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Does energy feel like a scarce commodity in your body? Do you struggle to meet the demands of your day because you’re just so dang tired?
If you answered “Yes!” to these questions, you’re dealing with a personal energy crisis… and you’re not alone.
A 2015 poll found that only 14 percent of Americans wake up feeling refreshed and energized every day. That means most of us wake up feeling fatigued — no matter how much sleep we get — at least a few days per week.
Now, there are healthy, effective ways to solve your body’s energy crisis (like eating better, moving more and slashing stress), but most of us look for a quick fix — a band aid solution that makes us feel better temporarily but makes things so much worse in the long run…
Like energy drinks.
The market for energy drinks has exploded in the past 20 years because so many people are looking to boost their energy levels. In fact, since 2004, energy drink sales grew by a whopping 240 percent! But this energy drink explosion has caused collateral damage when it comes to our health…
The latest research from Harvard shows that energy drinks hamper our mental and physical health in not one, not two, but in an astounding five different ways. Time to find healthier ways to restore personal energy? I think so…
So many reasons to steer clear of energy drinks…
Do you remember the media coverage several years ago about the dangers of combining energy drinks with alcohol? Well, a recent review of the available research conducted by Harvard researchers confirms once again that combining alcohol and energy drinks is terrible for you.
But Harvard researchers also concluded that you don’t need to combine energy drinks with alcohol to make them dangerous. They’re pretty good at hampering your health all on their own. Based on the current research, Harvard researchers say that energy drinks could be:
- Provoking mental health problems. Studies show energy drinks are tied to an increased risk of stress, anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts. They’re also tied to an increased likelihood of substance abuse.
- Harming your heart. One recent study found that drinking 355 mL of an energy drink (which is less than a 16 ounce Monster) puts strain on the heart by increasing blood pressure, heart rate and cardiac output. Several other studies confirmed that energy drink consumption raises blood pressure, which puts you at a higher risk for heart disease.
- Putting you at risk for obesity and diabetes. Energy drinks contain massive amounts of sugar. So just like other sugar-filled beverages, they increase your risk of high blood sugar, insulin resistance, weight gain and type 2 diabetes.
- Damaging your kidneys. The sugar in energy drinks isn’t doing your kidneys any favors either. Studies show that sugar-sweetened beverages, like energy drinks, are tied to kidney damage and a worse outcome for chronic kidney disease.
- Causing dental problems. You already know sugar isn’t great for your teeth. In fact, drinks that contain a lot of sugar, like energy drinks, boost the bad bacteria in your mouth, contributing to tooth decay and cavities.
The truth is, this list is just the beginning. Researchers say energy drinks are also tied to sleep dissatisfaction, fatigue, headaches and stomachaches. But why are energy drinks so bad?
Well, it primarily comes down to too much sugar and too much caffeine.
Energy drinks contain up to 100 mg of caffeine per fluid ounce… that’s eight times more than a cup of coffee! It’s generally considered safe — and even healthy — to drink up to 400 mg of caffeine per day. But the worst of the energy drinks out there contain 207 mg per 2 ounces. That means, if you drank a 16 ounce or even an 8 ounce drink, you’d be surpassing your recommended caffeine levels substantially.
The typical energy drink also contains 54 grams of sugar… more than you’ll find in most sodas. And the sugar used in these drinks tends to be the worst kind — high fructose-corn syrup, sucrose and artificial sweeteners.
Even worse, energy drinks are often marketed as health drinks because they contain an herb or two (like guarana and ginseng) and a few B-vitamins. Of course, the benefits of these herbs and vitamins in energy drinks is counteracted by all the sugar, caffeine and artificial ingredients.
Restore your energy safely
So how can you solve your personal energy crisis without harmful energy drinks? Well, the best long-term plan is to address the lifestyle habits that are draining your energy — especially if you’re eating a nutrient-poor diet and not getting enough exercise. Those two factors alone are behind so many people’s energy problems.
You can also turn to safer sources for a quick energy lift, like tea and coffee. They may not have the same kick as some of those intense energy drinks, but they have health benefits that will do your body good while still giving you the energy boost you crave.
If you’re looking for other sources of immediate relief from sagging energy levels, you can also try:
- Yerba mate, kombucha or chlorophyll — three drinks that energize without the jitters.
- Nutrients that restore your energy, including alpha lipoic acid, carotenoids (like lycopene, lutein, zeaxanthin and B carotene), CoQ10, glutathione, omega-3 fatty acids, curcumin and many others.
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- Americans Are Tired Most of the Week — Statista. Retrieved November 17, 2017.
- Serious health risks associated with energy drinks — MedicalXpress. Retrieved November 17, 2017.
- Al-Shaar, et al. “Health Effects and Public Health Concerns of Energy Drink Consumption in the United States: A Mini-Review.” — Frontiers in Public Health, 2017.