This Week's Nutrition News Feed
In this week's news: Imagining the coffee-pod version of Soylent; sizing up gummy bears as body-builder food; and creating a non-profit supermarket in a low-income suburb.
Nestle researchers have announced they are developing tools to analyze an individual's levels of essential nutrients such that they can offer custom-blended drinks tailored to a person's specific dietary needs. The end goal, they say, is to create a Nespresso-like machine to brew it all up just like your morning joe. Comparisons to Soylent, the Silicon Valley–born meal substitute promising to forevermore eliminate your need to chew, have already been made. That said, don't hold your breath for the coffeemaker version. The kinds of workups Nestle is talking about currently cost around $2,000 per person.
Elsewhere on the Interweb this week -- and swinging the taste pendulum about 180 degrees -- the notion of eating gummy bears after a workout was floated. The thinking behind this: Research that finds eating protein and carbs together directly after, say, a turn on the treadmill, can start the rebuilding of energy reserves and muscle tissue damaged during exercise. Moreover, it may do so in a way that improves both future workout performance and body composition, say some studies. So the goal would be to get these foods into the body as fast as possible in order to maximize this benefit window. Enter fast-absorbing carbs like gummy bears, which not only hit the bloodstream quickly themselves but, by spiking insulin levels, help protein and other food to be absorbed more readily. It's an interesting theory, and one that's become popular among body builders. However, insulin surges come with their own risks -- inflammation, for example. The safer bet: Eat carbs, but make 'em whole grain.
Now, here’s a sobering thought: 48 million Americans are without reliable access to affordable, nutritious food. And here's something heartening: Doug Rauch, the former president of Trader Joe's, thinks he may know a way to ameliorate this. According to the USDA, about 31 percent of food produced in this country goes uneaten (netting a loss of $161.6 billion annually), so why not take some of that perfectly good food and resell it? That's the idea behind Daily Table, a non-profit grocery store Rauch is opening this fall in the low-income Boston suburb of Roxbury. There are of course, a number of issues to get around: Because food often stays good long after expiration dates, Rauch is currently working with the Natural Resources Defense Council to lobby for more accurate date labeling. And then there's the issue of pricing and branding in a way that consumers will embrace. He's currently meeting with members of the Roxbury community to understand their needs and wants on this front. Not easy hurdles, but the rewards could be great. If this salvage-and-resell scheme works, Rauch plans to open more across the country.