Stop eating?

A friend of mine sent me this article and asked for my opinion on the subject.
Apparently Robert Heart has found a way to expel everything that has with food and cooking out of his life by making a soy-based mix, with a calculated amount of the essential nutrients (http://robrhinehart.com/?p=424). The content has changed a bit since he started drinking the mix, since he has added some more nutrients when symptoms of deficiencies started to occur, but the essentials are there.
According to him, drinking this three times a day keeps him satisified, in excellent physical and mental condition and he also feels he’s contributing less to environmental problems through this diet.

I haven’t gone through his recipe thoroughly and checked the amounts of each nutrient, but when having a quick look it seems most of the essentials are there.
From my perspective I find that there are way to much carbohydrates and to little fat. I would change the content of these so the carbs would be 5-10 % or less and the fat make up approximately 75 -80 %.  Olive oil is a good fat to use, even if I prefer coconut oil or butter.
The rest would be protein and I would recommend having at least 1-1,5 gram/kilogram body weight, more if your training a lot. And now were talking about the pure protein amount, not the whole meat, which also contains supportive structures, fat and water.
I wouldn’t recommend going without the cholesterol. Even though the body can synthesize it, getting deficient in cholesterol can be really troublesome, since it has so many important tasks in the body – keeping cell wall stability and having anti-inflammatory characteristics to mention a few. Read more here.

It’s true that your brain needs glucose to function, it can’t run on anything else, but you don’t need to eat carbohydrates to keep your brain satisfied.
Your liver will regulate your blood glucose tightly and make glucose out of protein and fat when you don’t get it through your food. In fact, carbohydrates is the one thing you can take out completely from your food without any adverse effects. Your body runs fine on fats and proteins.

The protein source is what concerns me most. I haven’t found exactly what he’s using, but from the name of the product I guess it’s soy protein. It is indeed a full protein source, meaning it contains all the essential amino acids – the ones that your body can’t make and thus needs to be ingested on pretty much a daily basis.
Soy contains a lot of phytoestrogens (molecules that look like the human hormone estrogen and binds to these receptors in the body), that we don’t know the long term effects of. The medical society recommends this source of protein because of it’s lipid lowering properties. Since there is no compelling evidence that the blood lipids actually are the culprits in heart disease and more and more evidence is pointing towards general inflammation, with carbohydrates and insulin as driving forces I wouldn’t recommend this as your only protein source.
The phytoestrogens might disrupt the hormonal system and some research suggests that they can increase the risk for some sorts of cancer.

The environmental issue still remains, however you chose to eat. The soy protein must be processed quite a lot and the beans are many times grown on rain forest areas. If you grass-feed cattle and pasture-raise them you’ll get around many of the issues that the industrialized meat production faces, like the need for feeding the cattle growth hormones, taking care of their manure and so on.
All the different nutrients, vitamins and supplements that are used needs to be processed and you have to make sure that you get pure products. Depending on how they are made you can get quite different amounts of actual active substances and if they are impure you might get intoxicated. This might of course happen with real food as well, but is less likely because the substances are less concentrated.
If you use krill oil, you of course have to kill some fish to get it. You will always be having an impact on the environment, because y0u’re  a part of the ecosystem.

Lastly I find food interesting, fun and enjoyable to cook and eat. I love sharing dinner with friends, learn new reipes, and I find eating food a rewarding experience, enjoying the texture, tastes, smells and sight of it. I have exchanged a meal or two for a high fat protein shake sometimes, but not because I didn’t want to eat but because I wanted to get more fat into my diet and that was the easiest way to do it.
If you want to exchange your food for drinks like the one Rob offers that’s up to you. I would recommend some more reading into the subject though, here on my blog and find other sources.
In my opinion we know way to little about the actual needs of nutrients to be sure you get everything you need in the long term.
I’m also concerned for the health of the cells lining the bowels, since they get most of their nutrients from the food that’s passing and not from the blood. And what happens to the gut flora in your large intestine? Will the fiber intake in the shake be enough to supply you with short chain fatty acids that the bacteria make from it? Will it change your immune system that largely resides in the gut? Is the basic nutrients enough, or is there something else in the food we eat that interacts with our alimentary tract and gives signals to the body how to act?
There is also evidence that how we eat signals to our genes, or rather which genes is being turned on and off, called epigenetic signalling. It’s difficult to say how this diet will effect those signals.

Many questions and really not any straight answers. I’ll get back to you with more discussions on this topic. Next time I’ll dig into why he started feeling better when going over to this way of eating.

Please feel free to comment and keep the discussion going!

Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soybean#Uses

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