However, consuming only one type of food is not a long-term possibility. There is simply no food that can exclusively sustain a healthy adult. But there's no doubt that it's fun to think about, so here are four foods, including potatoes, that you could theoretically live with (and why not). Breast milk is sufficient in calories and has “a little bit of everything,” says Jo Ann Hattner, nutrition consultant at the Stanford University School and former national spokesperson for the American Dietetics Association.
That's fine for babies, but breast milk lacks a good amount of nutrients, including protein and fiber. An excessive deficiency of both substances would cause liver and kidney damage, which is why babies are weaned to consume solid foods. Kale is an incredible superfood that helps you do everything from delaying age to fighting cancer. A 100-gram serving of kale contains much more than the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C (200%), vitamin A (300%) and vitamin K1 (1000%).
However, kale has some problems, such as absorbing too easily a toxic heavy metal called thallium, which is a problem if consumed in large quantities. Eating raw kale can also inhibit iodine absorption, which could lead to hypothyroidism. Although you would have to eat very large quantities to be a stone's throw away from “a well-balanced diet”, dried fruits and nuts provide calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium and potassium, as well as being low in sodium. In addition, nuts are high in fiber and low in fat, and nuts are naturally an excellent source of protein.
The only problem is that there is no source of vitamin B12 and drying the fruit eliminates vitamin C, so you never get enough vitamin D or K. No nutritionist would agree to a diet based exclusively on potatoes. Nor would they recommend a diet based exclusively on coconut, kale, seaweed, or yogurt. There's a reason why American dietary guidelines recommend eating a variety of vegetables, grains, proteins, fruits, and oils.
Eat any of these foods on their own, and you'll soon have the same nutritional deficiencies as you would with a potato. Variety is important and, in this case, vital. So don't just eat a baked potato, fill it with other healthy things as well. In addition, the logic that it should be possible to follow a single-element diet instead of a varied one without suffering adverse effects, as long as all the boxes for vitamins, minerals and calories are checked, doesn't quite work.
To understand why, let's consider how we acquired our modern knowledge of nutrition. At the beginning of the 20th century, researchers deprived rats of certain nutrients and tracked whether they became sick or died. This is how we learned about the existence of vitamins, for example. It tells you what the rats will die without, at least in the short term.
Beans have a strong reputation as a survival food because of their complete nutritional profile. Beans can be one of the most practical sources of protein in a survival situation, because other common sources of protein, such as meat and eggs, have a much shorter lifespan. All types of dried beans, including black, pinto, red and lentil beans, work well as survival foods. Beans are also a low-cost food if you buy them dry and in bulk.
When properly stored in a cool, dry and dark place, beans can last up to 10 years. Eating just one food probably won't cause any short-term harm. However, no food is known to meet all the long-term needs of human adults. Because Taylor is determined to follow a single-food diet, potatoes are probably as good as any other, because they contain a wider range of amino acids, vitamins and minerals than other starchy foods, such as pasta or rice.
If you had chosen only one animal-based food, you would not have consumed fiber in your diet and you would have consumed an insufficient amount of various vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Non-starchy fruits and vegetables are very low in protein and fat, meaning you'd have to eat a lot to get enough to eat.