Start Your Energines!
By Live Well Teens Team
“I want an energy drink!” This sentence is more harmful than consumers of energy drinks realize because energy drinks don’t provide energy. They are detrimental to your health, and can directly lead to a variety of health problems. Live Well Teens recommends that kids and teens avoid energy drinks.
Examples of Energy Drinks
Below are examples of popular energy drinks:
- Red Bull
- Full Throttle
- 5-Hour Energy
Based on these examples, they sound electrifying at first, but these are just marketing tactics. Energy drinks are promoted as drinks that provide energy and enhance physical and mental performance. There are two different types of energy drinks; there are ordinary soft drinks and energy shots. Usually, soft drinks include sodas of various types (carbonated and noncarbonated) and sports drinks such as Gatorade. Then, there are extremely concentrated energy shots and sold in mini, concentrated containers with 2-2.5 oz.
Energy Drinks and Dental Health
Every time you visit the dentist, they always recommend that you abstain from sugar. Let’s look at the impact of the energy drinks on our teeth. Many dental experts declare that the highly acidic content of energy drinks can damage the tooth’s enamel and increase the risk of cavities. Research shows that energy drinks contain high levels of acid, which can slowly break down tooth enamel. When we swallow an energy drink, the acid can stay in our mouth and alter our saliva’s pH levels. It takes 30 minutes for the saliva to restore itself to normal pH, and this can cause our teeth to be bathed in a highly acidic solution for 30 minutes. Acid can tear down the enamel, which is responsible for protecting the tooth from cavities, and that’s why it can harm your teeth.
Harmful Effects of Sugar
In America, soft drinks and energy drinks have the highest amounts of added sugar, and sugar can lead to a variety of terrible consequences. According to a paper published in JAMA Internal Medicine, there is a strong association between a high-sugar diet and heart disease. This is because excessive sugar consumption can lead to high blood pressure, a risk factor for heart disease. In addition, sugar consumption can also lead to obesity and other health conditions, as sugar is only calories (no nutrients). The best way to limit sugar intake is to drink water or homemade juice or smoothies instead of sugary energy drinks.
What about Sugar-Free?
In the words of Dr. Alan Goldhamer, “Just because something is less toxic doesn’t make it healthy. It just makes it less toxic.” In this case, just because there is no sugar in an energy drink doesn’t imply that it’s healthy. Usually, when companies market something as “diet,” it is typically a keyword to trick consumers into assuming that it is healthy. The companies that manufacture sugar-free products are generally using an alternative artificial sweetener. Sugar-free energy drinks contain caffeine, are abundant in calories, and possess little to no nutrients. This demonstrates that they are equally as harmful as energy drinks
Energy Drinks and Sleep
Since energy drinks are stimulants, they can make it extremely difficult for teens to fall asleep, especially when consumed at night. Several studies have proven the effects of energy drinks on sleep quality, and people feel that they need less sleep due to caffeine stimulation. Energy drinks contain two to three times more caffeine than coffee. Caffeine has a life of approximately six hours. If someone consumes an energy drink at 10 pm, 50% of the caffeine remains in the bloodstream by 4 am. This means that even when they decide to sleep, it will not be the restful sleep the brain and body require; this will result in being tired, slow, and foggy the next day. After a while, this can result in sleep deprivation, insomnia, and other sleep problems.
Caffeine in Energy Drinks
Caffeine is a stimulant, which means that it energizes the body up. Caffeine is found in commonly consumed products, and energy drinks are the top source. Too much caffeine can cause restlessness, irritability, and sleeplessness. Many people have reported headaches and nausea from drinking too much caffeine. Energy drinks have high levels of caffeine in tiny servings. This can make caffeine dangerous to at-risk populations, and caffeine is an extremely addictive substance.
Addiction refers to the biological process of becoming dependent on a product because of a sensation that it provides. Addiction often occurs when one is exposed to a product or uses it repeatedly. Energy drinks can cause the body to release dopamine, which is the feel-good hormone in the pleasure center. However, drinking excessive energy drinks leads to the reduction of our dopamine-response. This can cause us to drink extra energy drinks to obtain that same dopamine response. Additionally, energy drinks can be psychologically addictive. People can feel that they are unable to function appropriately without energy drinks in their everyday lives.
Mixing Energy Drinks and Alcohol
A hazardous practice that teens and adults are doing is mixing alcohol or other harmful substances with energy drinks. This is known as spiking. First of all, let’s say that this is a terrible idea. Mixing alcohol with energy drinks is a dangerous combination. Alcohol works as a depressant to the central nervous system (which is the brain and spinal cord), and caffeine in energy drinks works as a stimulant. This can lead to a phenomenon known as “wide-awake drunk.” The caffeine causes this phenomenon in stimulants that can make the brain feel alert, and people tend to drink way more than they should.
Additionally, those who mix energy drinks with alcohol are more likely to suffer alcohol poisoning and binge drink. Researchers have found that drinking alcohol mixed with an energy drink creates a false sense of security that is responsible for making people 4x more likely to drive under the influence as well as 3x more likely to participate in binge drinking.
Should We Drink Energy Drinks?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has stated that children and adolescents should not consume energy drinks. The risks are too high and far outweigh the benefits. However, adults should refrain from consuming energy drinks as much as possible to avoid adverse health problems and a terrible influence on children as well. Live Well Teens supports the AAP’s recommendation to avoid energy drinks during adolescence because it is addictive and contains unhealthy ingredients.
Alternatives & Solutions
Alternatives to energy drinks include homemade smoothies, juices, or even just water. These drinks can provide essential nutrients, hydration, and energize. They can also taste delicious.
My challenge for the week is to notice your energy drink consumption throughout the week and keep track of them. Instead of an energy drink, try drinking a smoothie, juice, or water. Good Luck! See you next time.