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Q: Island Survival Food: Cheetos or Carrots ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   4 Comments )
Subject: Island Survival Food: Cheetos or Carrots
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: brian22-ga
List Price: $30.00
Posted: 22 Sep 2006 15:32 PDT
Expires: 22 Oct 2006 15:32 PDT
Question ID: 767683
Assume I'm a healthy 30 year old male with no allergies, diseases, or
illnesses and I just volunteered to move to a deserted island of which
I'll be the sole inhabitant.  My only goal on this island is to
survive as long as possible. Here's what my girlfriend and I want to
1) Could I survive indefinitely if carrots were my only food source?
2) Could I survive indefinitely if Cheetos were my only food source?
3) Will I live longer if I choose a limitless, fresh supply of Cheetos
or if I choose a limitless, fresh supply of carrots?
4) How many pounds of carrots would I need to eat each day in order to
survive? Would eating that amount of carrots each day make my skin
turn orange?

Request for Question Clarification by pinkfreud-ga on 22 Sep 2006 17:51 PDT
I'd love to take on this project, but I am hesitant to do so if you
are expecting that somewhere an authoritative reference source exists
that would give a specific answer comparing Cheetos and carrots as
sole food sources.

I can discuss the relative nutritional merits and deficiencies of each
of these foods, and the kinds of potentially-fatal health problems
that would eventually befall a person who chose each as a sole food
source. Would that meet your needs?
Subject: Re: Island Survival Food: Cheetos or Carrots
Answered By: crabcakes-ga on 22 Sep 2006 20:08 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello Brian22,

  What an interesting hypothetical question!

Questions Number 1 and 2)
No, you would not live indefinitely. You would ultimately die of
malnutrition. Of course, you would not live indefinitely with a
balanced diet either, but you would live longer!

Question Number 3)
   As you can see from this nutritional content chart, a half cup of
carrots has a scant amount of protein, 0.66 gram to be exact. Add that
bit of protein to 10% of the RDI of Vitamin C, 1.7% of calcium, 1.8%
of iron, 0.66 gram of fat, and 28 calories and you may have a tasty
snack, but not a life sustaining meal. You?d have to eat 38 cups of
carrots a day to get the protein you?d need, giving you an excess
amount of calcium and iron, and an overdose of Vitamin A. (360.1 x 76
 cup servings= 27,360 % RDI, or 1,368,228 IU)
1/2 cup of carrots weighs 64 grams, so 1 cup = 128 grams. 128 grams = 4.5 oz.
  You would need to eat 38 cups of carrots to meet protein
requirements, which equals 10.6 pounds per day of carrots.

   Tolerable upper limits of Vitamin A for males is 10,000 IU per day!

   ?Hypervitaminosis A refers to high storage levels of vitamin A in
the body that can lead to toxic symptoms. There are four major adverse
effects of hypervitaminosis A: birth defects, liver abnormalities,
reduced bone mineral density that may result in osteoporosis (see the
previous section), and central nervous system disorders [1,48-49].

   Toxic symptoms can also arise after consuming very large amounts of
preformed vitamin A over a short period of time. Signs of acute
toxicity include nausea and vomiting, headache, dizziness, blurred
vision, and muscular uncoordination [1,48-49]. Although
hypervitaminosis A can occur when large amounts of liver are regularly
consumed, most cases result from taking excess amounts of the nutrient
in supplements.? Note that this primarily occurs from taking too many
Vitamin A supplements.

 While I can find no data on people eating 38 cups of carrots a day,
it is likely that you would suffer from Vitamin A overdose, even from
eating that many carrots each day! ?Provitamin A carotenoids such as
beta-carotene are generally considered safe because they are not
associated with specific adverse health effects. Their conversion to
vitamin A decreases when body stores are full. A high intake of
provitamin A carotenoids can turn the skin yellow, but this is not
considered dangerous to health.?

   Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning excess amounts can be
stored in the body, and not excreted in the urine as are water soluble
vitamins line Vitamin C. Thus, excess amounts are capable of causing

   You?d need at least 50grams of protein a day to avoid protein
deficiency, or kwashiorkor

  Kwashiorkor causes the following (time to death is varied per
person, age, general previous condition, and numerous other factors)
?	Failure to gain weight and failure of linear growth
?	Irritability
?	Lethargy or apathy
?	Decreased muscle mass
?	Swelling (edema)
?	Large belly that stick out (protrudes)
?	Diarrhea
?	Dermatitis
?	Changes in skin pigment; may lose pigment where the skin has peeled
away (desquamated) and the skin may darken where it has been irritated
or traumatized
?	Hair changes -- hair color may change, often lightening or becoming
reddish, thin, or brittle
?	Iincreased and more severe infections due to damaged immune system
?	Shock (late stage)
?	Coma (late stage)
   To prevent kwashiorkor, one would need : ?Adequate diet with
appropriate amounts of carbohydrate, fat (minimum of 10 percent of
total calories), and protein (12 percent of total calories) will
prevent kwashiorkor.?

    Here is a chart explaining some of the maladies one is likely to
suffer from insufficient vitamins.

Now, onto Cheetos.  One ounce (28 grams) of Cheetos has 2 grams of
protein, meaning you?d need to consume 25 ounces of Cheetos to reach
your minimum requirement of protein. However, Cheetos has no Vitamin C
and very little calcium or iron. To nutritionists, Cheetos is not even
considered a food, but a manufactured "Food product"

Here is a comparable chart for carrots.

   ?Malnutrition is the condition that develops when the body does not
get the right amount of the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients it
needs to maintain healthy tissues and organ function.?

   ?People who are malnourished may be skinny or bloated. Their skin
is pale, thick, dry, and bruises easily. Rashes and changes in
pigmentation are common.
Hair is thin, tightly curled, and pulls out easily. Joints ache and
bones are soft and tender. The gums bleed. The tongue may be swollen
or shriveled and cracked. Visual disturbances include night blindness
and increased sensitivity to light and glare.?

Other symptoms of malnutrition include:
?	Anemia 
?	Diarrhea 
?	Disorientation 
?	Goiter (enlarged thyroid gland) 
?	Loss of reflexes and lack of coordination 
?	Muscle twitches 
?	Scaling and cracking of the lips and mouth.

   ?Up to 10% of a person's body weight can be lost without side
effects, but if more than 40% is lost, the situation is almost always
fatal. Death usually results from heart failure, electrolyte
imbalance, or low body temperature. Patients with semiconsciousness,
persistent diarrhea, jaundice, or low blood sodium levels have a
poorer prognosis.?

   ?Malnutrition can occur because of the lack of a single vitamin in
the diet, or it can be because a person isn't getting enough food.
Starvation is a form of malnutrition. Malnutrition also occurs when
adequate nutrients are consumed in the diet, but one or more nutrients
are not digested or absorbed properly.
Malnutrition may be mild enough to show no symptoms. However, in some
cases it may be so severe that the damage done is irreversible, even
though the individual survives.?

   ?Dehydration causes the natural mucus secretions of the mouth,
nose, and throat to thicken, as the body struggles to protect these
delicate membranes. The lack of saliva exacerbates this problem,
preventing the normal swallowing of these secretions. These thick
deposits can interfere with breathing.?
In the last stages of dehydration/starvation, the patient's breathing
will become difficult and labored. He or she may even begin gasping
for breath, as even the lungs' ability to effect transfer of gases is
?In the final stages of starvation and dehydration, the same
electrolyte imbalances which can cause muscle spasm can also lead to
uncontrolled firing of neurons in the brain, according to a similar
mechanism. This results in seizures.?

   On which food would you live the longest? As Pinkfreud-ga stated,
there is no hard evidence on this one. If you were to consume enough
carrots per day to satisfy your hunger and caloric needs, you might
live longest on Cheetos. This is because you would die of Vitamin A
toxicity from carrots, before you would die of malnutrition.

  Humans can live 2-3 weeks with no food. But consuming a great deal
of food high in Vitamin A would cause poisoning. Cheetos contain a
large amount of sodium, and unless you had plenty of water, you would
alter your electrolytes and possibly go into cardiac arrhythmia and
die. Without enough water, your kidneys would begin to shut down,
causing a build up of ammonia that is converted to urea, and start a
cascade of shutting down your other organs. Ammonia buildup would
occur when the liver is unable to break down the urea, and lead to

   ?As ammonia exceeds normal concentration, an increased disturbance
of neurotransmission and synthesis of both GABA and glutamine occurs
in the CNS. A correlation between arterial ammonia concentration and
brain glutamine content in humans has been described. Moreover, brain
content of glutamine is correlated with intracranial pressure. In
vitro data also suggest that direct glutamine application to
astrocytes in culture causes free radical production and induces the
membrane permeability transition phenomenon, which leads to ionic
gradient dissipation and consequent mitochondrial dysfunction.
However, the true mechanism for neurotoxicity of ammonia is not yet
completely defined. The pathophysiology of hyperammonemia is that of a
CNS toxin that causes irritability, somnolence, vomiting, cerebral
edema, and coma that leads to death.?

Question Number 4) 
?Myth: Too many carrots will turn skin orange. 

Fact: It can happen, but you would have to eat a lot, said Chris
Rosenbloom, chair of the nutrition department at Georgia State
University. In fact, you would probably have to start chugging carrot
juice to get that orange glow. The phenomenon is called
hypercarotenemia and the orange tint shows up mostly in the palms of
the hands. Never fear, Rosenbloom said. This happens because the body
does not use all of the beta-carotene from carrots and the resulting
skin discoloration is harmless.?

   To summarize, if you were able to limit yourself to a cup or two a
day of carrots, and nothing more, you might live longer than eating
more carrots, or few ounces of Cheetos a day. Eating only carrots or
only Cheetos on an island would result in death. Which food would kill
you the fastest would be unknown, and dependent on water intake, and
your starting weight and condition as well.

I hope this is the answer helps you. If not, please ask for an Answer
Clarification, and allow me to respond, before you rate this answer.

Sincerely, Crabcakes

Search Terms
Nutritional content + carrots
Composition + carrots
Composition + Cheetos
Nutritional content + carrots
Malnutrition + death
Starvation + death
Excess blood ammonia
brian22-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $10.00
Thank you so much! What a fantastic answer!

Subject: Re: Island Survival Food: Cheetos or Carrots
From: markvmd-ga on 22 Sep 2006 17:21 PDT
I can hardly get through a small bag of Cheetos. Living off them is a
horrible thought.

And yes, you'd turn orange.
Subject: Re: Island Survival Food: Cheetos or Carrots
From: crabcakes-ga on 25 Sep 2006 22:15 PDT
Thank you for the 5 stars and the nice tip! Both are appreciated. I
hope you never have to chose between surviving on Cheetos or carrots!
Regards, Crabcakes
Subject: Re: Island Survival Food: Cheetos or Carrots
From: brian22-ga on 26 Sep 2006 09:03 PDT
Had I known that someone with the name "crabcakes" was going to take
on the question, I would have thrown that into the mix too: cheetos,
carrots, or crabcakes! Clearly, crabcakes would be the winner among
the three!
Subject: Re: Island Survival Food: Cheetos or Carrots
From: crabcakes-ga on 26 Sep 2006 12:02 PDT
Crabcakes would surely keep you alive a long time! Clearly the winner!


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