Energy drinks are widely popular for increasing energy and enhancing mental and physical performance. Men between the ages of 18 and 34 years consume the most energy drinks, and almost one-third of teens between 12 and 17 years drink them regularly. Yet there are many potential health risks related to frequent consumption.
Caffeine is a major ingredient in energy drinks, ranging from 70 to 280 mg in a single 12- to 16-ounce serving. (In comparison, a 12-ounce coke contains 35mg of caffeine, and an 8-oz. coffee about 100 mg.) Complicating matters, the energy drink industry is not regulated by the FDA and actual caffeine amounts are often either much higher than stated or not listed at all. In addition, energy drinks typically contain high sugar content and other legal stimulants including guarana, taurine, ginseng, synthetic B vitamins, and carnitine—almost none of which have been adequately studied for safety in long-term consumption, especially in combination forms.
Over time, repeated and high dose caffeine can contribute to many serious health issues, including high blood pressure, heart arrhythmias, chronic dehydration, weight gain, headaches, anxiety, and disrupted sleep. The highly acidic nature of caffeinated beverages leads to mineral deficiencies, contributing to osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. Regular caffeine consumption also weakens adrenal glands, leading to chronic fatigue and hormonal imbalances.
What are healthy alternatives? Water and exercise, anyone? Simply staying well hydrated with purified water naturally boosts energy levels and improves both brain and physical performance! Studies show that even mild dehydration can impair many aspects of brain function, including mood, memory, and concentration. Hundreds more studies show that regular moderate exercise stimulates brain chemicals that leave you feeling energized, happier, and more relaxed. Finally, while not as dramatic as caffeine, specific herbal formulas can be just as effective for boosting daily mental and physical performance, without any of caffeine’s negative side effects. Siberian ginseng, for example, has been used by athletes for many years to boost performance.
What about when you just need a quick boost? Apart from drinking a tall glass of water, natural sugars such as those in a piece of fruit or pure coconut water can be used to boost energy a little more quickly. Fruit juices, however, tend to be too high in sugars, and should be avoided.
If you have been dependent on caffeine for a long time, and are suffering from its’ long-term negative health effects, it is likely that adrenal rehabilitation will be necessary. Here at Vital Health, we uncover the root causes of your low mental or physical energy, so that you can relinquish your dependence on external stimulants and recover a life of natural good energy.
©2023 Darcy Greenwald, M.S.O.M., L.Ac. and Vital Health