If you have been searching to know the health benefits and the health problems of energy drinks, we have the answers!
We specifically asked some couple of health care professionals to share their
knowledge on the health benefits, effects and risk of energy drinks.
Read on to find out.
Advertisements for energy drinks are everywhere, as these products are always available on any shelf that sells beverages in general, from markets and gas stations to pharmacies.
The product’s promise is to keep the person awake and generate energy for the body, which makes many people who have a busy life, or who simply don’t want to feel sleepy when they can’t, consume the drink constantly.
However, little is said about the problems that excessive consumption of energy drinks can bring to the body, involving neurological, cardiac and psychiatric issues. To try to understand the effects of consuming energy drinks, their benefits and risks, Myhealthmyskin spoke with four professionals with a lot to say on the subject, including a cardiologist, two neurologists and a nutritionist.
The clinical, functional and sports nutritionist Gabriela Cilla, who is also a gastrologist, explains that the “magic” of energy drinks is the high amount of caffeine, taurine and sugar in each dose of a can. Caffeine works by having a cognitive, relaxation and disposition action, also improving mental and physical cognition and the perception of exertion, in addition to reducing lethargy. Taurine, which is produced by the body itself, acts with a detoxifying and antioxidant action.
“All energy drinks contain excitatory active principles for the central nervous system (taurine, caffeine, sugar). Anything that has this potential can cause depression and anxiety, increased pressure, perceived exertion, fatigue, decreased sleep, in addition to excessive hunger.
Rosana Cardoso Alves, neurologist and specialist in Sleep Medicine at Fleury Medicina e Saúde, also says that caffeine and taurine make individuals even more accelerated and excited, even acting impulsively. “Many people drink these energy drinks to stay awake or because they are drowsy, but there are also young people who want to stay awake all night, both in games, videos and on social networks, and they drink caffeine and taurine-based drinks just to stay more awake, which can be dangerous,” says the professional.
Alves explains that there are two significant problems. The first is the issue of energy drinks being stimulants, which can be dangerous for those who already have a psychological or psychiatric disorder, presenting a worsening of the condition. “An example: if the person has an anxious profile, the tendency is to become even more accelerated and with more anxiety”, he says.
The second risk is related to sleep deprivation. “What we see on a daily basis is that, sometimes, people are taking energy drinks to stay awake for longer, but sleep deprivation can bring harm. In the long term, it alters memory, attention and behavior, and over the years, cardiovascular and obesity risks increase. So, it’s a matter of public health,” he adds.
Cardiologist Paola Emanuela Poggio Smanio, from Grupo Fleury, also spoke about the effects of energy drinks, stating that, in fact, they are not energetic, but stimulants of the central nervous system. “Most have two substances: caffeine and taurine, both in excess. The effects are increased blood pressure, increased heart rate and respiratory rate, leaving the person more breathless. The consumption with too much excess, in addition to accelerate the heartbeat, it can cause cardiac arrhythmias”, reports the doctor.
Smanio also talks about the interference of drinks in sleep, saying that the person ends up entering a vicious circle to circumvent the natural desire to sleep. “The person is stimulated and doesn’t sleep, so they don’t sleep much longer and, the next day, they’re exhausted and take [the energy drink] again. There are people who already have the sleep disorder and don’t even know it, and the disorder of sleep alone, according to scientific studies, already lead to an increase in blood pressure,” he adds.
Neurologist Fabio Porto, from Hospital das Clínicas in São Paulo, told us that the caffeine present in energy drinks has pharmacological effects, inhibiting a substance called adenosine, which works as a key mediator of sleep homeostasis . So it stimulates, it increases tension, it also increases stress hormones like adrenaline. The doctor also says that sometimes caffeine has good effects, such as increasing metabolism, even if it is little.
Now, you’ ve read about the health benefits of energy drinks, we gonna be talking about the health risks of energy drinks, drugs and alcoholic beverages.
Health Risks Of Energy Drinks
Health care Professionals also warn about the consumption of energy drinks together with alcoholic beverages and illegal drugs, saying that more severe reactions to the use of energy drinks always end up being related to this mixture. “The combination of energy drink, alcohol and drugs can be explosive for an organism, so we need to be very careful”, warns the neurologist, saying that they can even cause seizures, mainly caused by some type of arrhythmia, but that it is rare that they leave sequelae. In addition to a seizure, an overdose can cause cardiac arrest or even cerebral hypoxia, when the oxygen supply to the brain is reduced.
Paola says it is also important to point out that the association of excess caffeine with taurine, which stimulates the central nervous system, will mask the effect of alcohol. “So, it causes the person to consume an even larger amount of alcohol, which can lead to intoxication and alcoholic coma because the person does not know when to stop. Alcohol also leads to euphoria and disinhibition, so the higher the dose, the greater the effects, including behavioral ones,” explains the cardiologist.
How Much Energy Can I Take?
By way of comparison, the cardiologist says that a can of energy drink has, on average, up to 80 mg of caffeine, while a 30 ml cup of coffee has 35 mg of the substance, more than double. Still, it is not possible to generalize and say how much caffeine and taurine a person can ingest per day, as each has a different metabolism or reaction to consumption.
Dr. Rosana also says that some people are more susceptible to the energy drink, while others are less, and that this will depend on the receptors and neurotransmitters of each individual. “There are people who make that classic comment: ‘I can drink a lot of coffee and my sleep won’t be affected’, and there are those who will say that they only drink a little coffee and end up sleeping very badly”, he exemplifies.
The nutritionist also says that the issue is very individual, as there are people who absorb caffeine faster and those who absorb the substance slowly, and that even despite this individuality, drinks are not recommended because of the dosage. “If you have a patient who, for example, is diabetic, we would not recommend it because the amount of sugar is extremely high, as well as [would not recommend] patients with high blood pressure and those with higher anxiety,” says Cilla.
Dr. Paola also says that a patient is never recommended to drink energy drinks, but if a patient wants to do so, all the professionals made it clear that he needs to check his own health conditions. “You have to check, first, if she doesn’t have cardiac arrhythmia, hypertension or any cardiovascular problem, sleep disturbance and even gastric problems, because caffeine will also make this problem worse, and ideally, the ingestion is no more than a can” , complements.
The cardiologist also mentions that, in general, whoever is drinking should ingest at most 2.5 mg of caffeine per adult weight, then multiplying by the amount of caffeine present in a can of energy drink and how many will be consumed. The doctor adds that among the symptoms of overuse of drinks, in addition to arrhythmias, worsening of anxiety and seizures, there are also nausea, headaches, irritability and insomnia.
The specialist also says that if the person has these symptoms, it is important that he hydrates enough, especially if he made the consumption with alcohol, drinking plenty of water. In some cases, it is necessary to seek hospitalization to receive intravenous hydration, possibly administered with glucose.