As I sat and watched the 1st half of the Super Bowl with my family, a commercial that I always found quite ridiculous came on. It featured a high school basketball team celebrating in the locker room after the game and being rewarded with what else but the fuel of champion athletes worldwide: McDonalds. I normally scoff and talk to myself when I see this ad, but this time I didn’t have to. My 3rd grade nephew busted out with a, “oh yeah right, I’m sure these athletes eat McDonalds.” While I’m sure many athletes get down on some suspect, self-destructive food choices, his comment and disapproval echoed the same sentiment ringing in my head. Having athletes, or even the images of health and nutrition pushing some Mickey D’s is ludicrous to say the least.
While being thoroughly impressed with my little buddy’s take on the commercial, the ad also brings to light the deceptiveness and outright laughable images these corporate machines try to create in order to move product. Even the toned down diet of “athletes everywhere,” from Subway is horribly misleading from a health standpoint. When you go to Subway, the two main ingredients to every sandwich are what? Bread and processed lunch meat otherwise known as cold cuts. If you want to know what’s up with bread, feel free to re-read my “Why Gluten Free?” post… and your cold cuts represent the epitome of processed foods loaded with salt and other carcinogenic preservatives. When I think of an athlete, I think of someone who is at the top of their game and an example of physical prowess, not someone on a steady diet of gluten and cheap processed, preservative packed “meat.” (Obviously this isn’t the case across the board, but you get my point).
I would be remiss if I did not address one ad campaign whose resiliency continues to shock me, and was carried onward during the Super Bowl by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Continually engraining the message of cow’s milk providing more benefit than risk is irresponsible to say the least. Yes, milk contains some desirable nutrients such as calcium and protein, but what else does it bring to the table? Well, milk is a dairy product and as I stated in a previous post, dairy products are responsible for a similar chain of events that takes place as when you consume gluten. I am talking about causing gut damage and leading to potential auto immune situations. In some of the latest research, casein (the protein in milk and other dairy products) has been linked to actually being a causative factor in type I diabetes. You see, like lectins in your grains, casein gets into your system and very closely resembles other proteins within your body. Bad part here is that when the immune system attacks the foreign invader, it also attacks proteins in your body with similar structure. In the case of diabetes I, this protein has an eerily similar structure to the beta cells of your pancreas (the cells that produce insulin). And thus we have a possible mechanism for insulin deficient or dependent type I diabetes, a previously assumed genetic disease. I guess this may be why the ad campaign has switched from “milk, it does the body good,” to simply “got milk?” Do I “got milk?” Not anymore.
I understand advertising is a necessity in today’s game, but to use athletes to push unhealthy products to an image driven public is outright dirty. I did see one ad that did seem to have the proper endorser in Mio Liquid Enhancer. They had comedian Tracy Morgan claiming that this additive to dress up your boring water is actually a drink intended for sports with electrolytes. This is a fitting match due to the fact that claiming a product filled with neurotoxic artificial sweeteners and the controversial propylene glycol will actually enhance your water in any realm beyond taste is truly a joke.
While on the subject of unintentionally funny commercials, proper consideration must also be given to your run-of-the-mill pharmaceutical ads. You know the ones I’m talking about, riddled with couples in bath tubs, grandparents frolicking with their grandchildren and flying neon butterflies that appear to whisk you off to sleep. Next time one of these commercials come on I want you to attempt not to zone out and actually pay attention. Notice the slow, soothing presenter who informs you on just what symptom this magic pill is designed to mask and the images that accompany the bliss this candy will bring.
Now I know this is hard, but hang in there and attempt to stay tuned in longer than the pharmaceutical companies bank on you doing so. Listen as the voice gets a little softer (blissful music turned up, pleasant imagery still flooding your senses), and begins to rattle off some of the side effects. Everything from nausea and dizziness, to seizures and potential death. Listen as this list rambles on, in most cases for a longer period of time than the time utilized for product presentation and benefits. Imagine if they hit you with coinciding images for the potential side effects as they do for the possible benefits. Keep in mind as well that these are only some of the side effects and they do not usually include dependency and repercussions of long term usage. Why are the long term effects left out? In many cases because they are not even known yet. In many cases these drugs are pushed through to the market backed by studies funded by and interpretation of results published by the same company which stands to profit from its success. The real experiments take place on us as we see the commercial and ask our doctor for the new pill.
This rattling off of side effects is intentional and done only because companies have been forced to do so. Don’t think for a second that these dollar driven “health care” companies would illuminate the hazards if the powers that be didn’t finally step up to the plate and somewhat force the issue. As stated earlier, this “fine print” portion of the ad is strategically placed after these companies know that the average viewer and/or reader is no longer mentally engaged. This has never been so true than in ads for the ever so controversial statin drugs (drugs to lower cholesterol). These ads tell you straight up in the fine print that in addition to all the side effects, these drugs have never been shown to actually prevent heart disease, attack, or stroke. This would be laughable if these drugs weren’t so sadly overprescribed and responsible for ample deleterious side effects.
So what is a consumer to do? Well, for starters wake up and pay attention. These billion dollar companies are armed with the brightest advertising and marketing minds in the land. Slick presentation and convenient omission of the maximum amount of negative (but truthful) content is done on purpose. Recognize that the dollar-driven powers-that-be and corporate giants are just that, dollar-driven. It’s not our health or longevity they’re concerned about. This responsibility lies solely upon your shoulders and it is up to you to utilize your resources and common sense to cut through the “B.S.” and make the best choices.