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What Are the Health Effects of Energy Drinks?
The health effects of energy drinks can range from positive feelings of euphoria and alertness to less beneficial side effects like increased blood pressure and anxiety. If you consume a lot of energy drinks to keep up your stamina, it's important to know what kind of impact they're having on your body. There are natural energy drink alternatives that have many of the same energy-boosting qualities as soda-type drinks while being a little easier on your system.
Energy drinks: Know what's inside
As opposed to naturally caffeinated drinks like green tea and coffee, energy drinks are generally defined as soft drinks that are specifically formulated to boost energy. Ingredients may include acai, ginseng, ginkgo biloba, vitamin B, taurine, glucuronolactone and sugar. Caffeine is usually the main energy-boosting ingredient.
Energy drinks can certainly make you feel more alert. A 2001 study at the University of the West of England-Bristol, for example, showed measurable improvements in concentration, memory, aerobic endurance and anaerobic endurance after subjects drank the energy drink Red Bull.
Due to the caffeine and other stimulants they contain, one of the health effects of energy drinks can be a momentary feeling of euphoria, much like guzzling a large cup of coffee. On the downside, this feeling can be quick to wear off, leaving you feeling drained.
Increased heart rate
In some people, energy drinks can increase blood pressure, which in turn can cause a temporarily elevated heart rate or heart palpitations. A 2007 study conducted by the American Heart Association suggested that energy drinks may pose a danger to people with blood pressure or heart disease problems, and the Mayo Clinic website cautions against the use of energy drinks for those with heart conditions.
Anxiety and other negative health effects of energy drinks
Consumption of excess caffeine can make people edgy and nervous, and energy drinks are no exception. The Mayo Clinic website points out that nausea, insomnia, tremors and headaches are other possible side effects of energy drinks.
If you consume energy drinks during a workout, beware of dehydration. Some studies have suggested that the caffeine in energy drinks may heighten the risk of dehydration during physical exertion. It's usually best to drink plain water during exercise.
Energy drink alternatives
You can get a more natural, low-key energy boost with the help of beverages like green tea, fresh fruit juices and basic coffee. Keeping well-hydrated with water can also help boost your energy.