Other than an altered form of water, most of the products marketed as energy drinks contain high doses of sugar and caffeine as their two main ingredients. Some energy drinks may also contain herbal forms of caffeine including extracts of guarana seeds, kola nuts, and yerba mate leaves.
What supposedly makes these drinks healthier than a regular soda is that you also get some vitamins, amino acids, and herbal supplements. The average energy drink has very little of these added ingredients to be of any real health value. However, a few particular brands do add mega doses of B vitamins (which have not been proven to give you more energy, by the way), so read labels. If you eat a wide variety of foods you should not need an energy drink for a pick me up.
Why do most young people drink these drinks? They are, quite simply, looking for the buzz or short term energy they give the user. Caffeine is a drug, but unlike tobacco or alcohol which are legal and regulated, caffeine is legal and totally unregulated in the multi-billion dollar beverage industry.
Most health conscious people understand that large amounts of sugar and caffeine are not healthy for your body, and drinking a lot of them will definitely keep you hyper (depending on your reaction to sugar and caffeine), help you put on extra weight, and keep you dehydrated.
Most people do not understand the body’s reaction to another ingredient in most of these drinks of a carbonated base. Phosphoric acid is a synthetically, and inexpensively, produced acid that is widely used in soda-like drinks, and yes, even heavily promoted healthy energy drinks. You can even find phosphoric acid in some cheeses, beer, wine, jams and jellies, and in especially large amounts in sodas. Phosphoric acid is added as a tangy flavor enhancer. In nature, this type of tangy flavor can be found in ginger or lemon
Many people would also be shocked to learn that it has an acidity that approaches the level of battery acid. Drinking acidic carbonated beverages is not only bad for your teeth, it also dissolves away your whole skeletal system. Americans drink more than 50 gallons per capita of carbonated soft drinks each year, and Americans have the highest per capita CSD consumption in the world.
Phosphoric acid is used in fertilizers, detergents, and it is used to clean rust off of metal in industrial strength cleaners. The human body’s reaction to high levels of this stuff is to pull stored minerals out of your bones to keep your blood at a normal pH, more alkaline balance. If it were not for this automatic response, drinking this stuff would actually kill you.
Many people that have pre-existing health problems such as excess weight issues, high blood pressure, or mental conditions will have individual responses to high doses of caffeine, sugar, and acid intakes. Energy drinks stimulating properties, along with the little added benefits of vitamins and herbal substances, have unknown reactions to prescription medications a person may be taking, and can not be assumed to be safe.
Energy drinks, if consumed in mass quantities along with other caffeine intakes of coffees, teas, sodas, or caffeine pills, can boost the heart rate and raise blood pressure (sometimes to the point of palpitations), dehydrate the body, and caffeine like other stimulants, prevents sleep.
People of all ages, in the United States, are chronically sleep deprived. We push the limits on being workaholics. We push our children to out perform academically, athletically, and socially. We seem to be highly influenced and driven to be financially and socially successful to feel accepted, and we pass these desires onto our offspring as well.
But, when we push the limits on our self-medicating, poison control centers are seeing increased numbers of emergency room visits, especially from youngsters. Teenagers are suffering from rapid heartbeat, nausea, and respiratory distress caused by caffeine overdoses.
The energy drink market targets the 18 to 30 year old age group. But sadly, children much younger than this are buying into this ad marketing gimmick. This does not happen by chance, intense marketing efforts aimed at young adults also lure in children to help soft drink companies gross over 3.5 billion in sales in 2005 on energy drinks alone, in the United States.
The effects of high doses of caffeine and sugar on young children have not been extensively studied. No one knows how safe or unsafe these substances are for growing young bodies. And, while adults may be less likely to abuse these drinks, our modern day culture has a nonchalant attitude towards caffeine and sugar consumption.
This uncaring attitude may be the main underlying issue behind the increased need for prescription sleeping pills. More than a few doctors have probably wondered why people do not control their use of caffeine before seeking a hard core sleep solution such as these. According to Medco Health Solutions of Franklin Lakes, N.J., the use of such medications by adults ages 20 to 44 has increased 114 percent from 2000 to 2005.
Modern and technologically advanced cultures around the world seem to be easily led by one of the most successful beverage ad marketing campaigns to ever grace the last decade. This is truly a dream come true for beverage companies. They are promoting a supposedly unique and healthy beverage, and understand all too well why this modern day culture feels a need to get wired.
A better source of long lasting energy that will not let you down is simply this;
1. Eat more healthy whole foods, covering all of the basic food groups daily.
2. Engage in moderate physical exercise every day, walking is one of the best forms of exercise.
3. Allow yourself plenty of sleep, limit caffeine consumption up to six hours before bedtime, especially if your are sensitive to it.
4. Stay well hydrated with nothing more than water. Open your mind to its simplicity, inexpensiveness, and ability to energize you.
You should not, then, have the need to buy an grossly overpriced chemical cocktail to keep you going, or pad the bank accounts of beverage companies looking for easy money.