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I am trying to talk a friend out of starting on a new cleanse / diet fad, which consists of some products with "concentrated amino acids" and some sugars and fats, and very little else. Apparently, the idea is that the body can produce whatever it needs from just amino acids and sugars/fats, and thus avoid "toxins". I convinced her to at least take vitamin and fiber supplements, but beyond that, she swears that this diet has all her body needs. Does it? If no, what consequences can this fad have for her health and why, so I can talk her out of it?

  • Someone here may ask you to make this question less personal but I think it's legit because it asks for something what can be helpful for everyone. – Jan Jan 12 at 10:46
  • What is an amino diet? Your question needs a link to an example of the diet you're asking about. – Carey Gregory Jan 12 at 16:31
  • It's obviously one of those "complete nutrition" products, like Soylent, which contain all essential nutrients, including amino acids. – Jan Jan 12 at 16:46
  • @Jan We shouldn't have to make assumptions about what's being asked. A link to an example falls under the heading of showing prior research. – Carey Gregory Jan 12 at 17:27
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    She has shown me no link, just some set of nutritional supplements that her "health guru" or whatever suggested. My information is entirely based on what she explained to me. And no, that definitely does not make it sound more reliable, but I am trying to convince her, not me, logically :( – Henry Stone Jan 13 at 16:04
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The appropriate diet must contain at least all essential nutrients:

  • Water
  • 9 amino acids: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, tryptophan, threonine, valine
  • 2 fatty acids (alpha linolenic and linoleic acid)
  • Vitamins: A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, folic acid, biotin, B12, choline, C, D, E and K
  • Minerals: calcium, chromium, chloride, copper, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium, zinc

The Nationalacademies.org has tables of estimated average requirements for most nutrients.

The absence of essential nutrients, especially vitamin B1 and C, iron, potassium and zinc, can lead to nutrient deficiencies within a few months (MDEdge). Symptoms may include fatigue, mental changes, brittle nails, dermatitis, gum bleeding, etc.

Fiber is not an essential nutrient, but can greatly contribute to bowel regularity and can have other health benefits, such as lower blood glucose peaks after meals and better intestinal health.

Most of conventional dietary guides, such as Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015, will tell you it is better to eat natural foods than supplements and extracts.

In the U.S., it is Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that dis/approves foods on the basis of the toxin content.

Some people believe that, apart from proven toxins, certain substances or foods are not good for them, based on how they feel after eating that food, for example. This may be an appropriate position, which can be judged by the presence or absence of peace in a given person, and may not be dis/proven by studies.

Anyone who claims that certain foods contain toxins needs to provide some reliable evidence about their harmful effects to be convincing. But then, it's all about what and whom someone believes.

  • So if her vitamin supplements include those minerals, she can actually survive on this stuff? It seems like a scam to me, the stuff she bought, can the human body really survive on just those things? And yes, the fiber is for her stomach, she's a light eater already and she could, IMHO, do with something more substantial. But she reads all this literature on the stuff, so I need my arguments crisp if I want to change her mind... – Henry Stone Jan 12 at 12:10
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    Technically, she may survive, but I can't say because I don't know what exactly is in that stuff. People often have some personal problems and try to solve them with various diets. The best you can do is that you eat foods you believe are good for you and show her you are OK. It seems it's not that she thinks the diet is good as such, but that there are toxins in normal food. You can try to undermine that belief by asking her where is the proof for that: Who exactly suffered and where is it documented? You tell her that she didn't convince you and put the effort of convincing into her hands. – Jan Jan 12 at 12:24
  • I tried. It took me over a year to make her stop basing financial decisions on horoscopes and "spiritual readings". I'd rather not deal with this crazy idea for that long... – Henry Stone Jan 13 at 16:06
  • The "right" and "wrong" of things can be judged by the results. The right decisions likely bring peace into someone's heart. Is she in peace about what is she doing? Does the author of the said diet or her guru look like they are in peace with themselves? Is that peace convincing and triggers peace in her heart? These are the actual questions to ask her. On the other hand, people with special diets challenge our own diets. Do I, who do not agree with someone's diet, eat right myself? Do I really eat what I believe is good for me? Next, what's the purpose of my life? Am I in peace with my work? – Jan Jan 14 at 14:32
  • Some people who are not in peace with themselves will desperately try to do things to get satisfaction. And here come people who promote and sell useless things and try to create an illusion they will bring you something good. She needs to find what is really good for her. Now here is the question, can you, as her friend, see a broader picture of things (beyond a diet) and believe you can help her find what is good for her. – Jan Jan 14 at 14:38

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