Developed for medicinal purposes by Dr. John S. Pemberton and launched in 1886, Coca-Cola could be considered the first energy drink because of its caffeine content from the kola nut and its cocaine stimulant from the coca plant.
Today, energy drinks are developed more like the original Red Bull, which was first released in 1987. A marketing director for a German toothpaste maker tried Krating Daeng when visiting Thailand in 1982. Dietrick Mateschitz loved how it cured his jet lag, and decided he wanted to share it with the western world. Mateschitz worked with Krating Daeng creator Chaleo Yoovidhya to adapt it and make the popular energy drink Red Bull.
Now that you know the history, you might still be wondering if energy drinks are safe. Take a look at the facts below to find out!
What are Energy Drinks?
“Energy Drink” is the term used for the type of beverage that is marketed as a means to increase energy and enhance mental alertness and physical performance. The primary stimulant in energy drinks is caffeine—and many are high in sugar in order to provide an added boost.
Are Energy Drinks Bad for You?
Red Bull is considered a pioneer in the energy drink industry and continues to be the most popular energy drink. In fact, there were 6.3 billion cans sold in 2017. Used in moderation and not in conjunction with workout sessions, energy drinks are considered safe for most people. However, people with high blood pressure or other cardiovascular ailments should avoid energy drinks.
The main ingredients of energy drinks are typically safe and natural when taken individually. However, when combined with other ingredients, complications may arise. Let’s do the breakdown of an 8-ounce can of Red Bull, which contains the following energy drink ingredients:
27g sugars (more sugar than a woman should have in a single day, 8g under what men can have on average)
It was once believed that taurine was the hazardous and damaging ingredient in energy drinks, but further studies indicate that it is more likely the combination of caffeine and sugar, in conjunction with the overuse or abuse of energy drinks.
Another ingredient commonly found in energy drinks is guarana, a natural climbing plant that comes from the Amazon basin of Brazil. Used in moderation and on its own, it can have wonderful health benefits, but combined with the sugars and caffeine of energy drinks, it can enhance the negative side effects associated with these drinks, such as:
- High blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
- Arrhythmia caused by
- prolonged QT interval
Energy Drink Research
Partly due to the uptick in sudden cardiac arrest cases in otherwise healthy individuals, and as a means of due diligence to provide data to keep food and beverages as safe as possible, a number of studies have been conducted on energy drinks.
One example is the study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, May 29, 2019. A randomized, double-blind test was conducted using 44 voluntary participants ages 18-40 years, divided into 3 groups. Groups A & B consumed branded energy drinks with differing ingredients such as guarana or carnitine. Group C drank a placebo drink.
Blood pressure measurements and ECGs were used to monitor the effects of the drinks on each group. The study indicated that consumption of energy drinks results in a significant prolonging of the QTc interval, as well as an increase in the brachial and central blood pressure.
Natural Ways to Boost Energy
If you are feeling sluggish or want to have increased mental acuity, there are safer and healthier ways to do it than consuming energy drinks. It is all about living a healthier lifestyle. To get started, you can try to:
- Improve sleep health
- Increase physical activity
- Convert to all-natural whole foods, locally grown and raised
- Avoid refined sugars
- Limit natural sugars
- Stay hydrated
Energy drinks can be dangerous, particularly if combined with alcohol or when used in excess. They have even proven to be deadly, specifically when used as a performance enhancer before a workout. Give yourself a natural boost with a better way of eating, exercise, and plenty of rest and mindfulness.
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