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 Diet & Nutrition

september 2012

Crash Or Boost? Know Your Energy Drink.

Babita Hazarika
 
Energy drinks should not be confused with sports drinks that are consumed to help people stay hydrated during exercise. The most active ingredient in conventional energy drinks is caffeine. It stimulates the central nervous system, resulting in a state of both physical and mental alertness. In excess, it can have side effects.

Trendy world, trendy people and trendy drinks… That’s what energy drinks are all about – a way of life! They do exactly what the name suggests—give you that extra boost, an extra burst of energy! So let’s look deeper into this beverage, the types and varieties and the various myths and facts associated with them. Energy drinks are said to have been introduced originally as ‘hospital drinks’ recommended for patients during Crash Or Boost? Know Your Energy Drink.

Energy drinks should not be confused with sports drinks that are consumed to help people stay hydrated during exercise. The most active ingredient in conventional energy drinks is caffeine. It stimulates the central nervous system, resulting in a state of both physical and mental alertness. In excess, it can have side effects. Babita Hazarika recovery and subsequently came to be promoted as a drink for ‘replenishing lost energy’. Consumption-wise, energy drinks are favoured the most by the youth – teenagers and people in their 20s and 30s and males account for a large percentage of this group.

Energy drinks generally contain large amounts of caffeine and other stimulants, and accordingly, their consumption has some physiological and psychological effects. In the US, energy drinks have been linked with reports of nausea, abnormal heart rhythm, and emergency room visits. The drinks may cause seizures due to the ‘crash’, following the energy high that occurs after consumption.

What Are Energy Drinks?
There are hundreds of energy drinks in the market, and most of them contain very similar ingredients. The most active ingredient in conventional energy drinks is caffeine. It stimulates the central nervous system, resulting in a state of both physical and mental alertness. In excess, it can have side effects such as high blood pressure and irritability. It is probably the most widely consumed ‘herbal’ supplement in the world.

Two of the most commonly found herbal extracts in energy drinks are ginseng and ginkgo biloba.

Ginseng increases stamina and endurance. It tones the adrenal glands, helping the body deal with stress. Ginkgo biloba increases cerebral circulation, which in turn improves mental functioning. Other beneficial ingredients sometimes found in energy drinks include B vitamins, amino acids, antioxidants and essential minerals.

In others, taurine and carnitine help to boost energy. Guarana, whose extract comes from the seeds of a South American shrub, is believed to incincrease alertness and reduce fatigue.

Facts To Quote…
  • Energy drinks should not be confused with sports drinks that are consumed to help people stay hydrated during exercise. Sports drinks also provide carbohydrates in the form of sugar and electrolytes that may be lost through perspiration.
  • Caffeine in energy drinks acts as a diuretic and promotes dehydration. It causes the kidneys to remove extra fluid through the urine. That leaves less fluid in the body. So drinking an energy drink while you’re exercising can be particularly dangerous! The combination of diuretic effect and sweating can leave you severely dehydrated.
  • Energy drinks are generally safe, but like most things, you should drink them in moderation. As caffeine is a stimulant, consuming a lot of it can lead to heart palpitation, anxiety and insomnia. It can also make you feel jittery and irritable.
Energy drinks are marketed primarily to teens and young adults with the promise of increased energy, improved weight loss and even better athletic performance. According to published research, small doses of caffeine can have positive effects on children by improving attention, but caffeine can also increase blood pressure and cause sleep disturbances.

Since there is a lack of safety information, frequent consumption of energy drinks should be discouraged. One should be aware of the potential benefits and the side effects of these energizing beverages and drink responsibly for better health.
Babita Hazarika is Chief Dietician, Apollo Gleneagles Hospitals, Kolkata.