|MadSci Network: Other|
Coca-Cola is a cola drink, similar to others in this category. Cola drinks have 3 ingredients that possibly be harmful to health: 1. Sweeteners. Sugar in soft drinks (including non-cola drinks) increases the possibility of dental caries ("cavities"). Non-nutritive sweeteners such as saccharin and aspartame also have undesirable side-effects in specific population segments. Nutritive sweeteners are a significant source of calories in the diet (about 250 per serving of a soft drink). 2. Caffein. This "upper" is added specifically to cola drinks as a class. It is a diuretic and can elevate blood pressure. It has been suggested as connected to development of rheumatoid arthritis. 3. Phosphoric acid. This acid is typically only used in cola drinks, which are very acidic (low pH) compared to other soft drinks. This can increase the rate of enamel loss from teeth. Phosphates in general are a nutritional problem when ingested in volume without corresponding calcium. This results in decalcification of bone tissue, accelerating osteoporosis in the aged. The example of Coke removing tarnish from a penny is irrelevant to health issues. Water and salt will cause iron to rust away, but they're both essential to life. Your stomach acid is much stronger than that in Coke. By the way, I've heard a microbiologist say he used to drink a Coke quickly after accidentally sucking up diluent through a pipet. He claimed the Coke was protective against the bacteria. I don't think I accept this argument, but it shows the "flip-side" of the penny example. Here are my recommendations based on a rational assessment of the above: 1. Soft drinks and coffee should be ingested in moderation. Avoid more than 4 servings a day. 2. If you are at risk for osteoporosis, avoid soft drinks with phosphoric acid (e.g., colas). 3. Drinking the diet form of soft drinks can eliminate 1000 calories or more per day from the diet and will reduce the incidence of sugar-related dental caries.
Try the links in the MadSci Library for more information on Other.