The Scary Truth About Energy Drinks
The Energy Drink industry is massive and their marketing campaigns are just as big with Red Bull spending 40% of their entire revenue on marketing. These companies convince you that these drinks are a convenient way of increasing energy and stamina, sharpening alertness, improving concentration and even maximising workouts and training to push you to extreme physical levels. But what they don’t market is all the side effects of these beverages that could be causing you harm. These companies main focus is on the vitamins and herbal extracts in these beverages that claim to make you feel invincible. And as the FDA does not currently regulate these drinks, because they are categorised as dietary supplements the manufacturer does not need to prove their claims of efficacy or safety. Recently in Australia, the Australian Beverages Council has rejected calls for a ‘tighter regulation’ on energy drinks arguing that Australia is already one of the most heavily regulated markets in the world. This response by the Australian Beverages Council is part of an ongoing response by the industry concerns regarding energy drinks. Currently the Australian regulations restrict the amount of caffeine in Australian energy drinks to 80mg for a standard 250mL can. Even if we do have tighter regulations in Australia, the energy drinks available on our shelves still have potential side effects. Here are a few of those potentially harmful side effects that you should consider…
Energy drinks are calorie bombs, containing as much as 8-10 teaspoons of sugar. This amount of sugar in combination with the caffeine will increase your blood sugar levels and give you an initial energy burst but this is usually followed by a sudden fall in blood sugar levels. A drop in blood sugar levels can cause that ‘crash’ lethargic tired feeling again, causing ‘hypoglycaemia’ symptoms which are superficially relieved by consuming more sugar. Hypoglycaemia occurs when the pancreas overreacts to the large amount of sugar in the blood and releases too much insulin. Overwork on the pancreas can put stress on the pancreas as it eventually fails to produce adequate insulin when blood sugar levels rise. Aside from the risk of insulin resistance and diabetes, excessive sugar intake can lead to obesity and open the gateway for many other chronic medical issues. Sugar that is ingested and not absorbed can provide a good meal for harmful bacteria, candida and other fungi spores in the intestinal tract. Metabolic issues can arise when you overload your body with excessive amounts of additives and sugar. Your body may go into overdrive to process this overload and produce stress hormones such as cortisol, to cope with the task.
Claims that these beverages can improve cognitive function may be so but in the short term. Over time these drinks can decrease your ability to function due to the disruption on sleep cycles. This can lead to sleep deprivation, nervousness, irritability and anxiety. These symptoms can further increase you dependence on these beverages. They become highly addictive and can produce mood swings and headaches when you finally realise what is going on and try to quit.