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Play It Safe: Drink Water

drink-waterI was at a store the other day and I quickly picked up something to hydrate my son in between sports as he had 3 activities back-to-back-to-back. Due to poor forward planning I was left me in this situation and had to survey the shelves for something to purchase. I came across a pack of flavored water and decided to give it a go. It was a citrus flavored water beverage and was quite nice tasting. Once arriving at the hockey arena I decided to read the nutritional information:

  • 0 grams of fat
  • 0 grams of carbohydrates
  • 0 grams if sugar
  • 0 grams of proteins
  • 0 calories

As I have a flash back to my nutrition classes from university….. I recall foods being made up of different proportions of 3 macronutrients: fats, carbohydrates and proteins (alcohol can sometimes be considered a 4th). With the exception of water, when something I eat doesn’t contain any of these it makes me concerned.

Due to an obesity epidemic (recent research suggests 51% of Canadians are overweight), many of the foods we consume now are “low calorie” options. The perceived benefit of “low calorie” options is if we don’t ingest as many calories there will not be excess energy that can be converted to fat in our body (erroneously we think this will help us combat our over-weight and obesity epidemic as some research suggests those that eat “low calories foods with sweeteners actually gain weight).

To give these “low calorie” foods a nice, sweet taste many add artificial sweeteners. There are a number of artificial sweeteners most notably: saccharin, aspartame, sucralose and neotame.

In my beverage it was sucralose that gave the flavored water its “sweet” taste.

Canada was the first country to approve use of sucralose in 1991. Other countries such as the United States have since allowed its use. Many other countries (most notably in Europe) have not followed suit and still do not allow sucralose to be used in products.

This is due to a discrepancy in research findings and safety of its ingestion (How much of this ingredient is absorbed and as to whether it can be metabolized in the body). As well there are no long-term human studies to substantiate its safety.

As I learn from this poor decision and hopefully prepare better in the future I leave you with this thought. Most beverages other than water offer only “empty calories” that can add up throughout the day without filling us. Therefore we still eat the same amount of food but we may have added a significant number of calories from beverages such as soda, flavored drinks and caffeinated  energy drinks. On the other hand you have low calorie beverages with ingredients with questionable health effects.

In the future make the wisest choice and play is safe with the wisest choice by drinking good old fashion water.

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