(by Dr Gaye Keir, Brisbane)

"In late 1984 I was perusing the books in my local bookstore when I came across a copy of Ross Horne's The Health Revolution. It looked interesting, so I bought it to add to my collection of health-oriented books--a collection which existed for both professional and personal reasons. Professional because I was a psychologist interested in the relationship between health and lifestyle factors. Personal because I was being faced with an ever-increasing number of my own health problems, in spite of what I believed was a healthy lifestyle---aerobic exercise, meditation, and carefully selected food.

" For years I had suffered on and off with a variety of complaints--head and chest colds, bronchitis, recurrent sore throats, headaches, back pain, leg cramps, generalised muscular pain, chronic conjunctivitis, sensitivity to light, 'cold' attacks, menstrual abnormalities, weight fluctuations, acne, skin complaints, 'crawling' sensations, tinnitus, loss of hearing. The worst complaint of all and the one which in the end sent me so relentlessly in search of a cure was a chronic lack of energy, which in the final months before changing my diet left me sleeping anywhere between ten and fifteen hours a day. During my waking hours I could barely drag myself around and had no motivation to attack even the simplest task.

"In December 1985, my health reached crisis point and I sought a medical opinion about my deteriorating state. The doctors I saw (a general practitioner and four specialists) authorised extensive tests--including tests for diabetes and hypothyroidism, a brain scan, and vestibular function tests. With the exception of one test, I proved completely 'normal'. (The exception was that an audiogram suggested some nerve and middle ear cell damage in the right ear, thus accounting for my hearing loss and tinnitus.)

"Most of the doctors came to the same conclusionI was depressed or psychologically stressed in some way and I would be best helped by seeing a psychiatrist. I resisted this suggestion most strongly. I have worked in psychology most of my adult life--I obtained a doctorate in 1977 and I worked for several years as an academic. I was convinced that psychological problems were not the cause of my poor health and my chronic lack of energy.

"By then I had started reading books about food sensitivities, and was aware that my pattern of symptoms was consistent with such a problem. So having satisfied myself that there was nothing 'medically' wrong with me, and refusing to believe that my problems were psychological, I started to look at the effect of the food I was eating.

"I took The Health Revolution off my shelf and started reading it in earnest. It was a book which I was to find fascinating but startling in its advocation of a fruitarian diet. I already knew something of the Pritikin program and had even changed my diet in the direction of reducing my animal protein and oil intake. But I was struggling with my conventional ideas about nutrition--the necessity for a 'varied' diet, the need for some animal protein for B12, dairy products for calcium. I had been seduced for so long by that false argument of nutrition-that because a food contains a particular nutrient that we need, then that food must be good for us.

"In the beginning I thought that maybe I just had 'food sensitivities', so one by one I started eliminating foods from my diet. Virtually the first to go was grains--an elimination which caused me great difficulty since grains had previously been the highlight of my meals. My addiction to them was very strong, and I would literally go in search of them if they were not available.

"Over a period of several weeks, I eliminated specific food groups--grains, animal protein, nuts and seeds, tea and coffee, oil and fats. Through a process of elimination, all that was left were fruit and vegetables. Almost immediately I noticed a dramatic improvement in my energy levels and my overall health. I also noticed that the more fruit I ate and the less of everything else, the better I felt. At the same time I was reading and rereading The Health Revolution. Slowly, I was becoming convinced--from both a logical and an empirical point of view--that the answer was not to eliminate foods to which I was sensitive, but to choose a diet that would give me optimal health.

"Two years on--April 1988--I am still largely fruitarian. My diet consists mainly of a variety of fresh fruit (including avocado) and some fresh vegetables, usually eaten raw. During the past two years my health has been excellent. I have not had a cold or bronchitis in all that time and almost without exception all my other symptoms have disappeared, including my lack of energy. I currently work between fifty and sixty-five hours a week, as well as maintaining a mild but regular exercise program.

"Recent blood tests show that my biochemistry is normal and that I have a normal blood count. My triglycerides are low--0.7 mmol/l--thus discounting Nathan Pritikin's fear that a large intake of fruit would lead to increased triglyceride levels. Bone density tests show that I have an above average density for my age. So not only does my own health attest to the positive benefits of the fruit diet, but also standard medical tests demonstrate that I am not lacking any nutrients.

"There have been times when I have tried to reintroduce other foods into my diet--particularly grains--and always without success. Initially, there is little problem. But as I persist, one by one my old symptoms start to reappear--muscular pain, skin problems and fatigue are generally the first to surface. I have no choice but to revert to the fruit and vegetable routine.

"I do not believe that my recovery can be explained away as a placebo effect. My ill-health was too long standing and too diverse. My recovery too complete. Nor do I believe that I just suddenly stopped getting sick. My poor health was progressing slowly but surely in spite of consistent attempts on my part to lead a healthy lifestyle. And no other positive change occurred in my life at the same time as I changed my diet. So there was nothing else to explain the improvement.

"My expectations of fruitarianism were certainly not greater than my expectations of aerobic exercise, meditation and other diets. To be honest, my expectations of fruitarianism were extremely cautious, having experienced limited success in the past with my other programmes. And I can reproduce my symptoms any time I like--just by breaking the diet. Personally I would much prefer a more variable diet to be possible. Having eaten 'regular' food for most of my life, each day presents a challenge to cope with my addiction to it and not to succumb to all the sights and smells. I have no doubt that if I want good health, I have no choice."