Soylent: Another Meal Replacement

Everything you want in a drink - except taste, long-term studies, and chewing.

Soylent – the drink that promises you will never eat again. There are some legitimate questions about this drink but it is really, nothing more than a rather expensive gimmick.

Everything you want in a drink - except taste, long-term studies, and chewing.

Everything you want in a drink – except taste, long-term studies, and chewing.

Should you get all your nutrition from a drink?
If you have to – yes. If you don’t have to then you risk your health for a fad.

For years I’ve prescribed nutrients, like protein shakes, smoothies, and other drinks for people who have had weight loss surgery (to allow the stomach to heal without the stress of food in it) and for patients who need to sustain themselves by being fed directly to the gut. The hardest thing for patients – they want taste, flavor, and to chew. A protein drink, shake, or replacement provides none of that. Those people who choose to survive by this for months clearly are “different.” But there are legitimate people who need to get their nutrition from a drink. These people are in a hospital, monitored closely until such time as they can be released with a formula proven best for them. They continue to be monitored by physicians with blood tests and other measurements.

Soylent is a product, like many, that promises to be a meal replacement. It isn’t – it is a gimmick.

Are there dangers of this?
Yes, what we know about nutrition is still limited. But we know that supplements do not work as well as food. In fact, in multiple studies – people who take supplements do not do as well as people who have the various ingredients supplied by food. This has been tested with various vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants.

We know the guts do a marvelous job of extracting the nutrients it needs from the food you eat. There is something in the way the nutrients are complexed to the food that we do not yet understand. Your small bowel is not use to seeing the pure form of many of the micronutrients. It is difficult to imagine that Soylent presented to the body would be any different than a protein drink with some multivitamins mixed in it.

Soylent is supposed to be complete – is it?
No, it is not. If you think of something complete you have to think of it over time. In humans, we have the ability to have a wide variety of foods. But what we have not been able to ever accomplish is trade a bad diet for supplements. People can eat fish one day, beef another, some can eat lots of vegetables, and throughout time and a variety they obtain the necessary micronutrients and macronutrients to survive, and some thrive. We see very little malnutrition these days, other than in one note diets- such as Southeast Asia where the staple of rice has led to an epidemic of vitamin A deficiency with blindness and increased infant mortality.

The claim is that he worked with nutritionists and physicians to come up with a formula to replace everything in the day. The problem is, we don’t have evidence that replacement of the micronutrients apart from the food they have is better for you, and plenty of evidence that the micronutrients when purified are not. Perhaps it is because there is little regulation in this industry.

Another example is Calcium Supplements and Heart disease. Clearly those who have a diet that is rich in calcium have a reduced incidence of heart attacks, but those who take supplements of calcium have an increased risk of heart disease.

 Omega-3 Fatty Acids – fish is better than pills
Take fish oil capsules, which is suppose to provide people with adequate omega-3 fatty acids. The purpose of these supplements is that we don’t make our own omega-3 fatty acids, and if you consume fish, which are rich in the omega-3 fatty acids,  those people have less heart disease. The fish oil was extracted, but funny thing –  people who take these capsules do not have a reduced rate of heart disease. On the other hand, people who eat fatty fish twice a week (salmon, trout, tuna, mackerel, and sardines) have one-tenth the risk of heart failure. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish, not taking capsules there are great Health Benefits of Seafood .

What About Your Microbiome?
In our guts live over one trillion bacteria. Some of those bacteria supply us with nutrients. We feed them (our unused food) and they supply us with some B vitamins, including B12, they supply us with some better absorption of fats (we do need these). In addition, the friendly bacteria keep unfriendly ones out. So what do these bacteria eat- they eat the things we feed them. I cannot imagine what the microbiome would be of someone who consumed Soylent for a while. It would change rapidly, and that effect on the person is not known.

But isn’t it better than junk food?
No. The next bit of marketing- “it is better than eating at McDonald’s or name a fast food place. ” “It is better than the Standard American Diet.”  They have no evidence of this, and if someone were to ask the evidence is in reverse. Today people can choose a wide variety of foods to live off of, and many of them are fortified with vitamins and minerals, and we have great evidence that this fortification of food has worked. Sorry, but if someone were to ask – would you choose this or the Standard American Diet – I would choose the Standard American Diet. Why, because you can regulate the calories just as well as you can with Soylent, you have a wider variety of food, you have flavor,  you have the ability to chew, you have joy. Plus – I can cook.

It is Marketing and Hype
This is all marketing. Here is a prediction of how they will market this product so it appeals to a wide base. Again, I think this is just a silly fad, but sadly some people will consume it. So here are the ways they will market it to appeal to a wide variety of people:

  • New formulation for vegans
  • GMO free
  • Gluten free
  • Better for the planet – no big agriculture
  • FDA Approved
  • Cheaper than eating whole food
  • Can send this to a disaster area (Katrina type disaster) and feed people
  • Can be used in outer space

If you cannot see through those clear marketing ploys – you are a target for this sort of product.

It is Adult Baby Formula – Time to Grow Up and Learn to Cook

If my son can cook - you can get off formula

If my son can cook – you can get off formula

Besides – this is, in my opinion, nothing more than “adult formula.” I recall with joy the day we no longer had to feed our son formula and could instead have him sit at the table with us and eat. His first solid food was salmon and halibut (good Alaska Native child that he is).

There are very sick people who need to be fed their entire nutrition through liquid diets – some through tubes we surgeons place in their guts. They can survive on this type of nutrition, but not thrive on it.

For the rest of you that want to drink this because you don’t want to be bothered by food – grow up and learn to cook.

So would you eat this- because this is cheaper than Soylent, and proven to be better. Or do you just want to grow up?

So would you eat this- because this is cheaper than Soylent, and proven to be better. Or do you just want to grow up?

Why I Hate Chicken Breast

At 1080 calories, this one salad seems healthy - but is over half the calories that an adult male burns in a day.

A whole roasted chicken is amazing

A whole roasted chicken is amazing

Someone told you once that chicken was good for you, especially the white meat – and that evil chicken skin was bad – so you have been living off chicken breast as a protein for the last few years and your mouth finally dialed my 911 number and asked for an intervention. Chicken breast – it is tasteless without skin and bones, it is often overcooked, and it is not as “healthy” as you think.
But I love chicken.  The smells of  a whole roasted chicken makes my house and heart happy. My favorite way these days is splatchcock style as above, or on my 1957 rotisserie.  In the case of those, the breast is a part of a whole- it is in context, it is a blank canvas upon which you can layer lovely flavors.
But a boneless, skinless chicken breast is tasteless. None. It is bland, it is lifeless, it is the favorite of dieters since the ancient myths about this lean protein being healthy.
Here it is – the naked chicken breast – with a herb satchel.
 
Chicken Breast Is It Low In Fat – must be compared to steak
Oh, but this is good – you hear the chorus say. It is a “diet” food.  This is a 5 ounce chicken breast, it has about 250 calories in it. About 30 grams of protein, 4 grams of the evil saturated fat, and etc.
Oh that red meat you eschew? A similar piece of New York Strip (one of my favorite cuts) is also about 250 calories. About 42 grams of protein, and 2.8 grams of the evil saturated fat. What? Yes, you read that correctly.
It is Too Easy To Overcook
People overcook the chicken breast all the time.  The instructions of many recipes are set to an internal temperature of about 165 degrees Fahrenheit – which means all of the moisture will be gone – the chicken will be dry. It doesn’t matter what sauce you put around it- when you have dry chicken it is like eating a ball of rubber bands.
I pity the party of the man who is showing his culinary skills at the grill with a chicken breast. This would turn anyone into a vegetarian
You think putting this breast in a crock pot with slow cooking at a low temperature will be a good thing?  Nothing worse than crock pot chicken breast — the lowest temperature on most crock pots is about 177 degrees Fahrenheit – again, over cooked.  So the chicken will be surrounded by juice of itself and be dry and overcooked. The best way to cook this protein is Sous Vide – otherwise you sacrificed the life of a chicken for naught.
Airlines always overcook the chicken – always. It is always chicken breast – and in spite of them saying that food tastes differently at higher altitudes with loud music one thing is certain – the chicken will be overcooked – and tasteless.
Speaking of the steak – ever wonder why a steak is more moist than a chicken? Medium rare is 132-134 degrees Fahrenheit – so the steak is still moist.  All you need is that sear on it, the Maillard reaction, and you have a great bit of food.
It has no flavor
Pretty sure that cardboard has a more interesting flavor and texture than chicken breast. Seriously – grill a plain chicken breast and eat it. Kind of dull. Make it interesting- surround it with other flavors and the chicken is just a dull protein that won’t ruin the spark of the other flavors. Chicken Marsala – well,  if you make a rich marsala with great mushrooms, stock, and wonderful wine the sauce will not be overwhelmed with the flavor of the chicken breast (don’t buy the cheap wine, this is food, if you eat cheap food you are missing out).
Pick any chicken breast dish – any – tell me how the chicken flavor added to it.
Boneless – Skinless – oh you just tossed the best part
Try this- cook the skin separately on a baking sheet with some poultry spice and salt. It crisps up nicely like bacon – and is delicious. Then cook the chicken breast with the bones – oh there is flavor there, and it comes out- a rich flavor, a flavor of savory chicken that was lost when someone convinced you to pay a bit extra not to have the bone.
But the Thigh
Ok, maybe I am a leg man more than a breast man – but the thigh has flavor, and texture.  Ever wonder why wings taste so good — (hint, it isn’t the blue cheese — seriously, some people put that on wings – of course some people still choose margarine).
 
Do Yourself A Favor
Stop buying chicken breasts and thinking you are eating healthy. You want a great chicken – roast one properly, and then you can use the pan gravy from the stock and the drippings to make that breast stand out.
Don’t buy it skinless and boneless. Don’t just grill it. Don’t put it in a crock pot. 
Stop the insanity.
Chicken breast – it ranks with fillet and pork loin as flavorless proteins.  I think Tofu is cheaper, and probably tastier.

Heart Attack City: Risks and Prevention

Coke Joins Obesity

It is called “Metabolic Syndrome” and if you have it then your risk of heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes are HIGH

Has your waist size increased – is it a bit embarrassing? You may have metabolic syndrome. But there are other factors, and if you have three of these factors than you have Metabolic syndrome. How much risk? It depends upon your age, and other factors but as much as two times the risk of heart attacks and up to 12 times the risk of heart attacks!

  • A waist size of 40 inches for men or 34 inches for women (measured at its largest point)
  • Triglyceride level of over 150, or on medication for triglycerides
  • Blood pressure of 130/85 or greater, or taking medicine for high blood pressure
  • Fasting glucose of 100 or greater, or taking medication for glucose control
  • HDL of less than 40 for men or less than 50 for women (the good cholesterol)

Metabolic syndrome is mainly increasing because of obesity.

The danger is that as we age – this becomes more likely. It turns out 47% of the population who are 60 years old and older have this. This is probably the increase in sedentary lifestyle, combined with eating more, and aging.

Four Changes You Can Make To Decrease Your Risk 

Maybe you can. A part of it involves taking care of yourself. Think of taking care of your body the way you would take care of your teeth – you need to think prevention.

  • Begin a regular exercise program – get out and move more

    Get moving again- a daily simple routine will reduce your risk of Metabolic Disease

    Get moving again- a daily simple routine will reduce your risk of Metabolic Disease

  • Incorporate more fruits and vegetables in your diet – consider the Mediterranean Diet or DASH diet as a permanent change

    Increasing fruits and vegetables in your diet, adopting a Mediterranean or DASH diet will reduce your risk of Metabolic Syndrome and heart attacks

    Increasing fruits and vegetables in your diet, adopting a Mediterranean or DASH diet will reduce your risk of Metabolic Syndrome and heart attacks

  • Eat fish twice a week – this will help raise the HDL – or “good” cholesterol

    Pike Place Market Salmon

    Fatty fish, like salmon, reduce the risk of heart failure and increase the “good” cholesterol HDL

  • Drink Hibiscus Tea to help lower blood pressure naturally.
Almost sounds too good to be true- but drinking this daily can help lower blood pressure- more than some medicines.

Almost sounds too good to be true- but drinking this daily can help lower blood pressure- more than some medicines.

As we learn more about the underlying causes of metabolic syndrome we will develop better strategies, but for now, those are the best strategies we have.

Often times we don't know we gained the weight

Often times we don’t know we gained the weight

REFERENCES:
Effect of sour tea (Hibiscus sabdariffa L.) on arterial hypertension: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.
Serban C1, Sahebkar A, Ursoniu S, Andrica F, Banach M. J Hypertens. 2015 Jun;33(6):1119-27. PMID: 25875025

Association of Fish Consumption-Derived Ratio of Serum n-3 to n-6 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Risk With the Prevalence of Coronary Artery Disease.Tani S, Takahashi A, Nagao K, Hirayama A. Int Heart J. 2015 May 13;56(3):260-8.PMID: 25902881

Dietary fats and coronary heart disease.Willett WC. J Intern Med. 2012 Jul;272(1):13-24.PMID:22583051

Effect of mediterranean diet in diabetes control and cardiovascular risk modification: a systematic review.
Sleiman D, Al-Badri MR, Azar ST.Front Public Health. 2015 Apr 28;3:69.PMID: 25973415

Effects of a long-term lifestyle intervention program with Mediterranean diet and exercise for the management of patients with metabolic syndrome in a primary care setting. Gomez-Huelgas R, Jansen-Chaparro S, Baca-Osorio AJ, Mancera-Romero J, Tinahones FJ, Bernal-López MR. Eur J Intern Med. 2015 Jun;26(5):317-23.PMID: 25907985

The effects of the DASH diet education program with omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on metabolic syndrome parameters in elderly women with abdominal obesity. Choi SH, Choi-Kwon S.Nutr Res Pract. 2015 Apr;9(2):150-7.PMID: 25861421