Cola is a beverage many of us have been familiar with since we were young. Cola manufacturers have been quenching our thirsts and filling our minds with advertising for decades. Billions of cans of cola are sold around the globe each year, with cola flowing like water in many industrialized countries. To that end, its not a real wonder that cola can effectively kill you if drunk in excessively large amounts, especially since a new medical study has laid out just how bad cola can be, for people who cant get enough of it. One assumes at this point that the prudent thing to do would be to simply drink less cola, at least until the next time one is bombarded by cola advertising.
Published in the June issue of the International Journal of Clinical Practice is a new study out of the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Ioannina, Greece. Dr. Moses Elisaf and his fellow researchers reviewed the types of symptoms that could occur in people who drank anywhere from two litres to nine litres of cola per day, going over the case studies of patients who qualified. In one such study, a 44-year-old ostrich farmer was afflicted by lung paralysis as well as muscle weakness to the point of having trouble standing up. This was due to the four litres of cola he had been drinking every day for the past three years, up to 10 litres sometimes just to quench his thirst while out hunting. Another case study highlighted a 51-year-old man with chronic pulmonary disease, hypertension, muscle weakness and loose bowel issues several times a day. Doctors couldnt figure out why he was experiencing his symptoms until they found out the man continuously sipped up to four litres of cola every day.
Stomach Churning Issues
Regardless of its branding, cola drinks have always been taken for granted as one of the most abundant sources of sugary, teeth-rotting beverages found on earth. Now the University of Ioannina study suggests that excessive over consumption of cola drinks can cause not only tooth decay, but also diabetes, cardiovascular disease, bone demineralization and hypokalemia, which is low blood potassium levels caused by extreme cola over consumption. Hypokalemia is the main cause behind the muscle problems experienced by people who drink too much cola. Muscle weakness can be anywhere from mild to paralysis.
More To Avoid
This study into the dangers of cola over consumption singled out the three most common ingredients responsible for most of the health issues related to drinking cola, which, unsurprisingly, were glucose, fructose and caffeine. Seeing as how health professionals are always advising people to reduce their intake of those three anyhow, lowering cola intake could be beneficial in the long run, but how does one avoid the stormy seas of cola?
Even though the University of Ioannina study focused on extreme cases of cola over consumption, the issue is largely ignored everywhere else. Restaurants and stores continue to sell cola beyond the average 355 ml can in different forms of packaging that encourage over consumption. The well-known plastic 2 litre cola bottles, as well as 7/11s Big Gulp cup size are just two examples that can easily lure the average person into drinking too much cola.
Just Say No
The majority of convenience stores, restaurants and fast food joints all serve cola in one incarnation or another, and one should be wary. In restaurants, its simple to just order a different drink. In fast food chains cola is the standard they expect you to drink unless you specifically order something else. Dont forget that used to be a medium-sized drink container is now the small-sized container in Wendys chain restaurants. In stores, its simple to walk past the rows of aluminum cans in favour of a healthier drink, provided you can avoid any other processed beverage that doesnt contain glucose, fructose or caffeine.
Committing to reducing your intake of cola, imitation colas and zero-calorie colas can be challenging, especially if youre used to drinking more than one per day. Drinking less cola would certainly go a ways towards improving your overall health, but if and when you do toss back that coke, make sure you enjoy it!
Sources: The International Journal of Clinical Practice, BBC, Telegraph.co.uk