Harmful Side Effects

Straight talk about the downside of energy drinks

A lot of people have been dissing energy drinks lately because of the harms associated with that excessive buzz. However, since these drinks are harnessing the power of synthetic stimuli, there’s bound to be side effects – of the good and bad kind.

Since energy drinks don’t all contain the same ingredients, you’ll probably find your body reacting differently from brand to brand. However, the ingredients in these drinks that are giving them a bad rap are namely guarana, taurine and especially caffeine. These are the ingredients aimed at providing you with an increased spurt of energy. However, these same energy boosters have been shown to have some pretty nasty effects on your body’s systems and on your short-term memory.

The side effects you might experience depend on the drink’s ingredients. Many drinks are made with a high percentage of carbohydrates. This will often make it harder for food and nutrients to be absorbed into your bloodstream, so your energy boost might not be as high or as effective. Excess carbohydrates can also cause the drinker to experience some gastrointestinal problems – especially if you drink one right before performing intense activity. This is why an energy drink that’s high in carbs isn’t a good choice for competitive athletes. Carbs slow down the rate of fluid absorption, and make it harder to rehydrate during exercise.

Energy drinks also tend to be packed with a lot of fructose and sugar, which can often have laxative effects on your body. Sugar causes your energy levels (or insulin levels) to come crashing down once the sugar leaves the bloodstream. Energy drinks high in sugar are good for a short-term buzz, as they stimulate your nervous system quickly, which usually makes you feel more energetic at first. However, the sugar is used up in a short period, and the drinker is often left feeling more fatigued than they were to begin with. If your drink contains high amounts of sugar, regular consumption will lead to dental health problems such as cavities.

Caffeine is known to have both laxative and diuretic effects on the body, which means you often lose the stimulant through excess urination and are left dehydrated. Caffeine also increases your heart rate and body temperature. Too much of this stimulant can cause an irregular heartbeat, excess sweating, jitters and anxiousness, which is hardly ideal if you want to concentrate for an exam or get in the mindset for a competitive event.

On top of that, high amounts of caffeine can reduce your coordination and balance. Too many energy drinks with caffeine will disturb your sleeping patterns. These are the reasons that top the list of why children, pregnant women and people with heart conditions should avoid energy drinks.

If the side effects of energy drinks alone aren’t enough to deter you, then add some alcohol to strengthen the negative effects. Mixing energy drinks with booze causes further dehydration. This explains why raver kids are passing out at dance clubs.

Energy drink cocktails cause drowsiness, loss of coordination and slow reflexes. To make matters worse, when you’re pounding back energy drinks and alcohol it’s hard to determine just how much booze you’ve actually taken in. As a result, your blood alcohol concentration will often rise in conjunction with your energy and bravado – therefore you won’t even realize how much alcohol you’ve consumed, and might try to do something stupid – like drive home.

However, energy drinks aren’t all doom and gloom. There are some known positive side effects as well. For instance, drinks that contain Echinacea are said to help bolster the immune system, while energy drinks containing Ginkgo biloba and ginseng are thought to improve memory.

Basically, if your energy drink is causing any of these side effects, you should be aware of them. After that, it’s up to you to weigh the good with the bad.


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