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Energy Drinks: Healthy Or Harmful?

Posted in Nutrition 29 Jan, 2015

Sometimes you have to decide whether the cons outweigh the pros in something - and energy drinks are a good example of that decision. The fact that they come with warnings attached is always a red light in my eyes.

I try to avoid them as much as possible because, as one manufacturer puts it:

consumption of more than two cans a day may be harmful to your health. Not suitable for pregnant or breastfeeding women, children under the age of 16, people with heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes, those with caffeine sensitivity or athletes.

So if two cans can be dangerous, I don't really see how having just one could be much better, and that's a lot of warning for a drink.

Of course, there are some ingredients in these drinks that are potentially good for you. Many energy drinks contain vitamins and minerals which, if used correctly, can make up an important part of your daily or weekly diet. There are other potential positives too. Ginkgo biloba, an ingredient in certain drinks, is thought by some to improve cognitive functions, and is also sometimes recorded as a combatant against dementia and Alzheimer's. Similarly, the ingredient ginseng is claimed to have uses as an aphrodisiac, stimulant, and treatment for type 2 diabetes treatment and sexual dysfunction in men.

The downside that needs to be considered though, is that many of the ingredients which boast health benefits don't have the backup of real medical trial. Instead they are often used in alternative medicine which, although many people vouch for its effectiveness, has not been clinically proven as beneficial. Furthermore, energy drinks often contain huge amounts of sugar and caffeine, ingredients which are often blamed for causing or exacerbating conditions such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, hypertension and anxiety disorders.

Of course there will be times when you find yourself flagging, but in these cases why not reach for a coffee instead? In its simplest black or white form coffee doesn't contain anywhere near as many additives or sugars as it's canned, caffeinated counterparts.

In truth, it is likely that excessive use of energy drinks is going to be bad for you in the long term. Although they may contain some good ingredients and rejuvenating qualities, as a whole, consuming so much sugar and caffeine is likely to have a negative effect over time. It is far more healthy to get your energy from a good diet, regular exercise and a good night's sleep rather than a beverage wherever possible.

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