Today we dissect another hot topic for anyone who is serious about their health and for those who should know, but perhaps don’t, about one of the most popular products out there for over a century, and its serious effects on your health.
What is that product? None other than the soda drink, known as Coca-Cola or Coke.
Back in August, I wrote an article entitled “Do You Know What Is In Your Soft Drink ?” and dissected for you the average soft drink – all except colas that is. Colas, as I told you then , needed their own article for the sheer volume of information that I wanted to share with you about them – especially Coca-Cola, the original leader of the pack.
Hence today we are going to learn the brief history of Coca-Cola, what is in some of the different types of Coca-Cola out there and what effects do these ingredients have on your health.
By the way for those of you wondering why Coca-Cola and not Pepsi, well don’t worry. Pepsi is not off the hook in any way, I just figured we would go to the original source of this drink and by covering this one, I think we can easily see that Pepsi or any cola for that matter is in the same hot seat.
The History of Coca-Cola
Coca-Cola has been around now for more than 120 years! It was first invented back in 1885 and sold commercially in 1886 by a pharmacist named John Pemberton. It was intended as a patented medicine against headaches and tiredness.
When launched Coca Cola’s two key ingredients were cocaine (benzoylmethyl ecgonine) and caffeine. These are two known stimulants and today we know that sure these will wake you up and perhaps cure a headache, while they seriously damage other parts of your body in the process.
The premise for Coca-Cola, as with the other soft drinks I wrote to you about earlier, was also the belief that carbonated or mineral water had great health potential and healing properties that were widely known by the late 1800′s.
During the 1900′s Coca-Cola underwent many changes where advertising slogans, packaging, varieties and even its name was concerned.
Today, Coca-Cola is sold in over 200 countries in the world and is the leading soft drink producer!
The Original Coca-Cola
Coca-Cola got its name from two specific ingredients, the caffeine-containing cola nut and the coca leaf that it is enhanced with.
For years there were speculations as to whether or not Coca-Cola actually contained any cocaine in it. And yes, initially Coca-Cola had actual doses of cocaine as a by-product of the coca leaf, but by the early 1900′s, this was banned.
Today apparently, Coca-Cola uses instead of fresh leaves, “spent” leaves of coca - the leftovers of the cocaine-extraction process with cocaine trace levels left over at a molecular level. The company proclaims that it is thus using cocaine-free coca leaves.
The kola (cola) nuts are both a source of flavor and caffeine for the drink. Apart from cola nuts, the special taste of Coca Cola has contributions from vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, and lemons, though the exact formula is kept strictly secret.
Hence here are the ingredients that are made public:
- Carbonated water
- Sugar (high fructose corn syrup)
- Phosphoric acid
- Caramel color
- Natural flavors
In the past Coca-Cola contained sodium benzoate, a chemical that has been linked to asthma like effects, hyperactivity, as well as it can damage DNA and holds the potential to become carcinogenic. Coca-Cola is still phasing this chemical out in some parts of the world. For more information on this see the article “Coca-Cola to phase out controversial chemical” from Mail Online.
Due to the fact that the exact formulation of Coca-Cola is such a secret, the company only produces the “secret syrup”. This is then sold to franchise partners that make it into the famous drink by mixing it with the water and sugar and then carbonating it.
The classic coca-cola is said to have 160 calories per 355mL can (based on Canadian product), 42g of carbohydrates in the form of sugars and 40mg of sodium, as well as about 34 mg of caffeine.
Coca-Cola Zero Ingredients:
- Carbonated Water
- Phosphoric Acid
- Potassium Benzoate
- Potassium Citrate
- Sodium Benzoate
- Sodium Citrate
- Sodium Cyclamate
Coca-Cola Diet Ingredients:
- Carbonate Water
- Carmel Color
- Phosphoric Acid
- Potassium Benzoate
- Natural Flavors
- Citric Acid
Coca-Cola Blak Ingredients
- Typical formula including:
Caffeine-Free Diet Coca-Cola Ingredients:
- Typical formula with no calories or sugar
*For more information on the effects of the artificial sweeteners and other ingredients listed above, see the “Do You Know What Is In Your Soft Drink ?” article.
Effects of Coca-Cola on Your Health
Okay, so let us start with a positive item – the only positive item and that is, that the original coca-cola seems like a health drink compared to its sister varieties that are infused with more chemicals then most science labs!
Honestly, I think this is one thing I will never, ever understand is how anyone who likes themselves and wants to live a generally speaking healthy life can EVER put those toxic fluids into their precious body.
I mean, yes the original coca-cola is far from being deemed anything close to the word “healthy” and with its whopping amounts of sugar, I see why anyone would want to avoid it like a plague – but to turn to chemically enhanced versions is beyond me. Technically, if one is using any of the diet coke products to avoid the sugar of the original drink, it is like substituting one health evil not just for another, but for a greater one.
Hence on a serious note, Coca-Cola has been under scrutiny for their health effects for a few decades now, so I am not telling you anything new.
However, before we get into the health effects, I just want to bring to your attention Coca-Cola’s latest advertising campaign. Have you seen what is their latest slogan?
“No added preservatives or artificial flavors since 1886”
If you ask me, that has got to be one of the most deceptive and misleading slogans I have ever seen.
For starters I am assuming they are talking about the original blend only, because their other varieties have numerous preservatives added to them and perhaps even the original one had the sodium benzoate added to it at one point.
Hence it is misleading because most people will think that coca-cola is referring to their entire line, which they cannot possibly be and secondly, if sodium benzoate was once added, I hope they are not assuming we are that dumb to think that it is somehow “natural”, like other deceptive companies have tried to do.
As for the artificial flavors, I won’t even go there. You mean to tell me that a product which will not disclose its full ingredients and has been criticized from various health angles is using all truly natural flavors – I don’t think so.
Thus the following list includes health problems that can and have many times arisen from drinking any of the various coca-cola products.
1. Weight Gain that contributes to:
- Heart complications
- Stress on organ function
- High blood pressure
- Diabetes Type 2
- Breathing difficulties
- Fatty liver and possible cirrhosis
- Various hormonal imbalances
- Lowered immune function
2. Increased acidity levels in the body that contribute to:
- Disruption of the acid/alkaline balance that is at the core of our optimal health
- Leaches minerals out of our bones; leading to osteoporosis and weak bones
- Eats away tooth enamel and increased cavities
- Leads to poor oral health such as tooth yellowing and bad breath
- Lowered immune function
3. Psychological disruptions that may consist of:
- Addictions and dependency due to the caffeine
- Irregular sleep patterns and problems falling asleep
- Mood Swings
- Increased ADD/ADHD symptoms
4. Cardiovascular effects due to the caffeine that may lead to:
- Irregular Heartbeat
- Heart Strain
- Blood Vessel Constriction
- Increased blood pressure
5. Cancers due to the aspartame and possibly acesulfame-potassium
6. Nutrient absorbency problems and digestive upsets
To add to all this, never mind the quality of water they are using, the fact that in some countries the products are contaminated with cancer-causing pesticides, the aluminum cans or plastic bottles the product comes in or the fact that it stimulates thirst on a biological level and does nothing to quench it.
Please feel free to comment below if you think I have missed something or left anything out.
To conclude, I have to just point out one last thing to you. Even if the above ingredients or health problems do not bother you for whatever reason, just understand that optimal health is about putting in your body ONLY items that benefit the body and NONE that harm it.
As far as coca-cola goes, it has nothing to do with benefiting your body and everything to do with harming it. Hence, it is obvious that it does not belong in a person’s diet who is seeking optimal health, but I would go even further and state that it does not belong in the diet of a person who is even seeking average health.
Perhaps coca-cola has lasted the past 120 years, but personally I do not see it lasting throughout the next century. Today we simply know too much about health and are continually learning more. Today, major preventable conditions are almost one could say out of control. Today, we are living in a new era where people just don’t want to be lied to anymore – we have simply come too far to be amused with things that serve companies’ wallets and not our own health and well-being or the greater global good.
For further reading and education on this issue and your health, I strongly recommend resources 3 and 4 in the list below.
Organic Consumers – The Health Hazards of Drinking Coca-Cola and other Soft Drinks
Health Bolt – What Happens To Your Body If You Drink A Coke Right Now