Dangers of Energy Drink Ingredients: Are Energy Drinks Bad For You and Why Should You Be Juicing Instead?
The Truth About Energy Drinks
Energy drinks are becoming increasingly popular these days. You can buy them everywhere in grocery stores, supermarkets and even health food stores. With names such as Red Bull, Full Throttle, Amp, and Rush - you can see them advertised all over the place. Millions of people all over the world are drinking these high powered beverages on a daily basis without giving it a second thought about how good or bad these drinks really are.
Beverage companies market various energy drinks as soft drinks that provide a boost of energy. Red Bull made by the Austrian company Red Bull GmbH, is one of the most popular in this category. Another one, Full Trottle is made by Coca-Cola.
Generally speaking, energy drinks are supposed to do just what the name implies -- these are pick-me-up beverages that are high in caffeine, that can provide you with a jolt of energy, but also with increased heart rate and blood pressure.
Do you know what is in energy drinks?
Although each energy drink is different, most energy drinks contain at least as much caffeine as an eight-ounce cup of coffee (about 80mg). Just to compare, a 12oz. soda contains 18-48mg of caffeine. Another major component is sugar. Caffeine and sugar are the ingredients that are providing most of that "energy boost".
But this is only the tip of the iceberg as far as ingredients go. In addition to large doses of caffeine and sugar, these drinks contain stuff you often never even heard of and you have no idea what effects can these substances have on your health, especially if you are taking prescription medications or have any medical conditions.
Even the FDA has admitted that many of the ingredients have not been fully tested as to their safety. While this does not mean these components are dangerous, it certainly means that we are not sure, and therefore caution - and moderation - is recommended. We do know that caffeine and some ingredients in these energy drinks can be harmful, especially if consumed in large quantities. That is why many health experts advise pregnant women and young children to avoid them.
Energy Drinks Ingredients
Here are some popular energy drinks components and what they do to your body:
Taurine- A natural amino acid produced by the body that helps regulate heart beat and muscle contractions. We normally get more than enough taurine in out diet and the extra amount that we get from these beverage, depending on how much we consume, can become toxic in our systems.
Guarana seed- A stimulant used as a dietary supplement that contains about twice the caffeine found in coffee beans.
Ephedrine - A stimulant that works on the central nervous system. It is a common ingredient in weight-loss products and decongestants, but there have been concerns about its effects on the heart.
Ginseng - A root believed by some to have several medicinal properties, including reducing stress and boosting energy levels.
B-vitamins - A group of vitamins that can convert sugar to energy and improve muscle tone.
Carnitine - An amino acid that plays a role in fatty acid metabolism.
Creatine - An organic acid that helps supply energy for muscle contractions.
Inositol - A member of the vitamin B complex (not a vitamin itself, because the human body can synthesize it) that helps relay messages within cells in the body.
Ginkgo biloba- Made from the seeds of the ginkgo biloba tree, thought to enhance memory.
To me this list reads more like a label on a bottle of nutritional supplements than a beverage.
My Best Recipe for Energy Boost: A Glass of Freshly Made Green Juice
When it comes to boosting energy in a healthy way, nothing beats a glass of freshly pressed vegetable and/or fruit juice. Forget coffee. Forget sugar. Forget stimulants. It takes more work to prepare the juice yourself, but IT IS WORTH IT!
The simple truth is this: no other food is more enzyme-rich and nutrient-rich and easier to absorb by our body, than fresh juice. Many people may be skeptical, because when they think of vegetable juice they typically picture a bottle of V-8 or tomato juice. However, even the biggest skeptics can be converted, when they try this delicious Green Cocktail juicer recipe, or V8 juice recipe and experience first-hand the benefits of juicing.
Read my hub about juicing recipes for more info recipes and advice.
Red Bull Banned in France
Red Bull may be the best selling energy drink in the United States, but it isn't so popular in other parts of the world. In France Red Bull was banned after it was linked to the death of an 18-year-old athlete. The teenager died after drinking four cans of Red Bull at a game. French laws dictate the maximum amount of caffeine that companies can add to products, and Red Bull exceeds that limit. Denmark and Norway have also banned the drink. Other countries, such as Canada, require the can to carry a warning label for pregnant women and children.
Consuming a lot of caffeine and other stimulants it can lead to heart palpitations, anxiety and insomnia -- it also can make you feel jittery and irritable. It is also a diuretic -- it causes the kidneys to remove extra fluid into the urine. So drinking an energy drink while you're exercising can be particularly dangerous. The combination of the diuretic effect and sweating can severely dehydrate you.
OK, I'm not writing this to scare you. When used in moderation, energy drinks are probably safe, although caffeine and other stimulants can become addictive over time.
At the very least, this should at least get you think what you are putting into your body and the effects of energy drinks and the ingredients in them.