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What Is It about Energy Drinks?

Energy drinks have been around over the years and loved by many for their boosting effect.  Energy drinks are sugary beverages with a high dose of caffeine and additives such as minerals, vitamins, guarana extracts, ginseng, and carnitine. The energy drink business is a multi-dollar industry in the United States and is growing immensely, I must say.  Energy drinks are taken by many—athletes and teens in particular.  They should however not be confused with sports drinks, as they’re different. Unlike energy drinks, sports drinks usually don’t contain stimulants—only carbohydrate and salts.  They help replace carbohydrates and electrolytes and are effective for minimizing dehydration.

But these energy drinks…

caffeine

They are rich,  and in fact,  excessively rich in caffeine and sugar, hence harmful, as excessive caffeine causes irregular heartbeat, heart attacks,  high blood pressure, strokes, cardiac arrest, kidney failure, and loads of other problems. Caffeine in energy drinks interferes with calcium absorption in the body, leading to weak bones. In fact, it’s been discovered that some energy drink manufacturers don’t list the actual amount of caffeine on the label; a lower percentage is usually listed. So you could be having more caffeine intake than you think.  On average, two cans of energy drink contain the same amount of caffeine in 12 cans of regular soft drinks. How outrageous! This caffeine-sugar combo results in drastic changes in the heart’s electrical activity and blood pressure.  These changes occur in less than two hours after consumption.

What else?

excess sugar

Immoderate sugar intake, on the other hand, can lead to tooth decay, weight gain, liver complications, etc. The amount of sugar in energy drinks is as much as 15 teaspoons per serving, which is superfluous. Some energy drinks have “diet” versions that contain sugar substitutes—sweeteners, which are just as harmful as excess sugar when consumed excessively.  Some other ingredients of energy drinks—guarana,  ginkgo, and ginseng, if taken in the right dosage, on their own are harmless, but when combined with caffeine and sugar in energy drinks, cause high blood pressure, headaches,  fatigue,  heart palpitations,  dehydration, insomnia,  swelling,  and kidney failure.

Energy drinks are not entirely a problem, if taken in right proportion. After all, they give energy fast when you`ve got to deliver. But here lies the challenge—there`s a thin line between the right proportion and abuse. And as earlier mentioned, abuse could be unintentional in this context, as the details available to consumers are sometimes false. Is it really worth the risk?  No one wants to have such problems as hyperactivity, agitation, chest pain, stomach upset, insomnia and heart attacks, so it’s advisable you steer clear of energy drinks.  Relying on energy drinks to be active and keep awake leads to an addiction and causes harm to the body as the body begins to rely on it.

Teens’ consumption of energy drinks

female teen

From drinking at parties and clubs to drinking to keep awake at night studying, teenagers largely consume energy drinks. The boosting benefit and promise of increased alertness together with physical and mental energy have made teenagers regular consumers of energy drinks. And of course, teenagers love being hyperactive. But sadly, teenagers who consume energy drinks regularly, or worse still are addicted to them, are at risk of loss of bone mineral density. This poses a challenge to their physical and mental development in the long run. A number of these young adults mix energy drinks with alcohol which increases its potential threat to their mental well-being.

Way forward?

Being energetic isn`t a function of stimulants. It really shouldn`t be. No matter how much we try, nothing can take the place of well-balanced meals and adequate rest. Do you need to meet your daily work demands? Manage time well enough to accommodate the basics for good health—good nutrition, rest, sleep, and relaxation. A schedule that doesn`t give you time for any of these might just need to be reconsidered. Remember the saying, “health is wealth”. As a workaholic, one saying that has put me in check is, “work will continue even after you leave.” “Leave” here could be anything, but whatever it is, it is scary to me. I sure don`t want to “leave” yet, so I just leave to rest and get some energy the proper and natural way, not in a way in which I pay back with good health over time.

The choice is yours to make. Choose wisely.