Whether a complete menu from the bag or algae powder as a nutritional supplement: Powder foods are the new nutritional trend . But is powder eating healthy too?
Beige and viscous, um, delicious! Really? Delicious? If it is up to the American engineer Rob Rhinehart, this mush is the future of our food. He invented the substitute food "Soylent", a powder that is mixed with water and a little oil. Supposedly, he feeds himself 90 percent of it. And it is fully in line with the trend: "Soylent" is not available from us, but here in Germany too, so-called replacement foods are coming onto the market, meals for which we do not have to cook or chew.
The eternal pursuit of perfection
"This development is related to the desire of young people in particular to optimize themselves and their living environment," says Prof. Marc Birringer from the Department of Oecotrophology at Fulda University of Applied Sciences. "Eating such powder drinks saves you the time it takes to cook, while at the same time you absorb nutrients to meet your needs." A particularly efficient form of getting full.
This is exactly what liquid food guru Rhinehart describes as his motivation. Once a busy software developer in Silicon Valley, the preparation of frozen pizza or Asian noodle soups only kept him from working unnecessarily.
It is suggested that everyone can cover their individual nutritional needs with powders. In the long term, however, this is not possible.
But is replacement food healthy too? Birringer is skeptical: "It is suggested that everyone can cover their individual nutritional needs with the powders. In the long term, however, this is not possible. A balanced and varied diet with fresh food can be tailored much better to the respective needs." Because in total, individual synthetically produced nutrients do not replace a natural food.
The bioavailability of the ingredients in fruit or vegetables, for example, is fundamentally better than in the vitamin substitute from the laboratory. Often, individual substances such as phytochemicals mutually reinforce each other in their effects. In addition, the lack of chewing motion would likely cause long-term problems as chewing strengthens teeth and gums.
Already established: add powder to the dish
So it would be very crazy to eat completely like that. Powders that enrich dishes are, on the other hand, already part of everyday life: for example algae, matcha, spinach or dried fruit powder in muesli or smoothies. What does that bring? "If cranberry or spirulin powder is marketed as superfood, this concept alone will raise awareness of healthy food among consumers," says Birringer.
"I therefore see the discussion of valuable and health-promoting food ingredients as positive." Nevertheless, it is not enough to stir in a little powder here and there. Because from fruit or vegetables to powder, various treatment processes lose micronutrients. Storage times further reduce health-promoting substances.
Disadvantages of the powder
And: "If I eat a fresh apple or a cucumber, the hydration is optimal for the body," says Birringer. "Powder, on the other hand, binds a lot of liquid in the body before it is digested, so it draws water from us." Since the powders have little volume, the saturation effect is also eliminated. The additives could also be used as an excuse, motto: "Açaíberry powder in yoghurt in the morning, then I calmly eat burger with chips."
It is questionable whether powder food will establish itself in the long term. After all, nothing changes faster than nutrition trends. "Some powders will probably find their niche, just like formula diets are now firmly established," says Birringer, referring to the third variant of powdered food: diet powders promise healthy, fast weight loss with high satiety and good taste.
In fact, nutritionists sometimes prescribe obesity patients such formula drinks to make it easier to start losing weight. The big advantage over complex meals: quantity and calorie content are much easier to control. Of course, it also requires a change in behavior if you want to lose weight in the long term.