Healthy Living

Steve Jobs Swore By It, But Does Fruit Fuel Creativity? The Pros And Cons Of Being A Fruitarian

abundance of fruits
Fruit is, without a doubt, an essential part of our diets; but it shouldn't be the only part of our diets. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

The founder and former CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs, was notorious for odd health habits that he swore helped fuel his creativity. One of those was to live mostly as a fruitarian — or someone who only ate fruits for long periods of time.

While this can actually be severely detrimental to your health — robbing your body of much-needed nutrients and protein that essentially helps you stay alive — a new study shows that there might have been a kernel of truth in the way Jobs approached fruit. His fascination with fruit, particularly apples and carrots, was what inspired the name behind Apple, after all.

The study, completed by researchers at Leiden University, found that foods with high levels of tyrosine — an amino acid that helps synthesize proteins — boost creativity and help us to think more sharply. “Food rich in Tyrosine and food supplements that include tyrosine are a healthy and cheap way to increase our ability to think deeply,” Lorenza Colzato, a cognitive psychologist who worked on the study, said in the press release. “For instance, students who have to sit for an exam can benefit from added tyrosine.” She added: “[Steve Jobs] often claimed that his fruit diet formed the basis of his successes. And as fruit is rich in tyrosine, that might not be such a weird statement at all.”

In the study, the researchers gave participants orange juice that had tyrosine added to it. 32 participants were asked to come to their lab twice. The first time, they drank orange juice with tyrosine then asked to complete puzzles that involved creative thinking — such as coming up with a variety of solutions for problems, and finding connections between words. The second time, they were given a placebo of orange juice and asked to complete another test. Ultimately, the researchers found that the people given tyrosine performed better on the exams.

But there are setbacks to the idea as well. Jobs’ tendency to only eat apples and carrots at times probably ultimately had an impact on his health long-term. While eating a balanced meal with plenty of fruit is considered healthy, eating solely fruit is probably the opposite of healthy.

“Although apples and carrots are healthful and provide carbohydrates, they have very little protein — unlike fat and carbohydrates, protein can’t be stored in the body, so it’s important to consume enough protein rich foods each day,” Elisa Zied, a dietitian and author of the book, “Nutrition at Your Fingertips,” told NBC News. It’s the essential amino acids in protein that “support growth and maintenance of body tissues.”

Ashton Kutcher, who will be portraying Jobs in the new movie jOBS, decided to be a fruitarian for a month as a form of method-acting. But it landed him in the hospital. “I ended up in the hospital two days before we started shooting the movie,” Kutcher said, according to U.S. News & World Report. “I was doubled over in pain, and my pancreas levels were completely out of whack, which was terrifying, considering everything.” Kutcher was referring to the fact that Steve Jobs died of pancreatic cancer. This is why you should do and eat things in moderation — even the healthiest things out there.

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