Advertisers Aren't Nutritionists

I stopped in my tracks this morning as I passed by the TV and overheard a commercial on the History Channel for Crystal Lite®. The advertisement stressed the importance of drinking eight glasses of water a day, while telling viewers they can get their daily required intake of water by drinking at least eight or more glasses of their artificially sweetened, chemically-dyed, powdered, laboratory drink product. As a Certified Nutritionist, I was so stunned and amazed by this horribly inaccurate "nutritional" advice, I stopped my weekend chores to boot up my computer and begin writing this article.

In my professional opinion, not only is this advertisement nutritionally misleading, it illustrates the fact that more and more "advertisers" are promoting the notion that pure, natural foods and drinks aren't satisfying for human pleasure anymore. This is another example of marketers sacrificing basic nutrition for profit. Drinking eight glasses of a chemical powder mixed with water does not equal hydrating your body with pure H2O.

One of the best examples of advertisers "acting like nutritionists" is the No-Carb craze that recently fizzled out due to bad, VERY BAD, nutritional aftereffects. PR solely generated this "fad" to promote products that dominated the American diet for a few short years. Consumers actually feared eating carbs! And typically, consumers with diabetes were affected the most. Yet, the advertisers and manufacturing companies selling low-carb products were actually promoting the type of carbs that do, indeed, harm the body, such as simple carbs, fake fats, and chemical sugar substitute carbs. There are distinct differences between healthy and non-healthy carbs. Let me summarize for you a genuine nutritional explanation about carbs:

"Net carb" is one of the fad catchwords used by marketers targeting people watching their carbs, especially diabetics. "Net carb" means that the carbs from fiber don't count in your total carb intake, which is a good thing for the weight conscious consumer. But beware - this advice is inaccurate, especially for a diabetic! "Net carb" means something very different from what marketers represent, as do the carbs from fiber. Net carb products actually contain more carbs than most people get in one meal.

To determine the net carbs, take the total carbs and subtract the amount of fiber. Diabetics, in particularly, must monitor the "total carbs" in packaged products, not the net carbs.

A carb is a carb is a carb. It doesn't matter if it's a fiber carb or a sugar carb. But, there is a difference between longer acting carbs (complex sugars and starches) and short response carbs (simple sugars and refined grains), and the impact they have on health. Let's say you have a choice to eat a piece of cake (a simple carb) versus a sandwich on soy-based, whole grain bread (long-acting carb). Choose the sandwich, of course, because the total complex carbs will have less harmful glucose effects on your body. Manufactured carbs are generally simple carbs, as are those foods containing artificial sweeteners.

Net carbs affect blood sugar much like a carb load. Many people eat net carb products for high protein and in-between-meal snacks, thinking they are eating less total carbs. But, the result is that these products can spike blood sugar, which is a harmful reaction for a diabetic or someone with hypoglycemia, and net carbs keep you hungry. So, keep in mind that net carb products actually contain more carbs than most people get in one meal.

Yet, marketers posing as "nutritionists" have been convincing consumers through inaccurate advertising campaigns that carbs are the "bad guys." Sadly, the majority of American consumers believe the advertisers, and it took a few years and much physical suffering to realize this advice was harmful to long-term health. And, don't forget that skinny doesn't necessarily mean healthy.

Bottom-line, read your labels carefully and plan your meals in a healthy way. Remember to watch out for the supplemental products full of net carbs, and don't listen to advertisers trying to be your nutritionist.

Another advertising myth: Flavored water will give you inner beauty. Yes, I said "inner beauty." Listen to the advertisements. What's wrong with real, unadulterated, filtered or spring water for inner beauty and health? Flavored waters are yet another marketing fad to make money off the basic human need to hydrate the body with drinking water. The chemicals used to make flavored waters are not the solution for a healthier body, or as the advertisers say, "A more beautiful body."

Consider what this misinformation is teaching our children - advertisments are encouraging our young to choose the flavor of artificially sweetened water over pure and natural spring water. This is NOT a healthy example for long-term health and wellness. Chemical water can lead to health problems over time, and encourages eating disorders and weight gain. Dehydration from a lack of drinking "pure" drinking water can create hunger and obesity, wrinkles, dry skin, and aging.

Dr. F. Batmanghelidj, M.D. writes in an excerpt from his excellent book Your Body's Many Cries for Water, GHS, Inc., "Many persons confuse their feeling of thirst as hunger. Thinking they have consumed enough 'water' that is in the soda, they assume they are hungry and begin to eat more than their body's need for food. Thus, dehydration, in due time, will cause a gradual gain in weight from overeating as a direct result of confusion of thirst and hunger sensations."

"It is primitive and simplistic thinking that one could easily lace water with all sorts of pleasure-enhancing chemicals and substitute these fluids for the natural and clean water that the human body needs," Batmanghelidj continues. "Some of these chemicals, caffeine, aspartame, saccharin and alcohol, through their constant lopsided effect on the brain, uni-directionally - single mindedly - program the body chemistry with results contrary to the natural design of the body."

A reflex occurs when the brain reacts to a "sweet taste" referred to as a "cephalic phase response." When a sweet taste stimulates the tongue, the brain programs the liver to prepare for acceptance of new energy in the form of sugar from "the outside coming in." If it is indeed sugar that stimulates the response, the effects on the liver will be the proper regulation of that sugar which has entered the body. However, if the sweet taste is not followed by a real nutrient availability, an urge to eat will be the outcome.

According to Dr. Batmanghelidj, it is the liver that produces the signals and the urge to eat. The more sweet taste that stimulates the taste buds without the accompanying calories, the more there is an urge to eat, over eat.

A container of Crystal Lite® costs approximately $4.49 on sale. This container makes 8 quarts. It contains 4 tubs equaling 32 8oz servings that are 5 calories each. The nutritional facts list 0 percent for everything in the container. The percent daily values are calculated based on a 2,000-calorie diet. The "Best By" date was February 17, 2008; a very long shelf life.

The ingredient list is as follows: Citric Acid (provides tartness), Maltodextrin, Instant Tea, Corn Syrup Solids**, Aspartame (sweetener). Contains less than 2% of natural flavor, Magnesium oxide (prevents caking), Acesulfame Potassium (sweetener), Red 40 Lake, Red 40, Yellow 6 Lake, Yellow 5, Blue 1 Lake, Blue 1, BHA (Preserves freshness). **Adds a trivial amount of sugar.

There's not one item with any nutritional value in this powdered water flavoring. Unbelievable. Do you want your growing toddler replacing pure water with these chemicals? It's your choice.

If marketers, acting as your nutritionist, convince you that flavored water or any powdered drink products will fulfill your body's need for eight glasses of pure drinking water a day, they have succeeded in keeping you hungry and thirsty to sell more products.

And finally, it appears the fox is watching the henhouse: Equal is sponsoring The American Diabetes Association's Walk For Life Campaign.

My sister has insulin-dependent diabetes, so our entire family is sensitive to the fact that she controls her diabetes, keeps her weight down, and secures a strong immune system by avoiding ALL diet chemical sweeteners, except for saccharin in her morning coffee.

Knowing the potential dangers to diabetics who use aspartame, sucralose and other diet sweeteners, I was disappointed, but not surprised, when I saw Equal was sponsoring a fundraising event for the American Diabetes Association. Ah, another example of advertisers acting like my sister's nutritionist.

Go to The American Diabetes Association's Walk For Life Campaign and check out the sponsors at the bottom.

Posted September 2006 | Permanent Link

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