Yes, energy drinks can really take you places….like the emergency room. These supposedly “hydrating” drinks actually increase your risk of developing a cardiac condition or a plethora of other illnesses associated with dehydration or excessive sugar intake. This is what Dr. Manny Alvarez, Senior Managing Health Editor at FOXNews.com warned of in a recent article. He urged people to fully understand the potential health risks these energy drinks have, especially as global sales of the products reached 38.2 billion euros in 2016 — a trend, he said, that will continue in the next several years. It is estimated that the energy drink market will rake in a cool 53.4 billion euros by the end of 2020, as reported on BeverageDaily.com.
This is a 40 percent growth, despite scores of medical and wellness professionals discouraging people from using energy drinks. These beverages have already been linked to changes in heart function, but one aspect that hasn’t yet been fully explored is how they contribute to dehydration.
It’s not your cup of joe
Researchers say that one energy drink can contain anywhere from 50 to 400 mg of caffeine. This is equivalent to around four to five cups of coffee. While caffeine is beneficial in small amounts, too much of the stimulant can cause problems such as palpitations, hypertension, vomiting, convulsions, and heart failure. Unfortunately, consumers do not immediately feel the effects. Energy drinks are normally taken cold and consequently, consumed more quickly. People chug their favorite drink as they would water, and they are inadvertently flooding their system with more caffeine than the body can actually handle. Dr. Alvarez added that high levels of caffeine can lead to extreme dehydration. If a person consumes several energy drinks in one go, it is likely that they will feel dizzy or nauseated and experience a rapid heart rate.
A representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) wrote to TheGuardian.com that “the full impact of the rise in popularity of energy drinks has not yet been quantified, but the aggressive marketing of energy drinks targeted at young people, combined with limited and varied regulation, have created an environment where energy drinks could pose a significant threat to public health.”
When you’re just drinking your dessert
Energy drinks also contain high amounts of sugar in each can. Dr. Alvarez wrote that some brands include as much as 50 grams of sugar, which can promote obesity, tooth decay, and high blood glucose. An article on DailyMail.co.uk even stated that some energy drinks contain up to 20 teaspoons of sugar. That is three times the maximum allowance for adults for an entire day.
Even taking aside the other health risks of consuming too much sugar, the ingredient can lead to dehydration. This can result in the common condition known as the “sugar headache.” Dr. Scott Olson, a naturopathic expert, wrote on his website that when we eat too much sugar, the body tries to rebalance itself by forcing frequent urination. Dr. Olsen explained further that this excessive load of sugar can be considered a “toxic event.” (Related: Lead a healthier life when you read the articles found on Prevention.news.)
Action on Sugar, a coalition focused on informing the public about the detrimental effects of sugar, have labeled energy drinks as “the new tobacco,” stating that more young people are getting addicted to the drink, under the assumption that they are choosing the healthier alternative.
“The drinks’ high sugar and caffeine content may contribute to nerve and heart disorders and promote obesity and hyperactivity. In addition, these drinks may also cause high blood pressure in adolescents, encouraging poor health at a young age,” concluded Dr. Alvarez. “Children should avoid these energy drinks at all cost…the caffeine inside them may have greater adverse effects on this age group.”