Are energy drinks bad for your health

I don’t know about you but giving up alcohol seemed like the healthiest thing I have ever done. Then you read headlines like: Are energy drinks bad for your health?

In reality when you cut back on alcohol you are doing it for various reasons but your health is certainly up there.

And for me with liver disease it was life or death so you then really have to consider your overall health and what you consume.

Even liver disease patients have their own diet.

One of which is give up alcohol and of course alcohol it is a poison at its core.

While fine in moderation if still can have a major impact on our bodies, mind and health.

So why even go down the route of energy drinks? They are healthy right?

If fact switching from one bad habit to another is not always the best move. In fact, you could say it’s really a bad move.

So why is switching from alcohol to energy drinks a bad thing.

Well sugar and a very large amount of caffeine is a good place to start on why its not always the best idea.

Also, the body is pretty awesome at creating energy and has been doing it since the beginning of time so does it really need something else. When we need to run, we run!

Do we need energy drinks ?

 

So do we really need energy drinks to keep us going and could they just be another addiction to replace the one we have just got rid of?

Anyway I thought caffeine was a good thing, it’s good for the liver and of course coffee is alcohol free?

Maybe it’s just back to that word balance!

What is an energy drink?

You could actually argue that energy drinks are more about marketing than they are the drink. People who read the blog often ask me if a switch to energy drinks away from alcohol is a good thing?

It’s your call and I always say with both alcohol and non alcoholic drinks get to know your labels, become an expert as I had to. This is even when I knew even touching a glass of wine with alcohol could kill me.

Its why I am now 0.0 abv so alcohol by volume! Zero every time.

The choice is better than ever before but energy drinks? I might just pass on them if that’s OK?

Even many alcohol free drinks have sugar so let’s not get carried away with the Utopian idea that all alcohol free is the best choice out there. Its a great alternative though.

The best choice is probably water but let’s live in the real world! Choosing a good and alcohol free option with lower sugar and calories can really help.

Read my review of wine that is kinder on the calories here.

So why can’t energy drinks be an alternative then?

Well let’s start at the beginning. If you know what you are drinking that is fine but many people think energy drinks are in some way the health guru’s answer to alcohol free and or healthy smoothies.

You could even argue a bottled smoothie is not that healthy as no-one eats that many fruit in one go!

Energy drinks through very clever branding promise two big benefits as I see it which is improved

  • Mental alertness
  • Physical stimulation.

And they do this especially in the arena of health, sport and also keeping awake. The issue is do we need them?

It can also keep you drinking alcohol longer but we will come on to that.

Red Bull is a popular energy drink

Well-known brands of energy drink that account for 75 % of the market in the UK are :

  • Lucozade
  • Redbull
  • Monster
  • Rockstar
  • Relentless

 

What ingredients are in energy drinks?

Now coffee and caffeine can be good in moderation but there is evidence that going over this threshold could cause problems.

In fact a university study in the North East of England got a study very wrong when studying the impact of caffeine in the body. They gave the wrong dose to the participants of the study and they ended up very ill in hospital.

It was covered by the local news provider at the time.

Now before we get carried away an average cup of coffee can have 94.8 mg of caffeine and energy drinks can have 80mg in a 250ml can.

Energy Drinks have caffeine

Of course the problem is the amount of sugar and these drinks can also be drunk as you would water. Not exactly what they were designed to be for I would suggest.

Or where they?

In fact, it seems the actual sugar content was more of a motivation to get the drink banned as many of them have other energy boosting supplements apart from caffeine such as:

  • Ginseng
  • Guarana
  • Carnitine
  • Taurine.

Let’s take the ingredient of red bull for example, they include :

Water, Sucrose, Glucose, Acidity Regulator (Sodium Citrates, Magnesium Carbonate), Carbon Dioxide, Acidifier Citric Acid, Taurine (0.4%), Caffeine (0.03%), Glucuronolactone, Inositol, Vitamins (Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, B6, B12), Flavorings, Colors (Caramel, Riboflavin).

However, when you look at the calories per 100 ml its 45.89 kcal with sugar at around 11g. So it is a volume issue maybe?

However, the Cardiff University and Dental study are a bit more bullish about it.

“All 5 energy drinks investigated had pH values below the critical value (5.5) associated with dental erosion; the lowest pH was 2.72 (Lucozade), the highest pH was 3.37 (Monster). The drinks also contained excessive amounts of free sugars, ranging from 25.5g (Red Bull) to 69.2g (Rockstar). Differences in sugar content were mainly explained by portion size. Other ingredients contained within the energy drinks, caffeine and various acids are also linked to oral and general health”

Again it seems a combination of how many we drink. The total caffeine intake and the size of the can all matter.

They make it clear that exceeding moderation can affect dental health and anxiety brought on by the high level of caffeine.

Although having lots of coffee can have a similar effect as I know from experience when I was having lots of coffee and protein bars after the gym.

Those shaking hands were not alcohol related I can tell you that!

Sugar and Energy Drinks

So as ever it is the combination of the sugar, calories and caffeine that seem to be the issue.

However, nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert told the Independent Newspaper in the UK that energy drinks as a brand have “zero nutritional value” and there is no evidence kids need them to get throughout the day.

I guess that backed up the need for a nutritional balanced diet and I certainly know about that as a liver patient.

She also had a pop at high caffeine levels and said that they can cause:

  • High blood pressure
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Convulsions

Studies and research in Sweden showed links between energy drinks and dental erosion which is also backed up by the research from Cardiff University which we talked about before.

However, we know that about sugar, right?

We do know that a regular amount of coffee can be good for the liver! Does it ever get less confusing.

Again I keep coming back to balance.

But the medical research keeps coming back with the punches so a study published in the International Journal of Health Sciences in 2015, included some of the side effects of drinking too many energy drinks including:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia,
  • Gastronomical upset
  • Headaches
  • Hyperactivity
  • Diuresis.

“High levels of sugar impact directly on obesity and tooth decay, both of which are known issues in children and adolescents,” British Dietetic Association spokesperson Clare Thornton-Wood.

Of course, we could argue we are all responsible for our actions but unfortunately the brain can in reality become addicted to certain habits.

Marketing of course contributes to this.

Help with addiction?

One of the courses that you can use anywhere at home is from therapist Mark Tyrell who I have worked and studied with previously and has a great reputation and I grade his course 10/10.

Any kind of addiction can be addressed very often with self hypnosis as Mark explains.

If you choose the course I would love to know what you think and the affiliate link below gives you access but you pay the same. Do come back and give me a comment as I would love to know what you think!

 

And of course anxiety is also linked to alcohol. So if you are coming off alcohol or just cutting back on your mid week alcohol intake energy drinks are NOT the way to not go!

Why are energy drinks and alcohol an issue?

“I’ll have vodka and red bull”. I just don’t hear a bit, I actually hear it a lot.

It’s funny how some standard drinks just take on a life of their own. I have even seen people have an energy drink on the table and several alcohol shots lined up hoping that the combination keeps them awake.

 

Energy Drinks and Vodka

Of course, you would hope this would relate to adults rather than children. Thank goodness.

It’s a fact more adults are likely to drink energy drinks with their favorite alcohol favorite choice. Of course vodka and red bull comes to mind.

To be fair I have never seen anyone ask for Lucozade and Vodka but I am sure you could tell me differently.

I write about Lucozade and a bit about its history here.

Diet and nutrition expert Rhiannon Lambert points out something that I had not actually thought about,

“The consumption of high amounts of caffeine (as found in energy drinks) reduces drowsiness without diminishing the effects of alcohol,” she says.

“Therefore, there is the added risk that people will engage in dangerous behaviour as the mix of alcohol and caffeine can lead to a loss of inhibition.”

I think she means we keep going for longer and drinking more!

 

Energy Drinks Can Mask the effect of alcohol

To be fair that had not even crossed my mind when I did drink alcohol but then again I was mainly a social wine drinker with lunch.

Even though we think children are out of the picture on this concern regarding alcohol it appears adolescent and teenagers are not.

A study in 2011 discovered that 53 percent of energy drinks were added as mixers with alcohol within this group of people.

British Dietetic Association spokesperson Clare Thornton-Wood.

“This has been linked to increased risk taking behaviors such as illicit drug use,”

So anything that takes away from awareness of alcohol consumption is never a good thing as we can get into a mess before we have even realized it.

We frown when doctors asking us how much we drink each week but as I know from experience even just as a social drinker that is probably one of the most important questions they ask even if we make up the answer.

Well I don’t clearly, one alcoholic drink could kill me!

If you want to know more about your limits go to drink aware

Let me know what you think?

I would love to know if you have switched from alcohol to energy drinks. How did you find it? Plus do you think people over react to them as a rule?

I would love you to comment on: Are energy drinks bad for your health ? Just leave a comment below and I will always get back to you.

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