Monthly Archives: May 2013

Human nutritional requirements – part 2

I learned a lot about nutrition since my last post. Now I have a clear idea about the energy contribution differences between carbohydrates, proteins and fats; why and how they iodize the table salt; how you can die of an overdose on vitamins; how difficult is to find a good source of alpha-linolenic acid and how can you have a mercury overdose consuming cod liver oil, among other interesting things.

Also, I started working on the script that generates personal Soylent recipes. At the moment, it is able to ask to the user all the necessary data (age, height, weight…) and calculate the daily recommended amount of each nutrient for your personal recipe, according to the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI).

Now I’m working on collecting ingredients and writting their nutritional facts –carbohydrate, protein, fat, vitamin and mineral amounts– in a table. With a huge database of powders and vitamin supplements, it will be easier for the script to calculate the perfect recipe.

Yesterday I discovered the list of the essential nutrients and, for my horror, it seems that the DRI forgets to include the essential amino acids in its recommendation. This means another week of ingredient search, which means another week of delay for my Soylent.

UPDATE: the necessary amounts of essential amino acids was published by the World Health Organization in this PDF, at page 150.

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Human nutritional requirements

The first step to design the Spanish Soylent Recipe is to make a little research about the human nutritional requirements. It’s a basic thing I must know if I don’t want to kill myself with a deficient recipe.

This subject has been studied for decades in order to provide a proper and healthy diet in schools, army, hospitals, etc. After several revisions, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences published the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI), a system of nutrition recommendations. Please, ignore the summarized nutrition table at the wikipedia page and check the official tables instead.

But the problem with these recommendations is that they depend on lots of factors –age, gender, lifestyle and weight among others–. The needs of a sedentary pregnant woman are different from the needs of a male athlete. This difficults the designing of a general recipe destinated to everybody.

Instead of trying to design a general recipe, I’m thinking that maybe I should make an small script to create personal recipes. People will be able to adjust their own params (gender, age, weight, height…) and the script will do all the dirty math job. Also, it can be interesting to adjust some params depending on each one’s nutritionist recommendations.

Mmm… yeah, it sounds like a better idea.

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Soylent spanish recipe: first contact

I was going to explain what Soylent is, but I think it’s better to let them describe their own product with this little excerpt from their campaign:

For many people, on many occasions, food is a hassle, especially when trying to eat well. Suppose we had a default meal that was the nutritional equivalent of water: cheap, healthy, convenient and ubiquitous. Soylent will be personalized for different body types and customizable based on individual goals. It allows one to enjoy the health benefits of a well balanced diet with less effort and cost.

For anyone that struggles with allergies, heartburn, acid reflux or digestion, has trouble controlling weight or cholesterol, or simply doesn’t have the means to eat well, soylent is for you.

Soylent frees you from the time and money spent shopping, cooking and cleaning, puts you in excellent health, and vastly reduces your environmental impact by eliminating much of the waste and harm coming from agriculture, livestock, and food-related trash.

Yesterday, Soylent was crowdfunded. I was very excited; I have been following the project for months and I was ready to give them all my money but… oh, surprise: they expect to start shipping on August in the U.S., but there are no plans to ship to the other countries in the short term.

But not everything is lost! Since Rob –the original creator of Soylent– published the contents of Soylent, people started to design their own Soylent recipes using food supplements that can be bought on Amazon. One of the most famous and followed recipes is the Beginner’s DIY Soylent Recipe. You can see a detailed breadown of the ingredients here –it costs only 6.28$ per day!

But, again, the shipment of the supplements of these recipes is very expensive or not available for some countries. For example, Alive! Multivitamins and Now Foods – Potassium Gluconate shipments are not available for Spain.

Since Soylent won’t be available in my country in the short term and the content of Soylent is public, I decided to start designing my own Soylent recipe using products and supplements available in spanish local stores or via internet (like Decathlon).

I hope I can publish some things in the following weeks.

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