional needs and avoid extreme restrictions that may compromise overall well-being.