It’s January, which means many of us are still rocking our New Year’s Resolutions to eat and drink healthier. Which means a lot of us have probably diched that mid-morning latte order from the local coffee shop in order to cut down on our sugar intake. But what do we do to get that much-needed caffeine hit that gets us through the working day?
Well you may have swapped your coffee habit for an energy drink one, especially when the sugar-free varieties offer such a guilt-free alternative. Yet are these energy drinks, even without the sugar, far more dangerous than our coffee habit?
Recent studies have shown that over a period of time caffeine can have adverse effects on your health. In the study, the kids who regularly drank energy drinks were shown to be more susceptible to headaches (76%), anger issues (47%) and difficulty breathing (22%). Yet it was not clear if it was the energy drinks that were the root of these problems. Indeed, the children who enjoyed energy drinks drank them on the basis that they felt they improved their focus allowing them to succeed better in their studies and in sports activities.
Which is a merit shared by even professional athletes who regularly use energy drinks to provide fast-action hydration as well as giving a burst of energy to sustain and enhance performance. So it does seem that energy drinks do have measurable benefits in the short-term when used for sporting events or in an exam/studying.
The real question, however, is whether drinking these energy drinks on a regular basis will affect your body in the long-term. Well, at the moment, there really isn’t enough research to provide a conclusive answer but there are definitely some concerns about what it might do to your body – especially to your heart. The graphic below outlines exactly how our bodies respond to energy drinks:
It’s thought that drinking just one energy drink a day may raise your chances of heart problems as they actively cause an increase in stress hormones and raise blood pressure. This can also lead to heart palpitations and “jitters” in people who over-consume in caffeine. Caffeine overdose will also cause nausea and vomiting – in very extreme cases it can even cause death.
However, it’s not just heart problems that can be a side effect of energy drinks, it’s also thought that the fizzy drinks can contribute to many other problems. This can include type 2 diabetes due to caffeine reducing insulin sensitivity, poor dental health, late miscarriages and, despite the fact they are drank by many athletes, energy drinks can also contribute to obesity.
There are also serious worries over the combination of energy drinks and alcohol and what putting these two harmful substances together might cause in the long and short-term. In fact, energy drink labels will tell you not to mix with alcohol yet probably all of us have drank a few Jägerbombs on a night out.
With such question marks surrounding energy drinks at the moment you might be safer sticking with your morning coffee-shop run. You can always cut out the sugar-overload by opting for something like a white filter coffee and attempting to lower the amount of sugar you add instead. Even better, order a lovely green tea!