Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Does Coffee Increase Lifespan?

Well, there's this...
Here's my bet:  no.
(a) My general thesis that foodish things upper-middle-class-ish folks become enamored of (red wine, olive oil, coffee) soon get declared good for you, while things they consider gauche (sugar, potatoes, soda...and diet soda fer chrissake) get declared deadly.
and also:
(b) Walter Willett

I enjoy my coffee...but I'm not buying this.
Show me the meta-studies when...if...they come out.
Yes, this is all cranky shooting from the hip about something I don't understand.
Duly noted.
So sue me.


Blogger The Mystic said...

Dude, I'm with you on the observation about upper middle class food fetishes and studies touting alleged health benefits, even when common sense is strongly against such alleged benefits (such as with red wine or coffee), but you are a downright loon about sugar and soft drinks.

There is basically no food or drink item with more power to harm one's body than soda. Not only is it easier to drink more of it (often by the shit ton), but it's nothing but simple sugar providing empty calories. It does almost literally nothing good for you. Unless you are engaging in fairly immediate activity post-consumption so that you make good use of it, it simply spikes your blood sugar and assaults your pancreas until your body stores it as fat because people who drink soda do it while they're sitting on their asses.

If you want to drink a soda and then go for a run or swim or something where you're actually going to use the sugar you just injected into your veins, then it's probably not that bad. In fact, it's probably a pretty good way to provide energy your body needs to burn in a fairly immediate time frame.

But that's not what people do. Every gigantic fat person I've ever known drinks soda by the bucketful. It's practically required to maintain such obesity, since eating food is a lot harder for someone to do to the extent necessary to maintain that body composition. Grab a 40oz soda from McDonalds with your daily three meals and you've just jacked your caloric intake up 1500 calories a day, and all of it is going to be straight converted to fat by your liver because your muscle tissue is already saturated with it and your body simply can't burn it fast enough when you're just sitting around. I've had multiple coworkers who were quite obese, and they all, every single one of them, drank tons and tons of soda. I'm talking 3-5 drinks a day, some of which were in the 40oz range, none of which were less than 20oz. Added up, they were getting somewhere around a full day's worth of calories from simple sugars in sodas alone.

Given the metabolic mechanisms involved in processing all of that garbage, it's actually surprising people can live through it at all.

There are so many studies which have determined this, you can't even list just the best ones. I don't even have to try for you because simple Googling yields massive amounts of results from everywhere.

And it all makes perfect sense if you have a basic understanding of human physiology in the relevant areas here. The sugar in soda is already of a sufficiently simple structure for the body to absorb immediately (unlike the more complex carbohydrates) and we're just not built to withstand a gigantic injection of it in the manner achievable with soda. Nature does not provide such a thing on any sort of a frequent basis.

It really isn't possible that this is some sort of upper middle class bias against poor people and their taste for soda. It's totally obvious, substantiated by huge numbers of studies (and, as far as I know, refuted by exactly none), and absolutely in no way surprising at all (unlike the coffee/wine thing).

Soda is horrible for people, and they drink it by the gallon. It causes diabetes and contributes to obesity probably more than any other food item in existence. It's simply too easy to consume and outright unnaturally hard on the body.

Will a single soda per day kill you? Unlikely. Would you be better off without it? Unquestionably. As I said, it does virtually nothing for you unless you're exercising immediately post-consumption.

4:51 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

I can't speak to people's habits, but I have it on good authority that a calorie is a calorie. Soda isn't any worse than any other massively sugary thing, and a calorie from sugar is a calorie. Consume one calorie in one form, you tend to consume one fewer calorie elsewhere.

It's not that soda's great for you...it's just that the studies trying to show that soda is uniquely terrible are flawed. It's a conclusion that's extremely popular--some young researchers won't touch the issue with a ten-foot pole, because if they don't come down on the side of the anti-soda jihadists, their careers might be ruined.

One good clue that it's a jihad is that there are now a bunch of convoluted explanations purporting to show that *diet* soda is also disproportionately terrible.

And another thing: the Harvard School of Public Health tends to use data from the Nurse's Health Survey--a massive data set paid for by the taxpayers, incidentally...but which Harvard controls. They--for reasons I don't understand--get to decide who sees it. And for other reasons I don't understand, sometimes get to not show the raw data used in their studies...on the grounds that that would give away some of the data...

So, in short...I do not believe that a calorie from soda is any worse than a calorie from a candy bar when it comes to making people gain weight. And I don't believe that a calorie from a candy bar is any worse than a calorie from broccoli in that respect. The broccoli has other nutrients, which is good...but that's a different point.

9:39 PM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

Interesting position. I did not expect it.

I don't think soda is a mystically terrible thing for you. It's just one example of a kind of thing which I think is particularly terrible for you, and that thing is sugary drinks. The two major reasons that these drinks are particularly bad for you can be expressed as disagreements with your two major points up there:

1) I disagree about the lack of distinction between the rate at which soda and, e.g., candy bars, are likely to be consumed
2) I disagree with the asserted equivalence of the impact on the body of calories from different foods.

(1) is more nebulous and hypothetical at this point, but it seems pretty weird to go against it given common sense. Prima facie, it doesn't seem at all probable that someone is equally likely to consume as much sugar in candy bar form as in soda form. A Snickers bar, for example, has 27 grams of carbohydrates in it. A single 20oz Mountain Dew has 77g of carbohydrates. It seems far more likely that you will drink two 20oz Mountain Dew beverages in a day than eat five Snickers bars in a day. I've known many people who actually did the former (some who drank three or four of the damn things a day), and no one who ate five Snickers bars (much less ten).

And though there's not incredibly conclusive evidence available on this front, there does seem to be some evidence that sugary drinks leave people feeling less sated than other foods: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21519237

It seems fairly obvious to me, and I'd be pretty surprised if it were somehow not determined to be true that it's easier to guzzle soda (or fruit juice, for that matter) than consume carbohydrates in just about any other format.

(2) is much more easily understood. We have measured the impact of a variety of foods on blood sugar content and we can describe that impact with glycemic index and glycemic load values. The information is pretty well-established, and it's used to great effect in care for people suffering from diabetes. The fact is that some foods increase the sugar in your bloodstream much more quickly than other foods, and those in the former category cause more stress on your body's metabolic processes and a much greater likelihood of the consumed sugar's conversion to fat by the liver.

And that all all makes pretty obvious sense, right? If you drink a soda, your body has to do basically nothing but pass that fluid straight to the small intestine where the sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream. If, on the other hand, you eat an apple, your body has to work pretty hard to break that food down in the stomach and release the sugars into the small intestine to be absorbed in the bloodstream. This can be described as follows:

An apple's glycemic index is about 36
A 12oz Coca Cola's glycemic index is about 59

Now, there's a bunch of food with higher glycemic index values than soda or sugary drinks, but there are less foods with higher glycemic load values, especially in the higher serving sizes of soda, as the latter is the product of the glycemic index and the total amount of non-fiber carbohydrates in the food, then divided by 100.

An apple's glycemic load is about 6
A 12oz Coca Cola's glycemic load is about 24

12:59 AM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

So, it's not the case that a gram of sugar in an apple has the same effect on the body as a gram of sugar in a soda, especially when typical serving sizes are considered. Not only does the sugar in the soda enters the bloodstream far more quickly, but also typically in larger quantity since a single serving of soda has like 40g of sugar in it compared to an apple with its 16g. Even a Snicker's doesn't stand much of a chance against a typical soda; even though its glycemic index is a bit higher at 68, it only has about 27g of carbohydrates in it making for a glycemic load of about 18.

And once you start looking at some of the worst offenders among sodas, you get into some really big numbers that basically only rather large amounts of food (which slow the consumption of additional food much more than soda) can touch. A 20oz Mountain Dew, for example, has a glycemic load of freaking 45. That's more than just about any other standard serving of food out there, and the whole thing can be easily consumed in a few minutes.

Are there ways to consume something worse for you than drinking a soda? Unquestionably. Are sodas magically worse for you than other high glycemic load substances like, say, orange juice, or even white rice? Not at all (there's no magic here, but the orange juice does at least have some nutritive value beyond the sugar content in the form of vitamins). In the whole range of possible foods and drinks, sodas are near the top-ish of the list of glycemic load, which means your bloodstream will become infused with sugar much faster, and that results in your liver being more likely to convert those sugars into fat. The apple will release its sugars slowly, and you're much more likely to burn the small amount entering your bloodstream, whereas the soda will dump it all in quickly and you're much less likely to burn it all.

Combine that with the rate at which soda is consumed, and that is the reason I argue that it is so bad for people. It seems pretty straightforward to me. It is definitely about a combination of the ease with which it is consumed, the lack of any nutritive value whatsoever beyond its sugar content, and the rate at which the consumed sugar enters the bloodstream to stress the body's metabolic processes and subsequently be burned or converted to fat.

If you drink a soda before you go for a run or a swim or something, it'll probably actually help you out. If you pound soda at your desk, there's basically no easier way to become fat and unhealthy.

1:00 AM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

Also...I balked at saying anything, and I sat here staring at the post for a long while, but I gotta say: I resent your use of the term "jihad."

I don't know how best to put it.. Maybe I should write a dystopian novel about a future time in which the last bastion of folks calling themselves "philosophers" are depraved third-world loons, and first-world folks masturbate to science whilst scoffing at the stupid, irrational "philosophists," and everyone has a good laugh as they jovially celebrate what they come to believe is the end of the foolish pursuit that was philosophy.

1:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A nice debate about this was published in 2013.
Pro (soda bad): http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23763695
Con (soda meh): http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23742715

4:38 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home