Phytonutrients and all the "other" stuff Soylent doesn't have


So I’m really excited for Soylent, and I’ve pretty thoroughly read through all the literature, including the stuff about what was “omitted” from Soylent - things that have no proven nutritional benefits such as phytonutrients and other trace elements that are commonly found in foods but have not yet been proven to be of use to the human body.

While I have no doubt that Soylent does contain everything the body needs according to modern science and it can be lived on, our understanding of the workings of the human body is always evolving. Would you guys ever consider selling a Soylent version or “additive” for Soylent that contains these “extras” found (naturally) in everyday foods in exactly the right amount for a day’s worth of Soylent? Just in case someday we find out that it actually was important that we get these as part of our diet…

Obviously I could go to a supplement store and get some of these things, and either take them in pill form or grind them up for addition to my Soylent, but frankly that’s a lot of time and research - I’d have to comprehensively research various dietary patterns, the nature of these substances, the approximate levels of each found in balanced/healthy diet(s), then figure out a way to derive the amounts necessary from the off-the-shelf supplements, many of which I’m sure are 99% filler since they’re microscopic amounts that have to be made into a pill large enough to hold, so I’d wind up adding a whole lot of whatever the pill material is, and very little of what I actually wanted.

You could put it in another one of your oil bottles and call it “Snake Oil” - I’d still buy it, just as an insurance policy against the potential future scientific research that says we need the stuff.


Probably. I can’t imagine Soylent gets it completely right, especially considering no two humans even have the same genetics and metabolism is one of the largest components of your genetic code.

That being said, you can live (or a lifetime really) years on diets we already know from modern science are horribly unbalanced. Life has evolved a profound adaptability.

Concerns about Soylent -- What is your response?

If I can live on my current diet, then I can live on soylent alone, thats my thinking. My only worry is my body has adapted to what most people would call an unhealthy diet, so is it going to freak out when i switch. All the other nutrients I’ve seen talked about that are “missing” from soylent, are just as unkown if we need them or not, so who ever dies first on soylent only, should have the answers :slight_smile:


On a related note, I bet we’re all (as in human race) going to find at some point that it’s optimal to have some sort of A day and B day mix or something. I’m not basing this on anything I’ve read, but man, there’s got to be more to “optimal” nutrition than just the same thing every day.

No flames please I’m just expressing my own personal ponderings as I wait at the door for my Soylent to arrive.


The trick there is, how do you calculate the exact right amount of something that has no proven benefits? The data just isn’t there to come up with a number.

On the other hand this is Soylent 1.0 if research turns up that something is a good idea or the guidelines change due to more information they can figure out how to add it to the next reformulation.


For my DIY soylent, I bought Trader Joe’s red and green powders, which have a ton of antioxidants, plant enzymes and probiotics. I figure until nutritional science develops a thorough “standard model” of human metabolism, something like those powders is probably the best we can do.

@ytfsic I once read that some jungle tribes that have had very little contact with the developed world have an on-day where they hunt, kill something big and stuff themselves, then one or two off-days, where they laze around the village and eat roots and berries until they get hungry enough to go hunting again. I don’t know whether that’s optimal or not, but it’s possible.


Maybe there is, maybe there isn’t. I think Soylent is going to help us figure things like this out. I know from reading forums and blogs and (limited) personal experience that nootropics lose their effect after a while and that cycling between different ones can be beneficial to maintaining an “elevated mental state”. Perhaps the same holds true for nutrients.

Maybe we’ll find out that it’s not good to have our full dose of fiber every single day and we should be cycling up and down in the amounts. Or Protein. Or whatever. This is really just one big experiment on human nutrition (though I wish they’d at least be attempting to get buyers to provide feedback for statistical analysis).


Are those antioxidants actually doing anything good? And what bacteria are you adding to your diet? What’s their function? How do they interact with your current gut flora?

Just because the FDA doesn’t ban something for sale doesn’t imply safety, or even utility. :stuck_out_tongue:

Isn’t the primitive lifestyle lifespan is something like 15-35 years? I don’t know why going back in time for habits before civilization is a thing. Our biology won’t have adapted since the onset of big brains to a particular behavior. Intelligence will trump any sort of instinctive metabehavioral diet rationale. Paleo diet justifications have always struck me as evolutionary mysticism.

One of the benefits of Soylent is that we’ll be able to study different conditions in isolation, and gain solid empirical evidence. If there is a benefit to a paleo style diet over others, then it will be demonstrated in the numbers. I’m more inclined to follow the broad big picture things we know(UDL, US RDA, etc) than vaguely postulated specifics (roots and berries and nuts and raw meat cultivated with clubs, tiger skin speedos optional.)


Why? Don’t need to vary the type of gas you put in your car, my cats lived to 16 (RIP) and 17 (currently) on the same food…

That sounds more like drug tolerance to me… (Including things like caffeine, not just the naughty ones) If you take a larger dose of the original one before switching does it work again?

Hey! Anyone tries to skin me and Imma have a long pig sammich for dinner…
(look at my avatar. :slight_smile:


I still have my doubts that we are giving these wonderful animals that we can’t talk to “optimal” nutrition. My dog has a very sensitive digestive system and I’ve been advised by my vet to change my dog’s food every three months to promote healthy gut flora and digestive health. I think the great Soylent experiment will get us to a baseline but we need to test our theories about optimal digestion. I have no doubt that humans/animals are super resilient to diet, and that this diet is more optimal than my typical diet, but how do we define “optimal” and how do we lock it down to measurable metrics? This diet should allow us to truly hack our bodies.

And hey, if there’s a chance that having an A mix and a B mix means that my gut will remain supercharged for digestion vs get lazy I think I should look into it (not sure how we would even test this, though). Anecdotally that’s how our muscular system works, if we do the same exercise every day we stop getting the same benefit. I realize the digestive system is more than just muscles, but I’m apt to apply similar principles out of my ignorance. It’s all conjecture at this point. I have no nutritive education and my “common” knowledge is vulgar by definition.


Do you have a link to your DIY with the nutritional information of those powders? I’m curious.


No the “primitive lifestyle lifespan” isn’t something like 15-35 years. You are confusing average lifespan with maximum lifespan. Many traditional cultures have high rates of infant mortality, which brings down the average, but have maximum lifespans approximately the same as modern cultures. And they don’t have many of the diseases we are starting to have in abundance, like diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, asthma, celiac and other autoimmune diseases. As we are reducing infectious diseases, autoimmune diseases are increasing significantly. And there is plenty of research starting to accumulate indicating it is our too-clean lifestyle, in which we are killing or avoiding all contact with bacteria of various kinds, both beneficial and harmful, that is causing this increase in autoimmune disorders. Soylent may have most of the nutrients science has decided are important, but the relative lack of soluble fiber and adequate probiotics will, I’m afraid, lead to serious problems in the long run without additional supplementation. People in the 20s and 30s can eat just about anything and do well. But after a decade or so of the kind of nutritional holes in Soylent, problems will start to arise in many.


Nobody was ever worried about my health when I was eating a whole pizza, cheesey bread, and a 2 liter for dinner every night.

Not to derail the OP, just saying.


Soylent may have most of the nutrients science has decided are important, but the relative lack of soluble fiber and adequate probiotics will

What do you mean with the lack of soluble fiber ? Oats are quite high in soluble fiber right ?


Soylent is actually ideal for testing these ‘other’ ingredients. If you’re eating Soylent exclusively you can try different supplements or ingredients to see if they provide some kind of benefit. Because you have the baseline of Soylent it will be easier to determine the effect of the addition. On a regular food diet you would have many variables that would make it more difficult to determine if changes you see are due to the addition or to variations in the ‘regular’ diet.


Nope, not the kind your gut bacteria need. We’re not talking about the normal concept of fiber as sweeping out your intestinal tract. I’m talking about resistant starches and other prebiotics your gut bacteria feed on. Google “resistant starch” and start reading, and then think about whether Soylent has everything your gut microbiota needs to stay healthy. And remember, your immune system is based in your gut. Most of the endogenously produced neurotransmitters are produced by your gut bacteria. If you don’t keep your gut bacteria happy, you will not be healthy in the long run, period.


I googled that some time ago. And I came to the conclussion that oats contain very much resistant starch actually. I will look at it again.

The studies I read also showed that probiotics are way less important then fibers for maintaning a healthy gut flora.

Edit: The oats in soylent (110 gram) contain 13 gram of resistant starches. (assumig the oats are uncooked). Do you think that is enough @charles_anthony ?


I think that might be barely adequate, but far from optimum, and aren’t we looking for optimum? Also, having only one source of prebiotics (that’s what resistant starch is, a prebiotic) is chancy as well. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that Soylent is a bad thing. What I’m saying is dangerous in the long run is depending on Soylent for everything. It’s easy to supplement with other prebiotic sources (raw potato starch or larch if you want more powders, green bananas if you want a food source that would mix easily). And probiotics, since you aren’t getting any probiotics from your foods. Adding something like kimchi or sauerkraut or other fermented foods would be smart as well. The problem is that the problems from a lack of prebiotics/probiotics are not going to show up for a while, maybe years, so you may think you’re doing fine, but you’re slowly screwing up the ecology of your gut. And once you screw it up, it’s a hard slog to get it back, if you can. Everyone needs to read a couple of books: “An Epidemic of Absence” by Velasquez-Manoff, and “Missing Microbes” by Blaser. If you haven’t read those, or know the material from other sources, and you think you’ve done your research about what it takes to be healthy, you’re wrong.


Time to bust out my favorite quote again. :smiley:
"Health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die " – Samuel Johnson

And as I myself said in another thread, I have full control of my nutrition and I blew it. So I’m perfectly happy to try Soylent and see what happens as is. I intend to try my two weeks full on and see what happens. But nothing wrong with taking a swing at it and seeing what happens.

Although I suspect you may be setting yourself up to be a walking chemical warfare plant, according to the ‘mustard gas’ thread. :stuck_out_tongue:

Synthetic vs naturally occurring micronutrients

There’s so much more to it than that! Health to me is maximizing your maximum potential, intellectually, socially, physically.

Haha I’m happy to be gassy as long as I can stay 5 or lower on Bristol and work from home those days. I guess I just won’t go to the gym that week, I don’t want to clear out any rooms like Rob Rhinehart did.

On a not entirely unrelated note, check this article out: Why There’s So Much Confusion Over Nutrition and Health. Not entirely earth shattering but interesting.