It’s hard to argue that sugary soda of any kind is good for you, and it’s not difficult to think of what frequent soda drinking does to the body. In fact, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found an increased risk of stroke in people who consumed sugary soda frequently. This is not to mention all previous research that links soda consumption to “weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, gout and coronary artery disease.”
In addition to all these health woes, and all that we know about how it harms our health, it’s surprising that consumption of the sweetened beverage has increased significantly over the past several decades. A 2014 survey conducted by the Centers of Disease Control, covering American adults from across 18 states, found that 1 in 5 Americans drink at least one soda a day or 17% drink at least one surgery soda a day, though the rates of consumption vary from state to state.
Beyond soda’s obvious health dangers, it so often displays a true warning sign of a poor quality diet. Calories consumed in liquid form do not satisfy hunger as effectively as calories consumed in solid food form, so people often consume more calories in total, which — tada! — can also lead to weight gain. So it’s safe to say one should never touch the stuff. The American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 450 calories from sugar sweetened beverages per week (the amount in about three cans of cola) — which gives you just a little bit of leeway with soda consumption. Here are three times when it’s OK to drink soda — but as always, consume in moderation.
1. When it’s mixed with a drink
If you’re out with friends and don’t want a cocktail, beer, or any straight liquor on the rocks or neat, then a mixed drink, like a Barcadi and Cola, for example, is a great option. While mixed drinks have the potential to be extremely calorie laden, if you add in a diet soda mixer, it’s a much better option than ordering a strawberry daiquiri, which can run you about 220 calories per drink. Though a coke may add a little more flavor to the drink, there are other low-calorie options for mixers as well.
2. When you’ve hit a wall and a soda machine is the only thing at your disposal
Picture this: You’re at work, it’s mid-afternoon, you’re starting to fall asleep at your desk, and you have a meeting in 2 minutes. There’s no time to run out or even make coffee, but there is, however, a soda machine in the office. Grabbing a soda, in this situation, may just be the best option to help combat your fatigue. Though that burst of caffeine from a cup of coffee would probably fuel the rest of your afternoon a little better, a can of Coca Cola classic will deliver 34 milligrams of caffeine that will help perk you up. So if you’re in dire need of a pick-me-up and have no other option, a can of soda will just have to do — just don’t make a habit of it.
3. When your stomach hurts
John Stith Pemberton is the man credited with creating the drink we all know and love today: Coca Cola. Originally serving it in the Confederate Army during the Civil War, he sustained wounds during the war, causing him to become addicted to morphine, to which he created coke to help combat his addiction. Pemberton’s original creation included alcohol, which he touted as “a most wonderful invigorator of sexual organs.” After being forced to remove the alcohol from the concoction due to prohibition laws, he relaunched Coca-Cola as a drink he dubbed “Brain Tonic” and “temperance drink” (anti-alcohol) claiming that it cured headaches, depression, anxiety, addiction, and indigestion.
To prove just how effective Coca-Cola is with helping tummy woes, Medical Daily cites a study published in the journal Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, which found that Coca-Cola helps to “treat patients suffering from a painful stomach condition known as gastric phytobezoar or stomach blockage.” The blockage can occur if certain fruits are not easily digested. The study found that the fizzy drink treatment was incredibly successful in treating the ailment (at a rate of more than 90%) and is now the preferable treatment over painful surgery. Unless this blockage is removed, it can often lead to a bowel obstruction. The researchers interestingly discovered that Coke “contains chemical ingredients that act in a similar way as gastric acid and helps the stomach digest fiber while the carbonated bubbles help speed up the process.” So if you have a tummy ache, grab a can and drink up.