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Do we need food?

A San Francisco man got fed up with

A San Francisco man got fed up with the amount of time and money he was spending on food so he gave up food for 30 days and drank a mixture which he calls “soylent,” and contains “every essential nutrient the body needs in the right proportions.” Credit: AP

Whether we enjoy it or not, food and the act of getting it into our bodies dictates a large portion of our lives.

We have to eat to survive, and in modern society that involves precious time spent either cooking, shopping or dining out, and it costs us hundreds of dollars a month to do so (men between the ages of 19 and 50 spend an average of $324 a month for food at home, women $282, according to the USDA). 

So how can a healthy young person with limited time and resources break through the chains? Well, one man just stopped eating.

Rob Rhinehart, an engineer living in San Francisco, got fed up with the amount of time and money he was spending on food so he devised another option.

He researched which nutrients the body needs to survive, according to the FDA, and took the powder form of each of these substances and mixed them with water for an easy drink he used to replace all of his meals for 30 days.

Rhinehart appeared on CBS’ “The Doctors” this morning to talk about his experiment.

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The mixture, which he calls “soylent,” contains “every essential nutrient the body needs in the right proportions.” The mixture contains 32 essential ingredients, such as carbohydrates, fat protein, vitamins and electrolytes, plus seven nonessential extras such as lycopene and Omega-3 fatty acids.

He said he never feels hungry, and the mixture costs him less than $1 a day.

“After 30 days without eating a bite of food, I felt much, much healthier,” he said on the show. “I slept better, I felt healthier, and my blood work improved. By every indicator, I was much, much healthier.”

In fact, Rhinehart writes on his blog that when he went to L.A. for a week to tape “The Doctors,” he only ate real food and he gained weight and felt a distinct decrease in drive, energy and motivation.

There are, of course, hesitations, and no one is currently recommending this diet. Dr. Jim Sears, a pediatrician and one of four doctor-hosts on the show, expressed some concern that a varied, natural diet may consist of hidden nutrients and beneficial effects that a strictly contrived diet would not have.

“You take an apple or an orange and there are thousands of ingredients that we don’t even know about yet that we may discover in years,” he said. “The lack of variety might come back to bite you.”

Rhinehart writes on his blog that he’s interested in doing a larger, controlled study of the soylent’s effects. He’s also optimistic that soylent could have far-reaching effects on parts of the global population that suffer from malnutrition and limited access to food.

What do you think about Rhinehart’s experiment? If it was proven to be safe to do so, could you give up eating food?

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