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Uncle’s Corner: All Hail Coca-Cola

If you’re like me over the years, you’ve come to develop a relationship with the dark caramel colored, sweet beverage popularly known as Coke. You’ve probably gone from calling it mineral (like one of our erstwhile government officials), to soft drink and even soda (when you had that Western world influence upon your life).

Soft drinks of all brands occupy a special dietary place in most of our lives and some of us have been indulging in them since 5 naira could buy a crate of 24 bottles (yes there was such a time). It’s been our go to drug when thirsty, bored, under the hot afternoon sun, or even with certain meals. There was a time I could not think of anything that could go better with boiled Bambara buts aka okpa than a chilled sweating bottle of Coke. It’s no wonder the company once ran an advert depicting different dishes with a bottle of coke besides, and had the caption “go better together”. But as we age we naturally become more cautious of our sugar intake and try to reign in our sweet tooth, but do we ever?

Coca-Cola has been around for over a century and a quarter since it was created in 1886 by the pharmacist Dr. John S. Pemberton in Atlanta, USA. From little beginnings, it has grown to probably the most popular global company today. Kids and adults alike know about Coca-Cola and its sister soft drinks. I say sisters rightfully so as the Coca-Cola Company has more than 500 hundred brands in the company portfolio. A visit to the Atlanta World of Coca-Cola would be an unforgettable experience I am so sure. The company estimates that a whopping 1.9 billion servings of the company’s beverages are consumed daily on the planet.

So how much of the sweet stuff is really in a bottle? A valid question that needs shedding some light on since we all know we can not only eat our calories but drink them. 100 ml of regular bottle of soda contains about 42 calories, 10g of carbohydrate, zero fat and no protein. The regular 33 Cl bottle or can, is estimated to add 140 calories and contains about 6 teaspoons of sugar. I wonder how many minutes of exercise would be needed get rid of that?

Not too long ago the company’s European president alluded to the need to improve on these things. In Nigeria today, the 50 Cl bottle has flooded the market and while it may seem like the quantity soft drink lovers would appreciate, it’s important to know that the 50 CL bottle contains more than the recommended daily amount of added sugar already, hmm.

My fear of diabetes alarm goes off considering that on some days we consume more than a bottle of soda.  Some of us may have also come across the videos of the tarry syrup left behind after boiling Coke or Pepsi, scary stuff indeed, I must admit. So the truth is that there’s enough information out there for us to reconsider our soft drink intake but why are so many hooked? It’s the caffeine (just like in coffee) and the sugar. So what’s an addict to do? Switch to diet versions? Well while those have practically no calories and so sugar, the sweetness is derived from the artificial sweeteners, one of which is aspartame. This has been called the sweet poison in some quarters and has been linked to a long list of insidious side effects.

So what is the alternative? If you are pushing for a modification towards a healthy lifestyle, it might be time to get your sweets from God’s given fruits and veggies. There’s been a surge in smoothie awareness and the nutritional benefits of fresh fruit are divine. So the next time you feel the need to bottoms up on can or bottle of sweetened carbonated water, consider fruit juice or the growing trend of adding a slice or two of fruit to your water. I am in the market for an infusion bottle for this purpose as I too try to tame my own sweet tooth, because the truth is that some days I forget all this knowledge and join the hundreds of millions who indulge and have a coke and a smile.

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Dr. Emeka Amuta

Uncle as he's popularly known, is a public health physician living in the coal city state of Nigeria. He's a Lion and a Mattie with degrees from the university of Nigeria Nsukka and Stellenbosch University. Passionate about getting fit in the prime of life, he got serious about his own journey and tells his story of ups and downs to motivate others. You can get that hook up at

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