It seems more and more of us are running out of steam these days. Many of us just don’t seem to have enough energy to accomplish our daily tasks.
In response, TV commercials and print ads tout the benefits of energy drinks. They would have us believe that if we tip back a can or bottle of XYZ energy drink, we’ll be ready to complete that marathon, or at the very least, complete 30 minutes on the treadmill.
The global energy drink market was worth $39 billion in 2013 and is forecast to reach $61 billion by 2021. That’s a lot of people consuming high quantities of energy drinks.
But just how safe are these energy drinks? Are they all they’re cracked up to be, or are hidden dangers lurking behind those brightly-colored labels? Keep reading to find out.
Just What’s in That Drink, Anyway?
There are currently more than 500 energy drinks on the market, with new ones coming out each month, it seems. But how many of us are really reading the labels? While we know that most – if not all of them – contain a fair amount of caffeine, there are other potential hazardous ingredients we may not be aware of.
A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that drinking just 32 ounces of an energy drink is enough to cause potentially harmful changes to someone’s blood pressure and heart function. And, these reactions are beyond what the researchers have seen with caffeine alone.
Beyond this, the team shares even more shocking data: the increased popularity of these energy drinks is directly linked to a significant rise in energy drink-associated emergency department visits and deaths each year.
While the manufacturers of these drinks claim their products are as safe as caffeine, in reality, there is no evidence that supports these claims. Yes, the Food and Drug Administration has recognized caffeine in doses as high as 400mg (roughly five cups of coffee) to be safe to consume, however, little is known about the safety of some of these other ingredients.
To see just what effects these ingredients might have on our bodies, the researchers compared physical changes in a group of healthy men and women after consuming a commercially available energy drink, then again after drinking another concoction with the same amount of caffeine but none of the other ingredients.
Besides caffeine and copious amounts of sugar, energy drinks like Monster Energy, Red Bull and 5-Hour Energy will often contain several B vitamins and what they will call a proprietary “energy blend,” which typically consists of stimulants and other additives such as taurine and guarana. These have not been FDA-approved as safe in the food supply.
The researchers measured the participants’ blood pressure and used an electrocardiogram (EKG) to measure heart electrical activity for 24 hours after the subjects consumed the drinks.
The researchers found life-threatening irregularities in the heartbeat after participants drank the energy drink, but not after they drank the caffeine beverage. Interesting to note that some pharmaceuticals have been withdrawn from the market for causing these same heartbeat irregularities, and yet these energy drinks are still sold worldwide every day.
Beyond an irregular heartbeat, the drinks also caused blood pressure to increase by nearly 5 points and remained elevated for six hours. The researchers concluded their publication by stating that more studies need to be conducted on the noncaffeine ingredients, and that unhealthy individuals, specifically those with heart issues, should avoid consuming energy drinks altogether.
How Do Energy Drinks Affect the Brain?
According to a paper published in the International Journal of Health Sciences in 2015, high doses of caffeine found in energy drinks can contribute to caffeine intoxication. Bottom of Form
Symptoms include anxiety, insomnia, gastrointestinal irritation, muscle twitching, restlessness and periods of inexhaustibility.
Some studies have also linked energy drink consumption to an increased risk for symptoms of mental health problems. While more research is needed, it is already quite evident that beyond negatively affecting the heart and blood vessels, the ingredients in energy drinks are also very bad for our brains.
What to Drink Instead
When it comes to giving our bodies energy, there are far more healthier nutrients than sugar, caffeine, and other mystery ingredients. You might think loading up on carbohydrates is the answer to having energy all day, but you’d be wrong.
According to the Merck Manual Home Health Handbook, protein provides a slower and steadier source of energy than even carbohydrates. So, if you want to fuel your body all day with helpful not harmful ingredients, look to quality protein sources.
Want to know a great and delicious source of energy-giving protein? Smash-It!
Smash-It! is a delicious high-protein, non-GMO and gluten-free nutrient infused shake scientifically formulated to help you fix “toxic” fat cells and manage your weight, support your already healthy blood pressure, and maintain healthy blood sugar. You’ll not only get leaner and healthier, you’ll have the energy to go-go-go all day.