Energy drinks: death in a can?

You need energy for everything you do, from doing your job, to having s.e.x., to walking down the street. But drinking an energy drink to increase your energy just might send you to the emergency room. This isn’t just my opinion, it was reported on a government health website, which reports an increase in ER visits due to energy drink consumption: (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_133134.html).

And energy drinks might do more than send you to the ER.

Can caffeine kill?

November 2000.  An 18-year-old student drank three Red Bull energy drinks before a basketball game and died during the match. The medical examiner found that he had abnormally thick heart wall, but nobody took it seriously and investigated further.

December 2011.  A 14-year-old girl tried to get more energy from energy drinks.  She drank two drinks within a 24-hour period.  She suddenly developed cardiac arrhythmia and died.  

An attempt was made to get the FDA to regulate or ban energy drinks. The attempt failed. (http://thehill.com/images/stories/blogs/flooraction/jan2012/durbinfda.pdf).

Concerns about energy drinks continued to rise. But energy drink manufacturers fought back, claiming that so-called energy drink-related deaths were in fact related to underlying medical conditions, not to energy drink consumption.  Their logic? An energy drink on average contains the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee. Nobody should die because of 2 or 3 cups of coffee. But it seems that they do.

 

What’s draining our energy?

So who is right? Consumers, who are concerned with too much caffeine consumption, or energy drink manufacturers, who say it’s not a problem? Could it be both of them? Or neither of them?

Think about it: who needs more energy? Obviously, people who don't have enough. But what kinds of people don’t have enough energy? A healthy person should have plenty of energy, and therefore shouldn’t need something artificial that can bring his level up. (I’m talking about a chronic lack of energy, not the occasional low-energy day that most of us have.)

If somebody doesn't have enough energy, it could mean that they might have a serious hidden health problem. Like that athlete who needed to drink energy drink before a basketball game. He should have been in great shape and full of energy. Or the 14-year-old girl who should have had plenty of energy at her age.

 

Artificial energy can hide real health issues

If somebody is constantly fatigued, it often means there’s a very serious health problem. Being fatigued means that the body can’t produce enough energy to function. But in many of these cases these significant health problems go unnoticed. That’s where the problem starts, and energy drinks make it worse.

I see it often in my office. A patient comes in complaining of severe fatigue. But before coming to my office, he usually goes to multiple doctors with the same complaint. Multiple tests were done and came back normal. A patient is told that nothing is wrong. But in fact this patient is suffering from a serious problem. It could be adrenal fatigue. Or lack of nutrients. Or toxins. Or hidden infection.  These problems either consume too much energy, or prevent the patient from creating enough energy.

This creates a vicious cycle: the less energy at patient has, the less power he has to solve the problem. And in many cases, the patient reaches for a quick solution – an energy drink. Sure, the patient gets a burst of artificial energy, but quickly becomes dependent on the energy drink. That's what makes energy drinks manufacturers rich.  But is the energy drink itself is the root case of the problem?  Or it is failure of the person to realize that he has to see a doctor who can solve the underlying problem that the energy drink is covering up?

 

The ingredients for disaster

Bottom line: If you’re healthy, you shouldn’t need energy drinks. If you’re not healthy, you shouldn’t drink energy drinks.

Think about it. Energy drinks usually contain every well-known stimulant caffeine alone with other stimulants like ginseng—mixed with some kind of sedative like taurine or alcohol.  Sedatives are essential to mitigate the adverse effects of caffeine, like anxiety and jitteriness. But of course they cannot neutralize them at all. Some people say that contain has some health benefits. But here’s something you may not know: caffeine is a natural pesticide that protects plants. Would you drink pesticide even if you’re told it’s safe and beneficial for your health? Probably not.


Get more energy naturally

My thoughts how to improve your energy level without doing a dangerous energy drink:

  1. If you have abnormal fatigue, find a specialist who specializes in finding the root cause of yourfatigue.
  2. Spend your energy wisely. Get rid of unnecessary tasks. Review your everyday schedule.  Keep in mind that as hunter-gatherers, humans wre designed to work only 2 to 3 hours a day. The rest of the day they should relax and have fun. How many hours do you work?
  3. Get enough sleep. Go to bed around 9 p.m., and get up around 6 a.m. Sleeping in or sleeping at the wrong times doesn’t really help—go to bed on time!
  4. Get enough nutrients, minerals and vitamins.
  5. Avoid processed food.
  6. Stick with Paleolithic diet.
  7. Do not make any health decisions unless approved by your physician.

Good luck!

 

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