You can’t miss the big buzz of energy drinks flooding our grocery store shelves, shining aloud with their lurid logos and ever-so-fancy names. They enjoy a healthy popularity among teens, youth, fitness enthusiasts and health freaks. But just one can has nearly 10 teaspoons of sugar. Now imagine your sugar intake from sources and think about the amount of sugar it adds up to just in a day. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the recommended sugar intake per day for women and men are 5 and 9 teaspoons respectively. Have a can of energy drink and you are already past your limit. (Read: 6 healthy substitutes to white sugar)
What’s worse is energy drinks are marketed as calorie-free, carbonated, sugar-free and light beverages. Simran Saini, Weight Loss Management Consultant at Fortis Hospital helps us unearth a few potential disasters of energy drinks, and tells us why they shouldn’t be heavily consumed.
The high level of caffeine in energy drinks is a potential threat: Caffeine is the most common energy drink ingredient and the one of most concern. Its tolerance levels vary between individuals, but for most people, a dose of over 200-300 mg may produce some initial symptoms, such as restlessness, increased heartbeat, insomnia. Higher dosages can also result in increased blood pressure, heart palpitations, gastrointestinal disturbance (diarrhoea), frequent urination, allergic reactions, headache and severe fatigue from withdrawal. So make sure you read the label and check for the amount of caffeine in any energy drink you pick up. (Read: Coffee can make women infertile)
Addiction to energy drinks can be dangerous for your health: Medically speaking, caffeine is a chemical stimulant called trimethylxanthine. The overdose of it can block the effects of adenosine, a brain chemical involved in sleep. Thus, over a period of time, the person feels anxious, nervous, may face mood swings or have trouble sleeping when the body is exposed to overdose of caffeine. Withdrawal symptoms are worse than the effects seen during intake.
Energy drinks have a deteriorating effect on your teeth and only add more toxins to your body: One can of energy drink contains nearly 10 teaspoons of sugar. Its acidic content can erode the enamel of the teeth and the high intake of sugar can lead to tooth decay. It also leads to negative effects on the immune system, thickened blood and an eventual insensitivity to insulin, also known as type II diabetes. This also leads to accumulation of fat in the body which can show on your waistline. (Read: 10 ways to beat sugar cravings)
Mixing energy drinks and alcohol can play havoc with your system: Alcohol is a depressant, and when you combine that with a stimulant, like energy drinks, it causes health problems. Stimulants prompt the secretion of adrenaline which makes the heart’s rhythm less stable if you’re combining that with alcohol. (Read: What alcohol does to your liver)
Energy drinks can deteriorate cardiovascular health: According to a study released by a research group at the Cleveland Clinic in USA, a dietary compound used as a supplement in energy drinks has been found to promote hardening of the arteries. ‘By inhibiting the activity of the vitamin folate, B12 and B6, high levels of caffeine may interfere with your body’s ability to regulate two significant cardiovascular disease risk factors: homocysteine and cholesterol’, the report claims. By causing blood vessel constriction and increased risk of blood clots, the caffeine content in some energy drinks can be very harmful for someone with high stress levels or hypertension.
The only way forward with energy drinks is to regulate and control the consumption of the same. Remember to check the number of servings in an energy drink can to determine the total caffeine content, and to include caffeine from other sources, such as soda and coffee, when determining your total for the day.