Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Diet Coke and other calorie free foods

About a week ago I watched a very interesting lecture by a physician from UCSF called "Sugar: The Bitter Truth."  It's long but totally worth the watch.  (or you could wait a couple weeks and I will be doing a presentation at the FC based on some of that program called Dying for Sweets).

The presentation went in depth on the differences and similarities of glucose (fuel of life), fructose (sugar found in fruit or industrially created as crystalline fructose or high fructose corn syrup ... or ironically renamed: corn sugar), and sucrose (table sugar made up of one glucose hooked to one fructose).

Basically, the take home from this 90+ minute program was:

We eat too much sugar.  Period.

Doesn't matter where it comes from  -- we're making ourselves ill because historically we haven't ever had to deal with as much sugar as we are now exposed to.  The presenter in the video called it "toxic" and "a poison".  And I agree.

Now, like alcohol, some sugar isn't going to kill us.  But the massive amounts we are exposed to actually is killing us (diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease -- sugar contributes to all of these!)

To add on top of this -- I got an email from one of our fellow reader.  She asked me to remind all of you that "Diet" soda isn't any better for us than regular soda -- people are still gaining weight from the non-calorie options! 

My question to you is:  why are you drinking the soda (diet or not) in the first place???

"Because it tastes soooo good", you say?

Well...couple things:

First -- soda/fizzy drinks/crystal light/etc have no nutritional value....at all.  Milk has calcium and Vitamin D needed for strong bones.  Red wine has components thought to reduces the risk of heart disease.  Fruit juices (the real ones -- that actually are comprised of juice from fruit -- not water, sugar, red dye number 6 and 5% "Real Juice") provide vitamins, minerals, and sometimes even some fiber.

Sodas?  Nada.  They provide sugar (or some fake substitute) -- which none of us need, salt (again -- very few of us should have more salt in our diet), caffeine, and colorants.  Hmmmm.....

But it tastes so good......or does it?

It's kind of a long story -- but since the beginning of the year, I have worked really hard to limit my intake of sugars.  Yesterday, I thought I would treat myself to a fountain Coke (y'all know how I LOVE fountain Cokes!) I haven't had Coke in better than a month.  And you know what?  It tasted syrupy, sickly sweet, and so nasty I had to throw it away!

I'm really disappointed that it didn't taste good!  I really thought it would.  But -- cutting down on the sugar must have made me more sensitive to the sweetness in the drink.  --so it didn't taste good -- which means taste is in the mouth of the beholder.  You could reduce your taste for sweet drinks....if you wanted to.

And yes, I'm sure if I persisted, all I would have to do was get back into the habit of drinking fountain cokes and they would start tasting good -- but why would I do that?  They have no redeeming value.

And yes, I could switch to diet coke -- that would probably take care of the too-sweet taste of the soda.  But, again....why would I do that?

And, just one more thing:  We can't outsmart Mother Nature.  Studies show that if you give kids a regular soda sweetened with high fructose corn syrup before the head into the fast food restaurant, they will eat more calories than if they didn't have the soda.  Fructose doesn't simulate insulin -- which is one of the signals that allow the brain to recognize the calories we are consuming.  Without the insulin response those calories fly under the brain's radar and it won't account for them as it's calculating when to turn off our hunger -- so we eat more.

You know what else doesn't cause insulin to be released?  The fake sugars in sodas (and everything else).  We have been lead to believe these are no-calorie foods but research is showing us that even though the mechanism is not clearly understood, fake-sugar foods are causing us to gain weight too.

They're not "free" foods.  All foods come with a price.

Are your choices in foods the ones that are serving you best?  Or are you just running on autopilot because you assume you like your choices?

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