Energy drinks are soft drinks used to boost energy levels. These beverages are extremely rich in calories, but the active impact on the body’s energy levels is not due to calories but because of a combination of numerous stimulant ingredients such as caffeine, vitamins and herbal supplements. Energy drinks have become increasingly popular, especially in young people with a busy life-style, but recent studies have shown that they can be severely harmful to a person's health. Moreover, some of the countries have already taken the action to restrict the use of energy drinks. Countries like France, Turkey, Denmark, Norway, Uruguay and Iceland have ban energy drinks based on caffeine and taurine.
Ingredients found in energy drinks
The type of ingredients, especially the active ones, depends on the brand of energy drinks. On most of the ingredient lists manufacturers’ list vitamins, folic acid, guarana herbal extract, ginkgo biloba extract, and other seemingly healthy compounds. However two main ingredients of energy drinks are caffeine and taurine and these are associated with many side effects that we’re going to discuss a bit later. Other ingredients of energy drinks are usually very large amounts of sugar, carbonated water, inositol, canitine, vitamin B and others.
Almost all brands of energy drinks, except those that are clearly marked as “sugar free” contain high amounts of sugar and can severely damage the health. One can of 8 ounces usually have 5 to 8 teaspoons of sugar. Recommended daily allowance for sugar is somewhere about 6 to 7 teaspoons. This means that one can of energy drink contains more than enough sugar for a whole day.
One glass of energy drink, approximately 240ml, contains somewhere among 240 and 280 calories. But the calorie should not be the most important health concern. What is more important is that large amounts of sugar quickly elevate the blood sugar levels and the body also quickly releases the insulin, lowering the blood sugar rapidly. This actually means that the energy boost, received from a shot of energy drink, quickly drops along with the blood sugar.
Taurine, another major ingredient in energy drinks, is extremely dangerous in combination with caffeine. These two compounds may severely affect one’s heart if the caffeine dose exceeds 90mg. Taurine relaxes nervous system and lowers the blood pressure while the caffeine increases it, causing the lack of oxygen due to the blood vessels constriction. It is like taking a shower with alternating extremely hot and cold water. This effect is shocking for the body and it is what makes one feel excited and energized.
Last but not the least; caffeine is an addictive substance with highly unpleasant long term side effects. It promotes panic attacks, may lead to dehydration, increases the symptoms of pre-menstrual syndrome and disturbs normal sleep patterns.