The popularity and consumption of energy drinks have come to an all time high among our youth. These drinks have been associated with hospitalizations and even death among these young kids. This is not fictional, this is a fact and it is time to protect the youth from these dangerous bottles of manufactured energy. Energy drinks have not been proven to enhance sports performance or aid in weight loss. In fact, they can do quite the opposite; with the amount of sugar, they can impose weight gain as well as sleep disturbance. Hence, making the athlete more prone to injury due to the lack of sleep.
You have seen all the ads for energy drinks and see them in large quanities at the grocery store, most claiming to provide energy and/or healthy benefits. However, do you really know what you are drinking and how it plays a role in the body? Karen Langston, expert Nutritionist and Chief Body Reorganizer, took Examiner through the ingredients of these canned and bottled bursts of energy.
Langston personally investigated these drinks for Examiner and the ingredients in them. Langston states, " Do not let the label fool you on these popular sources of synthetic fuel. They have been marketed as a health drink providing increased energy levels to stay alert and active, common ingredients, caffeine and taurine." These drinks do provide a person with energy, but what is the cost to the body? Certainly your body is worth more than $3.50.
First, Langston states, ingredients on the label are listed by order of quantity; the first ingredient listed is the most in a product and the last ingredient containing the least within a product. Langston's findings on the popular energy drinks, "The first ingredient listed on energy drink labels are carbonated water. Carbonation is high in phosphorus. Phosphorus in sodas and energy drinks are highly acidic and disrupts the pH balance and the body has to break down calcium from an individuals bones in order to buffer the acidity." For this reason Langston states, athletes or anyone may want to stay clear of these products, for bones are at risk . An athlete that is running, dancing or lifting weights may want to toss the energy drink to increase bone density and avoid fractures." Stress fractures are very common among athletes, so it is important to keep the strong bones.
Langston states, "She found three different combinations of sugars and sweeteners in the energy drinks that will go against weight loss. Synthetic sweeteners especially aspartame and acesulfame are a synthetic form of the amino acid phenylalanine. Phenylalanine works with L-tyrosine in the body and together they lead to the formation of adrenaline." According to Langston, "Studies have shown that synthetic phenylalanine can lead to erratic behavior, depression, anxiety, irritability, dizziness, headaches and hormonal imbalance." So what is the major ingredient after sugar? Langston states, "The bulk ingredient is caffeine, which combined with sugar cause an insulin surge; over time will lead to insulin resistance where the body will not be able to recognize glucose and could potentially lead to diabetes." Caffeine as stated by Langston. "Is a diuretic drug that stimulates the central nervous system temporarily increasing mental clarity, energy levels, improve muscular coordination and elevate mood." The key word is "temporary", leaving an individual wanting more.
So how does caffeine work in the body? According to Langston. "Caffeine works on the central nervous system, stimulating the cardiovascular system, raising blood pressure and heart rate; which speed up metabolism. Caffeine lowers blood sugar levels which lead to increased hunger and cravings for carbohydrates and sweets. Caffeine will also leach off of vital vitamins and minerals from the body. Caffeine sensitivity can cause excessive nervousness, irritability, anxiety, insomnia, hyperactivity and panic attacks that can not only alter mood but an individuals behavior as well."
Now the question is, what about the ingredients in the energy drinks that give an individual healthy benefits such as taurine, guarana seed extract and ginseng? According to Langston, "To a certain degree they are healthy ingredients but not with the a deadly combination of the others found in the energy drinks. Most energy drinks are using 1000 milligrams of synthetic taurine which does not work in the body the same way the natural amino acid. Combining this with high amounts of sugar and caffeine can lead to an overworked central nervous system. A daily dose of taurine should be between 100 - 500 mg, whereas most manufactures are exceeding this amount. Switzerland has banned synthetic taurine after linking taurine to 3 deaths and studies have implicated synthetic taurine is a cause of high blood pressure, strokes, seizures, and heart disease." Also keep in mind that usually more then one energy drink is consumed by an individual daily. Keep these drinks away from children! If you, as an adult drink them, keep them locked up as you would any other kind of lethal substance that you would not want your child getting a hold of.
Signs and symptoms to look for when a child or even adult has had a reaction to these energy drinks
1. Jitters, Restlessness, and Nervousness
2. Increased heartbeat
5. Heart palpitations (cardiac arrhythmia)
10. Cardiac arrest
There are healthy alternatives to give you the energy you or your child needs. Consume nuts, leafy greens. One product I love is Sambazon Acai smoothy packs, it is organic, non-gmo and gluten free. Beware of the types of energy drinks you choose to put in your body or your childs body. Look for these ingredients as they may work against you or in some cases cause death. I wouldn't chance the health of my child. To read more from Jennifer Parker, National Sports Performance Examiner you can also visit her blog.