Fruit As Brain Food
Steve Jobs, the former founder of the massively successful and innovative tech company, Apple, was a devout fan of fruit. The company’s name—and it’s flagship product the Mac, named for the fruit that was then America’s favorite apple—are emblematic of his famous fondness for fruit. In a recent biopic about the legendary innovator, Jobs is shown eating fruit. As his story unfolds over decades, Jobs’ brilliance burns across the screen, fueled by nothing more than fresh fruit.
Jobs was a “fruititarian,” living almost exclusively on fruit. He believed it boosted his creativity and improved his ideas. While strict fruitarianism is an extreme—and potentially dangerous—diet, it’s hard to argue that Jobs was brilliant. Don’t try this at home. A more balanced diet is undoubtedly safer and healthier in the long term.
Even so, few people in modern times have had more fruitful ideas than Steve Jobs. Today, his company enjoys unprecedented status as Wall Street’s “most valuable property” of all time. In 2012, the company was valued at $624 billion. That’s well on the way to one trillion dollars—for a single company founded in a garage by a fruit-eating visionary.
What enabled Jobs to think more clearly and creatively, to see farther, and more perceptively, than his peers? Bill Gates is no slouch, after all. Could it have had anything to do with Jobs’ unusual diet?
At least one scientist thinks Jobs may have benefitted from the amino acid, tyrosine. Tyrosine is present in fruits like bananas and peaches, and in almonds. According to cognitive psychologist, Lorenzo Colzato, tyrosine in the diet enables harder thinking and boosts creativity. Tyrosine is a building block that leads to the production of the brain messenger chemical, dopamine. Adequate dopamine levels are believed to play an important role in creativity.
To confirm this connection, Colzato conducted experiments with volunteers, who drank orange juice laced with extra tyrosine—or an inactive substance—before taking various tests of deep thinking and creative problem solving. As expected, subjects who got the additional tyrosine before attempting a task did better at problem solving. “Food rich in tyrosine and food supplements that include tyrosine are a healthy and cheap way to increase our ability to think deeply,” said Colzato. “For instance, students who have to sit for an exam can benefit from added tyrosine.’ He also noted that most fruits are excellent sources of tyrosine, speculating that Jobs may have been on to something.
Lorenza S. Colzato, Annelies M. de Haan, Bernhard Hommel. Food for creativity: tyrosine promotes deep thinking. Psychological Research, 2014; DOI: 10.1007/s00426-014-0610-4