Energy drinks are beverages that contain stimulant compounds, usually caffeine. They are marketed as products that physically and mentally stimulate you, allowing you to overcome fatigue or push yourself more than usual. The concentration of caffeine in these drinks is much higher than that typically found in coffee or tea. Often, they are carbonated and sweetened making them essentially caffeinated sodas. Energy drinks are a subtype of energy products which include gels and bars. Other ingredients used in these drinks are B vitamins, herbs like ginseng and ginger for flavor, and amino acids derivatives such as taurine and L-carnitine.
Caffeine is known to enhance cognitive performance, improving reaction speeds and increasing attention. It gives you the energy and focus needed to complete tasks. When combined with glucose, caffeine stimulates the body and mind even more. Excessive or prolonged use of caffeine has documented negative mental and physical health effects. Energy drinks should be consumed sparingly and with caution. They significantly increase your heart rate and blood pressure. Your body is not built to put up with such stimulation for long. The harm done in the long term can be severe and irreversible.
Energy Drinks Are Bad for You
Regular or excessive consumption of energy drinks is associated with headaches, high blood pressure, disturbances in cardiac rhythm, and anxiety.
Effects On the Heart
Caffeine, the main ingredient in energy drinks, activates yours fight or flight mechanism, referred to as sympathetic system. Usually, the system is activated when you are in danger. It is a survival mechanism. As a result, your heart goes into overdrive to ensure all organs receive enough blood to help you run or fight. That’s why consuming large amounts of caffeine causes heart palpitations, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, and disturbances of heart rhythm. All these are necessary when you need to save yourself. However, they take a huge toll on the heart. If sustained for long periods, for instance, by excessive consumption of caffeine, your heart will start to fail as it is overwhelmed.
A 2014 study in the United States found that five out of eleven patients with serious heart conditions, including cardiac arrest, reported excessive energy drink consumption.
Energy Drinks Are Sweetened with Sugar
Sugar is the main cause of chronic disease in the developed world. Consuming a lot of sugar leads to obesity, hypertension, and diabetes. It is the high concentrations of sugars in soda that is making them increasingly unpopular. Energy drinks are not as innocent as you may think. They are loaded with sugar. As a result, they not only have the negative effects of too much caffeine but also those of sugar.
Energy Drinks Are Dangerous When Mixed with Alcohol
Energy drinks mask your intoxication levels when mixed with alcohol. Whereas alcohol depresses your brain, caffeine stimulates it. As a result, you are more likely to binge drink thus increasing risk of alcohol poisoning. Also, though you are able to get around thanks to caffeine’s stimulation, the alcohol will significantly impair your judgement. You are more likely to drive under influence as well as engage in other reckless behaviors. The consequences can be numerous and dire.
Consume in Moderation
If you do not have any underlying conditions, it is safe to consume moderate amounts of energy drinks. Otherwise, energy drinks are quite dangerous when consumed in large amounts or by people with chronic diseases. Eat healthy and regular meals and get adequate sleep to avoid the need to drink energy drinks. If circumstances force you, maybe you are working multiple jobs or shifts, use energy drinks sparingly and try to seek alternative means of income. Otherwise, you are condemning yourself to a lifetime of disease and early death.
Energy drinks are a shortcut to avoid eating healthy foods and getting enough rest. The drinks will definitely stimulate you, give you extra energy and even enhance your focus and concentration. However, all these comes at a steep price. You overwork your heart, a delicate and vital organ. In the process you also consume a lot of sugar that places you at risk of developing diabetes or hypertension or non-alcoholic liver disease. Avoid energy drinks as much as possible and where not possible, consume them with moderation.