Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Have A Coke And A Smile And Shut the F--- Up.

I'm "into" alternative medicine (in the sense that I've seen miraculous changes from a diet that's not well understood), and I think there's a lot of hoo-ha in "conventional wisdom" about the body and health. Still, articles like this set off the BS-meter.
  • In The First 10 minutes: 10 teaspoons of sugar hit your system. (100% of your recommended daily intake.) You don’t immediately vomit from the overwhelming sweetness because phosphoric acid cuts the flavor allowing you to keep it down.
A quarter cup of raisins has 44 grams of sugar to a 12 oz soda's 36 grams. Think you could eat a quarter cup of raisins without barfing? How about 2 oz. of Raisinets, which is 40 grams?
  • 20 minutes: Your blood sugar spikes, causing an insulin burst. Your liver responds to this by turning any sugar it can get its hands on into fat. (There’s plenty of that at this particular moment)
Yeah, if you're diabetic. Your blood sugar really shouldn't be spiking much if you're not. I do imagine you could exhaust your pancreas if you do it too much, but I don't know.
  • 40 minutes: Caffeine absorption is complete. Your pupils dilate, your blood pressure rises, as a response your livers dumps more sugar into your bloodstream. The adenosine receptors in your brain are now blocked preventing drowsiness.
Have you been fasting? Because even then the spike shouldn't be too large if you're not diabetic. True about the adenosine receptors, tho'.
  • 45 minutes: Your body ups your dopamine production stimulating the pleasure centers of your brain. This is physically the same way heroin works, by the way.
Not quite. Heroin inhibits dopamine uptake while caffeine stimulates dopamine production. N.B. that the amount of caffeine in a 12 oz soda is anywhere from 1/2 to 1/4 the amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee, depending both on the kind of soda and kind of coffee.
  • >60 minutes: The phosphoric acid binds calcium, magnesium and zinc in your lower intestine, providing a further boost in metabolism. This is compounded by high doses of sugar and artificial sweeteners also increasing the urinary excretion of calcium.
I thought we'd already suffered sugar shock. This is a diet drink now? Also, apparently, caffeine doesn't increase the urinary excretion of calcium much at all. (New York Times)
  • >60 Minutes: The caffeine’s diuretic properties come into play. (It makes you have to pee.) It is now assured that you’ll evacuate the bonded calcium, magnesium and zinc that was headed to your bones as well as sodium, electrolyte and water.
As it turns out, caffeine isn't a diuretic! (New York Times, same article.)

But thanks for making soda sound like an exciting psychotropic experience!


I wanted to re-emphasize this point where the scold switches from "sugar" to "sugar and artificial sweeteners". This is a common sleight-of-hand: The scold doesn't want you to do something (or wants you to do something) and they just slip in an element that is similar (soda is soda, right? diet or otherwise?) but which, when you think about it, is dramatically different.

Artificial sweeteners may be bad for you (some people are most certainly affected negatively), but it's, I think, chemically impossible for them to act the same way on your body sugar does. (Indeed, that's the whole point.)


  1. Caffeine isn't a diuretic? I know that anecdotes don't equal data, but just anecdotally, it sure seems like a diuretic to me. Maybe it's something else in the coffee and tea, some other component they have in common. Other than the water content.

  2. Well, they tested with the equivalent caffeine of a 12-pack, so if anything was going to show it, that would.

    At that point, yeah, the water's gonna be the bigger factor.

    I have noticed that a couple of those 44 oz. Big Gulps will necessitate a couple of trips to the bathroom. Heh.

  3. What you have to do is break the insulin resistance to avoid getting full blown diabetes. We have been fighting this struggle for a while and it requires really watching what you eat. The least harmful of the sugar substitutes is Splenda based on our research. But you have no idea how much corn starch and other sugars are put into food into you start reading the labels.

  4. Oh, don't get me wrong. I'm a fairly heavy soda drinker and I think it's waaaay too sweet.

    Worse still is the sweetening of tomato sauces--which already requires a light touch, because of the sugar in the fruit.

    Yeah, all the extra sugar (and salt) is bad. But stuff like this--exaggerations about how drinking a soda will cause your organs to explode--don't help.


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