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Just how bad is drinking Coca Cola for your health — and what cool things can you use coke for instead?

Now the world's most popular soda brand in the world, Coca Cola has a long and somewhat surprising history. Did you know that John Pemberton, the pharmacist who invented the drink back in 1886, intially called it Pemberton’s French Wine Cola, and that it was an alcoholic beverage to start off with? You do now. 

The drink was advertised as a cure for headache at the beginning — the caffeine the kola nut offers constricts blood flow to the dilated blood vessels in the head that cause headache, making Coca Cola look like something of a miracle cure. What's more, Pemberton — perhaps a tad too enthusiastic about his invention — claimed the drink could cure impotence and morphine addiction, and cola syrup was sold in pharmacies as a nausea and stomach pain remedy!

These days, we no longer see Coca Cola as a medical treatment, to put it mildly. We'll discuss exactly why, before telling you what cool things you can do with the drink that aren't bad for your health.

Sugary Drinks Kill An Awful Lot Of People

Coca Cola contains 39 grams of sugar per 12-ounce can. You can see what that actually looks like if you boil a can of coke down until only a dark, sugary mess remains — but you may have to come to terms with the need to throw the sauce pan you use away afterwards. Here's what all that sugar does to you in the short term:

  • Within about 20 minutes, your body will synthesize 10 teaspoons of sugar, causing a huge blood sugar spike as well as lots of insulin secretion from the pancreas.
  • After only an hour, the insulin and sugar will have passed through your system, leading to a slump that will probably make you want to have another can of coke.
What about the long term, then?

A recent study published in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation looked at the health impact of cosuming sugary drinks like soda, energy drinks and sweetened ice teas. After looking at numerous meta analyses on the topic, comprising a total of 611,971 participants, the research team came to the startling conclusion that sugary beverages are linked to a whopping 184,000 deaths a year on a global level. Of those deaths, 133,000 can be attributed to diabetes-related causes, 45,000 to cardiovascular disease, and 6,450 to cancer. 

So there you have it: not just one, but three reasons to avoid coke!

Cola Causes Osteoporosis?

Researchers from Tufts University found that cola-based drinks lead to a lower bone density in women (but not men) who consume three or more of these drinks on a daily basis. More specifically, those women were found to have a nearly four percent lower bone density than those who didn't consume cola-based drinks on a regular basis, even though the team controlled for vitamin D and calcium intake. The same results were not found in those who regularly consumed other sugary drinks (like Sprite, for instance), so we really seem to be dealing with a coke-related problem, rather than a sugary-drink related problem here. A loss of bone density leads to a higher risk of fractures, and is of particular concern among older women.

What Does Coca Cola Do To Your Health?

What Does Coca Cola Do To Your Teeth?

The Cocal Cola company itself (somewhat ironically?) reminds us of the importance of good dental hygiene practices, on its UK website. It warns: "Any food or drink that contains fermentable carbohydrates (sugars and starches), including calorific sparkling drinks, can play a role in the development of tooth decay (caries and cavities). Also, any food or drink that is acidic has the potential to play a role in enamel erosion. Through good dental hygiene and other health practices, you can help reduce the risk of tooth decay and erosion."
 
 
True enough, as is the site's reminder that the fact that sugary drinks leave the oral cavity much more quickly than, say, a boiled sweet does mean that they don't do nearly as much damage to the teeth as you might expect. 
 
It's just as well that coke leaves your mouth quickly — while it doesn't actually dissolve teeth within 24 hours as some people like to claim, teeth that don't have the protective benefits of saliva because they're outside the mouth do indeed sustain extensive damage if left in a coke bath for a day. Check YouTube if you want to see this for yourself. Meanwhile, remember you don't have to pull your tooth out and leave it in a glass of coke for you to have dental issues because of your Coca Cola habit. The Coca Cola company is right: consume lots of acidy, sugary stuff and you need to brush your teeth pronto.

Coca Cola Lowers Sperm Health?

Coca Cola may once have been seen as a potential cure for impotence, but the idea that Coca Cola can lower men's sperm health was investigated several times, the first being in a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1985. Then, a 1987 study conducted at the Veterans General Hospital in Taiwan reported that drinking Coca Cola reduces sperm motility (movement) just a bit, and a 2010 Danish study concluded that drinking 32 ounces of coke a day or more could reduce a man's sperm count by as much as 30 percent. Men who are trying to conceive may want to think twice before drinking lots of Coca Cola, in other words.

Finally, The Caffeine

Coke, as you know, contains rather a bit of caffeine: 64 mg per 12-ounce can. This is actually not as big of a deal as you may expect — while too much caffeine can cause rapid heart rates and constricted arteries, up to 400 mg per day seems to be safe for most healthy adults. Do take your cola consumption into account when calculating your overal daily caffeine intake, however.
 
Everyone is, of course, aware that Coca Cola should be considered to be an occasional guilty pleasure and not a health food. Does that mean you should avoid having the stuff in your home? Not at all. 
 
Coca Cola has numerous weird, wonderful and truly effective "off-label" uses, and you'll read about the best of those on the next page.

Cool Stuff Coca Cola Is Great For

1. Coke Cleans The Toilet

Yes, for real. We've tried this out several times in our family, and we've unscientifically come to the conclusion that pouring the stuff in just before you go to bed — reducing the likelihood that someone will need to use the toilet and flush the coke down — yields the best results. Letting a generous amount of coke sit in your toilet bowl overnight and scrubbing it in the morning will give your toilet a makeover that makes it look like new.

2. Coke Makes Your Windows Shine

The citric acid in coke makes the fizzy drink an excellent alternative to commercial window cleaners. It might sound odd, given the fact that sugar makes things sticky, but it's true. Do remember to wipe the coke off with a damp cloth to remove the sugar if you want it to work, obviously. If you live in a busy urban environment that quickly makes your windows dirty, coke is especially good for cleaning off all kinds of grime that builds up on your windows over time.

3. Add Coca Cola To Your Laundry

Dealing with stubborn oily stains? Don't throw your clothes away or resort to buying expensive stain removal products — simply add a 12-ounce can of Coca Cola to your load of laundry, and run your washing machine the way you usually would. While I've not tried to remove blood stains with coke myself, other people say it's good for that too.

4. Coke Seduces Bugs

Want to keep bugs away? So do farmers in India, and they're using coke to achieve that. "I observed that the pests began to die after the soft drink was sprayed on my cotton," one famer from Ramakrishnapuram in Andra Pradesh told the Deccan Herald newspaper. While we have to say that using coke as a pesticide-replacement is a completely unscientific pastime, there's no harm in giving this a try in your own garden — particularly if you have kids with science essays to write.

5. Coke Gets Rid Of Pregnancy Ailments

Apparently, coke's brief stint as an anti-nausea medication wasn't baseless — though we prefer our medication with fewer side effects these days. When I was pregnant, drinking a glass of Coca Cola helped me overcome bouts of morning sickness every time. What's more, it was one of two things that readily made my pregnancy heartburn go away (the other was baking soda). 

6. Coca Cola Removes Gum From Your Hair (And Makes It Shiny?)

Got gum stuck in your hair? Pouring Coca Cola over it will not only allow it to dislodge, it will do so without causing any damage to your hair. Rather than running to the hairdresser for a much-unwanted haircut, simply pour coke over your hair and let it sit for a few minutes. Your problem will soon be a thing of the past. Some people, like celebrity Suki Waterhouse, go even further and say simply washing their hair with coke turns it silky soft and shiny. Hey, what would you lose by trying? Coca Cola is certainly cheaper than hair masks.

7. Using Coke As A Topical Pain Killer

Have you been stung by a bee, a jellyfish, a mosquito, or some other bug? Pour some Coca Cola over a cloth, and dab it onto the affected area. The chemicals in the drink, so people swear, neutralize the pain and some of the swelling very quickly. Since you're likely to be trying to enjoy yourself when you're bitten by a critter on the beach or during a day in the woods, you might just have some coke on hand when this happens. Be sure to try this!

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