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What Nourishes Your Body’s Cells The Best – Dark Cola Drinks or Water?
In just a moment we are going to look at the ingredients of Coke and Diet Coke (as representatives for the dark cola industry) and how they nourish your new cells. You see, every day you replace 1% of your existing cells with new cells. It is what I call “The 1% Solution!” to better health. You have the ability to directly impact the health of your new cells by the choices you make in what you eat and drink. Now, before we examine how dark colas and water nourish your cells, I want to talk about Indiana Jones.
I’m a big fan of the Indiana Jones movie series with Harrison Ford. With the buzz about the 4th installment being filmed it reminded me of “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade!” If you remember, Harrison Ford had to successfully complete several tasks to find the chamber that contained the Holy Grail. When he finally entered the cave where the Holy Grail was located it was being guarded by the last of the appointed Crusaders. After all the action that takes place, Harrison Ford is in a position to choose the cup he thinks Christ drank from at the Last Supper. This last Crusader says to him, “Choose Wisely!”
Now, you might be thinking what does this have to do with our examination of Coke and Diet Coke and the soft drink industry. Well, at the time of the movie, the Coca-Cola Company made a highly entertaining and successful TV ad featuring this same last Crusader as a mom tried to reach her refrigerator to get a cold drink. As she reached into the fridge to quench her thirst, the Crusader says to her, “Choose Wisely!” And, what was her choice? A refreshing can of Coke!
Well, let’s see how wise her choice really was!
Here is the list of ingredients on a can of Coke in the order that they appear:
o High Fructose Corn Syrup / (Aspartame in Diet Coke)
o Caramel Color
o Phosphoric Acid
o Natural Flavors
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 and since it is listed first that means that 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 – 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 which has a final concentration of about 55% fructose and 45% glucose with the exact same sweetness and taste as sucrose. Since many consumers see the word “Fructose” they associate it with fruit and assume that it is 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. So, the next question was whether the health problems were caused by the glucose component or the fructose component. They repeated their studies 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.”
HFCS contains more fructose than sugar. Plus, this fructose is more immediately available because it is not bound up in sucrose.
Aspartame – This ingredient is a sweetener used to replace high fructose corn syrup or sugar. When digested, aspartame breaks down into three chemicals:
o Aspartic acid is a toxin that can cause serious chronic neurological disorders.
o Phenylalanine can decrease serotonin levels in the brain leading to emotional disorders, depression, and poor quality sleep.
o Methanol is a poison that is metabolized by the liver into formaldehyde and formic acid. Formaldehyde is a deadly neurotoxin, carcinogen, and mutagen. Formic acid is the active chemical in bee and ant stings. Methanol is a cumulative poison. It symptoms include headaches, shooting pains, memory lapses, numbness, and nerve inflammation. It can cause blurred vision, retinal damage, and blindness.
Ralph Walton MD of Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine did a survey of aspartame studies. Here is his conclusion:
“Of the 166 studies felt to have relevance for questions of human safety, 74 had NutraSweet industry related funding and 92 were independently funded. One hundred percent of the industry funded research attested to aspartame’s safety, whereas 92 percent of the independently funded research identified a problem.”
Because of these chemical side effects, some soft drink companies will replace aspartame with saccharin. In 1978, the National Academy of Sciences concluded that saccharin is a potential cancer-causing agent in humans as well as having the ability to enhance the carcinogenic effects of other cancer causing agents. The FDA’s position is that saccharin should not be used in food. Since soft drinks are not technically considered food that restriction does not apply.
Caramel Color – This ingredient is hard to get a handle on. The process for making caramel color is pretty straight forward. It is obtained by heating sugar until a brown color and characteristic flavor develops. I could not find any research on this ingredient with any definitive positives or negatives.
Phosphoric Acid – This ingredient is used because it creates an acidic medium which enhances the absorption of carbon dioxide to give your drink more fizz. Fizz in your 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. 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:
o 0 is complete acid
o 0 to 6.99 is acidic
o 7 is neutral or the perfect balance between acid and alkaline
o 7.01 to 13.99 is alkaline
o 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.
Now this is what gets most people confused. 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 (your 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, it is 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 is that your body also maintains a balanced concentration of phosphorus, calcium, and potassium in the bloodstream to provide 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, leads to osteoporosis. Additionally, the body usually dissolves more calcium than needed so the excess calcium is eliminated in the following order:
1. Excretion in the urine.
2. Deposited in the joints leading to osteoarthritis and bursitis.
3. Formation into stones such as kidney stones.
4. Deposited in the arteries leading to calcified plaque.
Because phosphoric acid is such a strong acid, it reduces the secretion of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. Hydrochloric acid is used for the digestion of protein and fats as well as aiding in the absorption of minerals. When hydrochloric acid is reduced inadequate digestion occurs which can result in bloating and flatulence. Additionally, mineral absorption is hindered which can lead to anemia (lack of iron) and accelerate the trend toward osteoporosis. Plus, low stomach acidity allows harmful bacteria, yeasts and parasites to grow which can affect your health.
Finally, the March/April 2007 edition of General Dentistry contains a report that shows, even with minimal exposure, phosphoric acid in soda causes tooth enamel erosion.
Natural Flavors – This ingredient is even harder to get a handle on than Caramel Color. Technically, natural flavors are chemicals or a set of chemicals extracted from a natural substance, usually a plant or animal, without any chemical modifications. Companies are not required to disclose what those chemicals are or the procedure that they use to create the “Natural Flavors.”
Caffeine – This ingredient has the ability to stimulate mental alertness, overcome fatigue, and enhance endurance. Sounds great! But, it is 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 keep the blood sugar level stable by driving blood 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 soft drinks high in sugar with caffeine constantly create an unbalanced cycling process that 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 potential health issues such as arthritis and diabetes.
Aluminum – This ingredient is not listed on any soft drink can since the manufacturer does not add it to the liquid mixture at the time of manufacturing. However, over time, phosphoric acid is strong enough to eat away enough aluminum from the container to leach this metal into the liquid contents. Aluminum is deposited in the brain and bone tissue. In the brain, aluminum results in the formation of neurofibrillary tangles or lesions similar to those who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, aluminum exposure increases the break down of the bone structure while at the same time reducing new bone formation.
Water – This ingredient is the number one ingredient in all sodas. Thus, you might think that this is a good thing. Given the consumption of soda in the United States, it is interesting that experts estimate that 75% of Americans have mild, chronic dehydration. WHY? Because most of the contents of a soda must be processed by the liver! All chemicals, all artificial sweeteners, and most sugars especially fructose need to be metabolized by the liver. Most of the water in the soda 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.
I have a more extensive article on water which you can find on the internet. Briefly, water is a necessary and foundational part of our lives. Every biochemical action that takes place in your body takes place in water. By itself, pure water contains no calories, no artificial sweeteners and colorings, and is fat-free, cholesterol-free, low in sodium and not acidic.
You’ve been presented with a lot of information. To help summarize my findings, here is a side-by-side comparison of the potential health benefits of dark cola drinks vs. water.
Dark Cola Drinks: None
Water: Most significant factor in losing fat!
Serves as an appetite suppressant!
Helps the body metabolize stored fat!
Helps to reduce water retention!
Medium for the body’s biochemistry!
Aids in maintaining proper acid-alkaline balance!
Here is a side-by- side comparison of the potential health risks from dark cola drinks vs. water:
Dark Cola Drinks:
Calcified arterial plaque
Fertility problems in both men and women
High blood pressure
Poor quality sleep
Now, I’m not saying that the soda industry is the primary cause of all these health issues. What I am saying is that many of the ingredients in soda have been linked to the above health issues. I find it interesting that since 1970 as soda consumption has increased, along with an increase in processed foods that contain many of the same ingredients plus more, there has been a correlating increase in all of the above wellness issues.
Remember, the goal of this article is to understand how the ingredients of dark colas will nourish your new cells. Will they provide good nutrition or poor nutrition to the 1% of cells that are new each day? I think it’s pretty clear what your choice should be. So, as the aged Crusader from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade stands next to your refrigerator encouraging you to “Choose Wisely!” grab the bottled water and not the aluminum can of Coke!
Until next time, may we both age youthfully!
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