Is Soylent 2.0 cutting corners in nutrient quality?


#1

I have been ~80% Soylent for nearly 8 months. I switched to Soylent 2.0 in September and I have had a great experience. My 19-year-old son has just started on 2.0 as well, and that has attracted my wife’s attention. Naturally, she wants to make sure it is ok for him to drink. She did some research and found this article.

In many respects it is obviously biased, and borders on a hatched job, which cites some of the rather unseemly points in Soylent’s early days (e.g. the Vice article stating they saw rats in the first Soylent production facility. Having said that, the author raises some seemingly legitimate concerns, which I am ill-equipped to answer. Let’s dismiss the author’s obvious bias, and discuss his nutritional concerns.

Note: The following assertions deal only with Soylent 2.0.

  1. Soylent uses canola oil:

He states, “Canola oil is one of the worst fats one could put in their body because it contains erucic acid which damages the heart.” What would Rosa Labs say to this assertion? What do we think of this assertion?

  1. Soylent has low DHA (and EPA) content

He states. “There is not near enough DHA and EPA in either food and deficiencies will eventually manifest in the body taking the form of heart disease, bone deterioration, cognitive disorders, or even cancer. In fact, a deficiency in DHA has been shown to increase mortality rates across all domains.” What would Rosa Labs say to this assertion? What do we think of this assertion?

  1. Soylent uses vitamin D2 instead of D3.

He states, “…the type of vitamin D used in Soylent 2.0 is ergocalciferol, or vitamin D2. Humans need cholecalciferol, or vitamin D3 that is used throughout the body. D3 is significantly superior to D2 in human physiology.” What would Rosa Labs say to this assertion? What do we think of this assertion?

  1. Soylent uses vitamin K1 instead of K2.

He states, “In the same regard, Soylent 2.0 uses vitamin K1 instead of K2. K1 is transported poorly in the intestines, and does not convert well to K2. In clinical studies, vitamin K2 has shown cardiovascular improvements while K1 had no effect. This is because K2 helps transport calcium into teeth and bones rather than forming arterial calcification. K2 has also been shown to reduce cancer risk, and K1 has been shown to be ineffective in this area as well.” What would Rosa Labs say to this assertion? What do we think of this assertion?

  1. Soylent uses inferior chelated minerals

He states, “When we look at the chelated minerals used, we find the same dilemma – zinc sulfate, magnesium phosphate, sodium molybdenum, sodium selenite…why use such inferior sources of minerals? Are the creators of Soylent 2.0 ignorant of the scientific data, or are they just trying to save a few pennies?” What would Rosa Labs say to this assertion? What do we think of this assertion

  1. Soylent uses dl-alpha tocopherol (synthetic vitamin E)

He states, “There are other ingredients in Soylent 2.0 that are outright harmful. Studies have shown that dl-alpha tocopherol (synthetic vitamin E) is linked to increased cancer rates. This is due to the reverse chirality of the synthetic isomer meaning that the shape of the molecule is backward from natural vitamin E.” What would Rosa Labs say to this assertion? What do we think of this assertion

  1. Soylent uses synthetic folic acid

He states, “Negative health effects can also be associated with one of the water-soluble B vitamins. For instance, approximately one-third of the population will increase their cancer risk when consuming synthetic folic acid. This is because of a mutation in the MTHFR gene. People with one or more defective MTHFR genes will have trouble converting synthetic folic acid to 5-MTHF. With supplemental use, in the dose that Soylent 2.0 provides, folic acid levels will build up fueling cancer cells.” What would Rosa Labs say to this assertion? What do we think of this assertion?

  1. The limited carbohydrate sources in Soylent will limit microbiome diversity and will eventually be harmful.

He states, "Consuming Soylent 2.0 every day will have a dynamic impact on the microbiome. Many of the carbohydrates will not be absorbed in the stomach, or large intestine that will feed bacteria in the small intestine. Since the bacteria have, only a restricted diet of the carbohydrate sources in Soylent 2.0 the lack of options will limit the diversity of the population. Bacteria that can process isomaltooligosaccharides, and rice starch are going to have a tremendous advantage over those that do not. Over time, the Coprococcus, Collinsella, and Coprobacillus phylotypes will overrun the bifidobacterium, butyric acid levels will drop, and endotoxin will leak out into the bloodstream. You may hear anecdotal reports of people consuming nothing but Soylent 2.0 for months at a time without incident, but it is just a matter of time before they will develop problems. What would Rosa Labs say to this assertion? What do we think of this assertion? Note: I consume various probiotics on my own, but this seems to suggest that it is the lack of diversity in carb sources in Soylent that is the problem - not the lack of gut flora itself.

I realize there is a lot here, and this may not be possible to discuss in a single post. However, I am a loyal Soylent user, and want to be for the foreseeable future. I realize that I was likely not getting any more complete nutrition by haphazardly eating “normal food,” and that I have neither the time nor the interest to figure out how to craft perfect nutrition on a “normal” diet.

Having said that, I operate under the belief that the team at Rosa Labs is committed to providing OPTIMAL nutrition, and that if any of these concerns have merit, they should and will address them. The first step in that process is to air out the concerns and explore whether they have merit. What do you think?


#2

To see reaction to that link you posted, see the previous thread on it:


#3

Don’t hold your breath. However, I’ll address a few of your concerns.

Harvard School of Public Health > fixyourgut.com:
http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/2015/04/13/ask-the-expert-concerns-about-canola-oil/

Soylent is rich in alpha linolenic acid (ALA). Your body makes DHA and EPA from ALA as it is needed. Supplementary DHA and EPA are not required.

Cholecalciferol and ergocalciferol are both biologically inactive precursors of vitamin D and must be converted to biologically active forms in the liver and kidneys. Neither is superior to the other.


#4

Thank you. I missed that. In hindsight, I should have done a search first.

I have now read that post and it doesn’t seem to deal with his specific assertions, as much as it points out the errors in his calculations.

I think this separate post could be useful if people stay on topic and address his assertions. @nutrisludge just did a great job of handling 3 of the 8 assertions, which is much appreciated

There was one solid point debunking his concern about the use of synthetic vitamin E, which you can find here Soylent 2.0 “Review”. Basically, he sites a study which raises moderate concerns about consuming synthetic vitamin E in much higher doses than are found in Soylent. That’s 4 down and 4 to go…


#5

Thank you. This is very helpful. You’ve addressed almost half my concerns in one post.

Why do you say that I shouldn’t hold my breath?


#6

Employees of Rosa Labs purportedly lurk on this forum but never participate.


#7

Got it. So, I should not hold my breath for them to address this writer’s assertions, right?

What I was really saying in the section you quoted, was that if this writer surfaced a material nutritional concern, that I thought they’d address it in a future release of the formula. Do you think that is just wishful thinking, too?


#8

The probability that the writer presented a valid concern and that Rosa Labs would read and act upon that concern is very close to zero.


#9

Holding your breath for too long can be deadly.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51bHTyE5H-L.jpg


#10

You can’t take his words at face value because he’s often simply wrong. He’s too misinformed to be taken seriously, he doesn’t read or understand the studies he links and his entire website is a platform to sell his services. Invent a problem, stoke fear, sell the solution: “your gut is unhealthy! But I can fix it for you with these supplements and coaching sessions”

The two concepts from his hit piece that could have merit are the homogeneity of the calorie sources and the possibility of better mineral sources.

  1. If the mineral sources were inadequate all the blood panels that have been posted would show it. Reduced absorption would cause low blood values, but that’s not the case so I believe the sources are correct for the quantities they’re in.

  2. We don’t know enough about the gut microbiome to know whether a more homogeneous diet will be less healthy, my guess is that it’s irrelevant as long as fiber is sufficient. However it’s at least possible, something to consider in case further evidence comes along.

Regarding K2 and D3, I think it would be an improvement to have them in addition to K1 and D2. Rob says that since Soylent has fat K1 is sufficient because it’s well absorbed, I can’t comment there. K2 is also not an essential nutrient which means our body synthesizes it anyway, and there’s not yet a vegan source for K2 so I’m not bullish on it.

If you want to know what criticisms we do make about Soylent, see here.


#11

I vaguely remember reading somewhere that D2 is safer for the heart than D3. I am not even sure if i rememeber it correclty. But to anyone interested its just a search away.

But @nutrisludge, Only a small percentage of ALA is converted to EPA.[quote=“Sententia, post:10, topic:24563”]
if the mineral sources were inadequate all the blood panels that have been posted would show it. Reduced absorption would cause low blood values, but that’s not the case so I believe the sources are correct for the quantities they’re in.
[/quote]

Most people have been on 2.0 for a few months, and a few months could be insufficient for deficiencies to be known through a blood panel.


#12

The stuff is in your blood because it’s being carried to cells where it gets used, not because it just hangs around in your blood. It gets used and replenished on a continuous basis hence the need to consistently get nutrients in our diet, there are some caveats but a month is plenty of time.


#13

I experienced something like this in high school. A friend asked if I’d like to buy some pain killers. I was a freshman and still daft, so without thinking much about it I said “I’m… not in pain?” He gave me the strangest look…

Around 40% of people have at least one digestive symptom at any one time, according to Dr Anton Emmanuel, consultant gastroenterologist at University College Hospital in London.

“Fix your gut” is a pretty bold claim, considering modern medicine is still failing 40% of the population of the UK. This guy must know something we don’t.

“Gastroenterologists HATE him!”


#14

I don’t have a response on the other four concerns you cite. But, as a casual observer…

If four of your concerns from the hatchet piece (your term) are misfounded, I think that’s enough to dismiss the entire article. And that’s not taking into account @Sententia’s point:

My point being, there may be valid concerns regarding Soylent, and this discourse is a good source to investigate those concerns. Why waste the effort disproving a known quack? He’s 0 for 4; you think magically the other four concerns are valid?


#15

Thanks for the feedback. I only learned he was a quack [your term] after posting this and reading people’s replies. I’m sure you’d agree that each assertion should be examined on its own. Just because he is wrong on many points dos not mean he is automatically wrong on all points.

You may feel he doesn’t even merit a response, and you are certainly entitled to feel that way.

I needed to address them all to help my wife feel more comfortable having our 19-year-old son drink Soylent.


#16

I guarantee they regularly do. I could walk around the office and see discourse open on multiple monitors.


#17

I’ll ask one of our product team to answer this question (might take a few days). Ultimately we don’t come out batting against every claim against our product because it would be an endless affair.


#18

That’s good to hear. Shout out to all of you Rosa Labrats!


#19

I know that. But blood also carries stored vitamins and minerals when intake is low, so it will take more than a month and sometimes few months to find out deficiencies through a blood panel.


#20

Of course. But, when he is so demonstrably wrong on so many points, you can question his motives. And if his motives are disingenuous, then it is fair to question the validity of all his statements.

Your right, I don’t feel he merits a response.

  1. He never tried the product.
  2. A majority of his concerns are easily disproved without research.
  3. Many of his claims are demonstrably false.
  4. He has no regard for science.
  5. The obvious purpose of his website is to shill his own products.

I do (sincerely) sympathize with you, because you have to comb through all the ridiculous claims to placate your wife. I just would have hoped that at this stage, she would have seen the article for what it is: alarmist click-bait.