The Energy Drink Buzz… Just how healthy is it?

The Energy Drink Buzz… Just how healthy is it?

Let’s face it: Americans love to be wired! Strolling down the grocery store aisles where the cranked-up drinks are stored, it’s hard not to believe that these drinks are good for you. The packaging, advertising and brainwashing that take place when you glance at the labels leave you thinking you could really be on top of your game if you engaged in a gulp. Vitamins, amino acids, caffeine, herbs, sugar … the ultimate “drug-like” drink, a true thrill-seeking adventure for people young and old, male or female. Are we not all looking for that extra “pick-me-up” to accomplish the impossible every day?

So… what’s the problem?

The reality is that energy drinks laced with novel additives are taking people into uncharted nutritional territories, especially when many people are mixing them with alcohol. Even if they are not deemed truly dangerous, energy drinks are fostering a true dependence on caffeine and sugar and deliver a false sense of energy. Typically each 8-ounce drink carries a punch of caffeine equal to twice that of a cup of coffee, as well as spices, herbs and other tinctures aimed at giving you a buzz and extreme refreshment like you have never had.

The bottom line is caffeine produces a real psychological and physiological dependence and creates a “flight or fight” response with your nervous system, leaving most of us feeling like we were hit by a semi truck when it all wears off. This cycle creates the dependency of needing another jolt.

The typical energy drink carries with it another addictive substance … sugar. The sugar in most of these drinks is equivalent to roughly 10 to 20 teaspoons (or more) per serving. Sugar, being the reason most of us have too much fat around the mid-section of our bodies, is the one toxic substance that we have got to get a handle on. Understanding the negative impact of sugar on the immune system, mood, insulin levels (fat storage hormone), energy, cravings and hormone-balance is imperative to getting yourself healthy and maintaining balance. Energy drinks are loaded with sugar, and if you attempt to get the sugar-free versions, you enter the sugar substitute world that will bear its own long-term side effects with constant cravings, mental fog and fatigue. It’s really not worth it, folks!

While teens today are drinking 40 percent of their total daily calories, it is obvious that companies will continue to take advantage of this addiction. Hundreds of energy drinks have hit the shelves in the last several years. This mega-billion dollar industry continues to see unprecedented revenue increases annually, while those consuming these energy drinks will begin to shell out money on medical bills to research why they are getting so fat, why blood sugar levels are rising, why they feel “stressed out” all the time, why they feel anxious and depressed, why they feel so tired every day and—certainly the most important—why they can no longer sleep well at night! Get the picture?

The grogginess that plagues so many people in the morning and late afternoon makes it difficult to resist these rather tempting drinks. In the long run, however, it would be wise to steer clear of them in order to avoid long-term dependence, mood instability, blood sugars swings and weight gain.

If you are a victim of these drug-like energy drinks, consider slowly weaning yourself off, supporting your adrenal (stress glands) with natural supplementation (see my Web site for suggestions) and choose drinks that will help you achieve your goals without sacrificing your health in the process.

Best of health to you!