Caffeine Energy Drink:

Beware of Caffeine in Energy Drinks

By Dr. Ben Kim
DrBenKim.com

Energy drinks like Red Bull, Sobe "No Fear," and Red Devil are all the rage these days, especially among teenagers and young adults.

According to a study published in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology, these and other drinks that promise to boost your metabolism and energy can contain three to four times as much caffeine as a regular soda.

These drinks can make you feel more alert and energetic in the short term, but drinking them on a regular basis can and will hurt your health over the long term.

The same holds true of coffee and any other food or beverage that contains caffeine.

What's the problem with ingesting caffeine on a regular basis?

The amount of caffeine in four cups of coffee is enough to increase your risk of developing a stroke and other forms of cardiovascular disease.

Caffeine is a stimulant that increases heart rate, constricts blood vessels (which can increase blood pressure), relaxes air passages to improve breathing, and allows some muscles to contract more easily than they can without caffeine.

Put another way, caffeine found in energy drinks, coffee, tea, and soda can artificially increase your alertness and physical capabilities in the short term. So even though your cells may be in need of rest, with caffeine in your system, you are likely to overwork your cells and deprive them of the rest that they need to restore their health.

Many people who consume coffee, tea, soda, and energy drinks report feeling terrible if they stay away from these beverages for a short period of time. The most common withdrawal symptoms that people experience once they stop ingesting caffeine are:

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue or drowsiness
  • Depression and irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Flu-like symptoms like nausea, vomiting and muscle pain or stiffness

The key to successfully overcoming a dependency on caffeine is to decrease your intake on a gradual basis. For example, if you drink 3 cups of a caffeinated beverage per day, for the first week, cut your intake to 2.5 cups per day. Then move to 2 cups per day for a week. Then to 1.5 cups. And so on until energy drinks, coffee, tea, and soda are no longer a part of your routine. During this tapering down process, replace the amount of caffeinated beverage that you are avoiding with a healthy substitute like pure spring water, carbonated water, or vegetable juice.

Children, people with existing cardiovascular disease, and pregnant women are especially sensitive to the negative health effects of ingesting caffeine.

Make no mistake about it: energy drinks and other caffeinated beverages will hurt our health in the long term. The only truly natural and healthy ways of increasing your energy, alertness, and physical capabilities are to:

  • Avoid stimulants like caffeine and nicotine
  • Get an adequate amount of high quality rest on a daily basis - eight to 10 hours is optimal for most adults, ten to 12 hours is optimal for most children
  • Be physically active for at least a part of each day, even if this entails 30 minutes of walking outdoors
  • Eat mainly fresh, minimally processed foods

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