The Dangers of Drinking Energy Drinks: Myths Busted and Facts Revealed
Energy drinks lead to thousands of emergency room visits each year. Symptoms range from severe anxiety to heart attacks, and in rare instances death. These beverages may seem like a harmless way to improve your focus, but the dangers of energy drinks outweigh the benefits.
As a consumer, don’t be fooled by clever marketing. Energy drink ads are often aimed at young people, who are not as wary of advertising as adults. Unfortunately, adolescents are at higher risk of medical complications because of their smaller body size.
Do you want to equip yourself with more information about the safety of energy drinks? Knowledge is power when it comes to protecting your family. Keep reading for a list of myths and facts about one of the fastest-growing industries in America.
Myth: Energy Drink Ingredients Are Harmless
Fact: Some of the common ingredients in energy drinks are known to have negative health impacts. Others have not been studied, so the health effects are unknown.
Don’t assume that every product sold in grocery stores is safe. Most mainstream energy drinks contain shocking amounts of caffeine and sugar. These ingredients can be safe in moderation, but as the quantities increase so do the risks.
Other additives and nutritional supplements are unregulated. Be aware that you are consuming them at your own risk anytime you sip an energy drink.
Let’s take a closer look at a few of the main culprits.
Caffeine is a stimulant that affects the central nervous system. It causes your body to release adrenaline, leading to increased heart rate and blood pressure.
When it’s consumed in small doses, it can improve your mood and help you feel alert. Sipping a mug of natural tea or coffee each morning is perfectly safe, even beneficial. However, large amounts of caffeine can be toxic.
The maximum recommended daily dose of caffeine is 400 mg. Some energy drinks contain more than that in a single bottle or can. Drink more than one and you could be setting yourself up for a hospital visit.
People with pre-existing health issues should be extra cautious about their caffeine intake. It’s not unusual for individuals with heart conditions to be hospitalized for seizures, heart attacks, or dangerously high blood pressure after consuming an excessive amount.
Sugar might have a sweet reputation, but it’s a silent killer. Diets that are high in sugar are linked to diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.
The American Heart Association says men should not consume more than 9 teaspoons of added sugar per day. For women, the number is 6 teaspoons.
The average person adds 1-2 teaspoons of sugar to a cup of coffee or tea – a reasonable amount. Conventional energy drinks contain up to 14 teaspoons per serving!
Think you can avoid the dangers of sugar by sticking to zero-calorie energy beverages? Think again. There’s evidence that artificial sweeteners cause cancer, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes.
Energy drink manufacturers can add dietary supplements to their products without FDA approval. Popular additives include guarana, ginseng, and niacin.
Guarana is high in caffeine and contains theophylline and theobromine, compounds with similar stimulating effects. The ingredient has a variety of side effects – digestive distress, rapid breathing, and high blood pressure, to name a few.
Ginseng has been linked to headaches, irritability, and trouble sleeping. Niacin is a B vitamin that the body uses to turn food into energy. Overdosing can lead to burning, itching, and redness throughout the upper body.
Keep in mind that additives can also interact with any pharmaceuticals you are taking in unexpected ways.
Myth: Energy Drinks Won’t Cause Symptoms
Fact: Energy drinks have been linked to a variety of medical symptoms, ranging from mild to severe.
Drinking energy drinks can lead to many medical complaints. The most serious symptoms are heart-related. Irregular heartbeat and heart attacks are possible results of consuming too many energy drinks.
Other commonly reported symptoms include:
- High blood pressure
- Stomach irritation
- Irregular bone development
- Poor sleep quality
- Dental problems
Myth: Energy Drinks Mix Well With Alcohol
Fact: Mixing alcohol and energy drinks can have deadly results.
The dangers of energy drinks increase when the stimulants are mixed with alcohol, a depressant.
Highly caffeinated beverages counteract the effects of alcohol, leading individuals to underestimate their level of intoxication. The combination may result in drunk driving, unprotected sex, and generally poor decision making.
Are There Safe Energy Drink Alternatives?
It’s normal to feel like you need an energy boost sometimes. You’ll be glad to know there are safer alternatives to turn to.
Coffee and tea contain moderate amounts of caffeine. Electrolyte-heavy sports drinks can give you a lift when you are exercising or competing.
There are also some great all-natural drinks available. Try Usana products, developed with input from top scientists. They contain green and white tea, healthy carbohydrates, and vitamins to provide you with sustainable energy all day long.
As a bonus, they are full of antioxidants that have anti-aging effects and reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.
Of course, eating a nutritious diet can also do wonders for your energy and overall health.
Avoid the Dangers of Energy Drinks by Shopping Smart
Now that you know more about the dangers of energy drinks, consider yourself an educated consumer. Always read product labels before you make a purchase. Keep an eye out for shockingly high levels of caffeine and sugar.
It’s smart to research any additives you’re not familiar with before you put them in your body.
If you’re desperate for a boost, stick to coffee, tea, or sports drinks. You can also turn to all-natural energy drinks that are far less dangerous than mainstream options.
Avoid energy drinks if you are pregnant or have underlying health conditions. If you’re not sure about the safety of a specific product, consult with your doctor.
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