Blurbs of low rapport . . .

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Healthy Drinking

Face-Off: Juice v. Soda

The local news in El Paso, TX did a groundbreaking report today on fruit juice and dieting. Apparently juice can cause weight gain if one drinks too much of it . . . well duh.

I maybe shouldn't get so worked up about something like this, especially considering it is a local broadcast, but I feel kind of passionate about this issue. Issue? Is it even an issue? I don't know. The thing that got me worked up was that they were comparing the health benefits of juice with soda. Soda won! The way they portrayed it to an already overweight population Coca Cola beat out some mysteriously unidentified juice label based primarily on calories. "Calories are calories," is how they put it. As if it doesn't matter where it comes from. Actually there's nothing true about that statement.

First of all fruit calories come primarily from fructose whereas your sweetened drinks come from sucrose and high fructose corn syrup. Okay, so you probably already knew that. What you may not have known is that the glycemic index (GI) of fructose is lower than both of these other sweeteners. What does that mean health-wise? Well, it means that fructose is absorbed into the system at a slower rate and takes longer to digest as the body breaks it down into glucose which is more directly used during metabolic processes. A higher GI means a higher blood sugar level which also means a higher risk of diabetes and obesity. 

Not only that, when your body digests food at a slower rate its going to more evenly distribute that energy throughout the day. So even though soda pop will give you some great feeling bursts of energy (that's from the sugar as well as the caffeine), it also comes with that awful crash and burn. What a drag. On the other hand, juice is going to allow you to use the energy at a more practical rate. In effect, your body will be storing less of the sugar as fat for later use. It's a much better weight control sugar.

A good point that they did fail to mention, is that many store bought juices sneak extra sugar into the juices to make them sweeter. It's a marketing tactic that serves to remind us that capitalism is indifferent to our health (thought I'd sneak in some propaganda there). Often the cheaper brands will sweeten the juices with high fructose corn syrup, which has a GI almost equivalent to sucrose. I should also mention here that most food products do this in forms you would probably not expect. Check your labels and see for yourself. 

Another sly method of sweetening juice that we should watch out for is the addition of apple juice to juices that are not advertised as apple juice. Apple juice has high levels of fructose so it's great for making other juices taste better. This is done very often with certain fruit juices like cranberry and grapefruit, which aren't the sweetest of fruits although delicious in their own right.

So are calories just calories? I hope I've helped someone understand how misguided that mindset is.

Something else to consider is that when you do drink soda basically all you get are calories. Good or bad as they may be, your body deserves more from what you consume. With real 100% fruit and vegetable juices, you're getting all kinds of great nutritional benefits from vitamins and minerals that make your skin, hair, eyesight, body, etc. look and feel great. And when you've got fruits like grapefruit that can dramatically help reduce weight when introduced as a regular supplement to a person's diet, well, there's just no contest now is there.

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"O, Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; To be understood as to understand; To be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; It is in pardoning that we are pardoned; And it is in dying to ourselves that we are born to eternal life. Amen." ~Saint Augustine