A lifetime of drinking regular Coca-Cola culminated in a host of health problems for this writer, all of them gone now that he’s no longer drinking it.
Most of us are aware that drinking soda is bad for our health, although we may not realize just how bad. Arriving at some degree of certainty on the issue isn’t easy, as most of what we find to read on the subject takes one extreme position (soda poisons your body) or the other (it’s perfectly safe).
I finally reached my conclusion on the matter from personal experience. Until two months ago, I was a lifelong drinker of regular Coca-Cola. Aged 47, I fell in between my parents’ generation, which grew up drinking coffee for a pick-me-up, and generations younger than mine, weaned on coffee from Starbucks and the like.
For me, it was always Coke, usually one a day, although sometimes more. For years I stuck with the 12-ounce can, until that size became harder to come by as the Coca-Cola Co., and other beverage manufacturers, started pushing larger, 20-ounce bottles in vending machines and stores. It was always easier to just drink more Coke.
More Sugar Than Anybody Needs
I was well aware that Coke, thanks to its infusion of high fructose corn syrup, pumped me full of more sugar than I should be consuming on a daily basis. I was also aware that when soda manufacturers first started using HFCS in a big way at the start of the 1980s, the rate of diabetes cases in America also began to climb.
But I have never had a weight problem so wasn’t concerned. And from what I had heard, diet soda is even worse for our bodies, if you believe everything you read about Aspartame, the sweetening ingredient soda companies use in diet sodas as a replacement for HFCS.
The Controversy About Aspartame
I don’t quite believe the rumors about Aspartame. Yes, it’s a known fact that pilots in the U.S. Air Force and Navy have for many years been warned against drinking diet soda before flying, but study after study by a variety of governments, food safety groups and health organizations have concluded that Aspertame is safe for human consumption, despite scary assertions that the additive is responsible for everything from Alzheimer’s disease to Gulf War Syndrome. Until and unless credible research proves otherwise, that’s the prevailing view. But all the same, I intend to stay away from diet soda.
And I haven’t been a drinker of regular Coke for two months now, after an esophageal blockage sent me to the hospital for surgery. There’s no reason for me to believe that Coke had anything to do with that, but while I was drinking it I suffered from persistent, extreme acid reflux, exacerbated by burping, caused by consuming carbonated beverages. I haven’t experienced acid reflux a single time after implementing my decision to stop drinking Coke.
Gone too are the caffeine-induced headaches, headaches so severe that not even ibuprofen could lessen them. I’d open a Coke, however, and the headache would disappear completely within minutes.
An Easy Vice to Eliminate
Although I don’t have an addictive constitution, I wondered if doing away with Coke would be difficult. It wasn’t at all. I immediately found that the less I drank it, the less I wanted it, until it got to the point where it didn’t even taste good, just overly sweet and syrupy, and I chose to avoid it completely.
Now I mostly drink water, water mixed with fruit juice, or milk, and after exercise a Gatorade, which I now find more refreshing. I’m not suggesting that soft drinks should be avoided altogether; indeed, just about any food or beverage is acceptable consumed in moderation. A Coke with a pizza once a month is probably fine.
I also don’t believe anyone has any business telling anyone else what they should eat or drink, except for perhaps medical professionals, and even then I’m a little leery. But the longer I drank Coke, and the more of it I drank, the worse I felt until I ended up in the hospital. Since removing it from my diet all of the health issues I associated with it have disappeared completely.
I no longer get the burst of energy I got from the caffeine in Coke, but I no longer feel rundown either. Instead, I now have a fairly consistent energy level throughout the day — all in all, not a bad way to be.