Think before you drink: Many energy drinks contain lots of sugar and caffeine

Tuesday, June 26, 2012 12:39 AM    Views : 658by:Tyrone M. Reyes M.D.

Q. My grandson drinks several energy drinks a day. Is this bad for his health?

A. It certainly could be. Energy drinks come in a variety of formulations, but most contain lots of caffeine and sugar and possibly herbal stimulants and a supplementary amino acid known as taurine. However, it can be difficult to determine what's in them or how much.

Having an occasional energy drink isn't necessarily bad, especially those that contain about the same amount of caffeine as a cup or two of coffee, and a similar amount of sugar as a can of soda. But many energy drinks contain much higher amounts of caffeine and other substances.

High amounts of caffeine and sugar and whatever herbal stimulants may be added can have a variety of serous effects. They may cause a markedly faster heartbeat, irritability, nervousness, nausea, and impaired sleep. In addition, the acids and sugars in these drinks promote tooth decay and the sugar contains a lot of extra calories with little nutritional value.

By itself, massive amounts of caffeine can increase your blood pressure and sometimes impair blood flow to your heart. It may trigger abnormal heart rhythms, which can be life-threatening in some people. Increased risk of a potential heart problem rises when energy drinks are consumed along with alcohol, when you're dehydrated, or when consumed quickly before a sporting event. Serious medical problems, including fainting or even a heart attack, can occur due to consumption of energy drinks in these situations.

It's important to educate your grandson about the potential dangers of energy drinks. Perhaps you can encourage him to read labels to determine the contents and amount of caffeine, among other ingredients. It may be helpful to remind your grandson that the best route to a healthy, energetic life is to get adequate sleep, to exercise regularly, and to eat a healthy diet.


S & T Trivia

" The University of the Philippines developed an anti-cough medicine (Ascof) and a diuretic (Releaf) from Philippine herbs lagundi and sambong, respectively, which won a silver in the 1997 International Inventors' Fair in Switzerland. The research papers were organized by Dr. Francis Gomez. "

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