Diet, Exercise, General Health

Live For Now

Pepsi launched a new ad campaign.  Maybe you have seen the billboards across town or the TV ad, which proudly demands that we “Live For Now?”

I love it!  Finally, truth in advertising!

No more live for today or live for the moment. Simply put, live for now—right now, this instant… Certainly, if you were thinking of living a long time you wouldn’t be drinking this now.  But you’re not, you’re thinking about now.  One of my personal training clients said the ad is just missing proper punctuation..”Live, for Now”…would have been more accurate, he said.  In fact, if you thought about it for even a second longer you might just decide not to have that Pepsi and drink something really hydrating and less costly in so many ways….Water!

Anyone remember the the old campaign, “the taste for a new generation?”  Forget that.  Pepsi needed a new ad campaign mostly because soda has become the four letter word of beverages.  We have heard that its not that healthy but we wonder..is it really that bad for you?

Lets start by looking at what its made of: Carbonated water, caramel color, flavorings, caffeine, phosphoric acid and high-fructose corn syrup/sugar/artificial sweetner and preservatives, like sodium benzoate.

Carbonated water is plain (water infused with carbon dioxide, which creates the bubbles).  The caramel color  in some brands of soda was in fact found to be carcinogenic, so it has been replaced by another one which is supposedly safer.

Phosphoric acid is a chemical that adds a tangy or sour flavor by breaking down starches into sugar.  The phosphorous can leach calcium from your bones.  Broken bones, osteoporosis—no thanks!

Then there’s the sugar issue..and we know the troubles of table sugar – weight gain, tooth decay, even cancer in rats.  I don’t mind sugar now and then though in moderation. In some ways, maybe soda should be thought of as a drinkable dessert.  For the sake of comparison, a typical sugar packet contains 2-4 grams of sugar.  A 12 oz Pepsi contains 42g  (3.5g/oz) HFCS – high fructose corn syrup is a less expensive type of sugar than cane sugar (thank you to the US corn lobby).  However, corn is one of the most genetically modified crops…and we don’t know the risks of genetically modified seeds and crops yet.  I prefer not to be the government’s guinea pig here—especially since the way to break down the DNA of the seeds is through viruses.  We simply don’t know the long term results.  If you have sugar, your body will register that at some point its full and you will stop. HFCS puts us in an even greater metabolic danger because it doesn’t register that feeling of fullness in the brain the same way.

Aha, but you may drink a sugar-free diet version of Pepsi which contains 0 grams of sugar.  According to one study, those who drank just 1 can of diet soda a day had a 34% greater incidence of metabolic syndrome.  But why?  Partly, I think its because people may indulge in other junk-foods (high calorie foods with low nutrient density) because they think the drink is saving them calories. It could also be that the brain forgets that sweetness indicates calories as you eat more and more artificially sweetened things so when you do finally break down and eat a sweet thing with sugar the body thinks it doesn’t need to burn those calories since there mustn’t be any.

Artificial sweetners like Aspartame/Nutra Sweet, are an excitotoxin, which may damage to the brain’s appetite center.   Carol Simontacchi from her book The Crazy Makers: How the Food Industry Is Destroying Our Brains and Harming Our Children states, “One liter of an aspartame-sweetened beverage can produce about fifty-six milligrams of methanol. When several of these beverages are consumed in a short period of time (one day, perhaps), as much as two hundred fifty milligrams of methanol are dumped into the bloodstream, or thirty-two times the EPA limit.”  Hm, when people characterize soda as a poison, they may not exaggerating.

Then there’s that addictive stimulant known as caffeine which is a diuretic (read: dehydrating).  At first, you feel like you have energy, but when you come down off the caffine, you can feel quite hungry—and eat more calories and put on excess weight which puts you at risk for disease.  The problem is that between the spike in blood sugar caused by the sugar (HFCS included) and the surge followed by a crash caused by the caffine, you are likely to wind up hungry…and throw off the successes you accrued in diet and exercise because it left you depleted.

Finally, there’s the sodium benzoate, which is added to prevent mold growth.  A Consumer Reports test found that when drinks with this sit in plastic bottles in sun or heat, dangerous levels of benzene can form.  Sodium benzoate or potassium benzoate and vitamin C/ascorbic acid can create the benzene.

Its really quite a campaign indeed.  The “Live for Now” campaign is so trendy and cool with its Nicki Minaj pop up concerts integrating her lyrics from the song “Moment 4 Life.” “I wish that I could have this moment for life.  ‘Cuz in this moment I just feel so alive.”  Made me think..

I feel most alive when I’m working out actually.  When do you feel most alive? Are you living for Now? What one small thing can you do right now that will help ensure you will be alive for the really important things in your life?

Blaylock, R. Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills. Santa Fe, NM: Health Press 1997.

Consumer Reports staff.  “Benzene in Soft Drinks.” Consumer Reports, October 2006. www.consumerreports.org/cro/food/food-safey/benzene-in-soft-drinks/benzene-10-06/overview/1006_benzene_ov_1.htm

Swithers, S. and Davidson T. “A Role for Sweet Taste:Calorie Predictive Relations in Energy Regulation by Rats.”  Behavioral Neuroscience 122 no1 (February 2008)

Pierce, W. Et Al. “Over-eating by Young Obesity Prone and Lean Rats Caused by Tastes Associated with Low Energy Foods.”  Obesity 15 no8 (August 2007)

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