A couple of corrections for the 'Two Months of Soylent" post from a researcher


#1

Hi, I’m an obesity researcher with a background in nutritional science and I noticed a couple of mistakes in the “Two Months of Soylent” and “What’s In Soylent” posts that I thought needed addressing.

  • “Extras not considered essential:Omega-3 Fatty Acids(750mg)”:
    Omega-3 fatty Acids (FA) are indeed essential, as we cannot synthesize them and omega-3 deficiencies may result in neural, dermal and psychological dysfunction, as well as increased risk of cardiovascular disease and birth defects. I thought this was important to point out, as I have noticed many DIY soylenters have not included omega-3 in their diets. The best omega-3 oils to use are fish oils, as plant based oils, such as flax, must be converted to DHA and EPA and the conversion step is competively inhibited by other the essential FA, linoleic acid, an omega-6 FA. Additionally, I am worried that the use of olive oil as the sole source of FA’s may result in an imbalance of FA (FA composition varies between each brand of olive oil) and I would encourage you to use a combination of plant oils, such as safflower and peanut. Omega-6 and omega-3 FA should be in a ratio between 6:1 and 4:1. to avoid excess arachodonic acid and the associated inflammatory effects.

  • "Calorie restriction for longevity"
    Although the idea that calorie restriction (CR) has numerous health benefits and could possibly extend your lifespan (it does in rats and yeast, but no one is sure about humans) is party true, recent evidence has shown that most, if not all the benefits of CR are due to decreased insulin-like growth factor 1(IGF-1). The decreased IGF-1 levels associated with CR are actually independent of caloric intake and are a result of the incidental decrease in protein intake inherent in CR diets. This is one of the reasons I think soylent is such a great idea, as soylent would allow you to maintain a caloricly and nutritionally robust diet, while reducing protein intake and therefore IGF-1 levels, allowing you the health benifits of a CR diet, without all of the unwanted effects. An ideal protein intake would be 0.8g of protein per kg of body weight, so a 150lb person (68kg) would need 54g of protein.

  • “my protein intake was too low”:
    This is related to my above point, but 102g of protein, although not harmful, is not necessary and 0.8g of protein per kg of body weight is optimal for cardiovascular health. You have stated that you weight lift and run, so 0.9 g/kg of protein may be more suitable for your needs, but unless you are an elite athlete or recovering from trauma (like 3rd degree burns), anything more than 1.0kg is not necessary and may limit the health benefits of your diet.

  • It is just my opinion, but I would encourage you to drink something like the “Super red” and “super green” powders, (like the ones you can buy at trader joes for $20) at least a few times per week. I am worried that you are lacking in many phytonutrients and flavanoids, such as anthocyanins, catechins, tannins, diindolylmethane and resveratrol, among others. Although you are no longer ingesting the toxins inherent in the common American diet, you are still breathing the toxins in the air and drinking the toxins in the water (not to mention whatever impurities in the minerals your diet is composed of) and no one really knows how important these phytochemicals really are for cellular health. Also, there are many known and unknown chemicals in foods, that have altered physiological functions depending on whether they were ingested as as purified form or in a whole food and you may want to supplement the soylent with a bit of organically biosynthesised vitamin nutrients.

Great job Rob! Keep it up and keep improving!


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#2

Great feedback, right now I’m already researching according to your observations. Thanks.


#3

Thanks for the feedback.

The only point I would disagree with is the amount of protein needed if you are doing a lot of weight lifting. Although I haven’t dug up the citations, the rule of thumb many bodybuilders go by is 1g/lb, with 1g/kg being a minimum (for days they do not lift weights). I live weights pretty aggressively and would not be able to get by on 1g/kg. My brother is a competitive power-lifter (he holds several state and a world record) and goes even higher than the 1g/lb.

Your feedback is of course accurate for the majority of the population though.


#4

Omega Fatty Acids

Adding Coconut Oil and Fish Oil Capsules may be our best option for balancing our Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acid ratio.

Healthy Balance

Apparently, a 1:1 ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids is considered optimal. Using the same text that article quoted:

Most benefits associated with fish oil supplementation come secondary to a ratio of omega-3 fatty acids to omega-6 fatty acids present in the cell membrane, the ratio determining what eicosanoids (signaling molecules) are produced in the cell in response to stressors. A 1:1 ratio is currently thought to be near the optimal level, and as the ratio is heavily skewed in favor of omega-6 fatty acids in the diet normally, supplemental omega-3s are recommended.

It’s good to know what the minimum for avoiding poor health is though, as it seems hard to find cheap sources of Omega-3. With the amount of Olive Oil most of us are using, we would have to take 12 fish oil capsules a day to get a 1:1 ratio. That’s pretty expensive and we would have constant fish breath.

Flaxseed Oil

Someone listed Flaxseed oil in their shared spreadsheet. Flaxseed oil may be cheaper than fish oil, but it contains alpha-lineolic acid, which the body has to break down to get the EPA and DHA you find in fish oil. From that article:

Some researchers think that flaxseed oil might have some of the same benefits as fish oil, but the body is not very efficient at converting ALA into EPA and DHA. And the benefits of ALA, EPA, and DHA are not necessarily the same. Omega-3 fatty acids, usually from fish oil, have been shown to reduce inflammation and help prevent certain chronic diseases, such as heart disease and arthritis. Studies are mixed about whether flaxseed oil is useful for the same conditions.

Other Options

If you’re using a blender, you have two other options: Coconut Oil and Clarified Butter (Ghee). Both are solid at room temperature, but a blender can deal with that.

Clarified Butter (Ghee)

I can’t find a clear source on Ghee’s Omega-6:Omega-3 ratio, but I have read that it tends to be high in Omega-6. Butter’s nutritional information shows a high Omega-6:Omega-3 ratio and Ghee is very similar. Ghee from grass fed cattle may be different, but I can’t find any data on that. For fatty acids, Ghee is no better than Olive Oil.

I may still blend in some Ghee to get a bit of cholesterol, which seems to be essential for healthy testosterone levels (a separate topic), but I will have to watch the amount of Omega-6 fatty acids.

Coconut Oil

Coconut Oil is a lot simpler. According to it’s nutritional information, it has no Omega-3 fatty acids, but only a small amount of Omega-6. Most Soylent drinkers are measuring about 60g of fat daily. With Coconut Oil, you could perfectly balance your Omega-6:Omega-3 ratio with only 1 fish oil capsule.

Coconut oil also doesn’t have a very strong flavour. Some people don’t like the stronger flavour Olive Oil adds to their mix.


#5

the bare minimum for weight is 1.4g/kg and more in the range of 1.6-1.8g/kg are recommended

there is no additional benefit in performance above those levels, but there is plethora of evidence that eating below these levels have a negative effect on muscle mass


#6

So what’s the protein grams per kilo for a person who does not do any sports bar some leisure walking? If I understood well, 0.9g per kilo of body weight should be good?


#7

Be wary with coconut oil. It will probably he harder to mix, but, the MCT it contains have a rather ‘pro toilet’ side effect. Just a warning in case someone loads up on the stuff :wink:


#8

Jonathan, the ALA is not broken down to form EPA and DHA, EPA and DHA are built up from ALA.


#9

@Shane_Hamby I’d love to get your opinion on a product such as this which looks to include many of the enzymes and flavanoids you referenced.


#10

Hey, lots of comments, should have checked this earlier.

@veluch Yes, I should have been more clear in what I meant by elite athlete ,which includes most power lifters.Yes, if you are someone who weight lifts regularly and vigorously, a protein intake of 1.3-1.4 g/kg will be beneficial in terms of building muscle mass, but my comments were in reference to achieving the health benefits of calorie restriction, without restricting the calories. Most (not all, but most) non professional and/or steroid using body builders will not get much of a benefit from a protein intake above 1.4 g/kg, as they are simply not building that much muscle. To take this into perspective, consider that a patient with 3rd degree burns covering half their body (this person would have comparable levels of protein synthesis and turnover to a professional body builder) get no additional benefit to net protein synthesis from an intake above 1.5g/kg. http://www.worldburn.org/documents/nutritionalcare.pdf. Also, there are numerous studies that have shown there is no additional anabolic benefit from an intake above 1.8 g/kg. protein intake for athletes

@JonathanMcClare Yes, under laboratory conditions a 1:1 ratio has been shown to be optimal, but there are some significant health risks,; such as hemophilia, low blood pressure (from thinning of the blood) and increased risk of infection (from immunosuppression). A 6:1 ratio is what is often recommended by health professionals, but i do believe that there would be additional health benefits in the 4:1- 3:1 range. , although I would not advise a 2:1 ratio because of possible health risks, especially when consumed as part of an elemental diet. Also, Ghee and coconut oil are both very high in saturated fatty acids (SFA) and are therefore far more inflammatory than n-6 PUFA’s. Omega-6 PUFA are essential and serve to maintain a healthy immune system; n-6 PUFA are not unhealthy, but SFA definitely are. Also, there is no need whatsoever to ingest cholesterol if you don’t have to (which is why soylent is so awesome because you can cut all that crap out), your body makes more than enough for all your hormonal needs

@ Chris_Tanti: Yeah chris 0.9 g/kg would be just fine, 0.8 may be more benificial to your health though, by reducing levels of IGF-1.

@ iopq: See my above response to Veluch

@ lghaman: Seems fine to me, as long as its not processed with hexanes or something similarly toxic.


#11

@lghaman Wait, I just read your other post and no I wouldn’t use that stuff exclusively. Supplementing with it a few times per week wouldnt hurt though.


#12

‘Ghee and coconut oil are both very high in saturated fatty acids (SFA) and are therefore far more inflammatory than n-6 PUFA’s’

‘n-6 PUFA are not unhealthy, but SFA definitely are’

Any evidence to back these statements up? (pandoras box creaks open).


#13

Toll like receptor activation

More on SFA and inflammation

SFA unhealthy

There are literally thousands of papers published on the negative health effects of SFA’s. In addition to others research, I will soon be publishing my own paper comparing diets diets composed of 45% SFA, 45% fish oil and 45% mixed PUFA and trust me, the SFA rats were not pretty.


#14

Is there a minimum amount of SFA to aim for if I’m replacing all of my meals? or just eliminate them entirely?
Also where is a good place to read more on omega 3: omega 6 ratios?


#15

@Shane_Hamby ? I’m interested in it too.


#16

@bees_knees and @ruipacheco There is no minimum to shoot for really, just try to not add additional SFA if possible. Alll natural oils, including olive and fish are going to contain some SFA and thats totally fine and probably necessary for various physiological reasons, the point is, is that trying to balance your PUFA ratio by consuming oils high in SFA is a poor decision health wise. To find more info on the subject, or really any subject, just use pub med or google scholar.


#17

Regarding saturated fat, this wikipedia page lists most of the significant studies involving saturated fat and cardiovascular disease. These tend to be meta studies, so there are opportunities for selection bias etc.

It isn’t a home run against SFA, but the balance of evidence would suggest limiting it. Doesn’t seem wise to eliminate it completely however (as might be possible with soylent). I also wouldn’t go crazy with fast release carbs instead to get the calories, as insulin resistance isn’t something to be encouraged.

For me, fairly high fat, moderate carb is going to be my approach. Using mainly olive oil for the fat source.


#18

Regarding SFA, what’s your opinion on MCT? From the articles you posted, it seems that the primary mechanism with which SFA exerts its inflammatory effects is through the adipose tissue, and as least as explained here, the primary culprit seems to be palmitate. But since MCT is easily metabolized, medium chain fatty acids probably don’t accumulate in adipose tissues as much, and wouldn’t cause inflammation as much, at least through such a pathway. Even if MCFA gets stored, is there evidence supporting inflammatory tendencies?

I just googled “MCT inflammation” and the 2 papers that show up as top results suggest MCT inhibits free radical formation and IL-8 gene transcription. So if anything, it seems to reduce inflammation.

As for the protein-IGF-longevity, I looked around on the net, and this seems to be the only study talking about, and supporting, the positive effect of protein on IGF-1 in humans. It looks like strong evidence for what it claims, though of course duplication of this result would be even better. On the other hand I’ve found quite a bit of papers suggesting IGF-1’s negative impact on lifespan in rodents. So if human aging works more or less like rodent aging, then we can get prolonged lifespan possibly through restricting protein, and thus IGF-1. However, the association between IGF-1 and human mortality doesn’t seem strong.

On the other hand, low IGF-1 level is strongly correlated with cognitive decline in the elderly. Certainly that doesn’t imply a cause and effect relationship, but it would still make such a hypothesis seem more believable than its opposite. I’m certain that not many people wouldn’t want to be immortal in exchange for cognitive impotency, so there definitely is some caveat to manipulating IGF-1 levels. Perhaps there’s some middle zone where cognition and lifespan is compromised at an optimal point.

@Shane_Hamby I hope you’ll reply to these thoughts and see if I missed anything here.