Tagnutrition

Nutritional Scientists’ Opinion of Soylent is “Overwhelmingly Negative”

When I wrote about Soylent and Silicon Valley’s quest to reinvent food for TechCrunch I checked with a registered dietician from the Oregon Health and Science University about stuff. She was pretty down on it. So was the dietician consulted by Business Insider. And now io9’s Lauren Davis has talked to three more experts:

We reached out to a handful of nutritional scientists to get their opinions on the product, and they were generally surprised that anyone would want to replace their food with a single mixture. Their opinions of Soylent were overwhelmingly negative. Steve Collins, founder and chairman of Valid Nutrition, a company that manufactures Ready to Use Foods for the prevention and treatment of malnutrition, said, speaking through a colleague, that, except in exceptional circumstances, he felt that trying to replace a diverse diet with a single product was misguided. Susan Roberts, Professor at Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, likened Soylent to already available nutritional shakes. While there might be some benefit to Soylent’s low saturated fat content, she said, there are certain risks inherent in a non-food diet. “[T]here are so many unknown chemicals in fruits and vegetables that they will not be able to duplicate in a formula exactly,” she said in an email. She says that, if Soylent is formulated properly, a person could certainly live on it, but she doubts they would experience optimal health. She fears that in the long-term, a food-free diet could open a person up to chronic health issues.

Tracy Anthony, Associate Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Rutgers University, speaking to us in an email, criticized the formula specifically.

Full Story: Could Soylent really replace all of the food in your diet?

The Soylent company has now released an ingredient list and it’s much more “food like” than creator Rob Rhinehart had implied previously:

-Maltodextrin (carbs)
-Oat Powder (carbs, fiber, protein, fat)
-Whey Isolate (protein)
-Grapeseed Oil (fat)
-Potassium Gluconate
-Salt (sodium)
-Magnesium Gluconate
-Monosodium Phosphate
-Calcium Carbonate
-Methylsulfonylmethane (Sulfur)
-Creatine
-Powdered Soy Lecithin
-Choline Bitartrate
-Ferrous Gluconate (Iron)

Cult Of The Caveman: Paleofantasies

Atossa Araxia Abrahamian on Paleofantasy by Marlene Zuk and the assumptions of the paleo lifestyle set, noting that it has become a popular diet amongst libertarians:

Charges of hypocrisy, however amusing, are facile. Paleo is an improvement on a diet of processed, sugary junk. It’s not the first diet to banish starches, and it certainly won’t be the last. In fact, by any other name, the Paleo diet would be just that — a diet.

But more substantial problems lurk in the reasoning behind Paleo principles. By assuming that all that was once natural is now good, militant Paleo leans on biological determinism to back up its theories. While it may not advocate for a complete reversion to cave-dwelling, it accepts that we evolved in a certain way to do certain things and not others, and that advances in technology, civilization, and culture can do little to change that. This logic, however seductive, is incomplete. You can’t get an ought from a was. [...]

Incomplete or flawed interpretations of our biology have long been used to marginalize women, racial groups, even entire civilizations, and nutrition may well become the next variant in this pattern of discrimination. If rice isn’t “natural,” does that make those entire continents with highly developed cultures who eat it “un-natural”? Doesn’t agriculture, however flawed it may be in certain societies, support billions of people? Let’s not forget that for centuries women were considered ineligible to participate in most professions, sports, and diversions on the basis of their supposed female “nature.” Are modern bread-eaters somehow less human than those carrying out “primal” urges by sprinting, lifting, and eating meat?

These troubling questions are probably not the point of an apparently well-meaning lifestyle program. Many adopters of the Paleo diet do so for no reason other than weight loss, or vanity, or ailments caused by certain foods; others are simply curious about how so-called “ancestral” nutrition will affect them, or how certain types of foods affect their bodies. If their giddy testimonials are to be believed, the Paleo diet can cure everything from diabetes to anxiety attacks, which sounds wonderful. Still, the social and political implications of Paleo reasoning ought to be more closely examined, especially as the lifestyle gains adherents.

Full Story: The New Inquiry: Natural’s Not In It

Previously: Hardwired to Nurture: What the New Testosterone Study Really Says About Men

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