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.