If you are just joining us and haven’t read Part 1, let me re-cap where we left off:
–Harvard Researchers determine 25,000 U.S. deaths annually, are linked to drinking sugary drinks like soda, juices & energy drinks.
-I offered the question: “Is this really a surprise to anyone since we are one of the most obese nations on the planet?”
-We looked at the transformation in our society’s health that has taken place over the last 30 years and how much more active many children were before the information age happened.
Last but not least, I was about to propose a “revolutionary” idea that might just put a big old dent in the booming funeral home business, stemming from this nationwide transformation.
I’ll give you a hint. I did this A LOT as a kid.
I Drank WATER
“Drinking water instead of sugary drinks – that’s your groundbreaking idea?”
Yup, you heard me right.
In case you’re thinking I’m writing this solely because I work in the water treatment industry and you think I have some professional ax to grind with the beverage industry, let me tell you…
…it’s not the case at all.
Let me explain why.
When I was a kid, and I was truly thirsty, I drank water. Good old plain, simple, non-sweetened, no fun, clean, healthy water…Right out of our kitchen’s tap, none the less (and even out of the garden hose on rare occasions)!
NO 3rd eyeballs yet!
Now, for those of you in a similar age group as I am (40s), please don’t get me wrong here. I remember perfectly well, just as you do, how many soda and juice products bombarded our TV ads every single day of our lives when we were kids. It wasn’t simply because they just weren’t around yet. There were PLENTY!
And at times I had my fair share of them, believe me. The difference was, I didn’t want these kinds of drinks all of the time.
So, what was the difference. Why did a good majority of the time I actually crave water over the sugary junk? Why were my friends and I such rebels that we actually preferred to drink water instead of soda on a typical hot & active “kid day?
Water Quenched our THIRST
“Thirst? You drank beverages because you were thirsty?”
I know. Sounds crazy right? We actually drank water to keep from being thirsty.
When I was truly thirsty, I drank water NOT sugary drinks. I wasn’t looking for something yummy that would boost my mood with a sugar high. And I wasn’t conned by any TV ad into believing I would one day be a professional athlete if I drank the stuff.
“So why the heck would you like water, then?”
Because it felt right.
Are you Listening?
Even as I kid, I must have instinctively known how good water was for me. It’s all I ever craved when I was really thirsty from my “being a kid” day to day activities.
My body craved water when I was thirsty and exhausted…NOT SODA. It must have simply known what I needed the most. I think I was just willing to listen to what my body was trying to tell me.
When I was exhausted from running around the neighborhood for hours with my friends, on a 90+ degree day, I craved water.
When I completed a 3.5 mile bike ride down the road with my buddies, in the middle of August, to go to our favorite fishing spot, I craved water.
When we finished a grueling “world championship” game of kick-ball in my back yard, on a blistering Sunday afternoon, I craved water.
I never felt the same if I tried to drink a cold can of soda when I was truly thirsty.
I guess it worked a little at relieving my thirst, but I never got that truly quenched feeling I got like when I ran into the house at full speed, completely out of breath, and literally GULPED down 4 or 5 continuous glasses of water, right out of the kitchen faucet.
Ahhhhhhh…I could just feel the life coming back into me. Perfect…just as it was supposed to be.
“Connected” Couch Potatoes
In some fairness to the beverage industry, it isn’t just about what we put in our bodies today.
If you read Part 1, or even the preceding section, you probably have a pretty good idea of how active we were as kids.
We didn’t spend every waking moment of lives glued to a device so we could talk with our friends. If we wanted to talk with our friends we didn’t text them. We ran across the street to go and hang out. Inevitably, we’d get bored quickly and we’d end up finding something fun and active to do to keep from going nuts.
BTW our parents very much “encouraged” us to do this! Another way to put it would be to say that they told us to get out of their hair and get the heck out of the house.
Little did they know, what they were doing was as good for our health as it was for their sanity.
What’s Different Today
I’m not going to beat around the bush on this one. Let’s make ourselves a list of just a few of the things we just can’t seem to live without today.
Our “Social” Necessities
- Smart phones
- Tablets & e-readers
- Video games
Do I think these modern wonders of technology are killing us…No. Not at least directly anyways.
I will be the first to admit, I use the majority of these devices on a daily basis. They have become an integral part of both my professional and personal lives.
Here’s the difference for me, personally. I make sure they are only a part of my life…not the entire thing. I allow myself plenty of time every day to “disconnect” from this part of life and to get out there and live in the real world. This includes both social and/or physical activities. Things like:
-I exercise, in one form or another at least 4-5 times per week.
-I take our dogs on walks at least twice per day, 1 – 1 1/2 miles each and every time.
-We work outdoors. My wife and I are both extremely active “yard people.” Three seasons out of the year we love spending time outdoors doing projects in the yard or in the gardens.
Now, do any or all of these things insure that I am going to live a long and healthy life. Nope, I could go to take the eternal dirt nap tomorrow, just like anyone else.
But what they do insure for me is that I am increasing my chances multi-fold for achieving those goals. They improve the quality of my life. They also make the ride a whole lot more enjoyable and fun along the way. I like to think they are helping me to live a more peaceful, purposeful and balanced life.
For me that’s what it’s all about. Quality, not quantity. Just like Abraham Lincoln said:
“Live a good life, and in the end it’s not the years in the life, it’s the life in the years.”
Are we Killing Oursleves
So, now we’ve come full circle back to our original question. Should it really be a surprise to anyone that 25,000 deaths per year are being linked to the consumption of sugary drinks?
I don’t think it takes having a PhD to answer “no” to that question. In my opinion, this number actually seems quite low when you take everything into consideration. I’m really quite surprised it isn’t a lot higher than it already is.
When I look at 2 key differences in both children and adults today, I start to get that deep down “time-bomb waiting to go off” feeling.
1. Most children and adults are far less active than they were 30 years ago
2. When we are hungry or thirsty today, more and more people are reaching for sugary comfort foods & drinks, rather than the things our bodies truly need/want:
Real food. Real water. Real activity.
Imagine what it would be like if, as a nation, we tried giving just a little more focus on getting those 3 basic needs, in small amounts each and every day.
I know…there he goes again with that crazy talk.