Eats, Peeps and the science of oral processing


Environmentally-friendly, hand-decorated, wooden Easter Eggs at the Hicks household in Holden, MA

Environmentally-friendly, hand-decorated, wooden Easter Eggs at the Hicks household in Holden, MA

A combination of venting and science on this Easter morning

Peeps photoFirst the venting. NBC really disappointed me last evening when the last 2.5 minutes of their Nightly News featured a “story” about the Easter Peeps candy and their manufacturer. With all the news today about the dangers of sugar, one of our nation’s leading news organizations provides “free advertising” for a company that sells packaged sugar to children.

Not a single word about nutrition in NBC’s entire story and not a single word in the manufacturer’s website that I reviewed this fine Easter morning. So I consulted Wikipedia for more info. Check out the “ingredient list highlighted below.

Peeps are marshmallow candies, sold in the United States and Canada, that are shaped into chicks, bunnies, and other animals. There are also different shapes used for various holidays. Peeps are used primarily to fill Easter baskets, though recent advertising campaigns market the candy as “Peeps – Always in Season”, as Peeps has since expanded to include Halloween, Christmas and Valentine’s Day. They are made from marshmallow, corn syrup, gelatin, and carnauba wax.

Here is the Nutrition Facts about Peeps. Thanks to NBC, our children will be eating more of this garbage in the future.

Here is the Nutrition Facts about Peeps. Thanks to NBC, our children will be eating more of this garbage in the future.

At first blush, you would think that these little Peeps contain no animal products. But what about gelatin? A quick internet search reveals the ingredient list that includes the collagen extracted from an animal’s skin and (mostly) bones.

There you have it: sugar, animal skin and wax—not something we should be feeding to our children and not something that should be “advertised for free” for 2.5 minutes on prime time by one of our premier news organizations. Shame on you NBC.

Now the science. I have included a link to an interesting article that I found during my Easter morning reading of the New York Times. It’s all to do with learning more about how humans chew and eat—the study of oral processing. As the article reported,

It’s about the entire “oral device” — teeth, tongue, lips, cheeks, saliva, all working together toward a singular revolting goal, bolus formation.

The word “bolus” has many applications, but we are speaking of this one: a mass of chewed, saliva-moistened food particles. Food that is in, as one researcher has put it, sounding like a license plate, “the swallowable state.”

News for me. Be honest, have you ever thought about all the things that go on prior to swallowing your food? I had not—until this morning. Occasionally, I have thought about the lack of saliva in food (like smoothies) that might detract a bit from the health benefits of those foods, but I’ve never really given it much thought. For the record, I do like some “mushy” foods like smoothies and hummus but also make sure I get much of the crunchier foods as well. I was fascinated by what the article had to say about the mushy foods:

The safest foods, of course, are those that arrive on the plate pre-moistened and machine-masticated, leaving little for your own built-in processor to do. They are also, generally speaking, the least popular. Mushy food is a form of sensory deprivation. In the same way that a dark, silent room will eventually drive you to hallucinate, the mind rebels against bland, single-texture foods, edibles that do not engage the oral device.

Leveraging the simple, yet powerful concept of maximizing the percent of your calories from whole plant foods -- still in nature's package

Leveraging the simple concept of maximizing the percent of your calories from whole plants.

The Bottom Line. There’s a lot we don’t know about the way the human body works when it comes to food. And, quite frankly, we really don’t need to know how it all works. Just like we don’t really need to know anything about the incredibly complex physics of catching a batted ball—to actually catch the ball. Similarly, we don’t need to know about the millions of chemical processes that take place during our simple process of feeding ourselves. But we do need to know what we should be eating.

And I’ve written about a million words on that topic—between our book and this blog. But you don’t need to read all those words to know that it all boils down to two words—and neither one of them are Peeps or Eggs. Those two words are whole plants. We should be deriving the majority of our calories from whole plants. Period. The average American gets less than 10% from this natural diet for our species. At the 4Leaf level, you’ll be deriving over ten times as much.

In closing, think about this blog before you buy that disgusting combination of sugar, animal skin and wax for your children next Easter. Give them some tasty whole plants instead—I believe that’s what Jesus would do. See links to source article and related blogs blow the photo.

Jason and Lisa Hicks high above beautiful Sunapee Lake in New Hampshire. They even look a little bit like "Peeps."

Jason and Lisa Hicks high above beautiful Sunapee Lake in New Hampshire. They even look a little bit like “Peeps.”

Happy Easter from Sunapee Mountain and Lake in New Hampshire

Handy 4-piece take-charge-of-your-health kit—from Amazon.com

Want to find out how healthy your family is eating? Take our free 4Leaf Survey. It takes less than five minutes and you can score it yourself. After taking the survey, please give me your feedback as it will be helpful in the development of our future 4Leaf app for smartphones. Send feedback to jmorrishicks@me.com

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To order more of my favorite books—visit our online BookStore now

J. Morris Hicks, working daily to promote health, hope and harmony on planet Earth.

For help in your own quest to take charge of your health, you might find some useful information at our 4Leaf page or some great recipes at Lisa’s 4Leaf Kitchen.

Got a question? Let me hear from you at jmorrishicks@me.com. Or give me a call on my cell at 917-399-9700.

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—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
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