Posts Tagged ‘caffeine health’

For most of my adult life I’ve been a cola guzzler. From my late teens until my late thirties I usually drank two cans per day. When I got slightly older (and let me stress “slightly” since I’m still incredibly young…) I cut back to a single can of Pepsi a day. This usually followed my two cups of coffee in the morning  and was often accompanied by a salty, unhealthy snack like a family size bag of potato or taco chips. Sounds nutritious, doesn’t it? I know my mother would be proud if she knew about that.

Well, last month after hearing that some of the scary chemicals used in colas such as Coke and Pepsi products are suspected of causing cancer, I got sort of nervous. A study done by National Toxicology has found that two types of carmel coloring, created by reacting sugars with ammonia, are suspected of causing cancer in mice —  and maybe rats. I know some will argue that humans are neither mice nor rats, but I refuse to be a guinea pig and continue the habit of drinking something that has zero nutritional value and may contribute to cancer risk.

And aside from the carmel coloring thing, I’m certain that the caffeine, sugar, and assorted “mystery” ingredients found in sodas aren’t contributing to my well-being, either. A day or two after reading about the study, I decided to kick the habit. I endured about a week’s worth of eyeball popping headaches but after I  got through that, navigating through the day without my beloved Pepsi got much easier. Eventually, I could proudly profess that I was no longer cola-dependant.

I finally quit drinking cola.

This morning as I slurped my new beverage of choice (green tea) while perusing the web, I ran across an article written by Nick Perry of the Associated Press that I found to be simultaneously intriguing and horrifying. Apparently, the recent death of Natasha Harris,  a New Zealand woman, is said to have been associated with her over 2-gallon (8-10 liters) per day consumption of Coca Cola.

According to the woman’s partner, Chris Hodgkinson, the first thing Harris did in the morning was guzzle Coke that she kept on her bedside table. She drank the soda all day long and then topped every night off with a Coca Cola nightcap.

The cause of death for this 30-year old mother of 8 has been listed by pathologist, Dr. Morin, as hypokalemia, or low potassium, caused by excessive consumption of Coke and overall poor nutritional habits. A contributing factor to her death may also have been excessive levels of caffeine she had been ingesting contained within the soda. Throw in the 30 cigarettes she smoked a day (Yup. I said 30) and her lifestyle becomes what I’d call nothing less than a wee bit lethal.

When I read this I was stunned.  How can something like this happen? She had to have been feeling absolutely horrible before she died. Wasn’t that enough to get her to seek medical attention?  And what about the dude she was living with, Hodgkinson, who witnessed her doing this every day? Was he blind to the red flags that were popping up every time she took a swig? The whole story is incredibly sad and scary.

I never drank soda in large quantities like that but it certainly makes me feel good about my decision to quit. Not only does soda lack nutritional value and contain posible cancer- causing chemicals it’s addictive, as proven by my headaches (although the average person isn’t drinking vats of it every day like Harris was).

So, maybe you’ve been trying to quit drinking soda (or as we call it around here, “pop”) for some of the same reasons I’ve listed above. Maybe you’re worried about the large quantity that you’re ingesting on a daily basis or you just want to make some better lifestyle choices. I know. I know. It’s not easy to quit…but I found a few things that helped me in the quest to end my habit:

  • The first step is simple — just stop loading your grocery cart with the stuff.  If you don’t buy it you can’t drink it, right?
  • Substitute for another beverage like water, green tea (sadly, I chose this option because it still as a little bit of caffeine in it), V-fusion Sparkling V-8 (awesome and it even has vitamins and other good stuff in it!) juice, or how about milk? And no…wine and beer are not good substitutes.
  • Make up your mind that you won’t drink soda. And stick to it!!
  • Sometimes the key is in the packaging I have found that often a nicely packaged drink (like canned green tea) will trick my brain into believing that I’m drinking soda. Although it’s not a “green” option because of the additional packaging, it may be something you can do temporarily until your life is soda-free.
  • If you just can’t quit cold turkey, cut back to drinking every other day. Or purchase the mini cans of soda instead of the full-sized ones. They’re a bit more expensive but eventually, you won’t be buying soda at all so it evens out, right?

Really, the bottom line for me is that I do feel better after quitting. Like anything — even McDonald’s or White Castle – I don’t think having a can of soda occasionally is harmful but personally, I’m convinced that drinking it daily, especially in large quantities can be detrimental to health.

Are you a former “pop” drinker that has quit the habit? Do you feel better? Got some tips you want to share that may help others to kick the habit?  Need encouragement? Please comment!

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