Sunday, October 18, 2015

Energy Drinks: The Ugly Truth

Monster, Red Bull, Rip it, Rock Star, NOS and many others. These sugary drinks promise us non-stop energy, but instead of going non-stop they come with a harsh crash. It's true; drinking these heavily caffeinated beverages gives you a boost, but it only lasts so long, leading you to drink another one just to keep going. 

When coffee lost it's effect, I turned to energy drinks as a way to keep myself awake. This was when I worked swing shifts as a manager at McDonald's. I would work an overnight (sometimes even up to five in a row), then come home at 7 A.M. to help take care of my children and my husband (who was recovering from a hip replacement surgery). Afterward, I would attempt to fall asleep by 9 am, just to get up again by noon or 1 P.M. to go back to work. I'd work until 10 or 11 P.M., then try to sleep that night before getting up for an early morning shift. Then the cycle continued; it was terrible! 

I soon built up a tolerance to drinking only one energy drink, so I had to drink two during an 8-10 hour shift. I developed a bit of insomnia from drinking them. I soon was unable to sleep at all; I would be up for days at a time. On average, I would sleep a total of 9 hours or less a week. 

Studies show that developing insomnia is quite common when drinking energy drinks, especially the amount I was drinking. Insomnia can affect your judgment; it sure affected mine. I was so over-tired, I could hardly drive home in the mornings. On top of that, I would be jittery from the high amounts of caffeine and ginseng I was consuming on a daily basis. I'm also hypoglycemic (low blood sugar), so my blood sugar would spike and drop down too low when I started to crash. 

Energy drinks wear out the insulin-producing cells in the body's pancreas by raising the blood sugar then instantly dropping. This can lead to type 2 diabetes. Caffeine is a very addictive drug and can cause headaches. Even worse, migraines can occur if you go without drinking an energy drink for a period of time. I know this from personal experience; it is no fun. 

Studies in Australia found that one 8 OZ can of any energy drink can interfere with day to day tasks and cause anxiety. For sensitive people, drinking high doses of caffeine can bring on full-blown panic attacks; they should avoid these energy drinks completely! Cardiac arrest is something else that can be brought on by drinking energy drinks. It won't affect everyone this way, but people with heart conditions should avoid energy drinks and anything else highly caffeinated. Young children should never be given these drinks because it could be fatal. A study showed, between 2009 and 2011, there were 4854 calls to poison control centers regarding energy drinks. 51% of these calls were involving children. Another study (SRC) showed the link between energy drinks and cardiac issues among teens. This study recommends that teens consume no more than one 8 OZ energy drink per day and never before nor during sports or exercise.

There is also the problem of risky behavior in teens. Yes, believe it or not, drinking these beverages in the picture above can influence teens to take more risks. There was a study published in The Journal of American College Health that showed teens are more likely to take more dangerous risks when drinking these beverages. This can lead to legal trouble, severe injury, and even death. If you take vitamin B supplements, overdosing on Niacin (Vitamin B3) can happen. Mixing energy drinks and vitamin B supplements can cause reactions such as flushing, dizziness, rapid heart rate, itching, gout and diarrhea. The high sugar content in these beverages can cause tooth decay and leave you with a hefty dentist bill. 

For an energy boost, try only taking vitamin B. Vitamin B is a great way to get a boost of energy naturally and it lasts a long time without that crash later. Drink water instead of energy drinks. In the morning, instead of going straight for the caffeine, drink water first. Water will hydrate and wake you up faster. Before I grab a cup of coffee, I drink a glass of water. I feel better in the morning. There are even times I don't need a cup of coffee in the morning. 

As soon as I stopped working at McDonald's, I made a promise to myself to stop drinking energy drinks. I haven't touched one in over 3 months. I do drink coffee but I only drink one cup, sometimes two, but not every day. I no longer suffer from insomnia and my blood sugar issues are under control. I hope you all enjoyed this article. Please come back to read more up coming posts on health and beauty tips.

Christina Peck