Monday, July 2, 2012

Are Energy Drinks Worth The Health Problems?

Energy drinks are huge these days! You see them everywhere, and they take up (what seems like) half of the coolers at the gas station. I remember many times being in the library on the ASU campus, when the redbull or 5 hour energy girls would walk through handing out their products like candy. I’ve even seen them out at nightclubs and bars doing the same. The marketing for these drinks are genius to be honest; they target young people that live busy lives. And to be fair, those are the people that I see drinking them daily (so their plan must be working).

But STOP! These things wreck havoc on your health, and your heart. You only get one body, treat it right!

So why are energy drinks so bad you ask?
  • ·      Like most caffeinated drinks, they can be very addicting (leading to headaches and sluggishness when not used). They also can cause insomnia, and anxiety.

  • ·      They also lead to low calcium levels in your body (Probably because they make you pee so much!), Low calcium can cause weakening of bones and teeth, and even set you up for osteoporosis later in life (ouch!).

  • ·      However the most known (and scary) risk is for heart problems. High blood pressure, increased heart rate, and irregular heartbeats (just to name a few) are linked to consuming even small amounts of these drinks. Both caffeine and ephedra (in almost all energy drinks) increase your heart rate. (So why the heck would you want to drink the two together?!)

So you want proof?
A study in Poland using people ages 20-35, had one group drink energy drinks, and the other a drink with no caffeine or stimulants.  After drinkning these, their blood pressure and heart rate were taken, and these were the results:
  • ·      Blood pressure went up by 9 points (averaged), in both systolic and diastolic (eek!)
  • ·      Heart beat increased by 5 beats per minute
  • ·      They also recorded irregular heartbeats, racing heartbeats, anxiety and insomnia.

Another study in Australia looked into calls to the poison control hotline. During 2004 to 2010, poison control took 297 calls from people who said they had consumed energy drinks. From these 297 calls 128 were put into the hospital. (And this isn’t even the most current information! Imagine what the stats are now?!).

There are many other ways to stay awake and take on the day. Here are some ideas for just that:
  • ·      Stick to coffee in the morning if you need your caffeine
  • ·      Exercise (yes it really does give you energy)
  • ·      Get a full night of sleep
  • ·      Eat smaller more frequent meals (keeping your blood glucose high at all time, instead of spiking and crashing)
  • ·      Take your multivitamin (make sure your body has everything it needs to run)
  • ·      Make sure you are eating enough protein
  • ·      Snack on these natural energy source!
    • o   Banana with peanut butter
    • o   Dried fruits and nuts
    • o   Dark chocolate
    • o   Water! (be sure to stay hydrated)
    • o   Yogurt
    • o   Cereal (whole grain)

The bottom line is: The benefit from these drinks (immediate energy) does not outweigh the cost (heart problems, insomnia, etc). So find another way to get over that mid day slump that works for you.

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