Can a person live with this alternative nutrition? Of course, assuming that eating pleasure is assumed the same.

The nutrients that contain are far better than average meal a person eats the majority of times, al least me. However, since is not solid food, do our digestive system need to work harder?

Scientific reports would be appreciated, comparing these two modes of feeding.

  • $\begingroup$ Are you referring to the Sci-Fi Classic movie Soylent Green? $\endgroup$
    – mdperry
    Apr 19 '15 at 9:12
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Soylent is a powdered meal replacement product, advertised as a "staple meal" that meets all nutritional requirements for an average adult. $\endgroup$
    – biotech
    Apr 19 '15 at 10:57
  • $\begingroup$ Probably yes, but I wouldn't look forward to bowel movements without any fiber in my diet $\endgroup$
    – Luigi
    Apr 19 '15 at 13:49
  • $\begingroup$ I've lived on it for a month with no ill impacts (sample of 1!) The bigger issue with Soylent is the protein in it is dried soy beans. I love soy beans fresh, but anyone who cooks knows that if you don't soak dried beans before cooking them you get gas. Horrible gas. Which can be corrected by taking "beano" but it makes me wonder about long-term nutritional impacts. $\endgroup$
    – futurebird
    Apr 19 '15 at 20:20
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks @futurebird, It would be great to know what were the main differences you noticed during this month. Did you miss real food? Maybe the ritual associated with eating? Let us know your experiences. $\endgroup$
    – biotech
    Apr 21 '15 at 7:44

Yes you could live off a protein shake type supplement if it had the vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates, and fats you would need. Would you want to? Probably not.

First thing we must determine is the protein whey or soy? If a male is consuming this meal replacement and the only protein is from soy, their estrogen levels will be elevated. In Soy Protein Isolate Increases Urinary Estrogens and the Ratio of 2:16α-Hydroxyestrone in Men at High Risk of Prostate Cancer, Dr.s Jill M. Hamilton-Reeves, Salome A. Rebello, William Thomas, Joel W. Slaton, and Mindy S. Kurzer concluded that soy does elevated estrogen in men which helped with the reduction of prostate cancer [1], but as a male, you wouldn't want to have a lifetime of increased estrogen [2].

  • Infertility. Estrogen is partly responsible for creating healthy sperm. When estrogen levels are high, sperm levels in semen may fall. This can lead to fertility issues.
  • Gynecomastia. Estrogen may stimulate breast tissue growth. Men with too much estrogen may start developing larger breasts.
  • Erectile dysfunction. A balance of both testosterone and estrogen is important for healthy sexual growth and development. Sexual function may be impacted when these hormones become imbalanced. Men with high levels of estrogen may have difficulty getting or maintaining an erection.

So to be on the safe side, let's assume that the protein is from whey and we have one less thing to worry about. Now as for the vitamins and minerals, the Mayo Clinic states that [3]:

Supplements aren't intended to be a food substitute because they can't replicate all of the nutrients and benefits of whole foods, such as fruits and vegetables.

and there are three main differences:

  • Greater nutrition. Whole foods are complex, containing a variety of the micronutrients your body needs — not just one. An orange, for example, provides vitamin C plus some beta carotene, calcium and other nutrients. It's likely these compounds work together to produce their beneficial effect.
  • Essential fiber. Whole foods, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes, provide dietary fiber. Most high-fiber foods are also packed with other essential nutrients. Fiber, as part of a healthy diet, can help prevent certain diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and it can also help manage constipation.
  • Protective substances. Whole foods contain other substances important for good health. Fruits and vegetables, for example, contain naturally occurring substances called phytochemicals, which may help protect you against cancer, heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. Many are also good sources of antioxidants — substances that slow down oxidation, a natural process that leads to cell and tissue damage.

So you could live off of some meal replacement shake for the rest of your life but should you? Probably not.

  • $\begingroup$ Suggested edit: answer the question with facts, and leave out the opinion at the end. It doesn't contribute anything useful. $\endgroup$ Jul 23 '16 at 12:33

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