Tag Archives: natural

Diet Soda May Hurt Your Diet

Somehow, I have a feeling this post will strike an unpleasant chord with many readers, as I know people who take their diet soda very seriously. I am not one who has ever been a soda addict, caffeine addict or sugar addict (at least not in drink form).  Ideally, I would try to stick to water, but I find myself drinking ice tea or low-fat chocolate milk (post-workout) and even the occasional coffee.  I try to stay as far away from soda as I possibly can for countless reasons.  Mainly, I don’t get any satisfaction from drinking the bubbly, sugary drink with artificial colors and flavors.  If anything I feel more sluggish and my stomach is upset from the carbonation.  I end up more thirsty than I was before indulging in the beverage and since my stomach is filled with so much air, eventually I’m back to being hungry too.

The main complaint I have with diet soda is their claim that it makes you think it is somehow “healthy” because the word “diet” comes before it.  The fact is diet soda still has artificial sweeteners which, although haven’t been proven to be harmful, are still best avoided.  Just because the FDA hasn’t stepped in doesn’t mean the product is a good one!  Saccharine was banned in Canada and other countries because lab tests with animals found that it was linked to bladder cancer; the FDA has chosen to remove warning labels due to inconclusive evidence as to the effect it has on humans.  Aspartame is a high profile, artificial sweetener that is highly controversial.  Aspartame was discovered as a sweetener while researching anti-ulcer drugs.  The scientist spilled some on his hands and realized it had a sweet flavor, so now it’s in many diet drinks, water packets and other sugar-free items.  There are many, many names for aspartame and claims have been made that it contributes to anything from cancer to psychiatric problems in humans.  The jury is still out on this one as well, but in my opinion it isn’t worth the risk.

Another point to be made is studies have found that people who drink diet soda are not healthier in any way.  Reducing the food energy intake of sugar in soda doesn’t imply that person will have a lower food intake overall or lead to weight loss.  An independent study also found that 48% of the 9,000 people in their test group were at higher risk for weight gain and elevated blood sugar levels.  The diet soda merely increased the person’s desire for sweet foods.

 

Homemade Sparkling Water Spritzer

Overall, I think it is best to avoid soda in general.  If you have to have it every once in a while that’s fine and dandy, but don’t justify your indulgence by telling yourself it is “healthy” and do your best to try and limit your intake as much as possible.

 

Best idea for soda drinkers?  Create your own soda!  Combine sparkling water (not club soda-too much sodium) and your favorite 100% fruit juice.  This is a great way to wean you off of the artificial crap and still get a taste of the bubbly stuff.  Sparkling water is hydrating and the NYTimes reported it can help keep calcium in your bones.

For a drink like this, pour glass half full with 100% juice of your choice and half full of sparkling water.

To make things more fun or fancy, try using frozen berries or fruit instead of ice cubes!!

Fancy Schmancy Fruit Cubes


What’s Your Beef? A Look Into the Grass Fed Debate.

Grass Fed Beef AdRecently, I did a research paper on the feed lot cattle industry. What spurred my interest was an important movie called Food, Inc. which, for those of you who haven’t seen it, will make anyone question where their food comes from. They dive into more than just the treatment of the animals and find out the overall effects of this type of agriculture (if one can call it that).  I can assure you that this is not an exaggerated issue. I personally have traveled through parts of the state of Wyoming and Nebraska in which the smell from these feedlots is so overwhelmingly intense it makes me nauseous just thinking about it. All I kept thinking while driving past the feedlots was, “That place is so disgusting and we actually eat what they grow, that can’t be good for us”.  And it isn’t.

It all boils down to what the cows are fed.  These days, cows are fed corn, hormones and remains of other cattle.  Why? Because they get fat, fast.  According to Michael Pollan, author of the Omnivore’s Dillema, cows 50 years ago took four or five years before they were big enough to slaughter.  Today, we see them growing at enormous rates.  A steer will go from 80 pounds to 1,100 pounds in 14 months. Plus, corn is a cheap feed as is the remains of their fellow species.  In other words, the cattle industry makes a much higher profit at a faster rate.

What you end up with is a cow who is suffering from anything from bloat to acidosis.  Their stomachs are becoming more acidic due to the starchy corn feed.  What happens then is the bacteria in their stomach becomes acid resistant.  So when we eventually eat this cow’s meat, the bacteria that would normally be killed off by our own stomach acids isn’t killed at all.  Hence the E-Coli outbreaks we’ve all heard about.  This spreads very easily when you consider the living conditions of these animals.  Typically, they are overcrowded facilities in which the animals are standing ankle deep in feces.  Yeah…not pretty.

Feeding cows the remains of other cows also yields a problem.  This is helps to spread that lovely little disease known as Mad Cow Disease or Encephalopathy.  The USDA knows of these practices, but has yet to put a strict ban on them.

Feedlot

There is a solution to these issues.  Grass feeding cattle.  It is practical and natural and will reduce the sicknesses in animals by up to 80%.  Cows would no longer be eating corn which causes the acid resistance.  Therefore, E-Coli would be significantly reduced and the need to pump antibiotics in these animals would be eliminated.  Plus, they wouldn’t eat the remains of other cows so the spread of Mad Cow Disease would also be eradicated.  Seems like a fantastic solution to me!

However, the USDA has deemed it unfeasible.  Why? Grass is a renewable resource.  It’s easy to grow.  You can reduce any harm on the environment with cattle rotation (which simulates the way Bison would have roamed years ago). The meat is higher in Omega-3 fats and is more lean than corn fed beef.  Seems feasible to me.

If you want to find grass fed beef in your area, I highly recommend it.  Make sure you read the labels carefully.  You can contact local farmers directly or visit your local farmers market or natural food store.  It may be more expensive, but it tastes good and you’re not filling your body with unhealthy fats, antibiotics and potentially dangerous viruses.
I am posting my full paper online, for more sources check out Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollen and Food Matters by Mark Bittman.