Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Why LDS Church Leaders Imply That Cola Drinks Violate The Spirit Of The Word Of Wisdom: New Study Shows Cola Drinks Contribute To Hypokalaemia

Although the text of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Word of Wisdom, as set forth in Section 89 of the Doctrine & Covenants, does not specifically include cola drinks, modern LDS prophets have implied that the consumption of cola drinks violates the Word of Wisdom in spirit, if not necessarily the letter of the law. Consequently, to truthfully answer "Yes" when the bishop asks you during a worthiness interview if you are obeying the Word of Wisdom, you must refrain not only from caffeinated hot beverages like coffee and tea, but should also from caffeinated soft drinks, because an occasional overzealous bishop may deny you a temple recommend simply for consuming cola drinks.

But as is pointed out HERE in statements by several Church authorities, the Word of Wisdom is not officially interpreted by the Church to formally proscribe cola drinks. Nonetheless, the late President Spencer W. Kimball had this to say on the subject:

Generally when we speak of the Word of Wisdom, we are talking about tea, coffee, tobacco, and liquor, and all of the fringe things even though they might be detrimental are not included in the technical interpretation of the Word of Wisdom. I never drink any of the cola drinks and my personal hope would be that no one would. However, they are not included in the Word of Wisdom in its technical application. I quote from a letter from the secretary to the First Presidency, "But the spirit of the Word of Wisdom would be violated by the drinking or eating of anything that contained a habit-forming drug." With reference to the cola drinks, the Church has never officially taken any attitude on this at but I personally do not put them in the class as with the tea and coffee because the Lord specifically mentioned them [the hot drinks]…. I might say also that strychnine and sleeping pills and opium and heroin are not mentioned in the Word of Wisdom and yet I would discourage them with all my power. (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.202)

And now, more scientific validation of the wisdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his legitimate successors emerges. On May 19th, 2009, the Telegraph has published a story about a study by researchers at the University of Ioannina in Greece which reveals that chronic consumption of large quantities of cola drinks can cause a condition called hypokalaemia, in which levels of potassium in the blood fall, in some patients. Symptoms can range from mild muscle weakness and constipation to paralysis. The symptoms were found in people who drank between two and 10 liters of cola drinks per day.

Writing in the International Journal of Clinical Practice, researchers from the University of Ioannina in Greece detail cases of the condition, including a pregnant women who was drinking between three and seven liters of the soft drink a day. "We are consuming more soft drinks than ever before and a number of health issues have already been identified including tooth problems, bone demineralisation and the development of metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Evidence is increasing to suggest that excessive cola consumption can also lead to hypokalaemia." said Dr Moses Elisaf, who led the review of research. The research team also suggests that both the sugar and caffeine in cola can help to trigger the condition. This implies that drinking diet cola may lessen the risk, although not eliminate it. The study does not address non-caffeinated soda, but the nature of effervescent soft drinks implies that at least some tooth problems, bone demineralisation, and diabetes can result. Here are the categories, in order of descending risk:

-- Caffeinated soda (cola drinks): Maximum risk
-- Caffeinated diet soda
-- Non-caffeinated soda
-- Non-caffeinated diet soda

Consequently, I suggest that if you must drink soda and want to be both Word of Wisdom-oriented and minimize your risk of hypokalaemia, then your best bet is to drink only non-caffeinated diet soda. Most of it tastes like medicine, but based upon personal experience, diet Seven-up is the most drinkable. The full report is accessible HERE, but requires payment to view; a free abstract is available HERE.

The condition is not irreversible. All patients made a full and speedy recovery after they stopped drinking cola and took supplements of potassium.

Now you understand why, although cola drinks are not officially banned by the LDS Church, the Church leadership has counseled members not to partake of them.

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