It’s a simple question: Are Dark Cola Drinks Bad For You?
Depending on who you read you will get answers ranging from “No” to “Yes” to “Not in moderation!”
I’ll tell you upfront that I am not a fan of dark cola drinks. I personally believe that all dark cola drinks are a contributing factor to the health crisis in America. A health crisis that has seen a significant increase in diabetes and overweight/obesity issues.
And the reason for my belief has to do with the ingredients found in dark cola drinks.
As you can see by the image for this article I’m going to use a can of Coke to represent dark cola drinks. Here is the list as they appear on the can:
High Fructose Corn Syrup
Ingredients are listed in the order of greatest volume or greatest percentage of that ingredient in relationship to the overall product. Water is a good thing. Since it’s listed first that means it is in greatest volume. We’ll talk about water and its importance at the end of this article. For now, let’s focus on the next ingredient.
High Fructose Corn Syrup in Dark Cola Drinks
The process for making high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) out of corn was developed in the 1970s. It is a complicated chemical and enzymatic process that converts corn starch into HFCS.
HFCS has a final concentration of about 55% fructose and 45% glucose with the exact same sweetness and taste as sucrose.
Since consumers see the word “Fructose” on the dark cola can they associate it with fruit and assume that it’s healthier than sugar.
Dr. Meira Field and a team of investigators from the USDA decided to find out if this assumption was true. They fed rats a high amount of sucrose, which is composed of glucose and fructose. These rats developed multiple health problems especially when they were deficient in certain nutrients such as copper.
The big question was whether the health problems were caused by the glucose component or the fructose component.
They repeated their study with two new groups of rats. One group received high amounts of glucose and the other group received high amounts of fructose. The glucose group was unaffected.
The fructose group had severe, life threatening results!
The male rats developed anemia, high cholesterol and heart hypertrophy. Additionally, the male rats had delayed testicular development. The female rats were not as severely affected, but they were unable to produce live young. From this research, Dr. Field made the following statement:
“The medical profession thinks fructose is better for diabetics than sugar, but every cell in the body can metabolize glucose. However, all fructose must be metabolized in the liver. The livers of the rats on the high fructose diet looked like the livers of alcoholics, plugged with fat and cirrhotic.”
One additional note on the High Fructose Corn Syrup in dark cola drinks. As you can see by the nutrition facts there are 39 grams of sugar per 12 ounces of Coke. One teaspoon of sugar is equal to 4 grams. This means that there are almost 10 teaspoons of sugar per a 12 ounce can of Coke.
Would you knowingly put 10 teaspoons of sugar in anything that you eat or drink?
Caramel Color in Dark Cola Drinks
The process for making caramel color is pretty straight forward. It is obtained by heating sugar until a brown color and characteristic flavor develops. Sounds pretty safe.
However, according the the Center for Science in the Public Interest, caramel color is a potential carcinogen. This ingredient is actually regulated in the State of California. California does not allow more than 4 micrograms of this ingredient to be included in any product sold in their state.
Dark cola drinks have less then 4 mcg per serving. But if you’re drinking more than one serving per day, then you increase the cancer risk tied to this ingredient.
Phosphoric Acid in Dark Cola Drinks
This ingredient is used because it creates an acidic medium which enhances the absorption of carbon dioxide to give your dark cola drink more fizz. Fizz in your cola drink might be nice but what affect does phosphoric acid have on your body.
To start we need to look at the pH level of Coke caused by the phosphoric acid.
Coca-Cola is considered a “Super Acidifying Food” with a pH of 2.53
To understand this we need talk about pH. The pH scale measures the degree of acidity or alkalinity of a substance and ranges from 0 to 14:
- 0 is complete acid
- 0 to 6.99 is acidic
- 7 is neutral or the perfect balance between acid and alkaline
- 7.01 to 13.99 is alkaline
- 14 is complete alkaline
The lower on the scale below 7 the more acidic something is and the higher on the scale above 7 the more alkaline something is.
The pH scale is not arithmetical but logarithmic.
Logarithmic means that the values separating each unit are not of equal value along the scale but increases in proportion to their distance from a pH of 7.
For example, a pH reading of 6 is 10 times more acidic than 7, but a pH of 5 is not 20 times more acidic but 100 times more acidic.
If you’re catching on, then a pH reading of 4 is 1000 times more acidic than a pH of 7.
Given this fact, what would seem like a small change in pH and be no big deal is, in reality, a big deal to your body.
Although some organs and organ fluids (like the gastric region) have a higher or lower pH than what is normal for the body, your body functions best when the pH of the internal biochemical environment (blood, lymph and intracellular fluids) is between 7.365 and 7.390.
If you understand the pH scale above, then you can see that the body likes to keep itself slightly alkaline and in a very narrow range. Anything outside this range causes stress on the body. The farther outside this range, then the stress on the body goes up exponentially.
Since Coke has a pH of 2.53 it is almost 100,000 times more acidic than a pH of 7.
This has a huge impact on your system. Your body will use its alkaline minerals such as sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium to neutralize the acid to return your internal biochemical environment back to normal.
Compounding this acidic problem, your body also maintains a balanced concentration of phosphorus, calcium, and potassium in the bloodstream. This provides the right combination for building new bones and maintaining old ones. The shock of incoming phosphorus with zero calcium causes the calcium levels in the blood to decline. This triggers your body to dissolve calcium from the bones to restore this balance.
This reaction, continued over time, can be a contributing factor for osteoporosis.
Natural Flavors in Dark Cola Drinks
Technically, natural flavors are chemicals or a set of chemicals extracted from a natural substance, usually a plant or animal, without any chemical modifications. Cola companies are not required to disclose what those chemicals are or the procedure that they use to create the “Natural Flavors.”
Caffeine in Dark Cola Drinks
This ingredient has the ability to stimulate mental alertness, overcome fatigue, and enhance endurance. Sounds great!
But, it’s an addictive chemical that comes with a cost to your body.
As a stimulant it can be accompanied by constriction of the cerebral arteries, rapid heartbeat, and high blood pressure. Caffeine also causes the release of adrenaline which increases blood sugar. The pancreas reacts by secreting insulin to stabilize your blood sugar by driving the sugar into the cells for oxidation and energy production. However, excess blood sugar in the cells will be stored as fat.
People who consistently consume cola drinks high in sugar with caffeine constantly create an unbalanced cycling process. This puts undue stress on both the adrenal glands and the pancreas. Over time this has an impact on their ability to function properly resulting in arthritis and diabetes.
Water in Dark Cola Drinks
This is the number one ingredient in all cola drinks. Thus, you might think that this is a good thing.
Given the consumption of soda in the United States, it’s interesting that experts estimate that 75% of Americans have mild, chronic dehydration. WHY?
Because most of the contents of a dark cola drink must be processed by the liver! All chemicals, artificial sweeteners, and most sugars especially fructose need to be metabolized by the liver. Most of the water in the dark cola drink goes to help the liver detoxify the body. This means that very little of the water actually ends up in the cells to help them function properly.
GMOs in Dark Cola Drinks
For the first time in looking at the ingredient list for Coke I noticed that they disclose the use of GMO for sourcing their ingredients. Most likely the corn used for the creation of High Fructose Corn Syrup.
There is a big debate on the use of GMO sources and how they effect the health of people. This by itself is a long topic of discussion. If you want to know more about the use of GMO in Coke, then please click here for a statement by the company regarding its use.
Now, I’m not saying that the cola industry is the primary cause of all health issues.
What I am saying is that many of the ingredients in dark cola drinks can be a contributing factor to a wide range of health concerns.
I find it interesting that as soda consumption has increased, along with an increase in processed foods that contain many of the same ingredients, there has been a correlating increase in obesity and metabolic health issues.
Blessing Lives Through Nitric Oxide Therapy!