Can energy drinks really harm your health?

What is included in energy drinks

The main ingredient in any energy drink is caffeine. This substance has a stimulating effect on the nervous system, provides vigor and improves concentration.

Depending on the brand, a large can of energy drink (~450 ml) contains about 150 mg of caffeine (70–240 mg). This is about twice as much as in a glass of brewed coffee.

Most often, these drinks are quite sweet. A large jar contains 54 to 62 grams of sugar, although there are also low-calorie options with sweeteners.

In addition, manufacturers supplement energy drinks with other components such as plant extracts and vitamins. Often in the composition you can see taurine, vitamin B, ginseng, guarana, yerba mate, yohimbe, creatine, gingko biloba, bitter orange.

These substances are designed to provide an additional stimulating effect, but it is impossible to say for sure whether they are doing their job. Studies on such supplements do not take into account their combination with other components of the energy drink, and manufacturers do not always indicate the amount of stimulants in their formulas.

What harm can energy do?

The combination of a large amount of caffeine and sugar can affect the health of various systems and organs.

Disrupt the work of the heart

Due to caffeine and other stimulants, energy boosts heart rate and blood pressure . Excessive consumption of such drinks can cause arrhythmia and even lead to cardiac arrest.

At the same time, it is not at all necessary to have problems with the work of the organs. In one study, they noticed that out of 17 people affected by the use of energy drinks, only one had a pathology of the cardiovascular system, while the rest were healthy.

Invigorating drinks can harm even very young people. For example, a case of atrial fibrillation was described in two healthy guys 14 and 16 years old.

In addition to acute cases, energy drinks can also harm the heart in the long run. Scientists have found that the consumption of invigorating drinks can reduce vascular endothelial function and stimulate platelet aggregation. In the long term, this increases the risk of blood clots .

Negatively affect the nervous system

Drinking several cans of energy drinks in a short period of time can lead to caffeine intoxication. Its symptoms include anxiety, insomnia, tachycardia, digestive disorders, tremors, muscle cramps, and restlessness.

Due to excessive stimulation of the cerebral cortex, high doses of caffeine can also cause chronic headaches.

Moreover, one study found that the combination of caffeine, taurine and guarana, which is often found in energy drinks, can have a toxic effect on the brain and disrupt the functioning of nerve cells. True, the experiment was carried out not on living people, but “in vitro” – on cells similar to neurons.

In real life, energy drinks are especially dangerous for teenagers . One study found a direct link between caffeine use and conduct disorders in young people aged 15-16.

Lead to weight gain

Since energy drinks are high in sugar, excessive consumption increases the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

For the same reason, invigorating drinks can reduce the diversity of beneficial bacteria in the small intestine, which is also fraught with weight gain and the development of metabolic syndrome.

harm the liver

In moderation, energy drinks do not harm the liver, but if you overdo it or add alcohol, the body’s main filter may not be able to cope.

For example, a case has been described where, after consuming 10 cans a day for two weeks, a woman was admitted to the hospital with jaundice, abdominal pain, and elevated liver enzymes. Doctors thought that the key factor was the excessive amount of vitamin B3, which is found in energy drinks and in large doses has hepatotoxicity.

Another case was noted in the report of a 36-year-old man who drank three cans of low-calorie energy drinks over the course of a year. True, he also drank a lot of alcohol, so the blow was on two fronts at once.

Cause dehydration and harm the kidneys

Energy drinks are often used during sporting events, as caffeine can improve the performance of athletes. At the same time, this stimulant increases the amount of urine and sodium excreted, which can lead to dehydration and electrolyte deficiencies.

Therefore, you should not drink energy drinks during prolonged physical activity, especially in hot conditions.

If you consume such drinks in unreasonably large quantities, you can harm the kidneys. So, one forty-year-old man who drank 6-7 large cans of a well-known energy drink a day, after two weeks of such a regimen , was admitted to the hospital with acute renal failure.

Ruin tooth enamel

Due to the high acidity and large amount of sugar, energy drinks have a bad effect on tooth enamel.

Two studies involving American and Swedish children and adolescents have confirmed that erosion and tooth decay are directly related to the amount of sugary drinks in the diet, including energy drinks.

How many energy drinks can you drink so as not to harm your health

There are groups of people who are better off avoiding the use of such drinks altogether. These include children and adolescents, pregnant women, and patients with cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Energy drinks can harm healthy adults only if consumed excessively. As a rule, the labels recommend not to drink more than one can a day, and this is quite justified for two reasons:

  1. The amount of caffeine . The US Food and Drug Administration recommends no more than 400 mg per day. In terms of energy – no more than two large cans, and then if this is the only source of this stimulant in the diet.
  2. The amount of sugar . The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that you plan your diet so that sugar makes up no more than 10% of total calories, and ideally no more than 5%. With an average calorie content of 2,000 kcal per day, this will be 50 and 25 g, respectively. To go a little beyond the permitted boundaries, one large jar is enough.

Thus, it is one bank of energy per day that is relatively safe for health, but only if you regulate the diet with it in mind: do not eat sugary foods and refuse other stimulants.

If you drink an invigorating drink half an hour after morning coffee, and don’t think about giving up your usual dessert at lunch, the energy drink will make you go overboard with both sugar and caffeine, and over time it can harm the body.

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