Buyer Beware: The Negative Effects of Energy Drinks
by Susan Patterson
Natural Society, 4 December 2012
Grocery and convenience stores are packed with brightly colored cans sketched with attractive artwork promising an infusion of energy with zero calories and no sugar. These drinks are particularly popular amongst teenagers who are lured in by expert marketing tactics. In fact, statistics indicate that between 30 to 50% of adolescents drink some form of energy drink on a regular basis. The safety of these energy boosting concoctions has been and continues to be questioned, with negative effects of energy drinks always being revealed.
Unregulated by the FDA, many of these so called “therapeutic” drinks actually contain massive amounts of caffeine and other harmful synthetic ingredients. Health officials are skeptical at best and fear that these drinks are, in fact, jeopardizing the health of those who consume them. Changes in lifestyle including a healthy diet, adequate sleep and exercise, provide a far safer way to increase energy.
The Real Consumers
Although a wide variety of people from those who work night jobs, college students to truck drivers on a deadline consume energy drinks, the real concern lies with children who find the trendy and tasty drinks so attractive. The journal of Pediatrics states that out of 5,448 caffeine overdoses in 2007, 48% were in kids under 19. Growing children who may not be as healthy as they need to be to begin with are at a great risk of experiencing the serious negative effects of energy drinks.
The Truth Inside the Can: Negative Effects of Energy Drinks
Caffeine, a drug that stimulates the central nervous system is the main ingredient in energy drinks. While coffee health benefits can’t be ignored, too much caffeine can lead to anxiety, insomnia, heart palpitations, altered consciousness, hallucinations, seizures and even death. Drinking these energy potions is comparable to ‘bathing your teeth with acid’ according to scientists who have unleashed their findings on how these beverages may be destroying the health of your teeth.
What makes up an energy drink? While ginseng, yohimbine and guarana are all plant-based ingredients, each has their own adverse side-effects when consumed in excess. In the case of energy drinks, it is just too much of a good thing. Just one gram of guarana contains between 40 – 80 grams of caffeine, enough to cause insomnia, increased heart rate, tremors, hypertension and headaches.
The B Vitamins are necessary for bodily function, but also wreak havoc on the body when consumed in excess. Over 2,000% of the daily recommended intake of B6 and 8,000% of B12 are found in energy drinks – huge doses that could lead to side-effects, especially if water consumption is not boosted throughout the day.
Natural Cures vs Band Aid Solutions
We live in a culture that thrives on band-aid solutions to larger problems, especially when it comes to health issues. Drinking an energy drink produces an immediate rise in sugar which may induce a false energy that is quickly replaced with lethargy. This pattern drives addiction and is exactly what sells energy drinks, but does nothing to improve the health of the individuals consuming the drinks.
The good news is that instead of experiencing the negative effects of energy drinks, you can naturally boost your energy with high energy foods. Embracing a diet rich in whole foods, plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, getting adequate amounts of sleep and exercising on a regular basis, are instrumental to healthy living. The healthier you are, the more energy you will have. Here are 5 natural energy boosters to amp up your day.