Why Soylent 2.0 is All Hype

Ok folks, I’ve been seeing ads and news stories all over the interwebs for this product Soylent 2.0, and I’m feeling the need to weigh in and set a few things straight about this product. Set up all sleek in a white recyclable plastic bottle, this thing promises to be the ultimate nutrition for Silicon Valley types who don’t want to be inconvenienced with having to stop working to eat real food.

The article that really rubbed me the wrong way was this Forbes piece about the product. It almost seems like whoever wrote this was paid by Soylent to do so, comparing the product to Ensure and McDonald’s salads. These comparisons bother me because Soylent is touting itself as a “health food,” and I would hope that even the least health-savvy among us know that McDonald’s is not a source for health food — even the salads. Ensure is also not the benchmark for meal replacement protein drinks. It’s far from the top of the line, far from anything remotely cutting edge. There are SO many protein powders and pre-mixed protein drinks on the market, it just baffles me that these were the products the Forbes writer chose to compare against Soylent.

But I digress, let’s talk about Soylent.

Admittedly the marketing is brilliant. The website is clean, the product and its packaging are white (connoting purity, cleanliness, and simplicity), and there’s a claim right on the front page of the website that the company has chosen its ingredients and practices with the environment in mind. What could be better? (LOTS of things)

soylent 2.0 is not a health food

Credit: Soylent – I didn’t ask permission, so if you want me to take it down, just let me know and I will

The Catch

First and foremost, there’s absolutely nothing special about Soylent. Health-wise and environmentally, the marketing of Soylent is misleading its consumers. Soy protein isolate, the primary ingredient, is neither a new thing, nor anything to write home about.  In fact, it’s quite possibly the least desirable, lowest quality source of protein you can buy today. It’s processed using extremely high heat to the point of denaturing the protein, stripped of its fiber content, and acid washed in aluminum tanks, rendering the final product high in aluminum

Soy is not only not a health food, it’s a monocrop of agribusiness that has taken over a massive chunk of the American farming landscape, almost entirely in the form of GMO crops. Argue all you want about whether or not GMO crops are safe for human consumption — I’m not here to debate that issue. But I will argue all day that massive expanses of monocrops sweeping the American farming landscape — especially of the GMO variety, which wrecks the soil and the ecosystem of bugs, worms, good bacteria, etc. that live in it — is in no way good for the environment. Soy protein isolate, and therefor Soylent, is not an eco-friendly product.

image sourced through Creative Commons, taken by Don O'Brien

image sourced through Creative Commons, taken by Don O’Brien

The Dangers of Soy

Soylent is marketed as a solution to the tecchy’s time crunch. It’s the food of the future — liquid nutrition high in protein and low in sugar — that you can eat on the go. Great, except that massive amounts of soy protein isolate is TERRIBLE for you. Soy protein isolate is actually the byproduct of other mass-produced soy products and is extremely difficult to digest. Far more importantly, it’s phytoestrogenic and can disrupt the balance of sex hormones in both men and women.

Soy contains endocrine-disrupting isoflavones, genistein, and diadzen, all of which have been implicated in infertility, increased cancer, and infantile leukemia. “In 1991, Japanese researchers reported that consumption of as little as 30 grams or two tablespoons of soybeans per day for only one month resulted in a significant increase in thyroid-stimulating hormone. Diffuse goiter and hypothyroidism appeared in some of the subjects and many complained of constipation, fatigue, and lethargy, even though their intake of iodine was adequate.” (secondary source, primaries listed at the bottom of this article)

Do we really need people who are already sitting in front of a computer all day (a major risk factor in and of itself) to now also be at higher risk of thyroid problems, reproductive dysfunction, and cancer?

If you really want to be convinced of the dangers of soy (and the level to which processed soy protein has inundated our food supply, including infant formula, read the whole article I’ve sited above, written by Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig. It really drives it home. 

Awesome, Healthy Alternatives to Soylent

You didn’t think I’d finish this post on such a negative note did you? Don’t worry, I won’t leave you empty-handed if you really do want to drink your lunch to save some time. I’ve compiled a list (yes through my affiliate Amazon link) of products that are excellent alternatives to Soylent. Not only are they soy-free, they also have excellent phytonutrient profiles. Some even contain probiotics, prebiotics, and green foods, all great for gut health. And if you don’t want to take the time to blend them up, you can use this fancy little blender bottle and throw in some almond milk to shake it on the go.

soylent 2.0 is not a health food

image sourced through Creative Commons by Sandstein

Soy-Free Vegan Protein Shakes that are ACTUALLY Good for You:

Non-Vegan Options (whey):

Also, this is hilarious, and a great pre-mixed protein drink alternative:


 

FTC DISCLOSURE: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive monetary compensation for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. All opinions are my own.

Academic Sources:

  • Matrone, G. et al., “Effect of Genistin on Growth and Development of the Male Mouse”, Journal of Nutrition (1956) 235-240.
  • Ishizuki, Y. et al., “The effects on the thyroid gland of soybeans administered experimentally in healthy subjects”, Nippon Naibunpi Gakkai Zasshi (1991) 767:622-629.
  • Divi, R.L. et al., “Anti-thyroid isoflavones from the soybean”, Biochemical Pharmacology (1997) 54:1087-1096.
  • Cassidy, A. et al., “Biological Effects of a Diet of Soy Protein Rich in Isoflavones on the Menstrual Cycle of Premenopausal Women”, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (1994) 60:333-340.
  • Murphy, P.A., “Phytoestrogen Content of Processed Soybean Foods”, Food Technology, January 1982, pp. 60-64.

About 

I'm a wellness professional with a Master's in Integrative Health, passionate about spreading health, happiness and personal fulfillment to as many people as possible. I have a professional background in health and wellness, dietary supplements, and nutrition, and embark every day to live a well, balanced, happy life. In being true to myself and what I seek in life, I hope to inspire others to do the same, to cultivate wellbeing in their own lives.

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10 thoughts on “Why Soylent 2.0 is All Hype

  1. So, i’ve been eating soylent every day for more than a year (only for breakfast and lunch mind), but I just had my annual physical which included bloodwork/urinary analysis. Apart from being a little low on Vitamin D (i’m an office shut-in!), the only issue that was present was slightly elevated thyroid hormones – which hasn’t been high enough to show any symptoms. The elevation of the hormones may not even be because of the soylent, but maybe in part to the fact I went vegan at the start of this year, so my overall soy intake has been greatly elevated – i eat a tofu basically everyday too. I personally think Soylent is a great product, and medical testing on me has proved it.

  2. This article is pretty transparent in providing more of your opinion than any real fact. You seem to simply be bashing soylent to gain affiliate sales, and don’t really have an actual point here. I mean, how could any self-respecting person link to Joseph Mercola and expect to be taken seriously?

    • It’s absolutely my opinion — based on facts. It’s a fact that growing soy at the rate we do in this country is terrible for the environment, and it’s my opinion that a company that claims to be eco-friendly yet has soy as the main ingredient is missing the mark. It’s a fact that soy contains phytoestrogens that could disrupt your hormones and it’s my opinion that you shouldn’t consume it with abandon. It’s a fact that soy protein isolate is a very processed food, and again my opinion that processed foods aren’t ideal in any diet. It’s my blog, so I can state my opinion here. Funny how that works. I don’t quite understand how people like you engage with immediate aggression on someone else’s platform and expect to be taken seriously or to have any sort of respectful discourse about something that was meant to be a commentary — and yes, my opinion, hence the category it falls into on the blog: “Opinion.” Take your trolling somewhere else unless you’d like to act like an adult.

      • Mercola? Really? All credibility lost.

        The science disagrees with you- at least majority of science. What “Nope” said wasn’t trolling, it was his/her opinion. Much better options- but none which offer the proper calorie amount.

        • Which science disagrees with me? I guess I have to rethink my selective view alignment with some of what the Mercola website has to say. I’m by NO STRETCH an anti-vaxxer (I know that’s a big reason people don’t like him) but I don’t think that every last article on his site is bogus (based on how they compare with other people who don’t have the anti-vaxxer stigma attached to them and are credible doctors like Dr. Mark Hyman and Dr. Robert Lustig, just to name the first two that popped into my head). Additionally, Dr. Mercola didn’t even write the article I’m citing — it’s written by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig. Sally Fallon is the mother of the Traditional Foods Movement (and a leader at the Weston A Price Foundation), a diet of which I’m a huge proponent, because it literally changed my life. Here’s a more balanced (yet not contradictory) assessment of soy from the NIH: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3074428/ that points out the potential risks of phytoestrogens and also some potential benefits. It also highlights the giant question mark around a potential link between excess prepubescent soy consumption and breast cancer (without a conclusion but worth noting). Even something this seemingly inconclusive gives me pause regarding the level at which soy and soy byproducts are consumed in this country. I assume when you say “Much better options” you’re talking about the other protein drinks I listed as alternatives? I’m not a calorie counter — I’m more concerned with quality of ingredients and believe that while calories “count,” it’s not necessary to count them to be healthy. See how we can talk like adults and have a conversation about something without throwing out insults? I place myself firmly in the “self-respecting person” category. I’m not one to dig my heels in if something is presented to me and I need to rethink something. I just prefer when people are nice instead of rude.

  3. Though I respect your values for healthy eating, I disagree with the arguments you bring to describe Soylent as unhealthy.

    Consider one example. In the article you cite claiming that soy isolate has dangerous levels of aluminum, it clearly states that even infants are unharmed by regular exposure these nano-sized amounts.

    You are free to choose any diet lifestyle you please, but don’t spread misinformation to substantiate your choices–or perhaps in this case, your wallet.

    • Thanks for sharing your opinion Joseph. The aluminum is certainly not the only problem with soy protein isolate, nor is it the only problem I mentioned in this piece. The bigger, more important pieces of the argument are a) the health risks of the intake of excessive phytoestrogens and b) the environmental implications of the practices used in this country to grow soy (and a lot of it). Soylent claims to be eco-friendly. When a company makes a product with soy as the main ingredient (not organic soy), it’s impossible to be eco-friendly.

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