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Food Friday: Dark Coloured Carbonated Beverages 
29th-Jun-2007 06:54 pm
cheerwine
There is a lot of hype about carbonated drinks, especially those that are brown in colour and marketed by Coca-Cola.*

The complaints are grouped in about three sections:
1. Coca-Cola (and similar products, I'll call the lot 'Coke' from here on out) is highly acidic and quite dangerous.
2. Coke is responsible for obesity.
3. Coke is responsible for growth stunting and/or osteoporosis.

This post is going to seem like a lot of apologia for Coke. Skip to the end if you don't want to see it/want my explanation for it.

I'll try to be methodical in my counter arguments.

1. Acidic/dangerous. (Subset: better used as a cleaning product)

I get that email...you know, the one denouncing Coke...about once every two months. And that's only now that it's tapered off some. I used to get it about once a week.

I realise that everyone is just trying to be helpful, but it's a load of bull.

Coke is acidic.

So is lemon juice (2.3), orange juice (3.5), grapefruit juice (2.90), vinegar (2.8), and tada!...gastric acid (0.8). More food pH values here.

Coke, depending on brand and flavour, is pH 2.5 to 4.2. So, it's about average for acidic foodstuffs.

I'm guessing that many of you have read articles similar to the one hosted by Snopes that debunk the idea that Coke can dissolve teeth, nails, steak, or what have you. Any acidic liquid will eventually break down those things. So will water.

As far as Coke being better as a cleaning product than actual cleaning products...
Well, it might be cheaper, I don't know. I do know that most of the more effective cleaning products are actually basic on the pH range, not acidic.

Acid is not inherently dangerous. That is of course, unless you're James Bond and dangling over a cauldron of it.


2. Coke is responsible for obesity.

Nope, over eating/surpassing the suggested daily nutritional values is what causes obesity. Obviously, there are disorders that can cause obesity regardless of lifestyle, but they don't account for the majority of problems.
Just as obviously, drinking refined sugar doesn't help to combat the obesity problem lurking in just about every industrialized country.

Personally, I drink diet carbonated beverages, so this bothers me less than the other criticisms.**

One of the other emails that go around remind us that 'the thirst mechanism is so weak in most American that they mistake it for hunger'. My first reaction is always, 'um, so?'
If the argument is against Coke, what does that have to do with anything? If the argument was against overeating, than yes, valid point. Even though it isn't water, Coke does provide some water to the body as it is processed.

Any beverage that isn't water has some calories and needs to be included in daily values. It's easy to see drinks as calorie-less regardless of whether they're carbonated drinks, fruit juice, or coffee/tea/chai.

I had a friend that limited her carbonated beverages to an eating out indulgence only. If she was sitting down at a restaurant, she allowed herself Coke, but if she got takeaway or was sitting at home it was water only. Probably a good plan.

Even with the diet versions of Coke and so forth, they still contain a lot of sodium which isn't the best for the body any more than the sugar load of their regular brethren.


3. Growth stunting/osteoporosis

This only applies to the caffeinated versions of the various drinks.

Most of what I can find on the intarwebs suggests that the idea that caffeine stunts growth is outdated. However, they give other reasons for limiting it.

There is some truth to the idea that caffeine isn't miracle grow for children, either. Caffeine, as a diuretic, leaches calcium from the body. Obviously, if you've got a child's body that is trying to build framework, eliminating the building blocks for bones isn't going to increase height. Probably not a huge worry, but if you're aiming for Children of Unusual Height, it couldn't hurt to avoid caffeine.

The leaching of calcium is a great concern for those at risk for osteoporosis. Since I am one of those, I did give up dark coloured carbonated drinks when I moved to the UK.***
Increasing your calcium intake can counteract any problems caused by the caffeine in Coke, so it's more a case of being aware than freaking out about it.

So, why did I pick this for Food Friday? Well, because I can't decide whether the cons talk me completely out of drinking Coke, so I went researching this and I thought, 'hey, why not throw this out into the world wide web?'

I am more likely to give up Coke and the like while I live in a cooler climate. There's just nothing like an ice cold Diet Dr. Pepper when it's 45C outside in Chattanooga.
When it's still 9C in late June, I can stick to tea. And that's even recommended for health.

For Coke? Against Coke? Thoughts?





* Why doesn't Pepsi ever get any of the blame? Granted, Coca-Cola started first, but it seems to me that all of the complaints about the one can be pointed at the other. Except taste, because Pepsi is ick. Yeah, whatever...it's my tastebuds I have to answer to.
** And, yes...I know I'll probably die like a lab rat. Try to remember that the early research done on sweeteners was funded by the Sugar people. I prefer Splenda...which may take away some of the evilness of preference for sweeteners.
*** Though, it also had a lot to do with the fact that after drinking things that are sweetened to mimic the corn sugar sweetening of regular drinks in the US, it was difficult to accept drinks that are sweetened to mimic actual sugar sweetening. It's all in what you're used to. I should also note that my abstinence from Coke didn't last and I still drink it on occasion.
comments 
29th-Jun-2007 06:14 pm (UTC)
The high fructose corn syrup that's so heavily used in the U.S. really is part of the problem, since it's even worse for you than refined sugar.

Should be interesting to see if the difference in price swings back a bit, thanks to the increased demand for corn for such things as ethanol fuels. If sugar becomes a little less too-expensive by comparison, I can see a lot of soft drink manufacturers switching back, because the products are SO much tastier that way.
29th-Jun-2007 06:18 pm (UTC)
I drink Coke Zero way way too much.

I can't give it up, though.
(Deleted comment)
29th-Jun-2007 06:29 pm (UTC)
Very true. That's why I included the bit about it being so easy to forget to include drinks in the values per day.

And, holy cow! They only bought Coke? I mean, the water in the US tastes kindof funky in some places, but not so bad that a Brita filter couldn't fix it...

Good points, and thanks for adding them to the post. :)
29th-Jun-2007 06:37 pm (UTC)
I love love love water above any and all other drinks.
29th-Jun-2007 06:39 pm (UTC)
And as for Coca-cola... I was born in the city of coke, so I love the stuff. Ironically, though, I didn't start drinking it 'til we moved to CT. I think I was 12 when I finally started consuming it (I had some at a baseball game because I was insanely thirsty and was hooked). I know I drink far too much of it (*finishes sipping her current can*) but I try to balance it out with a LOT of water.

I do love the stuff, though, and if I can get a mix of cherry and regular coke from a fountain... all the better. I like fountain soda best, then can, then 2 litre, then 20 oz bottles. Unless I can get a glass bottle, and that trumps all. :D
29th-Jun-2007 06:45 pm (UTC)
I definitely agree with your hierarchy. I don't know why it tastes different in different containers, I've never seen anything official about different blending.

I think my fav is fountain cherry coke, but with the shot of cherry, not already blended. (Like what you can get at Waffle House!) And yes, glass bottles do trump all. Especially from the General Store in Asheville. Woohoo.
29th-Jun-2007 06:42 pm (UTC)
I'm against, but because of the labor practices of the company, more than any particular concerns about my health. Of course, I have the worlds smallest sweet tooth, so I'm not actually feeling the lack of it.
29th-Jun-2007 06:46 pm (UTC)
That is a concern. I find that I'm having to cut back on more and more of the things I buy because of labor practices. So far, most of my changes have been in the toiletries directions, but the food issues are starting to metaphorically knock on my door.

(I don't have a sweet tooth either! I have a salt tooth, if that makes sense. :) )
29th-Jun-2007 06:42 pm (UTC)
Coke is tasty (and pepsi is ick) but I tend to drink milk or fruit juices when I'm home. And not all sweetener research was done by sugar companies - the FDA study was done by people who then went on to work for the sweetener company. Dr P and Jolt also rock though.


the hatter

29th-Jun-2007 06:44 pm (UTC)
i enjoy those dark carbonated beverages, and usually only get diet coke/pepsi because that is the only diet option when eating out. i agree with your argument about causing obesity. Obesity is often caused by people who lack the willpower to eat healthier.
29th-Jun-2007 06:46 pm (UTC)
I object to coke because it is unutterably foul, makes my mouth feel like something died in there and smell of sewage. Those who like it can drink it as want.

However, as said above I object to their work ethics and the way they have drained half the Amazon to get cheap water to make brown and fizzy... But then I object to most things!!! ;)
29th-Jun-2007 06:49 pm (UTC)
As I was saying to jadegirl above, their practices are (and have been, I suppose) pretty shady.

I felt that way about Diet Coke when I moved here and only started drinking it again when I wanted a caffeine hit and was too hot for tea/coffee. This summer has been good for me...cooler weather, less cold drinks. :)

I'm glad you object to things. That's what causes change, after all.
29th-Jun-2007 07:26 pm (UTC)
I say, everything in moderation, you know?

I am a soda addict. Pepsi Max and Coke Zero are my choice drinks and I was drinking about a litre a day until recently. I started having some issues that I thought may have been some sort of acid reflux (found out today it's actually an upper respiratory infection) and read that cutting back on chocolate, caffeine, and carbonated drinks would help. So I cut all those out and was having just one 12 ounce soda two or three times a week for the past two months. I have to say, I have been feeling much better overall. That probably has to do with the fact that I've replaced it with some Robinson's summer fruits dilute and I'm now drinking 1-2 liters of water a day because of it.
29th-Jun-2007 07:29 pm (UTC)
I am for everything in moderation, including Coke. I try to avoid artificial sweeteners so it's the full fat variety for me. I'm quite partial to cherry flavoured :-)
29th-Jun-2007 09:11 pm (UTC)
As I'm sure you know I used to drink way too much of the fizzy, and think I still drink more than I should. but the passed 2 - 3 years I've cut down probably too about a can a day. all of which is of the full sugar variety, as everything else tastes practicaly worse than anything else. The only diet fizzy drink I've been able to drink and enjoy are Guarana when cold and only one of during a meal.

I like water especially where I used too live, but... I like to other things too. Like tea, milk, orange juice, and of course most of the fizzy drinks except cola and fizzy water.

I have been under the impression that the sugars in fruit jucies are better for you than the un-natural ones like sucrose(the highly processed forms of sugar made from beat/cane sugar plants) but I was told that a while ago and you hear so many contradictory things in this area concerning what is good for you and what isn't, that it could have been dissproved.




29th-Jun-2007 09:15 pm (UTC)
Some of the players at one of N's footy matches last weekend had some Guarana they were sharing out. I tried it and found it rather pleasant.
29th-Jun-2007 09:13 pm (UTC)
My family didn't drink Coke and other kinds of soda much when I was a kid, and so I never got much of a taste for them. Usually they seem a bit sticky sweet to me. Plus, I really need to lose weight and, while I don't do as much about that as I should (I still drink plenty of beer, for instance), I can't see taking in all those calories just to stop being thirsty.
29th-Jun-2007 09:27 pm (UTC)
My issues are: high fructose corn syrup AND aspartane.

The prevelance of HFCS in EVERYTHING as a sweetener is just horrid. It's in everything and the rise in American obesity lines up a bit to neatly with the increase in food & drink manufacturers using it for me to say "coincidence."

Then - diet drinks are, for the most part, are "here, have a 5-day migraine..." in a glass. Spendla doesn't have the same effects on me (or many folks I know) that NutraSweet has, but it's still more expensive and ergo finding Splenda-flavored drinks with ONLY Splenda is still tricky. It's getting easier.

With the insomnia & caffeine I attempt to not drink caffeinated soda in the afternoon/evening. And given my NutraSweet issues, it pretty much precludes sodas - unless I luck out and find a caffeine free Dr. Pepper (so far only can be found in G'boro so pick up some, with the vegelinks, etc., when I go see my folks).

Sure, water is better to drink. I also like drinking milk (which is good given my family history of osteoperosis). And being southern, sweet tea flows thru my veins (but I do drink decaf sweet tea). Coffee is the necter of the gods. And well, I've realized absinthe rocks as of last night ;)

So, well, moderation in all things... (that said I think I pretty much wiped out a bag of sour cream & chive chips this afternoon watching TV ... I blame pms)
29th-Jun-2007 09:29 pm (UTC)
oh and p.s. Pepsi IS the suck. Soda heirarchy veers off "dark carbonated beverage" into Mt. Dew/Sprite/Haw River water before I'll drink a bloody Pepsi *ack*
29th-Jun-2007 10:21 pm (UTC)
Apparently, it's wise to also avoid the evasive Gooseberry... 2.80 - 3.10.
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