The Coca-Cola Story

John Pemberton, known as “Doc” was injured in the Civil War when he tried to block a bridge leading into the heart of Columbus. As he fell back in pain, a Union soldier cut a deep slash from chest to stomach leaving Pemberton near dead. Back home, his injuries left him in contact pain. Like so many soldiers, he used morphine to ease the pain. After a while, the morphine’s effectiveness and he needed more frequent doses eventually developed a full-blown addiction .

CokeDoc, who was a chemist before the war, invented drugs to ease pain. His goal was a non-addictive replacement for morphine. Finally, he created what he was looking for, a combination of wine, coca leave kola nut, and an aromatic shrub called damiana. He called it Pemberton’s French Wine Coca.

There was no FDA (Federal Drug Administration) so Pemberton was free to make claims about the tonic’s medical benefits.  From an ad he placed in the newspaper in 1885:

Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 11.41.02 AMFrench Wine Coca is endorsed by over 20,000 of the most learned and scientific medical men in the world…French Wine Coca, infallible in curing all who are afflicted with any nerve trouble, dyspepsia, mental and physical exhaustion, all chronic…wonderful invigorator of the sexual organs and will cure seminal weakness…

Coke did not do so well in its first year and Doc Pemberton died in August 1888. He never saw the commercial success he had been seeking.

Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 11.42.18 AMAfter Pemberton’s death, a man named Asa Griggs Candler rescued the business. In 1891, he became the sole owner of Coca-Cola. He hired traveling salesmen to pass out coupons for a free coke. Chandler advertised Coca-Cola syrup, a patented medicine, on posters and in calendars, making it a national brand. His claim was that it could get rid of fatigue and headaches.

Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 11.44.50 AMIn 1898, Congress passed a tax (on all medicine) in the wake of the Spanish-American war. Now Chandler wanted Coca-Cola to be sold as a beverage. He won the court battle and from then on, Coca-Cola was considered a soda drink. Soon after, Coca-Cola vending machines covered the U.S. landscape.


Blue Zones

Blue zones, Sardinia (Italy), Okinawa (Japan), Nicoya Peninsula (Costa Rica), Loma Linda (California), and the Island of Ikaria (Greece) are regions of the world where people live active lives often past 100. What contributes to these pockets of people living longer and healthier lives? Funded in part by the U.S. National Institute on Aging, scientists studied these five longevity hot spots to discover the answer. They found that good genes help (20-30%), but there were other contributing factors people share that appear to play a bigger influence than your parents’ longevity.

The residents of the Italian island of Sardinia—first Blue Zone identified—are culturally isolated. Here, not only do the women reach the age of 100 at an amazing rate, but men do as well. Sardinians hunt, fish, and harvest their food. Families and friends remain close, with laughing and sharing red wine together a part of everyday life.

Screen Shot 2017-04-11 at 10.42.48 AM

The longest living women in the world are in Okinawa, Japan. According to the UN, Japan has the highest number of centenarians (85% of the world’s centenarians are female) in the world. Active and social, the Okinawans’ regular diet is fish, rice, vegetables, soy, and whole grains. Japanese centenarians rule for eating is to stop when their stomachs are 80% full. I take that to mean before they actually feel full. Sumitra writes, “Not only do they live long lives, they live very healthy and happy ones too.” An old Okinawa saying goes, “At 70 you are still a child, at 80 a young man or woman. And if at 90 someone from heaven invites you over, tell him: ‘Just go away, and come back when I am 100.’”


The centenarians in Nicoya, a peninsula in Costa Rica, say the have a “plan de vida,” a reason to get up in the morning because they feel needed. Families retain close social networks and share a strong belief in God and their daily “faith routines” which helps them relieve stress and anxiety.  Moderate daily activities include walking bicycling, cooking, and taking care of animals. Like other Blue Zone populations, their diet is primarily plant-based, especially legumes (beans, peas, and lentils).


The fourth Blue Zone was found by researchers who were studying a group of Seventh-day Adventists in Loma Linda, a community in southern California. They discovered that the Adventists suffered a fraction of the diseases that kill most people in other parts of the U.S. “Many Seventh-Day Adventists are vegetarians, physically active, and involved in their community. In other words, their lifestyles are quite unique in an America where community has become less and less important and over one-third of the population is obese.” Adventists believe you should take care of what God has created. In the words of Pastor Randy of Loma Linda University’s Medical Center, “You are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Whatever you do in your body, you do it to the honor, the glory and the praise of God.” Smoking and drinking are discouraged, as is the consumption of caffeine, rich foods, and certain spices. Many celebrate the Sabbath (Saturday) by removing themselves from the larger culture.

Loma Linda

Ikaria is an island where people forget to die. They stay up late and take a siesta in the afternoon. The Ikarians experience a low stress lifestyle, maintaining their gardens, walking in nature and around the village with a view of the blue Aegean Sea. Their diet consists mainly of vegetables, fresh fruits, nuts, wheat, beans, fish and drinking with with friends and family. Family ties are important to Ikarians and houses often hold multiple generations. Grandparents have an active part in the upbringing of their grandchildren and the work in the household. From the Ikarian perspective, living alone is unhealthy.

Blue sea

Conclusion? The gift of a long and healthy life may be within our control. True, some of us are cursed with misbehaving genes that take us down, but those occurrences are a low percent. These  five longevity zones suggest that a long healthy life is about simplicity of lifestyle, whole food, sense of purpose—looking forward to getting up in the morning—, daily exercise, low stress, and social interactions.

Article is based on the book, The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest

The Answer


Tim drinks green tea, 175 degrees water poured over a tea bag with cut up green leaves. I drink  16 ounces of warm soy milk with matcha, green tea leaves milled into fine powder. After drinking his tea, Tim throws out the tea leaves. I, in a sense, eat them.

Couple of weeks ago at Starbucks, I suggested to my friend, Maryann, she try a green tea soy latte instead of her usual coffee. “What is that?” her voice full of doubt. Every time I’ve suggested this drink, it’s met with suspicion. Usually, I buy it for my friends over their objections and then they feel obliged to at least try it. It could be the name, green tea soy latte, or it could be that I flood out so many ideas to friends that their automatic response is to resist.

Sitting across from me, Maryann took a careful sip, looked surprised and said, “This is good!” She’s right. It is. Matcha gives a pleasant sense of what’s best described as “alert calmness.”

After introducing many friends to green tea lattes–my friend Ruth was so enthusiastic that she bought a milk frothier– that I set out to confirm how healthy the drink is. I know that whole food is better than extracted food like oranges and orange juice. But is that true for tea leaves? Or is tea like bananas, you should not eat the outer covering, only the extracted food or nutrients within?

The verdict from a published report is that between the two, Japanese green tea and Japanese matcha, the latter takes first spot. “You’ll get about two to three times more EGCG (antioxidants) from matcha” than from regular green tea, says Tod Cooperman, president of, of White Plains, N.Y.

Matcha tea is one of the biggest culinary successes of the last decade. Compared to power drinks and other advertised as good-for-you drinks, matcha leads the pack.

However, there is information about green tea that calls to be included. When Consumer Labs tested some popular green teas, it found that they had high amounts of lead. But before you worry too much about drinking green tea, 90% of the lead stays in the tea leaves.  When it comes to matcha, it is worth the effort to be discriminating. Here is what you need to know: Green Tea

  • Stick with matcha teas grown in Japan. The regions in Japan with the highest quality are Kyushu, Nishio, Shizuoka, and Uji. If the green powder does not come from Japan, it’s not matcha.
  • High quality matcha is bright green with a fine powdery consistency.
  • Expect to pay $6 to $32 for about an ounce.

Five a Day is Good. Ten is Better

veggiesThe World Health Organization recommends we should eat five portions of fruit and vegetables each day, 400g.  Canadians are told to eat ten or 800g. The CDC suggests five, 400g, ( as a baseline. A portion is 80g (3oz) of fruit or vegetables, (small banana, a pear, etc.).

Pooling data from 95 separate studies, the Imperial College of London concluded that eating five-a-day could prevent 7.8 million premature deaths each year.

Eating green and yellow vegetables and from the cruciferous (e.g., cabbage and kale) family lowered the risk of cancer.

Apples, pears, citrus fruits, salads, green leafy and cruciferous vegetables were linked to lower risks of heart disease and strokes.

When compared to eating no fruit or vegetables, eating:

200g, about half of U.S. recommendations, cut cardiovascular disease by 13% while 800g cut the risk by 28%

  • 200g cut the risk of cancer by 4%, while 800g cut it by 13%
  • 200g cut the risk of premature death by 15%, while 800g cut the risk by 31%


What you may want to know about the five-a-day list.

  1. Each portion should be about 80g.
  2. Beans count, but only as one serving. They are a good source of fiber but have fewer nutrients than fruit and vegetables. Putting beans on toast or eating hummus counts.
  3. Regular potatoes do not count, too much starch. But sweet potatoes do and you can make mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes.
  4. Fruit juice counts, but never more than one portion because of its low fiber count. (Some nutritionist say fruit juice shouldn’t count at all.) Smoothies count as two portions if they contain whole fruit or vegetables and 100% juice.
  5. Dried fruits count because they have plenty of fiber. The portion size is reduced to 30g because they are high in calories.
  6. Onions count, but it’s hard to get 80g.
  7. Salad on your turkey sandwich will not be enough to add up to a serving. Eat a salad with you sandwich instead.
  8. Combine fruits and vegetables to make a single serving.
  9. The five-a-day should make up about a third of the food you eat in a day.


When I decided to stop eating dairy, red meat and fowl (protein), it got complicated. I like hard data. The U.S. Government guidelines on protein intake are not hard and fast. Then I factor in that our Gov. Guidelines are sometimes flat wrong and that experts don’t alway agree on this question, probably because they are not sure. But, for sure, we need protein.

Proteins are the main building blocks of our bodies. We need them to make muscles, tendons, organs and even your skin, the biggest organ of the body. Proteins are also a source of energy. What makes protein? Molecules (amino acids) are linked together like beads on a string. These linked molecules form long protein chains folded into different shapes.

Right about now, my readers’ attention may be diminishing so let me offer this:

  1. You need protein because it has its hands in every critical function of the body.
  2. There are complete (animal proteins) and incomplete proteins (plant proteins).
  3. There are nine essential amino acids (we need to eat them) and nonessential that are produced in our liver.
  4. Many people in this country don’t need as much as they are taking in and many are getting too much protein from animal sources.
  5. Protein sates so if you don’t get enough you feel hungry, and you are not taking care of your body’s needs.
  6. After 70, you may need to up your intake of protein.

Adults in the U.S. are encouraged to get about 46 grams of protein for women and 56 grams of protein for men. An 8-ounce steak with 50 grams of protein satisfied my daily need.

Plants-based proteins are “incomplete,” meaning they lack some amino acid building blocks. However, I soon learned that edamame and green soybeans are complete proteins—they contain all nine essential amino acids. Also, by combining plant proteins, rice and beans on pita bread they become “complete.”

My new eating regiment required great discipline and an open mind. Often I felt hungry, but not tired. Few times a month, I’d enter all the food I eat to make sure I was getting enough protein and calcium. Two or three years later, I’d taken off about 20 pounds (never my focus) and generally felt good, but I’d felt pretty good before as well.

The first chart shows one day’s food intake of protein, where it came from, and how it translates to protein. I often start with a soy green tea latte because it takes care of 47% of my protein and 40% of calcium and it tastes great.


Not a Sweet Solution

Food companies have a way of increasing profits at the cost of our health.  Commercials show beautiful and fit young people with emotionally charged music—like “Taste the Feeling” and “Put It Together”—full of energy having a great time. Sure, we know that drinking diet soda is not going to change our physical appearance or happiness, but what we may not know is the damage, drink by drink, that is taking place inside our bodies.

Artificial sweeteners trick the brain, and it feels cheated and wants more sugar to get calories out of it.  If people are given Sprite, artificially sweetened soda, or unsweetened carbonated lemon-lime water, and don’t know which they are drinking, later when offered a choice of M&Ms, spring water, or sugar-free-gum, guess what they pick. Those drinking the artificially-sweetened drinks were nearly three times more likely to take the M&Ms than those who drank sugar-sweetened or unsweetened drinks.

Susan E. Swithers, a professor at Purdue, reviewed and evaluated the most recent research on the effect of drinking diet-soda. “Whether consuming high-intensity sweeteners, despite having zero or low calories, may result in overeating, weight gain, or other health problems.”

From the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, regular consumption of diet soda expands your waistline and is a potential pathway for heart trouble in older people.

What happens to your body when you drink diet soda from minutes to an hour? 

First 10 Minutes: The acid attacks the enamel on your teeth, and the artificial sweeteners trick your body into thinking you just ate sugar which your taste buds love.

20 Minutes: Like the regular soft drink, it triggers insulin which sends your body into fat storage mode.

40 Minutes: The combination of caffeine and aspartame is addictive, similar to cocaine, especially if you drink it on a regular basis.

60 Minutes and After: Depletes nutrients, makes you hungry and wanting more. If this doesn’t get you off the diet soda, consider this: It will never quench your thirst as it dehydrates rather than hydrates. Lack of water can lead to brain fog, poor concentration, fatigue, and feeling irritable. (photo from