Wednesday, January 16, 2008

12 Widespread Drink Myths Demystified

Often used as commercial lines, the following statements are posed in such a way that different interpretations can be attached to them. Some are simply false. To get noticed, many advertisers chance upon these powerful one-liners to grab the attention of gullible customers. Well it is about time we shook things up a little for them…

The last time we focused a bit on vegetables. This time we are going to browse through all types of drinks from bottled water, coffee, soda to alcohol. Here is a take on 12 drink myths we have demystified for you:

  1. Bottled water is more pure than tap water.

    False: Tap water is guaranteed safe for consumption. It is controlled regularly to see whether it is free from any harmful chemical and bacteriological presence. It is often labeled as unsafe because of the unpleasant taste of the chlorine in the water. This bad taste disappears after leaving a pitcher of tap water in the fridge or adding a slice of lemon into the pitcher of tap water. But in regions where the tap water is high in nitrates, it is better to drink bottled water.

  2. Soda drinks are recommended for stomach burns.

    False: They have a soothing effect when we first drink them, but this is only a temporary relief. They provoke a hyper secretion of acid in your stomach which only aggravates the situation.

  3. That orange drink you saw on TV is made up of orange pulps and is thus good for health.

    False: Although the claim about orange pulps is "sometimes" right, the fact remains that the amount of orange pulp is very low in one bottle compared to the amount of water, sugar, aromas and food additives and colorings present. It is healthier if you prepare your own fruit juice at home. It is easy and take only a few minutes of your time to prepare.

  4. It is OK for children to drink soda.

    False: 1/2 L of a bottle of coca-cola contains as much caffeine as a cup of coffee 50:50 Arabica and Robusta mix which contains a lot of caffeine. From Energy Fiend:
    A 12 ounce can of Coca-Cola Classic contains 34.5 milligrams of caffeine.

    The Diet Coke range actually contain about 40% more caffeine per fluid ounce than the standard coke formula.

    Coca-cola Blak has the largest amount of caffeine of any coca-cola drink.
    Snopes has an interesting page on Cokelore, which are urban legends centered around coca-cola. This is the same for drinks which are "bitter" or "tonic" which contain a compound known as quinine.

  5. Coffee and Tea make us lose weight.

    False: They are only diuretics which provoke the elimination of water in your body. The weight loss people experience when drinking coffee or tea is only the amount of water your body has lost. There is no loss in terms of fat.

  6. Tea which has been infused over a long period of time is more energizing than light tea.

    False: A bitter and black tea is less "energizing" than a light tea which has only been infused for a 1 or 2 minutes. This is due to the fact that a compound known as tannin diffuse only after 5 to 6 minutes and neutralize the effects of caffeine in the tea.

  7. Decaffeinated coffee is carcinogenic: can cause cancer.

    False: The incriminating product was the trichloroethylene, used as solvent in the preparation of decaffeinated coffee. There has been no definite proof as to the carcinogenic potential of the trichloroethylene. It is classified as a probable carcinogen. To provoke the apparition of tumors in lab mouses, they would have had to consume hundreds of thousands of decaffeinated coffee drinks for 70 years (based on the studies conducted by Gayte-Sorbier, Cah. Med. 1978, 4,5 p.279-284).

  8. The "café au lait" or coffee with milk is indigestible.

    True: Because of the amount of tannins it contains (less than tea though), which precipitate casein and cause it to clot which render its digestion very difficult. Casein is a protein that is found in milk and used independently in many foods as a binding agent.

  9. Tea has less exciting effects than coffee.

    False: A cup of tea has almost the same amount of caffeine in it as a cup of coffee. But the tolerance to the caffeine of the tea is different to the tolerance to the caffeine in coffee and this tolerance varies from person to person.

  10. Wine prevents heart attacks.

    True: Indeed many studies have shown that a decrease in coronary diseases have been linked to a moderate consumption of wine. That is no reason though to abuse of wine. A consumption of one or two glasses per day is enough to keep you fit and healthy.

  11. Alcohol is better tolerated during a meal than before one.

    True: Its absorption is slower and the effects are greatly reduced.

  12. Women are less tolerant to alcohol than men.

    True: Women generally tolerate alcohol less than men. It is one of the reasons why women are asked to limit themselves to one or two drinks while men are usually limited to 2 or 3 drinks. When a woman drinks the same amount of alcohol as a man, the concentration of alcohol in her blood is higher. Intoxication comes more quickly. This vulnerability of some women to alcoholic drinks is due to 2 causes:

    • Volume of a woman's body compared to that of a man is less. Proportionally, the concentration of alcohol is more in women than men.

    • The body of a woman has more fat and less water than a man's body. As alcohol dissolves in water (blood in this case), it is more concentrated in women than in men.

Further Reading: 11 Widespread Food Statements Demystified


For #4, a reader provided the following explanation:

Assuming you meant a common 20 oz bottle, at 2.88 mg per ounce, there is a total of 28.8 mg in that half bottle. Standard drip coffee, the most popular type, contains 18.13 mg/oz, or 145 mg per 8 oz cup. Hardly the same amount.

Even using the type of coffee with the lowest caffeine (no including decaf), which is instant coffee, there is still significantly more at 57 mg per cup which is TWICE the amount in the half bottle of Coke.

I have to correct people all the time when they seem to think that they have had high doses of caffeine after a couple Mountain Dews. It simply a fact that no mainstream soft drink compares to coffee for caffeine content. Some energy drinks do, but not Coke or Pepsi.


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