How Can Coca-Cola Addiciton Lead To Death?

Hey there Guys,

Recently in the news there has been a reported case of a New Zealand lady who died after drinking more then 8 litres a day of soft drink; in particular Coca-Cola™.

As reported by TVNZ:

Otago-Southland coroner David Crerar did not make any preliminary findings after yesterday’s inquest, however pathologist Dan Mornin said he believed Harris died of cardiac arrhythmia and it was likely she was suffering from hypokalemia (low potassium) along with caffeine toxicity, which could have contributed to her death.

When asked by Crerar whether it was probable her consumption of Coca-Cola had caused the hypokalemia and arrhythmia, Dr Mornin said yes, along with poor nutrition and caffeine.[/wpse_b_box_solid]

Coca-Cola was quick to offer a statement:


“We concur with the information shared by the coroner’s office that the grossly excessive ingestion of any food product, including water, over a short period of time with the inadequate consumption of essential nutrients, and the failure to seek appropriate medical intervention when needed, can be dramatically symptomatic.

“We believe that all foods and beverages can have a place in a balanced and sensible diet combined with an active lifestyle,”

Today I thought it was a good idea to talk about how soft drinks like Coke™ can affect the body, including in some cases sudden cardiac death.

Sugar Is The Hardest Hitter

Sugar has by far the biggest impact on the body. In Australia, one Litre of Coca-Cola contains 106g of cane sugar. Keep in mind that the recommended intake of daily sugar is 80g or less. If you drink 2 600ml bottles daily it’s easy to see how this level can rapidly creep upwards.

These high sugar levels have multiple impacts on the body.

Firstly is that the sugar creates a high load on the glucose control systems of the body. As the main sugar in Australian Coke comes from sugar cane there is a double effect. Cane sugar is a mix of the natural sugar molecules fructose and glucose. Glucose is able to be burned by muscle, the brain and by red blood cells. Fructose, however is only able to be used at the level of the liver. There it is converted to sugar stores and once they are filled it is turned into fat.

As fat is deposited in the liver it makes its function harder and the liver can be placed under strain. This is called “fatty liver disease” and is becoming so common that there have been some doctors concerned it will be associated with the next wave of people requiring liver transplants.

Fat increases are not just limited to the liver. It is also laid down across the body, resulting in high weight gain and obesity.

High levels of circulating sugar also force the pancreas to release higher and higher levels of insulin to bring the sugar levels down. Over time the body does not respond to the insulin as easily and diabetes can start to develop.

High levels of insulin can also decrease potassium in the blood which can lead to changes in heart rhythm as was documented in the death of the lady discussed above.

Increased Risk Of Heart Disease

High levels of fats in the liver, sugar in the blood and increasing resistance to insulin can lead to deposition of fat in the arteries of the body which decrease blood delivery to the heart and brain. These can cause heart attacks and strokes if the blood flow is cut off completely.

High levels of caffeine can also increase the risk of dangerous heart rhythms.

Gastric Ulcers And Thin Bones

Coca-Cola™ also contains high levels of phosphoric acid which when consumed on a regular basis can increase the acidity of the stomach. This can increase the chance of developing stomach ulcers and slowing the healing of ulcers if already present.

High levels of phosphoric acid are also associated with disruption of bone formation and can lead to brittle bone structure. Phosphoric acid can also lead to premature tooth decay and many dentists recommend no more then one can of coke a day.

So What Is The Bottom Line?

As with all things in life, moderation is the key. One or two cans a day is unlikely to cause major damage, however if you notice your volume of consumption is increasing you could be putting yourself at risk.

For all my patients that are trying to lose weight I recommend one of the first actions being giving up all soft drink. The high sugar content offers no true nutritional value and is counter productive to weight loss.

Good alternatives can be tea and coffee with no added sugars, or occasional diet soft drinks. However the best option is water. If you are looking for flavours try adding sliced fruit or berries to give some different tastes. Your body will thank you for it.

Yours in good health.

Dr George

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