Coca Cola Life

Sunday 11 December 2016

I don’t usually drink Coke for many obvious reasons. It contains 21grams of sugar per 200ml, that’s 4 teaspoons. It also contains a number of artificial colours and preservatives that our body is simply not made to digest. 

For me, having IBS means that carbonated beverages are off limits. The CO2 released into the body when such beverages are consumed cause excessive bloating and gas. 

As a health conscious individual, I am interested in new products being launched by big brand companies such as Coca Cola. Not for personal consumption, but I enjoy putting in time to research the latest ‘health’ claims these companies continue to promote. With 35% less sugar than standard Coca Cola, “Coca Cola Life is for adults looking for a great tasting Coke but fewer kilojoules and sweetened from natural sources.” Coca Cola have achieved this by using stevia and a reduced amount of sugar to sweeten their product. 

Stevia is a natural sweetener, or sugar substitute, said to have more than 150 times the sweetness of sugar. It is derived from the stevia plant commonly known as Sweetleaf or Sugarleaf. Stevia is used in a number of food products in the health industry because of it’s zero calorie count and it’s ability to provide sweetness without rapid spikes in blood-sugar levels. 

Sounds great right? Wrong! In recent studies, stevia has been shown to severly deplete our health. Stevia is commonly mixed with other ingredients to enhance flavour, and these are not usually printed on food labels. The sweet taste of stevia sends signals to the brain that something sweet is about to enter the body, and the brain prepares the body to digest it. But, because stevia has no calories, the body isn’t actually obtaining ANYTHING. Blood sugar levels drop, and the body’s response is to increase cortisol and adrenaline to retrieve sugar from elsewhere in order to bring blood sugar levels back to optimal levels. These sources include liver and muscle glycogen or protein (loss of lean muscle mass), and body tissue.

Cortisol and adrenaline are the stress hormones in our body. They are there to be utitilzed in high-stress situations when a ‘fight or flight’ response is required. Consuming excess amounts of stevia increases these hormones in undesireable amounts, leading to adrenal gland damage, a suppressed immune system, increased inflammation, lower thyroid function, and overall health. So, although stevia is a natural source and conatins zero calories, the problems it causes to the body’s metabolic processes are not worth the time or money, and evidentially the stress that is associated with the product.

As you are probably already aware, my review on this ‘revolutionairy’ new beverage is bad. It contains less kilojoules yes, but is it any better for you than standard Coca Cola? Put simply, no. 

There is still an atsonishing 22g of sugar per 330ml, as well as a number of artificial colours and flavours. I noticed that there is no sign of stevia listed under ingredients. Instead it states ‘sweetners’, which to me suggests that there is something else added to the stevia to enhance the flavour. If I am right, I would love to know what has been added to it. 

It is important to remember that major companies such as Coca Cola pay millinos for a team of marketing experts to try and trick consumers into buying their products. In a society that is more aware of it’s health than ever before, new products attached with health claims are more commonly deployed to meet the demand. 

We have to look far beyond just calories here. Although this new product contains less calories, the health benefits of using stevia instead of sugar is non-existent. Both are as bad as each other. But by simply making the fact that stevia is natural evident on food labels, these products sell themselves. This is because the majority of public are under the assumption that the product is ‘healthy’ due to successful marketing strategies. Others, with knowledge of the these products, simply don’t want to be constantly reminded of the truth and choose to buy them anyway. 

Don’t buy into the hype surrounded with such proudcts. Just because they claim to be more natural and a healthier alternative, doesn’t mean you should fall for their marketing tactics. ALWAYS read the labels, and if there is something on there you are unsure about - do your research. By keeping it simple, your body will thank you, inside and out.

I’ve had people ask me which is the healthier – standard Coca Cola or Coca Cola Life? My response is that they have no nutrional value, and shouldn’t be included in your diet. Of course the occassional drink here and there won’t have any serious effects on your body, but I encourage you to be careful when consuming products such as these.