What would happen if you eat nothing but potatoes? The Martian is one of the moves that marked 2015 This Sci-Fi movie where Matt Damon played an astronaut who is stuck alone on Mars with no food except spuds has made people wonder about many things.
As a matter of fact, some people tried to replicate the experience that the main character had. For instance, an Australian (aged 36) has decided to practice the same diet from this movie.
Andrew Taylor is trying to lose weight with the help of the Martian’s diet. His goal is to eat potatoes and nothing else for one year. However, is it possible for people to live a normal life if they eat only potatoes? Are there any other foods that he could use instead of potatoes.
After one month of this odd diet, Andrew shared a photo on his Facebook profile that shows a plate half full of mashed potatoes. It seems that this is a good example of so-called sensory-specific satiety. In other words, people tend to lose interest in any type of food once they start eating more of it and once they feel this satiety they consume less of it.
Mr. Taylor is obviously enjoying the advantages of this weight loss program because he lost about 22 pounds (10 kg) in 30 days and he also boosted his energy levels. In addition, this diet has lowered the risk of diabetes and other similar diseases. But, the real question is what can he expect in the long run.
What Would Happen If You Eat Nothing But Potatoes
Sufficient amount of fat and protein?
Consumption of 6,6 pounds (3 kg) of potatoes per day will give you about 2000 calories which is a good amount of calories for an average man like Andrew to lose weight. However, even though potatoes are packed with fibre and carbs, it is very difficult to use just potatoes in order to get protein A man that has 120 kilos should take 90 grams of protein a day, but this diet can get him only 2 Oz (60 gr).
Proteins consist of many different types of amino acids and some of these amino acids come from the food we eat and potatoes include a very good harmony between them. However, despite this harmony, potatoes can’t get us sufficient amount of amino acids.
In addition, their fat content is very low too (about 0,3 Oz/9 gr per 6,6 pounds/3 kg). In other words, this diet doesn’t provide two very important fatty acids – linoleic acid and linolenic acid and on top of that it doesn’t come with sufficient amount of fat to support the proper absorption of vitamin K, E, D and A.
People are advised to consume foods that come with long-chain omega-3 fatty acids and experts recommend oily fish for this purpose. The fact is that these special fats have special functions in the membranes of the cells; they can help stabilize blood pressure and serve as hormones.
Minerals and vitamins
There is no doubt that Andrew Taylor gets sufficient quantities of niacin, thiamine, folate, vitamin B6, potassium, vitamin C, copper, phosphorus and magnesium despite the fact that many of these nutrients are lost during standard cooking procedure. Additionally, he has improved the intake of vitamin E and vitamin A, calcium and iron by introducing sweet potatoes on the menu. Yet, his unusual diet doesn’t provide enough vitamin B12 and vitamin D.
Some experts point out that the sunny weather in Australia is capable of providing sufficient amounts of vitamin D, but he won’t have enough vitamin B12 after one year for proper functioning in case he doesn’t include a supplement in his diet. Long-term lack of vitamin B12 in the body leads to pernicious anemia and even to long-term nerve damage. Andrew includes certain seasonings in his diet, so using yeast extract is the ideal option to increase the levels of other vitamins from B group like B2 and biotin. Deficiency of these vitamins can result in lower ability to use energy from potatoes.
Furthermore, this special diet will give him about 6 mg of zinc which is 30% less than the recommended 9.5 mg per day. Lack of zinc in the system would become noticeable fast in certain tissues with fast turnover like in the intestine or skin lining which will ultimately lead to weakened immunity, wound healing and even to damages in the taste buds.
There is also a chance to experience deficiency in other minerals including selenium, chloride and iodine and the amount of these minerals in potatoes is closely related to the quality of soil. With the help of salt enriched with iodine he will meet the iodine and chloride requirements, but the diet will still lack selenium. In other words, he can experience worsened immunity and very weak reproductive performance and negative impact on the thyroid function.
Is there anything better than potatoes?
Consumption of only one type of food will probably not lead to negative effects, but only when it comes to short-term experiments. But, scientists have still not found a food that can provide all the minerals, vitamins and nutrients that adult people need. On the other hand, Andrew Taylor has made a firm decision that he will keep practicing this potato diet This means that this diet is good as almost any other diet based on one food.
As a matter of fact, potatoes come with many more amino acid varieties, minerals and vitamins compared to starchy foods like rice and pasta. In case he followed a diet based on animal food from one source, he would miss the fibre and he won’t have sufficient amounts of minerals, vitamins and antioxidants in his body. Finally, fruit and other non-starchy veggies are not rich in fat and protein, so he would have to eat a lot of these foods to get sufficient amount.
There are situations when green is not very healthy
It is also good to point out that potatoes create solanine, a strong poison that belongs to the glycoalkaloid family. The quantity of this substance in commercial potatoes is very low, but potatoes that were kept exposed to sunlight or damaged potatoes can turn green and lead to increased production of solanine. Taking even small amounts of green potatoes can lead to vomiting, nausea, migraines, dizziness and fever.
Scientists have still not found the exact amount that can be considered toxic and we don’t know how human body absorbs and processes solanine or where does this poison end when it is consumed in small quantities over a long period of time. Obviously, it is perfectly safe to consume relatively normal amounts of potatoes (10 Oz/300 g. max) every day.
However, science still doesn’t have an answer how the body would react when it is exposed to larger quantities after one year. However, Andrew Taylor should find a peace of mind in the fact that these vegetables are eaten regularly in many cuisines and they are part of the standard diet in many cultures, even though people eat many other foods together with potatoes.
Without any doubts, following a diet that includes only one food is not a wise choice; however this doesn’t mean that we have to include a wide range of foods in our diet. In the past, people didn’t have access to the exotic foods that we can now consume. Their diet consisted of only 5-10 types of foods. Yet, many of them lived for a very long period of time and they were quite healthy too. Food should be viewed as a source of energy, not something that can entertain us when we are bored.