An energy drink is a beverage that can provide our body with enhanced levels of mental alertness and physical stimulation. These days, many people simply depend on these drinks to boost their energy in order to complete the works they need for the day. These drinks in cool-looking cans are generally less expensive than fancy coffee drinks and can be as addictive as a regular soft drink.
According to studies, the consumption of these energy drinks can pose health threats to our body. Here are the reasons:
In a 2013 study in Pediatrics in Review, experts have found that energy drinks can have between 21 and 34 grams of sugar per serving wherein some of these sugars come in the form of high fructose corn syrup.
The authors explained that consumption of 2-3 energy drinks could be taking in 4 to 6 times the maximum recommended daily intake of sugar, thus increasing our risks of dental issues and obesity as well as type 2 diabetes. Sugar is also somewhat addictive.
Blood Pressure And Heart Disease
Drinking a 16-ounce energy drink may cause an increase in our heart rate, stress levels, and blood pressure, as well as thickening of our blood, thus increasing our risk of developing heart disease.
Anna Svatikova, M.D., Ph.D., a co-author in a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association says that:
“In previous research, we found that energy drink consumption increased blood pressure in healthy young adults. We now show that the increases in blood pressure are accompanied by increases in norepinephrine, a stress hormone chemical, and this could predispose an increased risk of cardiac events — even in healthy people.”
Caffeine is the most common energy drink ingredients and the reason behind the energy we get from energy drinks. A typical 16-ounce energy drink contains between 150 to 280 milligrams of caffeine; larger cans have up to 500 milligrams of caffeine.
According to a study, energy drinks are more dangerous to our heart than drinks with just caffeine alone. Researchers have found that one 32-ounce energy drink caused elevated blood pressure and could cause a life-threatening arrhythmia.
Some of the other negative effects of ingesting too much caffeine are as follows:
- Increased heart rate
- High blood pressure
- Heart palpitations
- Gastrointestinal disturbance (diarrhea)
- Increased urination
- Dizziness, irritability, nausea, nervousness, jitters
Caffeine can be found in other natural ingredients such as guarana, green tea extract, and coffee extract or can go by many other names, so be aware of this when reading energy drink labels.
Consumption of too many energy drinks can cause restlessness and sleep problems.
According to a study, soldiers who drank three or more cans of an energy drink were more likely to get about four hours of sleep or less on average. This can be fatal particularly for individuals who are under 18 as they are still developing.
Be aware that lack of sleep, in the short term, can affect judgment, mood, ability to learn and retain information, and may increase the risk of serious accidents and injury. Meanwhile, chronic sleep deprivation may lead to various health problems such as cardiovascular diseases, obesity, diabetes, and even early mortality.
Dr. Brian Huang, MD, stated in his study that:
“As energy drinks have become increasingly popular over the years, their ingredients are being looked at more closely, many which do not have a well-established safety profile. Some of these products have even been banned in other countries. While drinking modest amounts of energy drinks may be relatively safe, frequent consumption over an extended period of time has been linked with liver injury.”
According to a report in 2013, a 36-year-old patient suffered from severe abdominal pain. Doctors explained the patient have some episodes of binge drinking and drank three energy drinks every day for the past year. The patient’s liver function deteriorated to the point that he needed a liver transplant.
Moreover, in a 2016 case study, a man who consumed four to five energy drinks a day over the course of three weeks has experienced abdominal pain, dark urine, and jaundice. His overconsumption of energy drinks caused niacin to build-up in his liver, thus leading to the development of hepatitis. Niacin, which is present in some energy drinks, has been shown to lower cholesterol however, too much of it can increase our risk of hepatitis and diabetes.
Alternative to Energy Drinks
Water – considered as the world’s best energy drink.
Green Tea – contains a smaller amount of caffeine and can help improve mental clarity and performance, thus making it a great alternative to an afternoon cup of coffee.
Coconut Water – high in minerals and potassium that can help boost our energy.
Acai Berry – contains a host of B vitamins, potassium, protein, fatty acids, and nutritional properties that can give us more energy and can help us lose weight.