A friend sent me an article she got from the Internet on how Coke (of Coca-cola) is dangerous to health. The article talks about how Coke can be used as a cleaning agent to remove grease, rust, blood, and oil stains. It also describes how Coke, due to its acidic nature, can dissolve several hard materials. It concludes, based on all these and more, that Coke is unfit for and dangerous to the human system. I surfed the web, and found several similar articles–with similar conclusions.
But, is drinking Coke really that dangerous? Does its ability to cleanse makes it unfit for drinking? Doesn’t water also have cleansing ability? Does Coke being acidic make it dangerous to the human system? Isn’t hydrochloric acid (HCl)–a powerful, corrosive acid–naturally found in every normal human stomach?
What is the real gist? What is the truth, and what are the exaggerated lies?
In this article, I will identify some of the genuine health concerns associated with drinking Coke. Any other said health dangers can be, for now, safely ignored. Most of these internet health articles are pseudo-scientific, baseless, and intended to instill fear in the reader (or sell certain alternative health products). They are obviously not written by health professionals.
#1: Regular Coke-drinking can lead to a gradual addiction to Coke.
Habitual drinking of Coke can cause serious physical dependence. Some people can’t just do without drinking Coke! This means that it gets to a point that they have withdrawal symptoms (just as we have in cocaine and other drug addictions) when they don’t drink Coke! Two substances in Coke makes it addictive: caffeine and sugar. Caffeine has strong addictive potentials. No wonder you see some people addicted to chewing kolanuts, taking coffee, and drinking Coke! It is caffeine! And, similarly, sugar has the power to make you keep coming back for more! Since we don’t want you addicted and dependent on anything like Coke, we discourage regular Coke-drinking; it should be a once-in-a-while thing.
#2: Regular Coke-drinking might cause subtle malnutrition.
Routine Coke-drinking can replace regular healthy eating, because Coke (usually taken with snacks) is, typically, used to replace breakfast or lunch. This means that some of the daily required nutrients will not be supplied to the body. This is especially disastrous in children who are still growing and would, then, have Coke replace the balanced diet that they need. We discourage regular drinking of Coke because after some time, the body will be deficient of some important nutrients and minerals. In other words, as it is sometimes said, Coke-drinking should “complement” healthy eating, and not “compete” with it.
#3: Regular Coke-drinking increases the risk of weight gain and obesity.
Coke (except, of course, Diet-Coke) contains a high amount of sugar–about 10 cubes of sugar in a can of Coke! This makes unsupervised Coke-drinking unsuitable for patients with conditions like diabetes. High sugar intake has been associated with increased weight gain and obesity. Certain scientific studies have linked high sugar intake with high blood fat, hypertension, heart disease, and several other medical conditions. It is not too bad to, once in a while, “wash down” a good meal with a bottle of Coke, but making that a habit is a big “sin”, especially if you are trying to loose weight (and keep fit) and if your doctor specifically asked you to avoid drinking Coke!
#4: Regular Coke-drinking might cause serious teeth problems.
Agreed, Coke is acidic–and that makes it dangerous to the teeth. Prolonged consumption of Coke causes the wearing away (or erosion) of the hard, protective part of the teeth, thereby exposing the delicate and sensitive part underneath. This might lead to slight yellowish colouration of the teeth, cracking, pain, and “shocking” when eating hot or cold foods; larger gaps inbetween teeth, holes in teeth, and change in teeth shape. These, apart from the discomfort, could lead to other major dental problems. Coke softens the teeth– but, of course, it has to be constant, prolonged exposure. My little advice here will be: always drink soft drinks through a straw, and rinse your mouth with water [No brushing with tooth brush! ] after drinking every soft drink.
#5: Regular Coke-drinking can lead to softening of the bones.
Copious drinking of Coke and for a long time softens the bone. And I won’t bother you with all the chemistry of how that happens! But having soft bones is not a good idea. It means the bones become weak and can easily fracture (or break) with little force applied to it. It’s like having your bones replaced with “biscuit bones” [Lol! Not exactly sha! That’s an exaggeration!] Fortunately for me–a young guy, this bone-softening by phosphoric acid in Coke and calcium-replacing action of Coke has, for now, only been observed in females! So, are you a lady with a sweet tooth? Drink–even Coke– responsibly!
[Writing from a village, a particular notorious “hot zone”, in Northern Nigeria.]