I’ve watched hundreds of health trends and fads come and go over the years. Generally, they don’t do much good, but most of them are relatively harmless. But every now and then, a dangerous trend catches on and leaves a trail of destruction in its wake. Such is the case of caffeinated “energy” drinks. Energy drinks are a $15 billion industry in the US, with double-digit growth projected over the next 10 years. This is bad news for America (and the rest of the industrialized world) as it suggests that 1) People are exhausted and 2) They are using stimulants instead of sleep. Using these drinks is a lot like winning the battle but losing the war because they give a short term boost but cause long term danger. This article by my team at UpWellness lays out the dangers of energy drinks and gives you some simple tips to help improve your daytime energy level.
No longer is a daily cup of a coffee enough caffeine to keep people going throughout the day. Many people, particularly teens and young adults, usually suffering from self-imposed sleep deprivation have turned to energy drinks in search of “something more” to increase mental alertness and keep from dozing off when burning the midnight oil. These drinks aren’t as safe as many believe, however, and actually contain many harmful ingredients that can negatively affect the body after just a single sip. Here are a few reasons to stay far away from energy drinks and easy ways to boost energy levels naturally.
Energy drinks can harm your heart
According to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, “Drinking 32 ounces of an energy drink in a short timespan may increase blood pressure and the risk of electrical disturbances in the heart, which affect heart rhythm.” According to the authors of the study, participants consumed 304 to 320 milligrams of caffeine. Concerningly,
caffeine at doses under 400 milligrams should not induce any electrocardiographic changes such as the ones observed in the test subjects. Researchers concluded that the cause of the heart disturbance is likely due to a combination of caffeine and other common ingredients in the energy drinks used in the study such as taurin, glucuronolactone, and B-vitamins.
High levels of sugar
The sugar content in most energy drinks is usually comparable to or exceeding the amount found in soft drinks. Regular ingestion of such large amounts of sugar can lead to severe health complications such as diabetes and obesity. Even energy drinks that claim to be “sugar-free” usually have dangerous substitutes such as aspartame and sucralose.
Can cause caffeine dependency
One of the main reasons that so many young adults guzzle energy drinks is so that they can stay awake during that 8 a.m. lecture or finish the paper that is due in the morning. Unfortunately, this can create a caffeine dependency that is similar to drug addiction. Once the body becomes used to so much caffeine in the system on a daily basis, it is increasingly difficult to function without it. This can lead to migraines, insomnia, and mental fog and can trap the user in a vicious cycle that is incredibly difficult to break.
Alcohol and energy drinks
It has become common practice to combine alcohol with energy drinks, which has raised serious safety concerns surrounding the issue of substance abuse. The CDC reports that drinkers aged 15 to 23 who mix alcohol with energy drinks are four times more likely to binge drink at high intensity than drinkers who do not mix alcohol with energy drinks. The high caffeine content can also help reduce the suppressant effect of alcohol which leads many to a state of “alert drunkenness” and causes drinkers to imbibe more than they would otherwise, increasing the risk of “alcohol-attributable harms.”
Ways to increase energy levels naturally
Get more sleep
Of course, this one seems obvious. However, it is imperative not to overlook it. Getting more quality sleep is the single best way to increase your energy levels and ensure that you’re ready to take on the day. Look for activities in your life that you can cut out to make room for more sleep, such as scrolling through social media or watching tv. It is also a good idea to stick to a nightly routine and go to bed and get up at the same time every day.
Consume chia seeds
Adding a spoonful of chia seeds to water and sipping on it throughout the day can help regulate your blood sugar levels and keep you from hitting that mid-afternoon slump. Plus, they have high levels of protein, fiber, and essential fatty acids that boost brain power and prevent inflammation while helping keep you alert.
While you may feel wiped out immediately after exercising, studies have shown that daily, vigorous physical activity is one of the best possible things you can do to stay alert and improve your overall health. As you exercise, your body sends increased levels of oxygen to your cells and helps your heart and lungs work more efficiently, thereby boosting energy levels. Not to mention the release of feel-good endorphins that comes after a hard workout.
-The UpWellness Team