Energy drinks are sugar-sweetened beverages containing caffeine, added sugar, or other sweeteners. Such as sucrose, fruit juice concentrates, high fructose corn syrup, and more. Let’s explore the Dangers of Energy Drinks plus Healthy Alternatives
Energy drinks are generally full of calories. And even though you may ingest many calories by drinking them, you’re less likely to feel full as in after a solid meal. This doesn’t allow calorie compensation during a real meal, thus leading to an overconsumption of calories.
Research shows that an average can of energy drink contains 150 calories, and if you were to drink a can every day without cutting back on other sources of calories, you could end up gaining 5 pounds in just a year.
Beyond weight gain, high consumption of energy drinks may negatively affect your health in different ways.
This article goes more profoundly on the dangers of energy drinks on your health and what you can drink instead.
1. Increased weight gain
The most visible danger of consuming energy drinks is weight gain. As stated early, since these drinks are full of calories and don’t make you feel full, you’re likely to consume more calories than you need, thus leading to weight gain in both adults and children.
In one study, consuming energy drinks rich in high fructose corn syrup enhanced calorie overconsumption, leading to obesity.
In another study conducted on children, an additional serving of sugar-sweetened drinks resulted in a 60% increase in childhood obesity.
2. Increases belly fat
Fructose in energy drinks has been linked to fat accumulation around the midsection, often referred to as belly fat or visceral fat.
Belly fat is a huge risk factor for heart disease, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, asthma, breast cancer, colon cancer, and type 2 diabetes.
In one study, consuming fructose-containing beverages increased visceral fat, while glucose-containing beverages increased skin fat, often not associated with metabolic conditions.
3. May lead to kidney damage
According to research, energy drinks, including soda and sweetened fruit drinks, may increase your risk of developing kidney damage by up to 60%.
The National Kidney Foundation states that drinking more than one diet soda every day for an extended period will decrease your kidney function by 30 percent.
In another research, consuming carbonated beverages may increase the risk for kidney disease. Carbonated drinks also contain phosphoric acid, which promotes urinary changes that promote kidney stones.
4. Increases the risk of type 2 diabetes
Large-scale studies indicate that regular consumption of sweetened beverages contributes to obesity and type 2 diabetes.
A 2010 meta-analysis by Harvard University found that regular consumption of 1 or more cans of sugary drinks per day increased the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 26 percent.
In another study, researchers looked at the effects of sugar consumption and diabetes in 175 countries. They found that every 150 sugar calories per day increased the risk of diabetes by 1.1 percent.
In addition, energy drinks are full of fructose which has been linked to insulin resistance, the main problem in type 2 diabetes and a stepping stone to heart disease.
5. Bad teeth
Sugar in energy drinks interacts with the bacteria in your mouth to produce acid. The acid attacks your teeth and dissolves the enamel, which allows the bacteria to invade the corroded areas causing cavities and tooth decay. With this happening, keep in mind that soft drinks also contain acid, making the damage worse.
6. Energy drinks may increase your risk for heart disease
High consumption of sugar can cause inflammation and high blood pressure, increasing your risk of heart disease.
According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, too much sugar can increase your triglyceride levels but lower good cholesterol, which plays an important role in maintaining a healthy heart.
Moreover, the caffeine in energy drinks may increase heart rate, high blood pressure, insomnia, and anxiety. Over time, this may increase the risk of developing heart disease, among other complications.
In one study, consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages increased the risk of coronary heart disease.
In another 20-year study, researchers found that drinking a can of soft drink a day had a 205 increased risk of developing or dying from a heart attack compared to those who rarely consumed soft drinks.
7. Weakens bone
A comparative study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that cola was associated with low bone mineral density in some bones, such as the hip and femoral in women who consumed cola daily compared to those who drank cola once a month.
8. May cause fatty liver
Energy drinks are high in fructose, however, this fructose can only be metabolized in the liver. With too much consumption, the liver becomes overwhelmed, and the process of lipogenesis to convert the fructose into fat is instead stimulated. So any excess fructose is converted into fat.
While some fat can be released into the bloodstream as triglycerides, some will remain and accumulate in the liver. Over time this can cause nonalcoholic fatty liver.
If left untreated, fatty liver may progress to cause inflammation (steatohepatitis), which may progress to cirrhosis and further complicate to cause ascites, variceal bleeding, encephalopathy, and liver failure.
What are the best alternatives to drink instead of sugar-sweetened soft drinks?
- Drink Plenty Water – see The Benefits Of Drinking Water.
- Fruit-infused water – These may include slices of orange, Cucumber Lemon Water, Cucumber Detox Water, mint, and ginger, or lemon and strawberry
- Fresh juice water- Add water into a freshly squeezed orange juice
- Coconut water
- Iced herbal tea – Lemon Verbena Tea, Mint Tea.
- Homemade lemonade – Mango Lemonade, Strawberry Lemonade
- Fresh vegetable juice – V8 Juice and Beet Juice
- Smoothies – Moringa Smoothie and Blueberry Banana Smoothie
- Ginger root tea – Mango Leaf Tea and Moringa Tea
Energy drinks are full of sugar, coffee, acid, and additives that have been shown to be harmful to your health.
High consumption may increase your risk of developing various health issues such as weight gain, kidney damage. Also, type 2 diabetes, nonalcoholic liver disease, heart disease, weak bones, and tooth damage.
To avoid these complications, there are various homemade alternatives to quench your thirst for an energy drink while maintaining good health.
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