CORAL GABLES, FL - OCTOBER 24: A copy of the newly released biography of Apple co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs is displayed at the Books & Books store on October 24, 2011 in Coral Gables, Florida. The book written by Walter Isaacson was slated to be released next year by publisher Simon & Schuster but was pushed up after Jobs died on October 5. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
No matter your opinion on the legacy of Steve Jobs, we can likely all agree on this: Dude had some unconventional health habits. The new biography by Walter Isaacson details some of the weirder ones, from extremely restrictive diets to questionable personal hygiene. (A personal favorite: One of his go-to stress relievers during Apple's early days was soaking his bare feet in the company toilets.)
We asked some nutrition experts to weigh in on some of the stranger, stricter eating habits of the legendary tech tycoon.
Apples-and-carrots only diet
The book details his occasional tendency to eat only one or two foods, like carrots or apples, for weeks at a time. Besides developing a sunset-like hue -- which those who worked with him are quoted as remembering -- there are other health issues that can come from adhering to such a limited diet, says Elisa Zied, registered dietitian and msnbc.com contributor.
"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," explains Zied, who's the author of the book, "Nutrition at Your Fingertips."
Protein provides the body with energy and structural support -- it also helps preserve lean muscle tissue that keeps your metabolism raring to go, and it supports muscle function. But if you don't take in enough protein, your body will miss out on essential amino acids, Zied says. "These essential amino acids are used to make body proteins ... that support growth and maintenance of body tissues."
Another drawback of a carrots- or apples-only diet: You aren't getting enough fat.
"Without enough dietary fat, your body’s fat stores can become depleted," Zied explains. "Your skin may suffer, you may feel more cold more often, and your organs and body tissues may be more vulnerable against injury -- especially risky for those with chronic illness."
Flirting with fruitarianism
Jobs also spent some time as a fruitarian, a subset of veganism that means eating only fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables and grains -- absolutely no animal products. "Basically, the reproductive parts of plants that can be consumed without doing any harm to the plant itself," TODAY nutritionist Joy Bauer explains. This kind of diet does contain some very healthy foods, and many vegans manage to keep extremely healthful diets. But experts caution that without a careful eating plan, essential nutrients may be missing.
"This type of diet is extremely restrictive as it eliminates dairy foods ... and probably doesn’t contain enough dietary fat unless you’re eating lots of nuts and seeds," Zied explains. "And because the foods you can eat (or beverages you can drink) are so limited, you only get the nutrients provided in the specific foods."
Plus, it's an expensive diet to adhere to for a long period of time, Bauer points out.
Veganism and the tyranny of the daily shower
Jobs also believed that his commitment to vegan diets meant his body was flushed of mucus -- and that it meant he was free from body odor, so he didn't need to wear deodorant or shower regularly. Unsurprisingly, the book quotes former coworkers saying that he was very, very wrong.
Actually, the lack of complete proteins in vegan-style diets might impede the body's detoxification process, which "could make him smell even more," says JJ Virgin, nutrition expert and co-star of TLC's "Freaky Eaters." As for mucus -- Jobs may have had a point there. Dietary changes can help reduce the goo, especially for those who produce excessive mucus because of illness.
The agony and the ecstasy of fasting
Jobs would sometimes turn to fasting to create feelings of euphoria and ecstasy. What he was most likely experiencing was something called ketosis, which develops after a period of fasting and can lead to mild euphoria. When you're eating normally, glucose is the body's primary energy source, Zied explains. But when you're fasting, your body creates small chemicals called ketones that act as a substitute for glucose, and can be used for energy by most body cells.
"If your body makes more ketones than it needs to create energy, a dangerous condition called ketosis develops," Zied says. "This increases the loss of sodium and water from the body and can contribute to nausea, weakness, fatigue."
What do think of some of Jobs' more unusual eating habits? (And, hey -- keep it civil.) What's the weirdest diet you've ever tried?
First published November 2 2011, 11:56 AM