Soylent (food substitute)

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A homemade batch of Soylent, immediately after preparation

Soylent is a food substitute intended to supply all of a human body's daily nutritional needs, made from powdered starch, rice protein, olive oil, and raw chemical powders.[1][2]

Soylent was designed by software engineer Rob Rhinehart as a way to get all the nutrients needed by the body without the time, money, and effort that usually goes into preparing food.[3] Lacking background in chemistry or nutrition, Rhinehart developed the formula by reading web sites, textbooks, and papers in scientific journals, and by self-experimentation.[4][5] He named it after a fictional food from the novel Make Room! Make Room![6]

Soylent is currently undergoing testing and modification. As of October 2013, a crowdfunding campaign has provided roughly US$1,500,000, and venture capitalists (Andreessen Horowitz) provided another US$1,500,000, to produce and market a commercial version of Soylent. The funding paid for additional research and modification of the formula,[7][8] which delayed Soylent's launch date.[9] Rosa Labs, the company that owns Soylent, estimates March 2014 for the first shipment of U.S.-based orders, and mid-2014 for international orders.[10][11]

Ingredients

Below are the ingredients used initially in the manufacture of Soylent after 30 days of experimentation.[12] Many are not readily available and must be ordered from laboratory supply stores.[3]

Extras not considered to be essential:

After three months, changes were made to the ingredients. Half the maltodextrin was replaced with oat flour, and creatine, coenzyme Q10, and 2 g of sulfur from methylsulfonylmethane were added. The oat flour provides 40 g of fiber, and serves to provide energy after the initial "kick" from the maltodextrin. Because oat flour is not a raw chemical, adjustments were made to the amounts of other ingredients to compensate. Ethyl vanillin is added to make the drink more palatable.[13]

Development process and health concerns

As of May 2013, Soylent has been tested by Rhinehart himself and by a handful of volunteers as well as individuals recreating the substance independently at home.[5][14] Modifications to the ingredient list have occurred in response to results incurred in testing, for example: the first version of the formula omitted iron, which Rhineheart reported caused his heart to race.[8] In other early experiments, intentionally induced overdoses of potassium and magnesium gave Rhinehart cardiac arrhythmia and burning sensations.[8] After the early recipe had stabilized, Rhinehart found himself suffering from joint pain due to a sulfur deficiency. Methylsulfonylmethane was added to address this problem.[8][13]

Soylent in its present form may lack some nutrients essential for normal body functioning and/or may fail to provide nutrients in appropriate proportions, potentially causing medical problems if used long-term.[4]Template:Verify credibility The fundamental basis of the assumptions made by Soylent are disputed; with focus on the fact that, because digestion is a complex phenomenon and there is not a simple linear relationship between nutrient ingestion and nutrient absorption, many factors contribute to nutrient absorption in the human body.[15]

With respect to the suitability of the product for general consumption, homemade Soylent is made without the kinds of regulatory safeguards and fine-tunings followed when making accepted artificial diets such as medical food.[1]

Cost

In September 2013, Rhinehart said he would like to get Soylent down to a cost of US$5 per day.[16] As of April 2013, Rhinehart stated he was spending US$154.62 per month on Soylent, yielding a diet of 11,000 kilojoules (2,600 kcal) per day[2] while a medical food such as Jevity would cost US$456 per month to get 8,400 kilojoules (2,000 kcal)[1] and a family of four in the United States can purchase food for approximately US$584 per month (avoiding eating out).[8]

See also

References

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  14. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Davis
  15. Campbell, T. Colin. Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition. BenBella Books Inc, 2013.
  16. Ars does Soylent, the finale: Soylent dreams for people | Ars Technica
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