Why Chew It?
The problem with sugary drinks extends beyond calories. Let’s clarify: it is a calorie problem, but there’s a lot more going on here than meets the eye.
Backing up a few hundred years, what did our great, great, great, great grandfathers drink? They drank water, water, and then they had some water, and occasionally milk. That’s it.
Water is, of course, a wonderful calorie free beverage that our bodies would certainly die without––‘nuff said! Milk contains protein, carbs, fat, vitamins, etc. and is considered a ‘food’ by many. This distinction is important in considering something called caloric compensation.
Caloric compensation in dietary terms is the adjustment of the body to calories consumed throughout the day. This means (back to that regulatory, homeostatic mechanism at play) that if you sit down at lunch and eat 1500 calories, you are likely to eat less food later in the day, as you have compensated for the load at lunch. Unfortunately, when you drink 1500 calories worth of pop in a day, a number of studies show that we humans cannot compensate for the liquid calories.
Why? Without getting too technical, evolutionarily speaking, we never developed the ability because sugar/caloric filled beverages are rather new on our human time line. Second, liquid calories are absorbed too quickly for hormonal reparation. Your hormones never have a chance to respond and tell your brain you’ve had enough calories already.
What does this all mean? The intake of liquid calories (primarily sweetened drinks) does not reduce your intake of solid food! Some studies have even shown an increase in calories consumed in solid food when sweetened beverages are included in your diet! Why, you ask, are our kids getting fatter?
Wait…there is more! Sensory mechanisms respond differently to things in solution vs. solids. This means that when something tastes good in solid form, it tastes even better in liquid form. Your taste buds respond to the two differently. Sweet beverages are sweeter than solid sweets. Even the smell of sweet liquids (even diet drinks) increases the body’s cephalic insulin response. This means when you smell something sweet like that sugar-filled, told it’s good for you, fruit juice or soda pop, you get hungry and tend to eat to satisfy the craving.
Simple physics even provides some clues: Pour a liquid down a tube vs. pouring some mud down a tube. Your body literally does not see the sodas, fruit juices, and energy drinks until the calories are absorbed in the small intestine. The hormonal guards that tell you to quit stuffing your gullet never had time to respond.
We could get very technical about the mechanism and dangers of liquid calories, but the important thing here is to ask ourselves, “So what can we do about it?”
We could start a big law suit against Pepsi® and Coke®…they would crush us like a grape, and the only ones who would win would be the lawyers. (However, we finally got the gonads up to take on big tobacco…maybe we should think about going after these liquid sugar dispensers to protect our kids…Just a thought…)
Instead, we decided to launch a crusade to get kids to understand that when it comes to their food, they need to CHEW IT!
Won’t you join us?