I seek the King of Nutrition Drinks
October 6, 2007 2:06 PM   Subscribe

LiquidNutritionfilter: I know a little about sports nutrition, and a little about parenteral nutrition. Is there a nutritionally complete liquid that healthy people can drink such that the only other necessary is water? If not, what liquid comes closest to being The One Food? If it's not commercially available, what's the closest to it you can buy?

Not planning on this myself, just curious about the latest advances in liquid nutrition science.
posted by StrikeTheViol to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I'm looking for something like this, too, but just for short stretches when I want to de-tox.

On LA Weight Loss they have a super dense power drink made of lots of different fruits. You dilute it and drink it a few times a day, and eat vegetables the rest of the day. You can do that for two days before you start to feel lightheaded...but it wouldn't work for longer than that.

Sounds like you're looking for something you can drink all the time? I'm pretty sure most nutritionists would say you can't substitute liquids for foods indefinitely, no matter what they're made of, but I'll be interested in the other responses.
posted by frosty_hut at 2:24 PM on October 6, 2007

There's always F-100.

Mostly what they prescribe in the US for liquid diets is stuff like Pedialyte. But, uh, CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR.
posted by dhartung at 2:35 PM on October 6, 2007

pedialyte is only to keep you hydrated and your electrolytes balanced if you can't keep food down (or, er, up). it isn't nutritionally complete at all.

there are nutritionally complete liquids for people who use feeding tubes, but i don't think it's anything you'd actually want to taste. most people on liquid diets (like my cousin, when her jaw was wired shut after surgery) just puree their solids in a blender and thin it out with juice, or milk, or broth, or whatever is appropriate.
posted by thinkingwoman at 3:04 PM on October 6, 2007

Modulen from Nestle is apparently nutritionally complete, is used for parenteral nutrition and is available to buy as a supplement (i.e. you can get hold of it without prescription). It is an enriched milk fraction with anti-inflammatory properties and designed for use in IBD, but I don't see why that would preclude someone 'normal' from using it assuming you tolerate it's components (e.g. no lactose intolerance etc). Parenteral nutrition isn't generally aimed at healthy people anyway since it's a medical treatment rather than a lifestyle choice.

I've only read some of the research associated with it and have no links to the company that makes it, so you'd probably want to do some more digging rather than just take my word. But their marketing stuff indicates that it would be suitable as a total liquid diet in the way you're suggesting. Really doesn't sound like much fun though.
posted by shelleycat at 3:22 PM on October 6, 2007

Just take whatever you normally would eat in day, blend it up, and drink it for breakfast lunch and dinner. YUM!
posted by outsider at 3:40 PM on October 6, 2007

Chimay developed by Trappist Monks as a perfect food.
posted by hortense at 4:00 PM on October 6, 2007

Endurance athletes use Boost or Ensure for recovery replenishment. These are more or less 'complete' meal replacements. I know I've been known to down a can or two after a very long run.

Now, to live on this stuff - and not touch food - would be a bit of a challenge, because these are sweet drinks. There is little variance in the overall texture or flavor.

Sure, both brands offer several flavor choices, and you could also interchange them (you can buy both - in all their varieties - at your local Costco or Walmart). But I suspect you will begin craving chewy, salty, crunchy foods before long. How long do you want to continue without solid food?
posted by seawallrunner at 4:12 PM on October 6, 2007

posted by sondrialiac at 4:35 PM on October 6, 2007

Along the lines of the breastmilk comment, I've heard arguments that raw milk is the "perfect food" ... though the history of raw milk threads in the green alone seems to indicate that this might be a, shall we say, somewhat "biased" opinion? Not to mention hard to get your hands on in the States.

Out of necessity, I've been close to living on the stuff for a couple of weeks (I get it practically free from someone who lives nearby, and I'm pretty broke this month), and I haven't been getting nearly as fatigued/lightheaded as I used to during periods when I was similarly cash-strapped, and found myself on similar near-total liquid diets. So, take that for whatever it's worth.
posted by the luke parker fiasco at 4:48 PM on October 6, 2007

Some bodybuilding protein shake mixes come close (or exceed) to the RDA of pretty much everything. I've lived on them for 2-3 weeks at a time before, and had no ill effects.
posted by mrbill at 5:25 PM on October 6, 2007

I've known two adults who temporarily couldn't eat solid food, for medical reasons. Both of them relied heavily on their blenders. I think that if there was a perfect, liquid food, they would've been on it.
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:49 PM on October 6, 2007

My son subsists more or less entirely on Vivonex. It's got all of the vitamins minerals and calories that are required for his diet. Actually, he needs an iron supplement, maybe some calcium too now that I think about it. Anyhow, it's complete calorically. It's also partially digested protein wise. Which helps with the dairy allergies that a lot of other forumlas are subject to. The only real problem is that it smells like ass.
posted by ericales at 6:50 PM on October 6, 2007

I have lived for days on just Ensure Plus (more calories than the regular Ensure) and water/gatorade. I just simply hate eating. I don't think I'd make a lifetime of this, because I can't imagine getting everything I need from one drink, but I felt fine. If science gave me the go ahead, I'd gladly forgo food for liquid fuel.
posted by desjardins at 9:43 PM on October 6, 2007

I can get through the better part of the day with a pint of whole chocolate milk, but now I think I'm going to try this Ensure stuff too. Like desjardins, I'd love to be able to get most of my meals through a straw.
posted by walla at 10:03 PM on October 6, 2007

Dude, it's Spiz. Mountaineers and endurance athletes (like, endurance meaning crossing Antarctica on skis, not just running a local marathon) survive for weeks on this stuff. It's nutritionally complete so it can be taken as a meal replacement.
posted by rlef98 at 10:28 PM on October 6, 2007

Spiz seems best of the non-medical foods...anyone want to chime in with the most complete medical food?
posted by StrikeTheViol at 11:34 AM on October 7, 2007

Spiz seems best of the non-medical foods...anyone want to chime in with the most complete medical food?

Any of your standard parenteral nutrition formulations is going to work for medical food. Pub med should throw up standard formulations, if not actual product names (I'm not sure how these are made?), and I've read papers with very specific recipes without much effort spent searching. But it's not something you can just go buy or use by yourself, digging deeper shows that even Modulen should be used under medical supervision. So Spitz or similar is probably the best bet for the lay person and looking into extreme endurance athletes and explorers is a great idea for how to find such things.

Just mushing up your food or drinking milk or whatever isn't going to work long term. I once ate nothing but chocolate ice cream for several days but that doesn't mean I won't get sick if I try it long term (the anemia would make me miserable pretty quickly if nothing else). A correct balance of major nutritions isn't too hard but getting all the micronutrients right too is really important and needs proper formulation. Even parenteral nutrition isn't designed to replace eating forever, which is kind of a pity because in certain cases it is really effective.
posted by shelleycat at 3:47 PM on October 7, 2007

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