“Unleash the Beast”, “Party Like a Rock Star”, “Red Bull Gives You Wings”. These are the slogans designed to catch the eye of 20 year olds looking for extra energy. But are they safe? The label contains enormous amounts of vitamins so it almost looks like a health drink. Children view these as a form of sports drinks which are meant to replenish lost electrolytes due to exercise. However, these are not sports drinks and should not be used as such.
First and foremost, we are all familiar with caffeine. Normal doses are fine, some might venture to say healthy. One or two cups of coffee might be healthy (caffeine is extremely controversial, I shall make sure I write a blog on it in the upcoming weeks). In an effort to be candid, I must tell you I enjoy a good cup of java. It’s what puts a smile on my face every morning! Children and young adults who consume these energy drinks usually have at least two or more a day. This is extremely dangerous and many young adults have died as a result of consuming excess energy drinks and experiencing adverse cardiac reactions. Caffeine is addictive and unfortunately young adults who consume these energy drinks program their bodies to require these drinks to function. I would also suggest that large amounts of caffeine significantly raises blood pressure.
How familiar are you with guarana? This is a common ingredient in most energy drinks. It is a creeping shrub native to Venezuela and Northern Brazil in the Amazon rain forest. The fruit is small, bright red, and contains 4-8% caffeine compared to only 1-2.5% found in coffee beans! It is considered a central nervous system stimulant. When mixed with ephedrine or diet pills it can be lethal.
What about taurine? We don’t know too much about taurine. This is naturally occurring in food. Depending upon how much we consume from energy drinks this could be toxic. Studies indicate that in moderate doses, taurine has no reported benefits or adverse reactions. Why take the risk?
Additional risks resulting from the consumption of energy drinks are tooth decay from the amounts of sugar used and vacillating between highs and lows from all the caffeine and sugar. Other symptoms are headaches and heart palpitations.
The worst offenders of the energy drinks are the ones that contain alcohol. They have already been banned in a few countries in Europe. The stimulant affects the way your body responds to alcohol. The alcohol in the energy drink impairs your ability to judge your level of intoxication. There have been numerous reports of increased risk taking by people who consume these drinks.
In short, if we are looking for a sports drink, let me suggest to you that it might be wiser to give your child a bottle of water, an orange and a banana. There you go, a perfect sports drink. Now here’s my thought on energy drinks. Try getting your energy from food, forgo the energy drinks and save your liver and kidneys. In fact there are many young adults currently being diagnosed with fatty livers. Might you guess where this is coming from? Looking for energy? Try some raw nuts and a banana. Does anyone remember what Elvis Presley’s favorite snack was? That’s right a banana, peanut butter and honey in a sandwich. Sounds mighty good to me! Oh, and if your wish is to have some caffeine, find yourself a fine cup of java and enjoy.