By Dr. Mercola
If you've paid attention to the news lately, you're probably aware of the shockwaves caused by four-time Super Bowl champion and all-star quarterback Tom Brady, who in a recent interview called out Coca-Cola and Frosted Flakes as "poison."
As noted by the Organic Consumers Association,1 "Brady may have just done more good for kids, and more damage to Big Food, than we could accomplish in months."
Brady Speaks Out Against Food Industry Brainwashing
Brady's interview2 with Massachusetts radio station WEEI revolved around his win over the Cowboys, but then they began discussing the recent Boston Magazine story3 on his body coach and business partner Alex Guerrero.
Brady defended Guerrero, with whom he started the TB12 Sports Therapy Center,4 and then launched into his views on processed junk food and soda, saying:
"I think we've been lied to by a lot of food companies over the years, by a lot of beverage companies over the years. But we still [believe] it... We believe that Frosted Flakes is a food...
You'll probably go out and drink Coca-Cola and think 'Oh yeah, that's no problem.' Why? Because they pay lots of money for advertisements to think that you should drink Coca-Cola for a living...
I totally disagree with that. And when people do that, I think that's quackery. And the fact that they can sell that to kids? I mean, that's poison for kids...
When you go to the Super Bowl, who are the sponsors? That's the education that we get. That's what we get brainwashed to believe; that all these things are just normal food groups, and this is what you should eat."
Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Cure...
Brady also expresses his views on preventive and holistic medicine, saying:
"Our approach to medicine is, let's wait until you get sick. Wait until you get hurt, and then we'll treat you. Well, how about trying to find ways to prevent that from even happening?
I think it's a much better approach to medicine... Now you guys may think I'm full of crap, but I'm the proof, what you see on the field."
Indeed, Brady blew out his knee in 2008, and claims the only thing that saved his career were the holistic health strategies taught by Guerrero. According to Brady:
"I had doctors with the highest and best education in our country tell me that I wouldn't be able to play football again, that I would need multiple surgeries on my knee for my staph infection, that I would need a new ALC, a new MCL, and that I wouldn't be able to play with my kids when I'm older.
Of course, I go back the next year and we win Comeback Player of the Year. I follow the next season and we win the MVP of the year... I've chosen a different approach, and that's what I'm providing to other athletes."
Do Processed Foods and Sodas Have a Place in a Balanced Lifestyle?
Brady's comments, which made headlines in The Wall Street Journal,5 Forbes,6 Time Magazine,7 The Washington Post,8 People magazine,9 and many other news outlets,10 come at a time when companies like Kellogg, Coca-Cola, and Pepsi11,12 are all struggling to prop up sagging sales.
This year, Coca-Cola reported a five percent drop in revenue for the third quarter, and over the past six months, Kellogg insiders have sold more than 60 percent of their shares in the company,13 signaling that Kellogg's stock prices may soon go into freefall.
Coca-Cola Fails Miserably in Rebutting Brady
The power of a star athlete's word is clearly evidenced in the lightning fast response by the industry. Coca-Cola responded to Brady's comments with a statement saying:14
"All of our beverages are safe and can be enjoyed as part of a balanced lifestyle. We offer more than 200 low and no-calorie beverages in the U.S. and Canada and a wide variety of smaller portion sizes of our regular drinks.
As a responsible beverage provider and marketer, we prominently provide calorie and sugar information for our beverages so people can choose what makes sense for them and their families."
If you think about it, you will realize that when they say their soda can be "enjoyed" as "part of a balanced lifestyle," what they're really saying is that as long as you're eating healthy stuff, drinking their sugary junk, which has zero health benefits, is not going to do you a significant amount of harm.
That's what they mean when they refer to "balance," because when it comes to real foods, maintaining "balance" is not really an issue. When you eat REAL FOOD, all of it is good and beneficial. You don't have to monitor your ratio of broccoli to Brussel sprouts, or worry about whether you're balancing your water intake with some other beverage.
The "balance" the junk food industry talks about is the balance between harmful foods and healthy foods. But does THAT kind of balance really make for an overall healthy lifestyle? Hardly! You do not need soda. Ever. Nor do you need Frosted Flakes to stay healthy. So why should they even be considered as acceptable parts of a healthy diet?
Food either supports health, or it doesn't. If it doesn't, it shouldn't be construed as an acceptable part of a healthy diet. It should be accurately portrayed as a junk food to be consumed as little as possible, if ever. My recent interview with Marion Nestle about her new book, Soda Politics, goes into extensive details on how the soda industry seriously manipulates and distorts the truth.
Most Breakfast Cereals Are Junk Food
Most cereals are junk food. If you eat Frosted Flakes every morning, you're mostly getting glyphosate-laden genetically engineered corn and a seriously unhealthy dose of sugar. Even if you get some iron and B vitamins along with it, it simply cannot make up for these downsides. As noted by the OCA:15 "Kellogg's spokesperson, Kris Charles told Time magazine:
Cereal is a delicious and nutritious breakfast. Numerous studies show that a cereal breakfast is associated with lower BMIs (body mass index) in both children and adults. As a matter of fact, a serving of Frosted Flakes with skim milk has just 150 calories and delivers valuable nutrients including calcium, B vitamins, and iron.
... I suspended my boycott of Big Grocery Stores long enough to check out the ingredients panel.16 It says: Milled corn, sugar, contains 2 percent or less of malt flavor, salt, and BHT for freshness. No mention that the corn is genetically engineered — because Kellogg's also has spent millions to hide that information from consumers. And no excuses for the fact that the second ingredient is sugar. A serving of Frosted Flakes may only be 150 calories — but they're mostly empty calories."
Virtually all breakfast cereals share this problem; they tend to be very high in sugar. They're also highly processed, and contain a number of added nutrients like vitamins and minerals — but usually the synthetic kind, which in some instances do more harm than good. And, as noted in an Authority Nutrition17 review on breakfast cereals, just because a cereal contains enough whole grains to allow them to advertise it on the box does not make it a health food. Most are still an exceptionally poor source of fiber.
Meet Science Teacher John Cisna — the Antithesis to Tom Brady
Meanwhile, in Iowa, former science teacher John Cisna has raised the ire of public health advocates for traveling around the country giving talks to students about how he lost 60 pounds on a six-month long McDonald's only diet. Last year, Cisna published a book on his diet experiment, after which McDonald's hired him as a "brand ambassador." McDonalds's admits paying him a stipend for time and travel expenses, but a company spokesperson refused to disclose the amount. So far, Cisna has given his McDonald's diet talk at about 90 high schools and colleges.
As reported by Reuters:18
"... [H]is program includes a 20-minute documentary '540 Meals: Choices Make the Difference' and a teachers discussion guide, both of which were edited by McDonald's... 'John's story is not a weight loss plan, and we do not recommend that anyone eat every meal at one restaurant every day for an extended period,' said [McDonald's spokeswoman] McComb. 'While the decision on how schools choose to educate and inform their students is up to them, we support John's desire as a teacher to provide students with facts to make informed choices.'"
One of the first people to draw public attention to Cisna's talks was former lawyer Bettina Elias Siegel, who noted: "This is really beyond the pale in terms of its aggressive marketing to kids." And clearly, Cisna's demonstration has the potential to veer young people off course. The diet revolved around maintaining a strict daily calorie limit while eating only McDonald's fare. According to Cisna's documentary, "careful planning" allowed him to eat French fries nearly every day.
The problem with this approach is that while general calorie restriction may work for weight loss if you're used to consuming much higher amounts of calories, it also makes nutrient composition of the food more important than before. Eating trans-fat laden French fries and GMO-grain-fed burger meat with non-decaying synthetic chemical buns every day is NOT going to improve your overall health.
To suggest that you can lose weight on a "restricted calorie Micky-D diet" is truly a questionable move for anyone who cares about the future of our youth, and it really demonstrates the depth of nutritional ignorance that exists even among educated grownups.
FTC Refuses to Probe Deceptive Marketing of 'Diet' Foods
Sadly, most of our government agencies promote these false views, and this was again demonstrated by the FTC's refusal to look into the deceptive and misleading use of "diet" on artificially sweetened foods and beverages. False advertising is prohibited by federal law, and the term "diet" is only permitted on brands or labels when it is not false or misleading.
In light of the overwhelming scientific evidence showing that artificial sweeteners actually raise your risk of obesity rather than combat it, the consumer group US Right to Know filed a petition with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), asking them to investigate Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo. Inc., and other companies for false advertising.19, 20,21,22
The group also filed a citizen petition with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA),23, 24 asking the agency to issue warning letters to Coca-Cola and Pepsi, concluding that the beverages are misbranded because the use of the term "diet" is false and misleading. For example, this past summer Coca-Cola Company announced25 that its number one "global commitment to fighting obesity" is to "offer low- or no- calorie beverage options in every market."
If artificially sweetened beverages promote obesity rather than fight it — which research clearly indicates it does — then Coca-Cola's commitment is anything but helpful. Nor is it supported by science.
The FTC petition was filed in April of this year, and according to a report by McClatchy DC,26 the FTC has rejected the call for an investigation, citing "factors related to resource allocation and enforcement priorities... the nature of any FTC Act violation and the type and severity of any consumer injury" as causes for the rejection. The FDA, meanwhile, is stalling, saying it needs more time to consider the complaint. This is a travesty, and the message the FTC sends is that you and your child's health is nowhere near as important as the corporate "right" to trick you into buying their wares under false pretenses.
We Need to Become Better Role Models for Our Kids
Since 1999, severe obesity has increased among children.27 In New York City, one in five kindergarteners is obese,28 and processed food, fast food, and sugary beverages are the primary culprits behind this trend. Besides obesity, a poor diet also makes kids less academically competitive. In one study, fifth-graders who ate fast food four or more times a week showed 20 percent lower test score gains by the eighth grade.
As Tom Brady points out, eating real food and taking a holistic, preventive approach to health and wellness is also key for peak athletic performance, and I congratulate him on having the courage to be so outspoken about it. He's the kind of role model kids need these days — role models who are not confused about what's healthy and what's not, and who don't send mixed signals by saying they stand for health and athleticism while promoting soda and processed junk food.
That said, parents are the number one role model in a child's life, and the foods you buy and serve speak volumes on a daily basis. The foods you leave out in plain sight just might influence your child's choice of snacks more than you think too. Recent research actually shows you can estimate a person's weight based on the types of ready-to-eat foods they leave out on their kitchen countertops. As reported by the Epoch Times:29
"The study30 looked at photographs of more than 200 kitchens in Syracuse, New York, to test how the food environment relates to the body mass index (BMI) of the adults at home. The women in the study who kept fresh fruit out in the open tended to be a normal weight compared with their peers.
But when snacks like cereals and sodas were readily accessible, those people were heavier than their neighbors — by an average of more than 20 pounds. 'It's your basic See-Food Diet — you eat what you see,' says Brian Wansink, professor and director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab and lead author of the paper in the journal Health Education and Behavior."
While those who kept sodas within easy reach weighed an average of 24 to 26 pounds more than those who didn't, those who kept breakfast cereal on their counters were right up there too, weighing an average of 20 pounds more than those who didn't have cereal in their counter. While this study certainly isn't an example of rigorous science showing that cereal makes you fat, it's still an interesting observation that falls right in line with what we said earlier — most cereals are chockfull of sugar, and that will make you pack on pounds every day of the week.
To Protect Our Children, We Must Teach Them Proper Nutrition
You have the simultaneous opportunity and responsibility for teaching your child what "real food" is — particularly if his or her school is setting the opposite example. Focus on eating a variety of locally sourced, organic whole foods, and consume a large percentage of them raw. Avoid refined sugar, especially high-fructose corn syrup and other processed forms of fructose, sodas, pre-packaged foods, and sports drinks.
Make sure your child gets ample healthy fats, such as coconut oil, raw grass-fed butter, raw nuts, avocados, etc. Also introduce your child to naturally fermented foods, which should become a permanent part of his diet, and teach them about the concept of fresh water as a primary beverage, as opposed to sodas and other commercial drinks.
Limit your child's indoor time, especially in front of the TV, computer, and other electronic devices. Overweight and obese children need at least 30 minutes of exercise each day. Encourage your kids to play outside — and don't be afraid of the dirt! Playing outside has the additional benefit of sun exposure to optimize vitamin D levels.