The Dr. Oz Show yesterday addressed the safety, or lack there of, of Energy Drinks…. “are one of the fastest growing drinks in America. They promise to make you more alert, focused and invigorated. Energy drinks do achieve their goal – they can reduce sleepiness and make you feel more alert. But it may be at a cost to your health. They can cause significant side effects and there are insufficient studies to show that they are safe.”
He asked his audience: “What would you say if I told you that your energy drink contained a half-cup of sugar, excessive levels of caffeine, unidentified stimulants, red food dye and taurine, among other health-harming ingredients? Many of the most popular energy drinks contain ingredients you wouldn’t put in your car – so why would you put it in your body?”
As Dr. Oz pointed out, “Energy drinks are supposed to provide mental and physical stimulation for a set amount of time and are mainly used during periods of strenuous physical activity and to quench thirst. Unfortunately, energy drinks do not hydrate the body and can actually cause dehydration. Energy drinks can also cause serious health problems, such as increased blood pressure, stomach problems, panic attacks, anxiety, and cardiac arrhythmias. They can even cause tooth erosion.”
He is correct. If you look up all those 25 letter words on the list of ingredients, you would be appalled to learn what you are actually drinking. It does in fact go way beyond just scary, there truly are health issues arising from people drinking these fake, chemical or caffeine filled drinks, especially if you drink them on a regular basis. Most energy drinks contain some combination of caffeine, B vitamins, sugar and herbs. I think so many of our teenage children are now “hooked” on them, and I feel that asking them if they do drink these energy drinks should be asked by every parent, teacher, and most importantly, by every single health care professional…. from your pediatrician straight through to the emergency room doctor. Our children are drinking these for many reasons, ie they want to be cool and part of the crowd, they are over booked between school, sports, homework, and social time with their friends, leaving very little time for proper sleep and nutrition. Nothing can effectively and safely take the place of proper sleep and nutrition over the long run. Drinking these “energy drinks” once in a blue moon is one thing, as long as you are otherwise healthy. Drinking them on a daily basis is a whole other ball of wax. The energy drink craze is yet another perfect example of how it can take the conventional medical establishment YEARS to catch up to the truth.
The Washington post printed an article (Published: January 31, 2011) on a study done by the Mayo Clinic and University of Texas, which found that “four documented cases of caffeine-associated death have been reported, as well as five separate cases of seizures associated with consumption of energy/power drinks.” Additional reports include an otherwise healthy 28-year-old man who suffered a cardiac arrest after a day of motocross racing; a healthy 18-year-old man who died playing basketball after drinking two cans of Red Bull; and four cases of mania experienced by individuals known to have bipolar disorder.” “The researchers noted that the drinks contain high levels of caffeine and warned that certain susceptible people risk dangerous, even life-threatening, effects on blood pressure, heart rate and brain function.”
60 minutes has a short 20 minute video where the dangers of sugar are discussed. View it here. In a ground-breaking news story, 60 Minutes reports that new research coming out of some of America’s most respected institutions is finding that sugar is a toxin that can lead to major chronic diseases such as obesity, heart disease, and cancer.
“This is jolting to people who don’t realize that even if they don’t add it to their foods, hidden sugar, including high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), is in virtually all processed foods, from yogurts and sauces to breads and sodas. Although some experts argue that “sugar is sugar,” test subjects in strict clinical trials who were monitored 24 hours a day, who consumed HFCS, developed higher risk factors for cardiovascular disease within two weeks. Other studies indicate that if you limit your sugar, no matter what form you get it in, you decrease your chances of developing cancer—including breast and colon cancers. What’s even more startling is that a growing number of studies are also showing that the more sugar you eat, the less satisfied you are.” Dr. Mercola
“This is the main ingredient that puts the energy in energy drinks. The concern here is the amount of caffeine that is put in energy drinks. Energy drinks can have anywhere from 80 to 500 mg per serving. Up to 200 mg of caffeine a day is considered safe.
Many of these drinks not only have very high caffeine levels, but they also combine them with other herbs that contain caffeine, such as guarana and yerba mate. Plus, keep in mind there can be multiple servings in one bottle or can, even in the small containers.
In higher doses, caffeine can have many adverse reactions. In excess, caffeine can cause insomnia, jitteriness, palpitations, rapid heart rate and elevated blood pressure. Over 200 mg of caffeine can cause blood pressure to spike by up to 14 points. Because of this, people with high blood pressure should avoid consuming energy beverages altogether. Caffeine also can cause dehydration because it has a diuretic effect.
People can build a tolerance to caffeine as well. Over time, you may find yourself needing more doses throughout the day to achieve the same effect.”
“This group of 8 vitamins plays a variety of rolesin cell metabolism. Some of these drinks have massive amountsof B Vitamins. But, here’s the thing: B vitamins will not boost your energy unless you are deficient in them. Most of us get all the B vitamins we could possibly need in our diets. The majority of B vitamins are not toxic when consumed in excess because they are water soluble and any excess is just excreted in the urine. That is except for two of them:
- Too much vitamin B3 (niacin) can cause a flushing of the skin, stomach upset, blurred vision or liver inflammation. Some shots have 150% more than the maximum recommended dose of 35 mg daily.
- Too much B6 (a dose greater than 500mg/day) can cause nerve damage, tingling and numbness in arms and legs.
As mentioned earlier, there are commonly used herbs that are often found in energy drinks. These include:
Guaraná is a small round red fruit native to the Amazon. One guaraná seed has twice the caffeine of a coffee bean, so it imparts the increased alertness with all of the potential side effects of caffeine listed earlier.
Extracted from the root of the ginseng plant, ginseng has been found in studies to boost brain power – but you would need at least 200 mg to reap this benefit, which most drinks don’t contain. A word of caution: Ginseng has been shown to interact with blood-thinning drugs, potentially altering their effectiveness.
One serving of an energy drink can contain as much as 14 teaspoons of sugar! That’s more than double the recommended daily dosage. This much sugar spikes our blood glucose (sugar) levels, which is what gives us that energy boost. When those levels drop, they come crashing down and we crash as well. Additionally, this temporary spike is not worth the weight gain that comes with excess sugar consumption.”
Co-author Troy D. Tuttle, an exercise physiologist at the Houston university, urged the Food and Drug Administration to “step in and regulate this market,” which currently has few restrictions on the kinds and amounts of ingredients and the claims that are made about them. Manufacturers have labeled the beverages “dietary supplements,” which absolves them of the federal regulations that govern sodas and juices and allows producers to make “structure and function” claims, like “Enhances athletic performance” and “Increases caloric burn and mental sharpness.”, but they don’t have to provide proof, or studies, that these claims are so, and they are also not mandated to confirm or study the ill effects from these energy drinks.
Healthguidance.org, has put out the following: While there is still a certain amount of controversy as to just what the long term effects of caffeine are, there are four major areas that have been associated (and well documented) with the long term effects of caffeine.
It is true that caffeine gives us that quick pulse of energy when called upon, but drinking caffeinated drinks over time will lead to a caffeine addiction. You may notice that I said ‘will lead’ to a caffeine addiction and not ‘may lead’ to one. You may not realize it but caffeine is one of the most addictive substances on earth and if you consume it every day over a period of years your body will become dependent on it in more ways than one. Caffeine addiction is not only in the area of energy, but caffeine addiction is also prevalent in other areas of the body as well.
Most of those OTC diet pills that claim to have a diuretic in them to help with water retention simply have caffeine. The caffeine is meant to provide extra energy that dieters aren’t getting from foods, but will also stimulate the production of urine which is what any self respecting diuretic should do. However, the downside to that is that over time, your body may become dependent on caffeine to stimulate kidney function and should you suddenly deprive your body of it, there could be serious consequences such as a loss of kidney function and a buildup of toxic urea.
Because we know that caffeine speeds up the heart rate and also has been known to elevate blood pressure, there is growing concern over the amount of people with cardiovascular disease that have spent a lifetime drinking coffee, and other caffeinated beverages such as those potent energy drinks that are loaded with it. There is empirical data which substantiates that caffeine may lead to arteriosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. Not only does it put you at risk for heart disease, but you may also be at an increased risk for strokes.
Of all the long term effects of energy drinks containing caffeine, osteoporosis is the least publicized risk factor. There are growing bodies of evidence that indicate the correlation between caffeine with the onset of and rate in which osteoporosis is evidenced in the body. This is thought to be because of the way in which caffeine promotes the loss of calcium in bones. While there is yet to be conclusive findings, evidence is leaning in that direction.
Of course there are also other long term effects that we are well aware of. Disrupted sleep patterns over a long period of time can cause permanent problems which have even been associated with sleep apnea. The real problem however is the fact that caffeine, and as a direct result of caffeine, energy drinks are addictive. A onetime beverage isn’t likely to cause any long term effects unless, of course, that rapid heart rate or elevated blood pressure causes an immediate arrhythmia leading to a heart attack. It is the long term effects we should be worried about, the greatest of which is addiction that leads to all the others.
The McKinley Health Center in Illinois, http://www.mckinley.illinois.edu/handouts/energy_drinks.htm has stated: “Energy drinks often contain amounts of caffeine higher than the maximum amount that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows in cola beverages (45.3 mg/8.4oz.). High intakes of caffeine (greater than 300 mg per day) may have detrimental health effects in the short term, such as headaches, anxiety, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure and insomnia. In the long term, too much caffeine may contribute to low bone density and may harm unborn children and nursing babies (if consumed by the mother). Besides caffeine, some energy drinks contain large amounts of calories with few nutrients. Excess calories can contribute to unnecessary weight gain”. Additionally, they, as well as every medical study on these energy drinks to date, feel that “When drinking a combination of alcohol and an energy drink, the energy drink may blunt a person’s perception of headache, weakness, and dry mouth, but not objective motor coordination and visual reaction time. Thus one may feel less intoxicated and end up drinking more without realizing the full effects of the alcohol.” I bring this up because mixing the two seems to be the newest fad, and it’s spreading fast. Mixing the two together makes you feel “drunk” but awake, instead of drunk and sleepy. The biggest foreseeable problem with this mixture is that you are less likely to know that you’ve had too much to drink, because you feel so awake and energized, so you feel as though, for instance, you are perfectly fine to drive, when in fact you are not, but you are completely unaware of it.
The sugar and caffeine in an energy drink is a large part of the “buzz” that hits once it’s consumed. Both of these can, and typically do over stimulate the nervous system, causing people to feel a burst of energy. However, as anyone who has been on either a sugar high or caffeine high knows, a crash always follows. You then feel worse than before you drank the energy drink, and sometimes, more often then not, have a craving for more sugar and/or caffeine. This is a beyond a very unhealthy pattern for the body to get into, and, what worries me the most, is that studies are being done linking it to a weaken immune system!! Yes, excess sugar causes excess internal inflammation, and excess inflammation weakens your immune system.
Upon reading a teen health site, their doctors felt that “Super caffeinated energy drinks are the most common among the young person including Monster, Amp, Rush, Rockstar, Red Bull, Full Throttle and SoBe. These energy supplements in the form of drinks are concerned with the health issues of the kids that are expected to cause various illness say nausea, seizures, stroke, sleeping disorder, abnormal heart rhythms accompanies with sudden sweat, fluctuating energy levels etc.”. Additionally, Kathleen Miller an addiction researcher from the University of Buffalo has found that “excess utilization of energy drinks are coupled with ‘toxic jock’ behavior, that includes a collective behavioral change with forceful behavior leading to violence, unprotected sex, substance misuse and uncontrolled bad manners. Parents are advised to take care of their children’s healthy by limiting them from consuming excess of health drinks that are more toxic and chemical based instant energy stimulators”.
My contribution to this discussion on energy drinks is to say that a lot of us, both adults and kids, at times do need energy drinks. But at what cost? We need to stop sacrificing our long term health for a short term energy boost. I pose the question.. Why can’t an energy drink also be a health drink? For some of us energy drinks are essential, literally making the difference between getting out of bed or not. But they must be made out of natural source that are safe for health, keeping out the unsafe compound based energy stimulants.
My answer, and some days my “lifeline”, has been to drink a natural organic drink made by Young Living called NingXia Red. NingXia Red contains no “junk” or “filler” juices. Aside from the energy boost, you will also be getting many health benefits, which I have listed below. Even if you do not need a daily energy boost, NingXia Red is a wonderful nutritional high antioxidant wellness drink to have every day. I know the difference it has made in my life. I drink 2 ounces, 2 times a day, because of my underlying health issues. I personally have given NingXia Red to friends and family with stage 4 cancer, who tell me they feel “well again” for most if not all of the day after drinking it. They actually have the energy to do things again. Another friend has had multiple heart attacks, stents, the roto-router thing, heart surgeries, etc. He asked his cardiologist if it was safe for him to take the NingXia Red. His cardiologist replied “absolutely”, “that stuff is the real deal”. I was surprised, as my experience is that most doctors want to fix things by writing a prescription, not drinking a health drink. I applaud these doctors who are willing to think outside “the box”, and explore natural “healthy” ways to feel better2 heal the body, and have energy.
As per the Young Living website:
The NingXia Red® Promise
NingXia Red® combines the finest Ningxia wolfberries, proprietary “Nutrient-Guard” preparation, and other all-natural, nutrient-dense ingredients to provide:
- Dynamic energy and stamina without harmful stimulants (e.g., caffeine, green tea, etc.)
- Key glyconutrients that fuel vital energy systems
- Unique protein-polysaccharides that help sustain proper immune function
- Highest levels of naturally occurring, age defying S-ORAC activity
- Great taste with no sugary “junk-juices” (e.g., apple, white grape, pear, etc.)
Essential nutrients in NingXia Red® also help support the following: Normal cardiovascular function, normal eye health, normal cell growth, and healthy liver function.
Calories: 19 per serving
Total Carbohydrate: 4 grams per serving
Dietary Fiber: 0.2 grams per serving
Sugars: 3.4 grams per serving
Sodium: 15 mg per serving
Protein: 0.65 grams per serving
Vitamin C: 180 mg per serving
Approximately 34 servings per container
How to use: Take 1 fl. oz. daily, or as needed.
Shake well before using and refrigerate after opening.
Ingredients: Whole Ningxia wolfberry (lyceum barbarum) puree, Blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) juice, Pomegranate (Punica granatum) juice, Apricot (Prunus armeniaca) juice, Raspberry (Rubus idaeus) juice, Organic blue agave (A. tequilana) nectar, Grape (Vitis vinifera) seed, skin, and stem, Lemon (Citrus limon)† rind, Orange (Citrus sinensis)† rind, ascorbic acid, natural blueberry flavor, potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate.
Young Living Therapeutic Grade™ essential oil
NingXia Red is a powerful antioxidant drink that contains whole Ningxia wolfberry puree—a super blend of blueberry, pomegranate, apricot, and raspberry juices, organic blue agave, grape pomace, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), and lemon and orange essential oils. Its health benefits may include support for enhanced immune function, liver function, eye health, and increased energy.
* Because NingXia Red uses whole-fruit wolfberry puree, more health benefits are retained.
* From the patented puree process in Ningxia, China, to the careful blending and bottling, the full nutritional value is preserved in each and every bottle of NingXia Red. The power found in NingXia Red is a result of blending nutrient-dense wolfberry puree with the juices of fruits known for complex phytonutrients. Scientists have confirmed the benefits of whole food synergy.
Researchers at Cornell University concluded that a synergistic and additive effect is why whole fruits and vegetables have potent antioxidant activity. NingXia Red offers the best in wholesome and nutritious juices and uses organic Blue Agave instead of sugary juices for sweetening.
Support and protect your body with this powerful drink!
+ Offers the highest known protection against the dangerous superoxide free radical as documented in S-ORAC testing conducted by Brunswick Laboratories
+ Contains powerful wolfberry polysaccharides shown to enhance normal immune health*
+ Contains wolfberry compounds that support healthy liver function*
+ Rich in phytonutrients that offer optimal support for eye health*
+ Has wolfberries, which contribute 18 amino acids, 21 trace minerals, more beta carotene than carrots, more vitamin C than oranges, vitamin E, and vitamins B1, B2, and B6
Who Should Take NingXia Red?
+ Those looking to combat the free radicals we encounter on a daily basis through the power of antioxidants
+ Those looking for a boost in energy and stamina without harmful stimulants or adding sugar to their diet*
+ Those who need a boost to their immune system*
+ Take 1–2 fl. oz. daily or as needed. Shake well before using and refrigerate after opening.
+ Keep out of reach of children.
+ If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult a health professional prior to use.
Did You Know?
+ NingXia wolfberry has one of the highest percentages of fiber of any whole food including oat bran and has double the fiber of buckwheat.
+ NingXia Red features wolfberry polysaccharides, which support proper cellular communication without spiking blood sugar levels.* Wolfberries are low glycemic, with a
glycemic index of only 10.6.
+ NingXia Red delivers antioxidant synergy from the juices of wolfberries, blueberries, apricots, raspberries, and pomegranates and the antioxidant d-limonene found in
orange and lemon essential oils.*
+ NingXia Red contains raspberries, which are a rich source of the potent antioxidant ellagic acid, along with B vitamins and vitamin C.
Key Scientific Studies
+ Wu SJ, Ng LT, Lin CC., Antioxidant activities of some common ingredients of traditional Chinese medicine, Angelica sinensis, Lycium barbarum and Poria cocos.
Phytother Res. 2004 Dec;18(12):1008-12
+ Lui, RH., Health benefits of fruit and vegetables are from additive and synergistic combination sof phytochemicals.
Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Sep;78(3 Suppl):517S-520S
+ Wu BY, et al., Effect of wolfberry fruit and epimedium on DNA synthesis of the aging-youth 2BS fusion cells,
Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 2003 Decd;23(12):926-8.
+ Ullrich IH., Evaluation of a High-Fiber Diet in Hyperlipidemia: A review. Journal of the American College of
Nutrition: 19-25 (1987)
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