How long can one live on Guinness and spinach

A friend of mine, though a chain of events too odd and unimportant to recount here, has recently been wondering if one could live off of Guinness and canned spinach for a protracted period of time.

So, if one stockpiled a large amount of Guinness and canned spinach, how long could one survive on simply that diet? If the answer goes longer than the drinkable shelf-life of Guinness, substitute Parmalat and give that answer.

Considering the Popeye diet, hmmm? You’d really need to look at the nutritional content of both and see what deficiencies may crop up. Protien and some fat soluble vitamins. I’ve never heard of spinach being a good source of vitamin C so scurvy may be a problem.

I thought spinach was one of the best sources of vitamin C?

Here is the nutritional information for fresh, frozen and canned spinach.

And here is the same for Guinness Draught Stout.

There’s no fat at all in such a diet; that would be a problem in the long term, but would also mean fat-soluble vitamin deficiencies in the shorter term.

In order to get your protein RDA, you’d have to consume something like 50 pints of Guinness or nearly 6 kilos of canned spinach (or 25 pints of Guinness and 3 kilos of spinach).

There isn’t any way at all to construct a balanced diet out of only these two components.

Is there really no iron in Guinness?

The bleary-eyed man’s brother was lying! :eek:

Basically, any “you can live on X and Y” myth is just that, a myth.

Incidentally, there’s not much iron in spinach either. However, I don’t know whether the widely stated story (see bottom of this page, for example) that a misplaced decimal point was responsible for its healthy reputation is true. Anyone?

I’d heard that too, but http://www.nutritiondata.com says 100g of plain boiled spinach provides 20% of your RDA of iron; this compares very favourably to other vegetables such as broccoli (RDA 3% per 100g) and Savoy cabbage (RDA 2% per 100g). Perhaps this site is just perpetuating the myth, I dunno.

Actually, it looks like maybe that site IS wrong; the amount of iron they say is in spinach is, very roughly, ten times than of any other green vegetable listed, strongly suggesting that they are repeating the data carrying the DP error.

I’d like to know how caned spinach has more vitamin c than frersh spinach

Well, obviously it wouldn’t be a balanced diet. The question is how long you could survive.

Without vomiting?

Not very long at all (a few weeks at the most) if you weren’t also allowed plain water - it isn’t possible to remain hydrated drinking only something as alcholic as Guinness.

Okay, a modification (direct from my stockpile-theorizing friend): On what combination of canned foods is an indefinite bomb-shelter existance tenable? The fewest different items is the goal here. Assume enough storage space for, say, two hundred years supply so if the food doesn’t kill you you’ll die of old age before the stocks run out.

Well, I’ll take a shot at this one. Vitamins deteriorate in light, esp. in foods like spinach that don’t have a “skin” or peel. When spinach is canned, it’s canned the day it’s picked, preventing deterioration of vitamin content. If it’s fresh, it might actually be as much as a week old (time to get it from the field to the warehouse to the store to the bin in the store, and wait for someone to buy it). Also, the canners might add ascorbic acid, a common natural preservative that’s high in vitamin C.

Unless you grow your own vegetables, and eat what you grow, directly from the garden, then all canned and more especialy frozen vegetables are better sources of vitamins.

Vitamin C* in vegetables is oxidised in air, so if you consider the spinach you buy at the greengrocers:
Where was it grown?
How long was it in storage, after it was harvested?
How long was it in transit?
how long was it stored before it got put on the shelf in the shop?
How long was it in the shop before you bought it?
How long was it in your house before you cooked and ate it?
For all of that time the vitamin content is being depleted.
So in general, fresh vegetables from the shops are usually far poorer in Vitamin C content than vegetables which were canned or frozen within a few hours of being harvested, as the canning/freezing processes halt the depletion of the Vitamin C by air, or more properly, by oxygen.

*May also apply to other water soluble vitamins. And maybe the fat soluble ones, too, I’m not sure.

I would think the methane produced from such a diet would kill you in a matter of days…

Re the iron in spinach: back in med tech school we were told that the iron in spinach is in a form that can’t be readily absorbed by the g.i. tract so most of it just goes on through.

SHAKES, you haven’t gone on the spinach-and-Guinness diet in the interest of furthering human knowledge, by any chance? :smiley:

This isn’t true, is it? Apart from coffee, I have drank nothing but #1 Bass bottled by Messrs Bass & Co. at Burton-on-Trent, (which is two points/vol more alcoholic than Guinness) for several months, and I don’t feel particularly dehydrated. (Or drunk, thanks for asking. :p)

I guess a lot of the the food that I eat is likely much more hydrous than spinach (unless you count tinned spinach packed in water,) but I think that the mild diuresis associated with taking fluids exclusively from stout would hardly be fatal. I think you would be able to survive for quite a few months at least (depending on the Guinness/spinach ratio) before you died of malnutrition.

Heck, it takes around three months to starve to death if you’ve got nothing to eat – and I’m quite certain you wouldn’t die of thirst amidst barrels of stout. Of course, you’d want to limit yourself to a couple of pints a day to avoid alcohol poisoning.

Well, I was under the impression that this was the case - beer has a diuretic effect (due not only to the alcohol, but the flavourings too, I think), to the extent that you pee more than you drink, which should leave you dehydrated. But if it is truly the case that you have not taken any other fluids, maybe I’m mistaken.