There’s been lots of attention on energy drinks in the last few months. Interested researchers are grabbing college students by the bar-load in hopes of understanding the effects that drinks like Red Bull, AMP and Monster have on the body.
Amidst all the media attention, you must be asking yourself, “Do I drink them or not?”
It’s tough to answer that question; the research is new and the energy drink companies are trying to protect their profits by telling us not to worry. Here’s what Red Bull has to say about their product:
Red Bull is an energy drink that works. Red Bull® Energy Drink supplies tired minds and exhausted bodies with vital substances that have been lost, while reducing harmful substances. It provides immediate energy and vitamins. Red Bull® Energy Drink has always been, and always will be, more than just a hot secret for the night owl and the nonstop party animal. It is appreciated by a wide range of people, such as the overworked taxi driver, the stressed manager, the exam-anxious student and the pressured journalist. It is used by surfers in the summer and snowboarders in the winter. For day or night, for work or play: people who need more energy value Red Bull® Energy Drink. And the number of people who appreciate its benefits is increasing all the time.
Here’s an interesting article on why you might want to question Red Bull’s creed. A quote from the article:
I think we all need to consider why these drinks have become so popular in the first place. People are stressed out, burned out, and are not getting enough sleep. The use of these energy drinks will not remedy that. In fact, another study found that in people who were sleep deprived, the energy drinks were not effective in counteracting feelings of sleepiness, and even slowed reaction times compared to a placebo.
Here’s my two cents about the energy drink controversy (literally, I’m gonna give you two):
1. Question whether you want some random food chemist at Coca-Cola to play your pharmacological bartender… Seriously, it’s important to remember that herbs are powerful and can be dangerous if they are not grown, gathered, prepared and consumed correctly.
This is a big task we’re giving to the beverage companies; we’re trusting them to gather foreign herbs they’ve never seen or heard of, attempt to isolate and extract the appropriate constituent of the herb, pray/assume that everything is safe and then mix it all together with synthetic chemicals like sucralose, food dyes and preservatives. Hmmmm…
2. We shouldn’t consistently depend on energy drinks to get us through the day. If you disagree, perhaps consider that your work/life commitments need to be reduced, nutrition be altered, extra hours of sleep be implemented and other self-care behaviors be practiced. Chronic lack of sleep will continue to deplete the immune system and wreak havoc on the health of the body- if this is ignored, psychological and physical dis-ease is sure to follow. And seriously, synthetic chemicals with an excess of herbs cannot give you the same crisp, alert and clear energy that a balanced lifestyle can give you.
However, in reality, there are those days… days when you just couldn’t fall asleep because your mind was racing or the neighbors were being obnoxiously loud. The alarm goes off way too soon-throwing you into a discombobulated anxious state, you’re exhausted, blurry-eyed and foggy. Generally, these are the days when the calendar is the busiest and most intimidating. On these occasions, instead of an energy drink, have some fair-trade coffee, a one or two-shot latte, or some extra tea (before 2:00 P.M.). These things can be included healthfully in the diet (in moderation). Make sure you also eat breakfast and limit your intake of refined carbohydrates (don’t grab a blueberry muffin with that latte; you’re just defeating the purpose of the caffeine). Try to take a brisk 10 minute walk before you start your day. And then, go to bed early.
Toasting to balance,