The Coca-Cola Company manufactures several variations of its Coca-Cola beverage, usually shortened to "Coke" by the general public. One of its most widespread versions is Coke Classic, but it also makes flavored variations and a no-calorie version, Coke Zero. The soft drink has several potential negative health effects related to ingredients added to it.
Coca-Cola drinks, including Coca-Cola Classic and Diet Coke, contain anywhere from 35 to 47 milligrams of caffeine in a single 12 oz. serving, reports MayoClinic.com. The clinic says caffeine intake can contribute to physical and psychological symptoms like anxiety, headaches and restlessness. Additional side effects include trouble sleeping if you drink Coke shortly before bedtime.
Coca-Cola's caffeinated content works as a diuretic, meaning it makes you urinate more often than you ordinarily would if you weren't consuming it. Over time, this excessive urination can lead to dehydration, warns the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, especially if you're consuming Coke during or after rigorous exercise or sports.
The Coca-Cola Company reports that a can of its various beverages holds 39 grams of sugar, except for Coke Zero, which has none. The Harvard School of Public Health warns that the constant consumption of such high-sugar beverages may increase your risk of type 2 diabetes. The school also says drinking just one soft drink a day increases your risks of experiencing blood sugar level problems by 25 percent.
A can of Coke holds 140 calories. These are "empty" calories, injecting calories into your diet without adding any beneficial nutrients. Consuming extra calories without also increasing your energy expenditure can lead to weight gain. The high fructose corn syrup used to make Coke also may trick your body into consuming extra calories. In a 2004 medical research study published in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition," researchers found that high fructose corn syrup isn't metabolized the same way standard sugar is, so your body doesn't naturally tell you to stop consuming the high fructose product. They conclude that beverages like Coke "may enhance caloric overconsumption."
To keep its zero-calorie status, Coke Zero doesn't include high fructose corn syrup and is instead sweetened with the artificial sweetener aspartame. The Coca-Cola Company emblazons a notice on the can to notify consumers that it contains phenylalanine, an amino acid found in aspartame. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, phenylalanine can interact with various medications and make their effects stronger or weaker. It can also worsen the symptoms of various health conditions. Talk to your doctor before consuming anything containing this amino acid to ensure it's compatible with your current health situation.