This is for you Herbie and I really mean it!
Do any of you know who Art Linkletter is? He had a TV show back in the 1950s and 60s called Art Linkletter’s House Party. Later in his career he co-hosted Kids Say the Darndest Things with Bill Cosby. If you have an extra 7 minutes and want a good laugh, check this YouTube video of highlights from these early shows. He certainly brought the best out in kids — or at least the funniest. If you recognize yourself, let me know. And if you know where I can get a pair of glitter glasses like the ones Karen is wearing, please tip me off. I love those.
What does this have to do with anything, you ask? Especially a nutrition blog?
Art Linkletter did his show in front of a live audience. Although not part of this video clip, legend has it that he once asked a cute, freckled-face little boy if he wanted to say something special to one of his friends at home watching him on TV.
Hey Tommy. Look at me, I’m on TV and you’re not.
You know, something like that.
The kid thought for a moment, then looked directly into the camera, stuck his hand up in the air, vigorously flipped the bird, and said, “This is for you Herbie, and I really mean it.”
Yes, kids say the darndest things.
Again, what does this have to do with my nutrition blog? I’ve been inspired by a friend to write a post on soda pop. Inspired by his refusal to give the stuff up, not because he asked me to share my evangelical ranting with him. In fact, quite the opposite. But that’s never stopped me before.
So, this is for you Don and I really mean it!
(No accompanying hand gestures necessary.)
Pay attention. And yes, I do realize I can be bossy and annoying.
First off, if soda pop is an occasional treat, that’s probably okay, although I suggest eliminating it altogether. It has ZERO nutritional value and HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) is a common ingredient. New research published in the Journal of Nutrition suggests that the ratio of fructose to glucose (chemical names for sugar) in HFCS converts to fat in the body more efficiently than other forms of sugar. The study found that as the fructose concentration went up, so did the rate of lipogenesis (the process in which sugars are converted to body fat).
According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, soft drink companies produce enough soda pop to provide each and every one of us with 52.4 gallons per year. That’s 557 12-ounce cans each. According to the National Soft Drink Association (NSDA), the number is closer to 600 12-ounce cans per person, per year. Who’s drinking my share? And that’s not even counting all the other junk drinks like Red Bull, sugar-sweetened iced tea, diet drinks, and so on.
The NSDA also claims that carbonated soft drinks are the single biggest source of calories in the American diet (are they bragging about that?). How can that be? I suppose if you’re drinking two 12-ounce cans of Pepsi per day, you’re getting 320 calories and that comes out to about 16% of caloric intake (in a 2000 calorie per day diet). That pushes out goodies like broccoli and kale. (Yes, you should be eating broccoli and kale.)
Okay, how much sugar is that? If you drink two 12-ounce cans of soda pop, that’s 80 grams of sugar. Four grams equals 1 teaspoon, so that’s 20 teaspoons of sugar per day in soda pop alone. Yikes!
The stuff is cheap because it’s mainly water and corn syrup, so no wonder the kid behind the drink counter at the movie theater encourages you to buy the 36 ounce soda for an extra 25 cents. Wait, that would be 30 teaspoons of sugar, wouldn’t it? Not only that, but a certain type of sugar that converts to fat more efficiently. And you’re not expending many calories while sitting there watching Kung Fu Panda. It’s not surprising that obesity is on the rise.
As Marion Nestle points out in her wonderful book, What To Eat, soda pop is inexpensive because, “water is practically free, and your taxes pay to subsidize corn production.” Does that mean that as tax payers we’re directly contributing to the obesity problem in this country? I want to personally choose where my tax money goes. Wouldn’t you be more willing to cheerfully pay your taxes if you could specify what program your money went to? “Cheerful” might be a leap, but I prefer my contribution not be part of the HFCS subsidy.
Okay, I’m not picking up that “food politics” rope. But I will say, #*^@!
Back to soda pop and HFCS. The above mentioned article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition explains, “Fructose is a simple sugar found in honey, fruit, table sugar (sucrose), and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Because of the worldwide increase in the consumption of these sweeteners, fructose intake has quadrupled since the early 1900s. The past 30 years have witnessed an even greater acceleration in consumption, in part because of the introduction of HFCS; this phenomenon parallels the rise in obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and kidney disease.”
Studies show that excessive fructose ingestion can cause inflammation, promote hyperactivity, induce insulin resistance, cause cavities, elevate blood pressure, contribute to fatty liver and renal injury, cause oxidative stress, and contribute to obesity.
Gosh, they had me at inflammation. I’ve got an autoimmune disease (celiac), so increasing inflammation is not on my “to do” list. It shouldn’t be on yours either.
If that’s not enough, phosphoric acid, added to give soda pop its “zip” causes calcium loss. We don’t want that. Pure phosphoric acid can eat its way through almost anything (metal, cement). Household hints columnist, Mary Ellen, suggests using Coke to clean your toilets, bathtubs, and sinks. Heloise, another hints queen, suggests pouring Coke over car battery terminals to get rid of the corrosion. And we’re drinking it by the gallon. Ugh!
Most soda also contains caffeine. High amounts stimulate the adrenal glands causing chronic low grade stress and poor quality sleep. Not good. Caffeine also contributes to gastric inflammation and increased stomach acid levels.
“From the health point of view it is desirable especially to have restriction of such use of sugar as is represented by consumption of sweetened carbonated beverages and forms of candy which are of low nutritional value. The Council believes it would be in the interest of the public health for all practical means to be taken to limit consumption of sugar in any form in which it fails to be combined with significant proportions of other foods of high nutritive quality.”
The above statement was released in 1942 by the American Medical Association’s Council on Food and Nutrition. We should have paid attention. But it’s never too late to dump the stuff in your toilet, scrub well, and flush.
Go forth and drink water.
In good health,