With the seemingly endless “to-do-lists,” long work hours, caring for our families, housework, errands, recreation and social functions, who isn’t looking for more energy by the end of the day? Instead of listening to our fatigued bodies and allowing ourselves some much needed rest and relaxation, we search for artificial ways to get extra energy. The beverage makers of the countless energy drinks of today have provided us with an answer and the targets are young children, teens and young adults. Thirty-one percent of U.S. teenagers say they drink energy drinks, according to Simmons Research. That represents 7.6 million teens, a jump of almost 3 million in three years.
Beverages like Red Bull, Venom and Adrenaline Rush contain large doses of caffeine, sugar and other stimulants like ephedrine, guarana, taurine, and ginseng. Energy drinks may contain as much as 80 mg of caffeine, the equivalent of a cup of coffee. Compared to the 37 mg of caffeine in a Mountain Dew or the 23 mg in a Coca-Cola Classic, these energy drinks supply much more kick for our energy-depleted bodies. How does this affect our bodies?
Individual responses to the stimulants, like caffeine, in these drinks vary so energy drinks should be consumed with caution because of how powerful they are. The stimulating properties can boost the heart rate to the point of palpitations, increased blood pressure, dehydrate the body, and prevent sleep. Nutritionists warn that the drinks, filled with caffeine and sugar, can hook us on an unhealthy “jolt-and-crash” cycle.
Energy drinks should not be confused with hydrating sports drinks such as Gatorade and Powerade. Sports drinks also provide sugars, which the body burns to create energy, and replenish electrolytes, which maintain salt and potassium balances in the body. Energy drinks, on the other hand, should not be used while exercising as the combination of fluid loss from sweating and the diuretic quality of the caffeine can leave the user severely dehydrated.
Energy drinks are not necessarily bad for you, but they shouldn't be seen as natural alternatives for increased energy, either. Some of the claims they make can be misleading. If you think of them as highly-caffeinated, highly sugared drinks, you'll have a more accurate picture of what they are and how they affect you.
The bigger problem with energy drinks is that they are often consumed improperly. Mixing with alcohol can be dangerous due to the effects of combining stimulants (energy drink) and depressants (alcohol). The stimulant effects can mask how intoxicated you are, giving the drinker the impression they aren't impaired. Once the stimulant effect wears off, the depressant effects of the alcohol will remain and could cause vomiting in your sleep or respiratory depression. Also, energy drinks and alcohol are both dehydrating, which can hinder your body's ability to metabolize alcohol causing it to increase the toxicity, and therefore the hangover, the next day. Other possible adverse reactions include electrolyte disturbances and/or heart irregularities.
My advice, being in the health field, but also being a realist, is that if you must consume energy drinks, do so in moderation and without combining them with alcohol. Listen to your body…if your heart races or you don’t feel “right” when consuming these drinks, then they are not for you. Short jogs, a brisk walk, a quick dance to one of your favorite songs are natural ways to immediately boost your energy levels. Most importantly, allow your body to rest when you are tired; sleep will restore and refresh you better than anything you can buy in a bottle.
At Conshohocken Physical Therapy, our mission is to make a positive impact, both personally and therapeutically, on every person who enters our office. We will improve the quality of your life with a friendly, evidence-based and innovative approach.
You will experience pain relief, improved motion and a greater quality of life. You will be treated by a Doctor of Physical Therapy who has the most specialized training to help you get back in motion. You will get direct attention from your Physical Therapist for at least 30 minutes during every visit.
Learn more about Conshohocken Physical Therapy by visiting us online at www.conshypt.com.