Drink to our health? Nah, they’ll toast their wealth

(Reprinted from Oct. 20, 2011)

  Is it just me, or are some of you also growing weary of constantly being told what’s good and not good for us?
  I’m talking food and drink here. Most of us are already aware that stepping in front of a speeding train, sticking a fork into a plugged-in toaster and standing under a tree during a thunderstorm are not activities undertaken with health consciousness in mind.
  The dietary police might not be so bad if they arrived at an opinion and then never wavered from it, but theories abound and tend to change with the same frequency as Jennifer Aniston’s love interests. Two items that seem to cause the most confusion are eggs and coffee.

  About 40 years ago, eggs went from being an accepted breakfast staple to an accelerated date-maker with the Grim Reaper. Eat too many egg yolks, we were warned back then, and we might as well just take a radio into the bathtub with us because either option was going to be a quick killer.
  But then the poultry farmers must have donated money to a worthy cause because they somehow ingratiated themselves to all the food-watchdog groups and, lo and behold, eggs suddenly weren’t so bad after all — until that time when someone decided they should be considered so again. And back and forth it has gone for decades.
  I’ve kind of lost track of eggs’ status these days and don’t really know whether they’re currently on the eat-‘em-by-the-dozen or avoid-like-rat-poison list. Maybe I’ll check on it while I’m downing my omelet tomorrow morning.
  Coffee falls into the same pendulum-swinging category — one minute it’s preventing heart disease, the next minute it’s causing the illness. Creating a much bigger problem, though, is these clowns whose main job is to befuddle consumers.
  Why all the talk about digestible products? I began thinking about them after receiving a publicity email for the newest “next big thing” in sports drinks.
  Once upon a time, athletes drank water to quench their thirst, especially when liquor wasn’t readily available. Hey, anything that came from a tap was OK by them.
  And back in the olden days, there was no such thing as Gatorade, which wasn’t developed until the late 1960s and, for years afterward, was only available in that kind of funky, somewhat unidentifiable flavor.
  Nevertheless, the old-timers survived on the water-only formula, but that’s passé now, unless it’s the kind that comes in bottles and isn’t charged for on a utility bill. Even Gatorade and its various offshoots are becoming yesterday’s news.
  That’s what a place called ChicExecs PR told me in so many words. The company is promoting a product called “OXYwater” that “gives you a blast of healthy hydration, with none of the bad stuff.”
  According to the ChicExecs press release, OXYwater is “the world’s first enhanced water to contain added oxygen, B vitamins, trace minerals, antioxidants and electrolytes.” It then reported how this “groundbreaking drink” has even attracted the attention of star athletes such as Eric Weems, Kenny Gregory and Shaun Stonerook, and that got me to thinking some more.
  What I thought about most was how Weems, Gregory and Stonerook had raised themselves up from anonymity with such rapidity. But I didn’t want to belabor the point and wreck ChicExecs’ high level of excitement.
  So I thought about OXYwater’s ingredients instead. If “water” is part of the name, then H2O would seemingly be contained within the drink.
  Now, as any of my past science teachers could attest from their futile attempts to keep me awake in class through the years, I’m no chemist. I am, however, capable of tooling around the Internet and locating scientific heads much wiser than mine, and a few of them pointed out that adding oxygen to the H2O formula could create hydrogen peroxide (H2O2).
  Gee, no wonder the beverage would cleanse your system.
  But let’s assume that doesn’t happen. That still leaves us with “trace minerals.” Sorry, but the word “trace” always conjures up images of something better off omitted from my diet.
  Of course, since OXYwater comes in island citrus, passion berry and cherry pomegranate, we won’t notice anything but the taste. And supposedly, one drink will supply us with antioxidant power equal to five servings of fresh fruit, which would seem a good thing.
  But does all this even matter to a real athlete? My son has been a runner for years, and I jokingly tell him that he’s the envy of every middle-aged guy I know because he can eat absolutely anything he wants and not suffer consequences for it because he burns off so much energy and is in peak physical condition.
  I mean, the kid downs enough chocolate chip cookies to throw a half-dozen of those Keebler elves into sugar shock, and yet his body-fat percentage is about five. I have that much on my big toe.
  The point is, let’s allow people to make their own choices. If OXYwater happens to be that choice, great, but I’m tired of feeling guilty if I don’t indulge in the latest eating or drinking craze.
  And just remember that the cycle never ends. No sooner will OXYwater catch on than we’ll be presented with a newer sports-drink option, one that will undoubtedly try to convince us that consuming OXYwater is no different than drinking fluids drawn straight from beautiful Lake Erie.
  It’s all part of the promotional game. We’ve all learned to live with it. I’ve also learned to live with something else.
  But first I have to find my darn coffee cup.