With the popularity of so called “Energy Drinks” on the rise, one has to wonder what consequences may arise from the consumption of these drinks. These caffeinated beverages are the currently the fastest growing “soft drink” in the United States. With about $9 billion in sales in the US last year, an increase of 17%, people can’t seem to get enough of them. And with advertisements promising everything from increased mental alertness and productivity to being able to outperform anyone in any situation that requires additional speed or ability, it’s no wonder that so many people are using them.
Feeling tired? Don’t get the sleep you need, just drink this and you’re good to go for another 5 or more hours. Feeling short on energy? Don’t eat nutritious foods, just drink this and you can make it until the end of your work day without a break.
What a bunch of slick advertising bunk. There is never any mention of the fact that the reason that you are tired may be because you haven’t slept more than 2 hours a night for the last several days because you are so jacked up on energy drinks. Never any mention of the fact that your body needs real food in order to maintain a healthy glucose level to function without fatigue. Just drink this and you’re good to go for as long as you want.
Some of you may be asking “What’s wrong with having an energy drink or shot?” “It’s no different than having a cup of coffee.” Well read on and you may start to think otherwise.
The FDA has confirmed that they have received reports that the popular 5-hour Energy shot may have been involved in as many as 13 deaths in the past four years. This was disclosed after the FDA indicated that it was investigating the reports of five deaths that may be related to the “Monster” brand drinks. Additionally, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported that there were more than 13,000 ER visits in 2009 directly associated with energy drinks. And an FDA spokesperson said that “5-hour energy has been mentioned in 90 filings since 2009 including more than 30 that involved serious or life threatening events like heart attacks, convulsions and in one case, a spontaneous abortion.”
A recent Consumer Reports found that 11 of the top 27 energy drinks in the US don’t list the amount of caffeine in their drinks. And of the 16 that did list the amount of caffeine, the amount contained was under rated by more than 20%. The caffeine along with the other stimulants contained in these drinks can increase you heart rate, increase blood pressure, and over stimulate your central nervous system. Because of these effects there are people that should never drink them such as: People with cardio vascular conditions such as high blood pressure, or a history of arrhythmia or myocardial infarction; people with gastrointestinal problems like IBS or ulcers; people with kidney failure especially if you are on dialysis or have chronic kidney disease due to diabetes; people with liver problems caused by hepatitis or alcohol abuse; or if you have a history of panic attacks.
Children and young adults should also stay away from energy drinks as they can interfere with their sleep patterns. This is especially true for young people that are in school. Additionally, young athletes using energy drinks are at a higher risk of dehydration which can alter the bodies’ electrolytes putting them at risk for heart arrhythmia.
A spokesperson for Living Essentials, the company that sells 5-hour Energy, was quoted as saying “Caffeine is a good thing. The only things that we get about caffeine is from reporters, who really have no clue what caffeine does.” There was no mention of the medical evidence that shows that caffeine can increase you heart rate, increase blood pressure, and over stimulate your central nervous system or the effects of caffeine on people with medical problems or sleep problems.
Granted there are studies that have shown that a small amount of caffeine, before working out, can aid in weight loss and hold off fatigue during the workout, but the emphasis is on the word “small”. Not the several hundred milligrams contained in most “energy drinks”. Even the studies showing the potential benefits of caffeine, have all included the disclaimer that more research is needed to fully understand the effects of caffeine on the human body.
I don’t expect everyone that reads this post to give up energy drinks. I know that is won’t happen. I do hope that this post makes hesitate long enough to at least consider healthier options for safer longer lasting energy. As for me, as I continue to work at staying healthy and fit, I won’t be popping the top of any energy drink any time in the foreseeable future.