ENERGY DRINKS: The Risk for the Taste

Okay, i admit it. I have been drinking energy drinks forever (or seems like forever). I remember the Hansen’s drink (around 1999-00), then Monster, then Rockstar, and a litany of others (literally). I hated the jitters, the bad feelings I get when an energy drink wears off. In my opinion, as I have gotten older, these things are not as great as we thought they were. Here is why:

According to caffeineinformer.com, the top ten health risks are as follows:

  1. Cardiac Arrest: While the Death by Caffeine Calculator can show people how many energy drinks at one time would be lethal, this formula doesn’t apply to everyone. Those with underlying heart conditions have gone into cardiac arrest after just a few energy drinks. Before drinking energy drinks or caffeine, be sure to know your heart’s health.

    A new study

        showed that energy drinks cause more forceful heart contractions, which could be harmful to some with certain heart conditions.

    – One study showed that between 2009 and 2011 there were 4854 calls to poison control centers regarding energy drinks. 51% of these calls were involving children. src

    – Another study shows the link between energy drinks and cardiac events among teens. This study recommends that teens consume no more than one 250 ml energy drink per day and not before or during sports or exercise. Study link.

  2. Headaches and Migraines: Too many energy drinks can lead to severe headaches from the caffeine withdrawal symptoms. Changing the amount of caffeine you ingest daily can cause more frequent headaches.
  3. Insomnia: Energy drinks do a good job of keeping people awake, but when abused, they can cause some people to miss sleep all together. This lack of sleep causes impaired functioning and can be dangerous to drive or perform other concentration heavy tasks.
  4. Type 2 Diabetes: Because many energy drinks are also very high in sugar, they can eventually wear out the insulin producing cells of the pancreas, which leads to type 2 diabetes.
  5. Drug Interaction: Some of the ingredients in energy drinkscan interact with prescription medications especially medications taken for depression.
  6. Addiction: People can become addicted to caffeine and energy drinks. This can lead to lack of functioning when unable to have the energy drink or a financial stress from having to buy several energy drinks daily.
  7. Risky behavior: There was a study published in The Journal of American College Health which showed that teens are more likely to take dangerous risks when high on caffeine. This could result in injury or legal trouble.
  8. Jitters and Nervousness: Too much caffeine from energy drinks causes some people to shake and be anxious. This can interfere with performing needed tasks or cause emotional issues. A study out of Perth, Australia found that even just one 250ml energy drink can increase anxiety in young men.
  9. Vomiting: Too many energy drinks can lead to vomiting. This causes dehydration and acid erosion of teeth and esophagus if frequent.
  10. Allergic Reactions: Because of the many ingredients in energy drinks reactions could occur, from minor itching to airway constriction.

SIDE NOTE: The aluminum cans that most of these energy drinks come in pose several other health threats: Though these are slight, this does warrant mention: 1) Cuts- this happens somewhat. 2) Exploding cans- from excessive heat, to freezing then thawing, exploding cans are a problem, sending thousands to the hospital every year. 3) Toxicity- Although the dangers are slight, aluminum poisoning can present serious health risks to those who have elevated levels of the element in their body. While this is more of a risk for those who live near areas where aluminum occurs naturally in high levels, it can also enter the body through food and drink stored in aluminum cans for a long period of time, according to a 1989 report by the Eck Institute of Applied Nutrition and Bioenergetics Ltd., published at Analytical Research Labs. Symptoms of aluminum poisoning include muscle weakness, bone pain and, in more severe cases, dementia, seizures and spinal deformity. These symptoms may be more pronounced in the elderly or those with deficient kidney function.

ALTERNATIVES

Whenever I debate, I like to try to offer alternatives/solutions to problems. Here they are for this:

  • Handful of almonds mixed with a handful of whole grain cereal
  • Beet juice with low-fat string cheese
  • A smoothie with yogurt, a few berries and a banana or a mandarin orange and handful of walnuts
  • Salmon and half a cup of quinoa or brown rice
  • A glass of chocolate milk
  • Snack on healthy carbohydrates, such as apples and oatmeal
  • Include foods containing iron, such as spinach, nuts, oysters and dark chocolate, in your diet
  • Drink cold water to increase energy for up to two hours
  • Catch a 20-minute power nap (my personal favorite)
  • Eating wholesome food every 3-4 hours (and regular physical activity)

All in all, energy drinks once every while is a good pick-me-up. With the amount of energy drinks that are consumed yearly (just in America), there must be attention paid to what goes into these products.

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