The Paradise Diet
By: Dr. Herbert M. Shelton
According to an ancient tradition,
when man first appeared he lived
in a beautiful orchard in which grew
fruits of many kinds and all of which
were pleasing to the eye and good for food.
For an undetermined length of time he lived in this beautiful area of
the earth and satisfied his physiological needs by trees.
According to this tradition, he was expelled from the garden and condemned
to live upon the green herbs of the field. The indications of this story would
seem to be that herbs are a second choice as articles of diet for man. It is
common to scoff at this ancient tradition and label it a fairy tale, but it may
possess more truth than poetry.
It should not be assumed that a people gather their myths and traditions from
thin air or that they are purely imaginative creations.
If we can accept as valid the principle that the traditions, legends, myths and
folklore of a people are reminiscences of past experiences, that they mirror
for us actual conditions through which the people have passed, we are
practically forced to accept the ancient and well-nigh universal tradition of
paradise as a report, blurred, no doubt, by the passage of time, of a period
when the human race resided in some favorable locality and lived upon the
"fruits of the trees of the garden."
A tradition that antedates the beginning of recorded history and that is
possessed by almost all people cannot be lightly cast aside as a figment
of the imagination of a poet or of some designing priest-craft.
It is impossible to account for the origin; persistence and widespread
existence of a tradition that early man was a Frugivore on the basis of the
hypothesis now so widely held by anthropologists, that early man was a
carnivore and offal eater.
Such a being should have left us traditions of swarms of locusts, ponds filled
with fish, happy hunting grounds and other rich repositories of their favorite
sources of animal foods, with occasional mention of dead elephants or sick
horses around which they gathered and feasted.
Not Fruits, but brutes, not figs, but pigs should be featured in the myths
and legends of a carnivore.
It may be objected that tradition and legend constitute a flimsy base upon
which to erect a philosophy of Human diet. A more scientific basis may be
To this I reply that none of the many scientific bases for correct Human
dietary practices that have thus far been offered possess as much validity
as the paradise tradition.
The paradise tradition possesses the virtue of being in conformity with the
evident dietetic character of man as revealed by comparative anatomy and
It also agrees in principle with the basic eating practices of man throughout
history. Man's diet throughout the historic period in all favorable regions of
the earth has been predominantly Fruitarian.
Many efforts have been made by men and women in the present century to
live upon a diet composed exclusively of the Fruits of the trees.
These efforts have not been without success, but they have rarely been
completely successful. From South Africa comes the news—the Pretoria
News, February 22, 1971—that some research has been done into the effects
of an all-Fruit diet.
Under the headline "Fruit diet worked well," the News summarized the
findings of the researchers in the following words:
"A team of research workers have come to the conclusion that pure Fruit diets
now receiving wide publicity cause weight to level off more or less at the
'theoretically ideal' weight for the subject, according to an article in the latest
issue of the South African Medical Journal."
The item does not indicate the time through which the experiment was carried
out but does state that the diet consisted of Fruit juices, Fruits and nuts.
"A considerable number of the subjects claimed their physical condition
improved while they were on the diet. Some were convinced that their
stamina increased and that their ability to undertake strenuous physical
tasks and to compete in sports improved."
No doubt, in view of the known nutritive values possessed by tree Fruits and
nuts, which are also Fruits, it is entirely possible to be well and adequately
nourished upon such a diet, providing only that one has a sufficient and
varied supply of Fruits and Nuts.
If one lives in a climate where the Fruit and nut supply is abundant
throughout the year, he should have no difficulty in providing himself with
adequate nourishment without eating vegetables and without taking animal
foods of any kind.
Man's expulsion from his primitive paradise was probably due to climatic
change that reduced his Fruit supply and necessitated his constant search
for means of survival.
Commenting upon the African experiment, in the July 1971 issue of Health
For All (London), Dr. Harry Clements says:
"It is true that such a diet would be possible in a subtropical climate with its
abundance of fruits and nuts, but it would not be so easy in a climate like we
have in this country, to maintain an all-the-year-round complete fruit diet on
Of course, we should bear in mind that a limit is set on food by the use we
make of it. There is no doubt that the kind and amount of fruit grown in this
country could be vastly increased if we saw the need for it and regarded it as
an important part of our diet rather than merely as a trimming to a meal. On the
other hand, no climate is better adapted than ours for the growth of vegetables
and salads which can play so important a part in proper nutrition."
Dr. Clements further says:
"It is interesting to recall that in the latter part of the last century a Natural
Food Society existed in this country, its object being stated as follows:
'The Natural Food Society is founded in the belief that the food of primeval
man consisted of fruit and nuts of subtropical climes, spontaneously
produced; that on these foods man was (and may again become) at least as
free from disease as the animals are in a state of nature.'
The main contention of this Society was that the starchy foods, especially
those made from cereals are unnatural and disease-inducing foods and the
chief cause of the nervous prostration and broken-down health that abound
on all sides."
The Natural Food Society to which Dr. Clements refers was organized and
spearheaded by Dr. Emmet Densmore and his wife, Helen.
This society not only promoted Fruitarianism but also propagated Dr.
Densmore's no-starch dietary. Dr. and Mrs. Densmore edited and published a
magazine devoted to Fruitarianism and general Hygienic work.
Densmore found that the fruit supply in England was not adequate to meet
the nutritive needs of man throughout the whole of the year. After some
experimentation, he suggested supplementing the Fruit diet with milk and
cheese. He even went so far as to endorse the Salisbury meat diet.
Because of his frequent shifts of opinion about diet, he gained the reputation
of being eccentric. When he returned to America he practically retired from
active work in this field.
When Mr. Carrington was preparing his work, Vitality, Fasting and Nutrition,
he attempted to engage Dr. Densmore in correspondence about fasting and
feeding, but Densmore declined to lend his services to furthering this work.
Dr. Clements recalls as interesting the fact that in America Dr. John Harvey
Kellogg maintained that fruits, with the addition of nuts (which, I should point
out, are also fruits), constitute an adequate diet that will sustain human life for
its normal lifespan.
He mentions what he calls the therapeutic use of fruit by Dr. Tilden and by
Kellogg. Dr. Kellogg, Cajori and Ragnar Berg demonstrated experimentally
the biological adequacy of the proteins of nuts. With the exception of the
hickory nut, they all contain an adequacy of amino acids to support growth
It is doubtful that the Fruit diet can ever be entirely satisfactory in those
regions of the earth where long and severe winters prevail. Man must, it
seems probable, continue to rely heavily upon herbs and perhaps grains and
legumes for a part of his diet.
This is not to say that fruits and nuts are not suitable for a cold climate, but
that the supply of these foods in cold climates is not sufficiently abundant
throughout the whole of the year, and, except for nuts, cannot be stored and
kept in adequate quantities to meet the needs of a large population through
the winter months.
There is no food factor in vegetable and animal products that is not also
available in fruits. Cold climates are simply unsuitable to the cultivation of
Some nuts do thrive well in climates that are cold much of the year. Although
a nut diet has been advocated, it is doubtful if such a diet would be ideal. The
paradise diet would seem to be an ideal one for a paradisiacal climate.
By: Herbert M. Shelton
Article: The Paradise Diet