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Are Energy Drinks Bad For You?

As much as energy drinks boost energy, concentration, and alertness levels, health professionals have warned that there may be harmful consequences. Quite frankly, energy drinks have risen in popularity over the years and presently, it is still being consumed.

In this article, we shall have parlance on the pros and cons of energy drinks and we will look at the health implications in the body.

WHAT ARE ENERGY DRINKS?

Energy drinks are beverages that are filled with ingredients intended to enhance energy levels and mental capabilities. Examples of popular energy drink products include 5-Hour Energy, Monster, Red Bull, AMP, Rockstar, Full Throttle, and NOS. 

Usually, almost all energy drinks contain caffeine, and as such, they stimulate brain function and boost alertness and concentration. Moreover, caffeine is contained in all of them but its quantity varies from product to product. 

Furthermore, energy drinks often contain several other ingredients, and the most common ones are as listed below:

SUGAR: Commonly, in energy drinks, this is the main source of calories. However, some other types do not have sugar and they are also low-carb friendly.

AMINO ACID DERIVATIVES: The most common types of amino acid derivatives found in energy drinks are taurine and L-carnitine. More so, they are also produced naturally by the body and they serve numerous biological processes.

VITAMIN B: They help in the conversion of foods in the body into useable energy.

HERBAL EXTRACTS: Most energy drinks contain herbal extracts such as guarana (to add more caffeine) and ginseng (to induce brain function Common ones).

THE PROS OF ENERGY DRINKS

Undoubtedly, the consumption of energy drinks has risen over the years and people take it for a plethora of reasons which are:

BRAIN FUNCTION

Numerous studies have shown that energy drinks can indeed boost the functionality of the brain such as memory, concentration, and it can also lessen mental tiredness. For instance, a study indicated that the consumption of a can of Red Bull (500-ml) enhanced both memory and concentration by about 25%. 

Many scientific researchers are of the view that such an increase in brain function is solely attributed to caffeine. On the other hand, some hold unto the speculation that it is as a result of the combination of caffeine and sugar that brings about such effect.

FUNCTIONING WHILE TIRED

This is another reason people consume energy drinks. They take it to improve their sleep-deprived condition or exhaustion. Reaching for an energy drink at this crucial point relieves them.

For instance, drivers who embark on long road trips often consume some energy drinks to keep alert while behind the wheel. Research has revealed that using energy drinks to retain activeness while driving can improve driving quality and lessen the urge to sleep even in drivers who are deprived of it.

NERVOUS SYSTEM REGULATION

Energy drinks also play a significant role in putting the nervous and the digestive system under control. This is as a result of the caffeine it contains.

ADDED SUPPLEMENTS

 Apart from caffeine, energy drinks usually contain several other energy-giving ingredients such as glucuronolactone, ginseng, B vitamins, and the likes. These added ingredients are believed to magnify the energy-giving effect. Moreover, their effect may be long-term.

Energy drinks save you the troubles of having to be heated or brewed and this makes them a quick RTD caffeine source.

AN AFTER-EXERCISE RECOVERY OPTION

Energy drinks provide a means for athletes to quickly recover from work-out sessions. This is solely because of the carbs and caffeine they contain. Many athletes, if not all, prefer a cold beverage after an exercise as opposed to hot ones.

A ZERO CALORIE ALTERNATIVE

Black coffee has zero calories and few people who consume it enhance the flavor with milk, cream, sugar, or even butter. There are numerous zero-calorie energy drinks available and they can deliver the necessary calories without the sugar and calories.

THE CONS OF ENERGY DRINKS

Here are the cons of consuming energy drinks

HIGH SUGAR CONTENT

Energy drinks have a high sugar content that could be toxic to your body. The sugar content in these drinks is even higher than half of your daily recommended allowance. 

Moreover, with how high the non-athletic use of energy drinks are, the number of calories they are contained will be higher than the energy demand. Thus, these calories get easily converted to fat so they are stored in your body as fat. These fats, in turn, could cause you to suffer from obesity.

However, do you know what is worse? Sugar! The sugar content is toxic to your health and when your bloodstream gets too much sugar; your body’s sugar regulation begins to fight to keep it at a minimal level. 

When you indulge in too much intake of these drinks, it could lose its ability to fight and then your body develops insulin resistance which would likely lead to diabetes. More so, when you mix these drinks with alcohol, your calorie intake spikes and this could lead to a bigger health problem.

THEY CONTAIN EXCESS CAFFEINE

Getting above 400mg of caffeine for just a day is risky and taking a lot of energy drinks means you’ll be getting too much caffeine in your system.

This means that you could suffer from an increased heart rate and blood pressure from just the caffeine content. Other ingredients present in these drinks may be responsible for aneurysms, abnormal heart rhythms as well as rare, unexpected heart attacks which could be deadly.

Now, after you’ve consumed it and the “high” wears off, your body will begin to respond like it’s under stress. You will begin to feel weak and tired. Moreover, the large amounts of sugar and caffeine could also give a diuretic effect (you’ll begin to urinate excessively). 

THE FAKE SUGAR THEY ARE CONTAINED WITH COULD MAKE YOU EAT EXCESSIVELY

Every dietician or doctor will tell you to stay away from fake sugar (artificial sweeteners) due to how harmful they are to your health. Energy drinks are contained with aspartame, which is one good example of fake and bad sugar. 

Although the advantage of this ingredient is that there may be no calorie effect but because you are missing the calories and sugar effect, it might make you hungrier which is not nice for your body.

DEHYDRATION/KIDNEY STONE DEVELOPMENT

Kidney stones can often be linked to dehydration especially when it comes to uric acid stones. Other factors could be being genetically pre-disposed or high protein diets. 

Naturally, caffeine causes increased urination and this is mostly why people are advised to reduce caffeine intake at night. Now, just as earlier mentioned, energy drinks have a high amount of caffeine so, drinking too much would mean you are increasing your risk of developing kidney stones.

However, athletes are likely to be at even higher risk as they may be having this with a protein diet. 

THEY ARE NOT HEALTHY FOR YOUR TEETH

A research was conducted by scientists lately. They immersed samples of the human teeth enamel in 9 different kinds of energy drinks and 13 sports drinks for 20 minutes at a time for six days on a stretch.

Afterward, they then alternated the drink submersions and put the enamel in saliva. Can you guess what happened? Yes! You guessed right. They found out that the enamel had begun to show serious signs of damage. Moreover, the energy drinks caused double the damage the sports drinks did.

One fact you should know is that sugar isn’t the only reason why dentists suggest that you should stay away from energy drinks. Aside from the sugar, your teeth may likely suffer due to the other ingredients present in the can. 

Recently, a sports dietician said that the Red Bull energy drink has more acidic content than coffee. How often do you brush your teeth after taking energy drinks? Imagine taking these drinks at work regularly. Then, after spending a few hours you get home and don’t even brush. Do you know the amount of damage you would have caused your teeth?

ENERGY DRINKS MAY MAKE YOU LOSE SLEEP

When you constantly take energy drinks especially those that are high in caffeine, there is every probability that you will lose sleep which will result in impaired performance.

Besides, if this persists for over 8 hours, it can lead to somnolence.

In the same way, this can also adversely affect a student’s academics as irregular sleep patterns have been shown to reduce learning and memory.

IN CONCLUSION

So far, we have seen the merits and the demerits of consuming energy drinks. For consuming every caffeinated product, moderation is highly essential. If not, the potential harm it could cause may outweigh the benefits it provides. 

You should be conscious of your caffeine safe limit for each day. You can go online to use various caffeine calculators to be sure about your safe consumption limit. 

For those who have pre-existing heart conditions, it is advisable to avoid energy drinks and caffeinated products. This is because the ingredients in energy drinks could alter the contraction of the heart.

In summary, the consumption of energy drinks must be moderated to be free of any health challenge.

 

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5583516/

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/energy-drinks/

https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/nutrition/energy.htm

https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/spilling-beans-how-much-caffeine-too-much

 

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