Searching in All the Wrong Places

It’s back in the news. To me, this problem is like smoking. I have no idea why in the world someone would even start the habit, knowing the amount of damage it does to your body.

Yes, I have seen a smoker or two light up before and after the gym (I could not help but stare), but this particular problem is in the fitness community. I’m writing about energy drinks.  I’ve just noticed this more and more, not only with unhealthy people looking for pick-me-up, but by athletes in pre-rides and pre-workouts. I try to my best to get the word out to those who may not understand the harmful effects these cans of chemicals do to the body. Okay, you got me. Maybe it is none of my business, but I am passionate about a healthier society . . . after all, I do pay for those on government assistance to have medical treatment when they are morbidly obese or have been a chronic smoker for 30+ years or both.

Most energy drinks have pushed back against the wave of danger signs by spewing out messages of “all natural” or “no caffeine.” I know that it sounds ridiculous, but cocaine is all natural too . . . for that matter so is heroine, neither of which contain caffeine. Silly you say? The argument and spin for the energy drink companies work, and people suck down the drinks. Even as bad as the “original” drinks are, stronger drinks are hitting the market just as fast as ever. The effects on the adult body are testable and are shown in studies, but with the flashy labels and “cool” persona of the drinks, they appeal to many children under the age of 19. According to Medscape Medical contributing author, Dr. Emma Hitt, “Of the 5448 US caffeine overdoses reported in 2007, 46% occurred in those younger than 19 years.”  That was 7 years ago and only involved cases that were actually reported. Which makes it scary when noticing how companies, such as Monster and Red Bull, target teenage events and hand out free samples.

Although there are 38 energy drinks on the market at any one given time, one of these drinks contains the same amount (70-200 mg) of caffeine as 14 cans of regular soda and 65 grams of sugar (2 full Snicker bars)! What is not known is a majority of the energy drinks use two synthesized amino acids called Taurine and Theanine. Naturally in the body, these are used in the drink to help the brain deal with the effects of the massive amounts of caffeine . . . in other words, help the brain not realize it is so stimulated. The various herbal stimuli used in these drinks is only fuel to the fire, causing heart palpitations, toxicity, kidney malfunction (resulting in high blood pressure issues), and even death. Like most drugs, to get the same effect you must increase the dosage, and we all know where that leads.

So how do we do it naturally? It will take some time if your body is used to fake stimuli. Be here are few tips:

1. Eat a healthy breakfast every morning.
2. Include lean protein with each meal and snack.
3. Stand and stretch at least once every hour.
4. Exercise! It unleashes fatigue-fighting brain chemicals like norepinephrine and dopamine.

Give it time. You will be thankful you did, in the long scheme of things.

Sources include: Consumer Reports, Mayo Clinic, Rodal News, and Medscape Medical

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6 thoughts on “Searching in All the Wrong Places

  1. the epidemic of energy drinks is very funnily followed to its logical conclusion by the film ‘Idiocracy’ which depicts a future in which gatorade replaces water in virtually every function, including agricultural irrigation, but it’s easy to be drawn in by the promises made for these products as even our leisure activites suffer the pressures and competiveness of the rest of life.

  2. Groups of school kids knocking back 99p cans of chemicals are a regular feature of my walk to work each morning. I pity the poor teachers who have to manage the highs and the crashes brought on by this. Shocking.

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