MadSci Network: Other

Re: Is Coke really bad for you, if so what are the ingredients that make it?

Date: Tue Mar 6 17:07:25 2001
Posted By: Robert LaBudde, Staff, Food science, Least Cost Formulations, Ltd.
Area of science: Other
ID: 983887340.Ot

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.

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