Processed ingredients and synthetic vitamins/minerals in Soylent


#21

The first problem here is that nutrition science is a very young field. Yes, some will disagree with this, but it is true. Some examples follow:

Glycemic index is not what really matters. Glycemic index does not account for the amount of a carb that is consumed. What really matters is glycemic load. Glycemic load does account for the amount of the carb. The reason this matters is that glucose has a glycemic index of 100, whether you have one gram or one hundred grams of it. Glycemic load allows a person to quantify the impact a specific amount of a given type of food will have on blood sugar.

The fiber thing is almost useless to argue about. Fiber is almost never considered in the math, because we have almost no understanding of how fiber affects glycemic index. What this means for Soylent is that we can say, “The fiber will counter the glycemic index of the maltodextrin,” but we cannot quantify how much it actually helps. There is evidence that it helps, but so far there is no research that agrees on how much it helps.

As far as research goes, like I said, nutrition science is a very young field. Much of the research is conducted very poorly, because we do not actually know all of the possible confounding factors, and most of those we do know are difficult or impossible to control. Some, like individual biology, are impossible to predict and may even be impossible to account for. What this means is that studies require absolutely huge sample sizes to have even the slightest amount of accuracy, and even that may not be enough. Further, few nutritional studies even follow good scientific method. For instance, a study often cited to claim benefits from drinking red wine turned out to have included a significant number of people in the control group who did not drink because of health problems that may have been caused by drinking. This presents two problems. First, including more people with health problems in the non-drinker group than in the drinker group made the study artificially favor drinkers from the outset. Second, these were people who already had health problems from drinking, and they were being included in the non-drinking group. Ultimately, the conclusion that red wine improves health had to be thrown out because of how poorly the study was conducted. In spite of that, I hear or read people citing the study as showing that red wine is good for health at least 5 to 10 times a year. (There have been similar studies related to drinking coffee. Yes, it turns out coffee has antioxidants, but all decently conducted studies have found that the high antioxidants do not make up for all of the harmful chemicals contained in coffee.)

The best policy is to wait for consensus among the nutrition community. This is not a perfect strategy, but it is better than taking every study at face value. Sadly, the red wine thing is actually the current consensus among the nutrition community, even though it was not valid. This is because the conclusion of the study was popular. Often, even scientific communities can be seduced by being told what they want to hear. The only solution to this is to do some research of your own, in addition to finding the community consensus. Do not accept the conclusions of research because you like how it sounds. This is your health you are toying with. Is your health really less important than feeling good about choices that may be wrong?

Lastly, do not argue about things you know nothing about. I see a lot of comments here on both sides, saying that various things are healthy or unhealthy. Most of them are not backed by any evidence. Sucralose has not been proven to be significantly harmful to health (it has not necessarily been proven entirely safe either; note that aspartame has been shown to be significantly harmful). Excessive sugar intake has been proven to be significantly harmful to health (some nutritional scientists are advocating for excessive amounts of sugar to be considered poisonous even), but the exact quantification is not established. Fiber has been shown to temper the effects of excessive sugar (when taken together), but again, no quantification has been established. Similarly, it has been shown that the body handles pure chemical nutrients differently from those found in natural food sources. There is only quantifiable data for a small handful of these (and indeed, the recommended daily intakes and the tolerable upper intake levels from the IOM are mostly based on pure chemical nutrients, not natural sources). So no argument about the difference can hold, because we have no clue what the difference is on a nutritional level. One thing is certain though: Sucrose is a pure chemical form of carbohydrate (regardless of the source). This is also true of maltodextrin and glucose. All of these are dangerous taken in excess over long periods of time (in fact, if these were your only source of carbs, they would still be harmful taken only in the amounts necessary to sustain human life). Fiber can improve the situation, but we do not know by how much. The point is, there is one pure chemical nutrient that we know is straight up harmful in its most pure forms. It would be reasonable to assume that all other pure chemical forms of nutrients could carry similar risks. This does not mean you should avoid them. It might be wise, however, to take more natural alternatives when possible (for instance, oat flour is a better option than straight maltodextrin and some kind of powdered synthetic or purified fiber). (Note that this is one place where Rob was wrong. There may not be significant evidence that synthetic vitamins are harmful, but lack of proof that something is true is not sufficient to prove that the opposite is true.)

The point of all of this is that we do not know enough about this subject (even the experts do not) to justify heated arguments about it. There is risk associated with any major change in diet, and maybe it is justifiable to argue about whether this particular risk is worth it or not. Beyond that, everything else is just opinion, because the facts are not yet known. So quit treating opinion like fact. It is not!


#22

Your post is full of hypocrisy.

Here I agree with you. But then…:

One thing is certain though: Sucrose is a pure chemical form of carbohydrate (regardless of the source). This is also true of maltodextrin and glucose. All of these are dangerous taken in excess over long periods of time (in fact, if these were your only source of carbs, they would still be harmful taken only in the amounts necessary to sustain human life).

(for instance, oat flour is a better option than straight maltodextrin and some kind of powdered synthetic or purified fiber)

Such a big statement, without any reference… This is just your theory that “pure chemical froms of carbohydrates are more harmfull than natural carbs”. You talk about this as this is a fact, but I’m quite sure you can’t show us any studies that prove this. Besides that, it doesn’t make any sense. Molecules such as sucrose/fructose/glucose/maltodextrin are chemically exactly the same as found in natural foods (such as fruit or bread).

There are studies that shows that drinking sugar water gives less healthy blood levels as drinking orange juice. But soylent is not sugar water, it is a solutions of chemicals in the same was as orange juice is a solution of chemicals.

The best policy is to wait for consensus among the nutrition community.

Well, your opinion is certainly not the consensus among the nutrition community.

Sucralose has not been proven to be significantly harmful to health (it has not necessarily been proven entirely safe either; note that aspartame has been shown to be significantly harmful).

Reference?

Excessive sugar intake has been proven to be significantly harmful to health (some nutritional scientists are advocating for excessive amounts of sugar to be considered poisonous even), but the exact quantification is not established.

Everything excessive is harmfull, by definition. As far as the consensus among the nutrition community goes it is not about the sugar itself, but high blood sugar levels that are bad for your health. High amount of sugars in your diet may cause high blood sugar levels, but this doesn’t have to be the case. If you pack the sugar into a chemical mixture, (such an apple), then it won’t rise your blood levels in an harmfull way. If you eat food high in sugar after you have depleted all your glycogen in exercise, then it is even thought that sugars are really healthy for you.

There is some debate about fructose, but there is no consensus among the nutrition community at all.


#23

Yes, they are chemically the same. In natural foods they are also mixed with other nutrients that reduce the absorption rate, which lowers glycemic index. These are typically fibers, proteins, and fats, however, we have so far not found a way to quantify the effects of mixing. We can measure glycemic indices in mixed foods, be we cannot predict how mixing foods will alter the glycemic index.

So, consistently high blood sugar does cause type 2 diabetes. Pure sugars elevate blood sugar. One of the worst is pure glucose, as it is one of the fastest absorbed (because the body does not have to convert it). Sucrose (table sugar) has a glycemic index in the 60s (glucose is 100, it is the reference for everything else). This is because it is composed of glucose and fructose, and fructose has a glycemic index around 19. Fructose is the sugar in fruits. That is why an apple will not raise your blood sugar to harmful levels. Additionally, fruits are high in fibers, which as mixed nutrient sources results in a lower overall glycemic index. Note that this does not make pure fructose safe. High fructose diets have been linked to several health issues. (Want a source? “Fructose goes right to the liver and triggers lipogenesis (the production of fats like triglycerides and cholesterol) this is why it is the major cause of liver damage in this country and causes a condition called “fatty liver” which affects 70 million people.” This is from http://drhyman.com/blog/2011/05/13/5-reasons-high-fructose-corn-syrup-will-kill-you/. This is not the only source of this information either. This is fairly well known in nutrition science. It is certainly not under debate either. The only real debate is between nutrition science and corn growers.) So even in the case of fructose, in pure form and even moderate amounts, it is harmful.

Anyhow, have a fairly good source on the sugars thing: http://med.stanford.edu/ism/2013/february/sugar.html. “The study provides the first large-scale, population-based evidence for the idea that not all calories are equal from a diabetes-risk standpoint, Basu said. ‘We’re not diminishing the importance of obesity at all, but these data suggest that at a population level there are additional factors that contribute to diabetes risk besides obesity and total calorie intake, and that sugar appears to play a prominent role.’” This article discusses studies specifically targeting purified sugars. Sugars consumed in natural sources (not extracted from natural sources) have repeatedly been shown to be safe in larger amounts than purified sugars. Even the American Diabetes Association says that purified sugars are more harmful, http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/myths/. “Being overweight does increase your risk for developing type 2 diabetes, and a diet high in calories from any source contributes to weight gain. Research has shown that drinking sugary drinks is linked to type 2 diabetes.” The Stanford article says that the study found that sugar has been established as an independent link; in other words, sugar is not just related to type 2 diabetes indirectly because it causes weight gain (which it does), but rather it actually is a direct factor on its own.

So, for your first attack on my claims, see above for several studies that prove that pure chemical forms of carbohydrates are more harmful than natural carbs. There are plenty of other studies providing similar proof. The reason pure chemical forms are more harmful is not because there is a difference between them and the chemicals in their sources. It is because most foods contain mixtures of chemicals that together reduce the harmful effects of any one chemical in that food. The problem with making a synthetic food that does the same thing is that we have no clue what all of the interactions are. For instance, fruits have different fibers than oat flour or flax seed. The specific fibers in fruit might be more effective in reducing sugar uptake than the specific fibers in non-fruit foods. That said, maybe it is another chemical. The problem is, we don’t know. So, maybe soylent has a magic combination that will result in safe sugar uptake, but maybe it does not. Worse, it could have a combination that increases sugar uptake (russet potatoes have a higher glycemic index than glucose, and nutrition scientists are not entirely certain why because there are no sugars in them). Again, we don’t know. All we know is that pure chemical nutrients are more likely to have harmful side effects than the exact same chemicals in their natural food sources. (Other non-sugar examples of this include magnesium and manganese. Magnesium has been shown to be very harmful in large amounts when taken in pure chemical vitamin forms, but it has never been shown to be toxic from natural food sources, even in amounts far more than are poisonous in vitamin pills. Manganese has a similar track record. Many vegetarians consume well over twice the IOM tolerable upper intake level, but the only cases ever seen of poisoning from consuming manganese are from overdosing on vitamin pills. And in the cases of both of these vitamins, the chemicals in the pills were the same as those found in food sources.)

I do not know what you are talking about when saying my opinion is not consensus, unless you are talking about the red wine thing. The reason this is not consensus is that alcohol is a popular drink and people will often agree with the most convenient claims, given the excuse. The same thing happened with cigarettes for almost half a century before the health community finally agreed, even though overwhelming evidence existed for almost that entire time.

For sucralose, there is no evidence of significant harmfulness. It has been around since 1976, and there is still no evidence of harmfulness. It has been approved for use in food in Canada for over 20 years and in the U.S. for over 15, and there is still no significant evidence of harmfulness. Want a source? http://fshn.ifas.ufl.edu/faculty/MRMarshall/fos2001/articles/ific.org%20%20%20Everything%20You%20Need%20to%20Know%20About%20Sucralose.htm To the quesion, “Is sucralose safe?” the response is, “Sucralose has an excellent safety profile. More than 100 scientific studies conducted over a 20-year period demonstrate that sucralose is safe for use as a sweetening ingredient. The data from the studies were independently evaluated by international experts in a variety of scientific disciplines, including toxicology, oncology, teratology, neurology, hematology, pediatrics and nutrition. Importantly, comprehensive toxicology studies, designed to meet the highest scientific standards, have clearly demonstrated that sucralose is not carcinogenic.” More than 100 studies, not to mention almost a 40 year track record, have shown no harmful effects for sucralose. In fact, I could only find one study that found any harmful effects, and it found that in extremely large amounts, sucralose can reduce good digestive tract bacteria by 50%, making animals (no human tests have shown this) less responsive to certain medications. The only potentially harmful effect it could have in humans (which is true of all artificial sweeteners except stevia based ones) is that they elicit a pancreatic response exactly like sugar, which can cause harmful decreases in hypoglycemic people who are not handling their blood sugar properly, if they consume a large amount at one time (this can be bad for diabetic people as well, if they handle their blood sugar poorly and take very large amounts). Similarly, no harmful long term effects have been found for sucralose either. (Aspartame is different. There are proven harmful short and long term effects for aspartame, because it is converted to formaldehyde in the stomach.)

Anyhow, there are sources for you. There are several reasons I know so much about this subject. I recently took a college class that went over sugar metabolism in great detail, so I have a very good understanding of exactly how consistently elevated blood sugar causes diabetes. I am mildly hypoglycemic myself, so in the process of developing a soylent recipe I was forced to do a huge amount of additional research on this subject. Lastly, my wife has been diagnosed with gestational diabetes (or rather, at risk for, but they treat it like full on diabetes), and I chose to do a lot more research on the subject to help her deal with it better. (I also researched artificial sweeteners in great depth about 10 years ago, for fun. Yes, I do research for fun.) In all of the cases I have mentioned above, there is research supporting both sides of the argument, however, in all of the cases you attempted to challenge me on, the research supporting my claims is overwhelming, and the research opposing them is very weak. I did not develop my opinions and then look for research to support them. I did the research, and then I based my opinions on what the research showed to be the truth. If there is ever enough evidence to entirely disprove the facts I base my claims on, I will change my opinion to match the facts. (At one time I believed aspartame to be safe. Then overwhelming research found that it is not, so I changed my opinion. I did it once, and I will do it again if necessary.)

(And if you want to claim hypocrisy, show me your sources. Mine are all fairly solid, academic sources. If you are going to berate me for not providing sources in the same breath as attacking my claims, you had better back up your attacks with sources. Also note that my sources are fairly recent. If your sources represent outdated knowledge, don’t bother. The sucralose source is your best bet, as it is from 2004. Good luck finding a source that can beat 100 studies and a 40 year track record though.)


#24

And if you want to claim hypocrisy, show me your sources. Mine are all fairly solid, academic sources.

Well, you are claiming something. You are claiming that you know certain that carbohydrates in pure chemical form are more harmfull than natural carbs. I’m only saying that you can’t prove this. So you show your reference, and I will show you why I think this is not a proof at all.

Yes, in soylent it is also mixed with other nutrients. There is no real difference with natural and soylent here, besides that in soylent there are pure chemical forms of carbs added, and you claim that this must be harmfull.

Pure sugars elevate blood sugar. One of the worst is pure glucose, as it is one of the fastest absorbed (because the body does not have to convert it).

Again, you conclude things to fast. Glucose, doesn’t have to be bad in any way. It is about how it is mixed, that is what you are saying yourself as well. Beside that. Mix 100 gram glucose with 1000 ml of water. Sip this solutions over a period of 6 hours. You won’t raise your blood sugar levels in any harmfull way. It’s not about glucose or sugar that is bad, it is about high blood sugar levels. If you are really worried about blood sugar levels while drinking soylent, just drink it in very small portions.

So you think that something is fairly well known in nutrition science because Dr Mark Hyman tells this ?!? Are this your sources ?? Come with some real references please! Besides that, he only talks about high corn fructose syrup. You haven’t show at all that any mixture that contains moderate to high amount of fructose causes liver damage. Honey consist for 35% of fructose, maybe this a mixture that contains fructose that doesn’t cause fatty liver disease. You make your conclussion way too easily.

Yes, it has been thought that fructose may contribute to fatty liver disease. That is what I was talking about. But you should read the pubmed studies instead of some popular talk from Dr Mark Hyman. In those studies they choose their words much more carefully: "The pathogenic mechanism underlying the development of NAFLD may be associated with excessive dietary fructose consumption."

Yes of course. Because sugary drinks are eaten besides the normal diet. It is never a replacement of a meal. So if you glycogen stores are already completely filled, because of your normal meal, and you eat some extra sugar, than those extra sugar must be converted to fatty acids. This takes time. In the meantime, all these carbs in your blood will keep re-triggering the secretion of insulin. (and that may eventually lead to problems such as diabetes)

see above for several studies that prove that pure chemical forms of carbohydrates are more harmful than natural carbs. There are plenty of other studies providing similar proof.

If you really think you can prove such a statement in this way, then I really begin to doubt if you know where you are talking about.

The problem with making a synthetic food that does the same thing is that we have no clue what all of the interactions are. For instance, fruits have different fibers than oat flour or flax seed. The specific fibers in fruit might be more effective in reducing sugar uptake than the specific fibers in non-fruit foods. That said, maybe it is another chemical. The problem is, we don’t know. So, maybe soylent has a magic combination that will result in safe sugar uptake, but maybe it does not.

aaaah. That is what I wanted to hear. Yes, we don’t know. But in your first post you claimed that one thing was certain, pure chemical forms of carbohydrates are more harmful than natural carbs. But this is not certain at all, as you see know yourself. It is about the mixture, and if soylent has a good mixture, then this pure chemical forms of carbohydrates that you will find in syolent may be not harmfull at all.

Absolutely not. It completely depends on the mixture. If you eat dates in a large quantity in a short time, then you can be sure that you will sky rise your blood sugar levels. If you eat some chemical mixture that has a healthy glycemic load, then it is much better for your blood levels of course… It’s not about if the mixture is natural or not. It’s about if it is a healthy mixture.


#25

Glycemic index isn’t the whole story, though. Fructose has a very low glycemic index despite being pure sugar. I remain skeptical.


#26

I am sorry you feel this is an appropriate place for a flame war. After this, I am done with this conversation. Besides claiming that my words mean something other than what I said, I get the impression your education is lacking due to your rather poor grammar. I will not argue about this. My claim is that many pure carbohydrates have been shown to be harmful. Fructose in fruit is not pure, because it has not been extracted in a pure form. Likewise, magnesium and manganese in natural food sources are not pure, because they have not been extracted in a pure form. Table sugar has been separated from the other chemicals in its original source, as is true of magnesium or manganese in vitamins (those the last two might have been produced synthetically, but that makes no difference). Remixing these chemicals with other chemicals in a mixture that is not identical to the original source will have unpredictable results. Most research has shown that these results are more often harmful than beneficial, especially in large amounts. Many people have argued vehemently that this is not so. They are wrong. Even the IOM admits that their tolerable upper intakes may not apply to food sources of many nutrients, because their research only included pure chemical forms of the nutrients. For many of the tolerable upper intakes, there is significant evidence that natural food sources of these nutrients can be consumed such that the intake is well over the tolerable upper limits without harmful effects. In the case of magnesium, a significant number of studies have shown this to be so. In the case of manganese, observation of certain populations has shown this to be so. This has repeatedly been shown with several different sugars (note that in my original post I did not mention fructose as potentially causing diabetes; this is because fructose has not been shown to cause diabetes). At this point, I do not care to argue. You can believe whatever you want. I have spent many months over the last several years researching these subjects, and I know what evidence exists for what claims. If you want to disbelieve the evidence, it is only your own health you are risking.

(By the way, the one source you offered is great. I notice it is from 2008. In the last 5 years, a lot of research has been done on this, providing much stronger evidence that a high fructose diet will eventually cause liver problems. It is still not considered proof, but it is fairly well accepted by most of the nutrition community. Again, the only group really trying to discredit this is corn growers, who have a vested interest in getting people to believe that high fructose corn syrup is no different from table sugar.)

Anyhow, I am done with this. Rant all you want. I, myself, plan to continue periodically researching this topic, so that I will continue to know what the evidence supports. I will not just take the unsupported rants of others as fact. I intend on being right, and I will change my opinion as many times as necessary for my opinion to represent what the most current evidence indicates.


#27

I’m not a native English speaker and a dyslect. I’m sorry if my English is that bad. I’m a mathematician in the first place. But I’ve been researching carbohydrates and other aspects of human health for many years. And if I’m sure about one thing, then it is that you can’t take conclusion as easily as you are doing.

I’m very well aware that natural sources can sometimes be beneficial. I posted myself a topic why soylent should add natural forms of vitamin E, instead of the synthetic form.

I’m sorry if my style of debating was too rude.


#28

Here are some people that try to discredit this fructose hypothesis, that are not corn growers.

http://scepticalnutritionist.com.au/?p=1219
http://chriskresser.com/ask-chris-is-fructose-really-that-bad
http://www.dannyroddy.com/main/2013/7/23/casualties-of-the-nutritional-dark-ages-part-2-fructose
http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/sugar-issues.shtml
http://www.andrewkimblog.com/2013/02/response-to-dr-paul-jaminets-rebuttal.html?m=1

The point I’m trying to make here, is that there is not such a consensus about fructose, as you are saying. That there is no concensus, is also very visible in the following studies:

(studie from 2013) The “fructose hypothesis” alleges that the fructose component common to all major caloric sweeteners (sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, and fruit juice concentrates) plays a unique and causative role in the increasing rates of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, cancer, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. This review challenges the fructose hypothesis by comparing normal U.S. levels and patterns of fructose intake with contemporary experimental models and looking for substantive cause-and-effect evidence from real-world diets. It is concluded that 1) fructose intake at normal population levels and patterns does not cause biochemical outcomes substantially different from other dietary sugars and 2) extreme experimental models that feature hyperdosing or significantly alter the usual dietary glucose-to-fructose ratio are not predictive of typical human outcomes or useful to public health policymakers. It is recommended that granting agencies and journal editors require more physiologically relevant experimental designs and clinically important outcomes for fructose research.
http://m.advances.nutrition.org/content/4/2/246.full
http://m.advances.nutrition.org/content/4/2/246.full.pdf

"In contrast, when fed the test diets, the group consuming the low-Cu fructose diet had significantly more positive balances for all minerals studied than the group fed the low-Cu cornstarch diet. The results indicate that dietary fructose enhances mineral balance."

The benefits of fructose-specific metabolic effects reported in the literature and corroborated by the results of our own study suggest that fructose is an important nutrient that contributes to metabolic stabilization, especially in the post-aggression phase and in septic patients.

Isocaloric exchange of fructose for other carbohydrate improves long-term glycemic control, as assessed by glycated blood proteins, without affecting insulin in people with diabetes. Generalizability may be limited because most of the trials were <12 weeks and had relatively low MQS (<8). To confirm these findings, larger and longer fructose feeding trials assessing both possible glycemic benefit and adverse metabolic effects are required.


#29

I made an account just to say, four years later:

@Kasper won that debate so hard. And they were accurately correct. I’ll be bookmarking this post, Thanks again @Kasper.