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    Archive for the ‘liquids’ Category

    You Ask, I Answer: Liquid Calories

    There’s been quite a lot written about liquid calories in the last couple of years. Specifically, Nutrition Action (published by CSPI) has repeatedly warned that too many calories from milk, juice, and soda can lead to weight gain

    I don’t drink any of these things, but I do enjoy pureed whole foods.

    If I make a smoothie from yogurt and whole fruit, or if I blend my vegetable and bean soup into a smooth puree, does my body read that as liquid or solid calories?

    It’s not clear to me if the problem with liquid calories is that they lack fiber and therefore don’t fill you up, or if being pureed makes the sugars in food hit the bloodstream too quickly.

    Or some other explanation entirely.

    — Rachelle Thibodeau
    Ottawa, Canada

    The type of liquid calories you refer to are different than juice and soda because they contain fiber and, therefore, take longer to digest.

    That said, since smoothies are quickly consumed (more so than soups, which are hot and can take some time to finish), it can be very easy to down an 800 calorie one (i,e: a blend of milk, peanut butter, flax oil, and weight gaining powders) in a matter of minutes.

    I should also note that a homemade smoothie with yogurt and whole fruits is different than many commercial ones made with fruit-flavored syrups or juice concentrates.

    As for your blended soups: a pureed version of a food raises blood sugars more quickly than those same foods in their whole form, but since you are dealing with vegetables and beans, the fiber content is still high — and will be helpful in filling you up quickly.

    I refrain from putting milk in the same category as soda and juice drinks.

    A glass of milk (whether dairy, soy, or nut) contains protein, a variety of nutrients, and some fat (depending on the variety of milk you drink). It is not liquid candy.

    The concern with milk and weight gain has more to do with sugar-laden milk-based concoctions like milkshakes, flavored milks, and yogurt beverages that have as much sugar as a can of soda.

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    Numbers Game: Answer

    A University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health study published in the November 2007 issue of Obesity Research found that per capita total daily intake of liquid calories in the United States increased 94 percent from 1965 to 2002.

    This means the average American is now getting a hefty 21 percent of his or her total calories exclusively from beverages.

    Since we are talking about mostly caloric beverages (particularly sodas and fruit juices), this makes the 2002 figures 222 calories higher than those from 1965!

    Add to that the fact that these 222 calories are not balanced out by a reduction in food intake (if anything, they are accompanied by an increase in calories from food!) and it becomes rather clear why rates of overweight and obesity have increased.

    Let the accompanying photo also serve as a reminder that 7-11’s 44 ounce Super Big Gulp and 64 ounce Double Gulp cups did not exist in 1965!

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    You Ask, I Answer: Drinking Water With Meals

    I have been debating whether to drink water with my meals, or only in between.

    I heard that in Asia and Europe, it is believed that drinking water with meals can dilute your digestive acids.

    Is this true?

    — Jane (last name withheld)
    Waltham, MA

    This is a nutrition issue that often gets misunderstood.

    Although I can’t say I am familiar with traditional eating habits from around the world, I know that in several European and Asian countries people do drink water with their meals.

    In any case, the suggestion that mixing food with water dilutes hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes is grossly exaggerated.

    For those of you who do not know what hydrocholoric acid does, one of its functions is to assist in digestion by breaking down protein into amino acids.

    With that in mind, you would need to drink gallons upon gallons of water along with your meal in order to dilute stomach acids and digestive enzymes to the point of rendering them ineffective.

    Remember that the foods we eat contain water – whole wheat bread is 35% water, broccoli comes in at 91%, cheese delivers 37%, grilled chicken is made up of 71%, and pasta clocks in at 72%.

    Very few foods – for example, peanut butter – have very low water contents. Think of eating a peanut butter sandwich without any liquids in between bites. Can you say “torture”?

    The bottom line is that even if you do not take a single sip of liquid during a meal, you are still taking in water, making a “no water” rule rather silly.

    The one thing I will say about having fluids with meals is the following.

    If someone is underweight and has difficulty eating sufficient amounts of food in one sitting, I would recommend they not drink liquids until after their meal in order to leave “room” for actual food.

    Other than that, there is no valid reason to have “dry” meals.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Hexagonal Water

    Have you heard of these devices that transform the shape of water molecules?

    Supposedly if you change the shape, it hydrates you better, slows down aging, and can cure certain diseases.

    — Trevor Jaracz
    (location withheld)

    I have indeed heard of devices — such as the Vitalizer Plus — that proclaim to alter the structure of a water molecule into a hexagonal shape.

    Some companies go as far as claiming that hexagonal water is “living water” with “beneficial enzymes” that are not found in tap or bottled water.

    I have also heard the advertised benefits — a healthier immune system, less inflammation, better gastrointestinal health, etc, etc.

    The only positive thing I can muster to say about this is that whoever came up with this concept sure has an overly vidid imagination.

    I’ll spare everyone a tedious chemistry lesson and just say that the molecular structure of water is permanently fixed, and absolutely no biochemical changes can be made (by any person or machine) to turn it into a “healthier” or “better” beverage.

    It doesn’t need to be! No one is getting sick as a result of drinking conventional water.

    For all intents and purposes, hexagonal water should be placed in the same category as unicorns, fairies, and gnomes.

    I would be very happy if all companies selling hexagonal were heavily fined by the Federal Trade Commission for false advertising.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Water

    Do we really need to drink 8 glasses of water a day?

    — Derek Naughman
    Minneapolis, MN

    This is undoubtedly one of the most prevalent nutrition myths.

    This all stems from a scientific report which concluded that humans need approximately 64 to 75 ounces of fluid a day.

    The mass media reported this as “64 ounces of water a day,” completely oblivious to the fact that said figure accounted for water present in the food we eat as well as beverages other than H2O (milk, coffee, tea, soda, juice, etc).

    If the food we ate was lacking in water, it would practically be impossible to swallow it. Granted, some food (cucumbers, watermelons) offers more hydration than others (peanut butter).

    Yes, you read correctly — coffee contributes to that water figure. Some of you might be confused, since caffeine, a natural diuretic, dehydrates.

    Many clinical research trials, however, have shown that regular coffee drinkers’ bodies get used to the caffeine intake and their fluid loss, if any, is minimal.

    While it is possible that a new coffee drinker may need slightly more hydration, after a few months of drinking 2 cups of coffee a day, his body will not need to replenish the fluids once lost to caffeine.

    Of course water is one of the best beverages you can have, since it is free of added sugars, artificial sweeteners, and calories.

    However, milk (dairy or soy) offers calcium, protein, and vitamin D, while tea and coffee offer some great antoxidants.

    Simply put, drink when you feel thirsty and you’ll be just fine. This will most likely vary with context. You will drink more fluid if you are exercising, and will feel more thirsty in summer than winter.

    If your thirst only requires 4 or 5 cups of liquid a day, so be it. Don’t force water down your throat because “you have to drink 8 glasses a day” (you don’t!). If any “expert” references the “8 glasses of water a day” figure as dogma, feel free to correct them.

    As for that myth claiming that by the time we are thirsty we are actually dehydrated — absolutely not true. Thirst and dehydration happen under very different conditions in the body.

    Older people need to be increasingly aware of staying hydrated, though, since humans’ thirst mechanism loses efficiency with age.

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