Question: What organ can expand and retract by a factor of 80?
Here's a hint: It secretes up to three liters of acid per day, but like the gall bladder, it's not entirely necessary.
Yep, we're talking about that sack of roiling gastric acid, the stomach. But even though the stomach is not a vital organ (it's more of a food storage device, really a sort of digestive foyer to the small intestine, where the real action happens), few areas of the body are subject to such widespread concern. According to one study, a normal eater spends 10 to 15 percent of their waking lives thinking about things to put in their stomach. The same study, "Afraid to Eat" by Frances Berg, found that so-called "dysfunctional eaters" spent as much as 65 percent of their time thinking about food.
That's a lot of time, but it's nothing compared to the amount of time the food scientists at Unilever spent coming up with Promise activ Peach SuperShots. Saccharin-sweet with a watered-down kefir consistency, the "promise" in a three-ounce bottle of Promise activ Peach SuperShots is that the yogurt-like drink will "actively remove cholesterol." The drink's active, or activ, ingredients are plant sterols, which compete with cholesterol in the gut to be absorbed into the blood stream. The result? Foods like Promise activ Peach SuperShots that contain plant sterols lower LDL (bad) cholesterol.
That's quite a promise!
But like most any of the new generation of nutritionally or biologically-enhanced foodstuffs (a calorie-burning can of Enviga, anyone?), a quick read through the fine print on a box of Promise activ Peach SuperShots reveals that Unilever's claim is more of a speculation than a "promise."
For instance, the folks at Unilever write that if you "Enjoy Promise activ SuperShots at least once a day with meals, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and you could reduce your LDL (bad) cholesterol level." Another "promise": "Promise activ SuperShots...as part of a low saturated fat, low trans fat and low cholesterol diet, may reduce the risk of heart disease."
Call me crazy, but doesn't current nutritional thinking argue that a diet "low in saturated fat and cholesterol" will lower our LDL cholesterol levels and reduce our risk of heart disease? Maybe bottle after bottle of Promise activ Peach SuperShots, along with a healthy diet, will reduce LDL levels even further. But that's not what the folks at Unilever are saying: what they're saying is roughly equivalent to stating that Diet Coke along with a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce your LDL levels.
So is Promise activ Peach SuperShots simply riding a good diet's coattails? Or would the drink have a fighting chance to lower cholesterol in a diet high in saturated fat and cholesterol? So far, the folks producing Promise activ Peach SuperShots are mum. So after hours and hours of thinking about what goes into our stomach, we're no further along than Mark Twain was when he wrote: "Eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside."
Seen a foodstuff you're too timid to try? Malcolm will eat it! E-mail particulars to firstname.lastname@example.org Keep It Down!