Soda Pop and Its Dark Side

I am Dr Patrick Flanagan, and this is the latest edition of my Dr Health Secrets newsletter.

I am a scientist with over 300 inventions related to health, longevity and medicine. This newsletter installment is about soda and its effects on your body.

Pop Goes The Soda

It is one of those classic representations of American culture. I have grown up with it, loved it, consumed tons of it, and stood behind its red and white bottle as if it were part of our constitution. Coca-Cola started a revolution and single-handedly became one of the most successful companies in history. Sold in over 140 countries and to over 5.8 billion people who speak over 80 different languages, Coca-Cola is worth more than 58 billion dollars on the stock market. For more than 65 years, Coca-Cola has been an Olympic sponsor and was even promised to the troops by President Woodrow Wilson during times of war. One in every two cola products and two out of every three soft drinks sold are Coca-Cola.

Invented in May 1886 by Doctor John Pemberton, a pharmacist from Georgia, Coca-Cola was originally marketed as a tonic, containing extracts of both cocaine and of the caffeine-rich kola nut. The cocaine additive was simply a “valuable tonic with nerve stimulant,” with sugar being added for extra sweetening. Described as a “delicious, exhilarating, refreshing and invigorating soda-fountain beverage but also as the ideal temperance drink,” Coca-Cola was so good that is what, well, addictive.

Drink Up

Soda comprises more than one-fourth of all drinks that are consumed in the United States. More than 15 billion gallons were sold in 2000 alone, which is equivalent to one 12-ounce can of soda, per day, for every man, woman, and child. Carbonated drinks provide more added sugar in the average 2-year-old toddler’s diet than cookies inca kola, ice cream, and candies added together. 56% of 8-year-olds drink soda daily, and 1/3 of teenage boys drink at least 3 cans a day. 60% of all public and private high schools and middle schools nationwide sell soda. Daily calories from soda and fruit drinks nearly tripled from 1977 to 2001, and side effects of soda include weight gain, fatigue, and sugar dependency.

It is easy to believe I get enough “water” from any liquid refreshments such as soda, coffee, beer, and fruit juices because they all contain water. But the problem is that they also contain caffeine, sugar, alcohol, artificial sweeteners, and chemicals that all cause major dehydration. The more these products are consumed, the more dehydrated you become because the effects that these substance have on the body are the complete opposite of the effects that water has. Caffeine containing products, like Coca-Cola and many other sodas, trigger stress responses within the body that have strong diuretic effects. Added sugars cause blood sugar levels to rise, which then leads to the depletion of much needed cellular water. Over time, chronic dehydration results and toxic levels within the body can become deadly.

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