Are sugary cola drinks bad for you?
Posted: Oct 25, 2022
The sugar in Coca-Cola can definitely contribute to an increased risk for many health conditions. Within 20 minutes of drinking a cola the blood sugar levels increase causing a burst of insulin to be released. At the same time the liver then turns the high amounts of sugar into fat to put it somewhere. The caffeine in the cola is all absorbed within about 40 minutes causing the pupils to dilate and the blood pressure to increase. The adenosine receptors in the brain become blocked which has the effect of preventing drowsiness. After about 5 minutes the production of dopamine has increased which affects the pleasure and reward centers of the brain, triggering and urge to have another drink. After an hour or so a sugar crash will begin that can cause irritability and drowsiness. Coke also has refined salts which can affect other bodily processes. The consumption of large quantities of the ingredients can increase the risk for health problems. The Coca Cola company typically responds to these issues stating things like it is safe to drink and can be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet and lifestyle.
A number of studies and systematic reviews have confirmed many risks of regularly consuming Coca-Cola and other sugary drinks. They do quite clearly increase blood sugar levels rapidly after starting to consume the drink and they do affect the pleasure centers of the brain in a similar way as heroin. That research has also added to the evidence of a link between sugary drinks and diabetes and seems to confirm the adverse effects of these sugary drinks on the brain, kidney function, and liver activity. However, many of the studies in this review took place in rats. The full extent of the effects of sugary drinks on humans is not yet clear, so there is certainly more research needed. Having said all that, consuming Coca-Cola and sugar-sweetened beverages in moderation is unlikely to have a severe effect on health. There are also ways the no-sugar and low sugar options that can lower the risk of problems.
Craig Payne is a University lecturer, runner, cynic, researcher, skeptic, forum admin, woo basher, clinician, rabble-rouser, blogger and a dad.