Energy Drinks - Friend or Foe?
What Are Energy Drinks?
As the name implies “energy drinks” promise to give you an extra burst of energy. As it turns out, most of that "energy" in these beverages comes from two main ingredients: sugar and caffeine. A typical energy drink contains 80 milligrams of caffeine (about the same amount as a cup of coffee). Getting our “energy” from empty (no nutrient) energy sources like caffeine and sugar can cause hormones imbalances that can lead to ill health. For example consumption of caffeine increases stress hormone levels, which can add to adrenal exhaustion if used long term and the high sugar levels in energy drinks can spike insulin levels contributing to long term blood sugar imbalances.
What Are The Typical Ingredients Of Energy Drinks?
There are many energy ingredients on the market. The ones most commonly used in energy drink preparations include:
Caffeine, sugar, B vitamins;
Guarana- comes from a plant native to South America. Amazonians have used it for a long time to increase alertness and energy, Guarana is 3-4% caffeine vs. arabica coffee which is 1-2% caffeine.
Ginseng- is a herb that has been used in Asia for centuries medicinally and is believed to increase energy, have some anti-fatigue properties, relieve stress, and promotes memory.
Taurine- is an amino acid that supports the nervous system and helps improve energy levels and mental performance.
What Is Wrong With Energy Drinks?
Although some of the ingredients in energy drinks are considered beneficial and effective in the supplement industry, they can be detrimental in the unregulated form they are supplied in energy drinks. Due to poor regulation, companies can put together formulas that sound good and will be marketed well, but that may not be safe for high level consumption. People don’t see drinks as they see pharmaceutical drugs or supplements so they are much more likely to overdose, ingesting well over the safe daily recommendation to try and reduce their tiredness and fatigue. Most energy drinks do not state the exact amounts of each ingredient in their product, this means you could be ingesting very high levels of caffeine and other ingredients in amounts that could be harmful to your health. Many energy drinks do not have health warnings on them, so it’s easy to forget that some of the ingredients could interact with medications, alcohol or not be suitable for consumption by pregnant women and children.
Why Do People Use Energy Drinks?
The primary use for Energy drinks (and coffee) is to fight fatigue. There are varied causes of fatigue. Fatigue may be due to medical issues, lifestyle, emotional concerns or stress. By regularly consuming energy drinks, people get an “energy high”, and then proceed to ignore their body’s needs, pushing their body to keep going rather than addressing the true cause of the fatigue. This “energy high” is then followed by an “energy low/crash”, requiring more energy drink or substance to get energy again, creating a negative dependence on a substance for energy and normal function.
12 Ways To Fight Fatigue Naturally:
- Rule out or address underlying health problems
- Exercise regularly
- Try Yoga
- Have a good healthy nutrient dense breakfast
- Try an adaptogen herb like Rhodiola or Korean ginseng to help the body deal with stress naturally
- Have a good-size nutrient dense lunch
- Stretch your legs every 90 minutes
- Drink plenty of water
- Get to bed early
- Eat a green apple instead of an energy drink or coffee
- Get to bed before 10pm and ensure adequate hours of sleep (7-8 hours for adults)
- Turn off electronics before bed
Homemade Electrolyte Energy Drink Recipe
Created with energy and hydration in mind this natural Electrolyte Energy Drink is bursting with nutrients and energy. Honey and orange juice are naturally nutrient dense and sweet and they will give the body a lift without the crash you can get from cane sugar. Coconut water is high in electrolytes and naturally hydrating. Pink salt will give your body minerals and help your body retain the water it need. The citrus juices contain electrolytes, vitamins and minerals to help regulate bodily functions. White tea is rich in antioxidants that help to reduce stress and increase energy.
3 cups coconut water
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup orange juice
1 cup cold white tea (brewed earlier)
1/8 Tsp. pink sea salt
2 Tbsp. honey
Mix all the juices together in a shaker or a blender.
Drink chilled for extra energising effect.