• The Health Risks of Soda and the New Energy Drinks

    The “Standard American Diet” (S.A.D.) which is quite SAD, is a term, specifically used to label what some say is the standard diet of Americans. This includes fast food, processed food, and sodas. Soda did not exist until about 60 years ago. Recently Coca-Cola has set itself the goal of raising consumption of its products in the United States by at least 25 percent a year, and because the adult market is stagnant, selling more soda to kids has become one of the easiest ways to meet sales projections, says Eric Schlosser of Fast Food Nation. Sodas contain sugar and caffeine. Twenty years ago, teenage boys in the United States drank twice as much milk as soda; now they drink twice as much soda as milk. Although most school districts have cut out selling sodas, according to Schlosser, at least twenty school districts in the United States have their own Subway franchises, fifteen hundred districts have Subway delivery contracts and forty-five hundred districts sell Taco Bell products. These practices proliferate the Standard American Diet and consumption of sodas.

    Energy drinks are the worst invention of the 21st century next to cell phones. Their popularity is exclusive to the United States and have been popular since 1977 with the debut of Red Bull. France banned Red Bull after an 18-year-old athlete died from drinking four cans. Since Red Bull’s debut, more than 500 drinks have been launched in since 2006. This amount to 5.7 billion dollars in profits for the industry, as disclosed by Brenda Malinauskas. These drinks were manufactured for a generation that recently has become sleep deprived, energy deprived and addicted to sugar. For generations before the invention of soda or energy drinks, we were not a nation that depended on a beverage to keep us going or to keep us awake.

    Why are energy drinks so detrimental to the body? They contain massive amounts of sugar: some up to 102 grams. They also contain stimulants such as caffeine (as much as 80-150 mg. per serving), ginseng and taurine that give the consumer jolts of energy and high amounts of carbohydrates. Even though these are stimulants, they have been known to cause insomnia, high blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, seizures, anxiety and heart palpitations. The sugary taste and the boost of energy can be very addictive (www.myadrenalfatigue.com/energydrinks). Because the drinks contain caffeine, they are diuretics and cause loss of fluids. If a person isn’t getting the recommended water intake and substitutes fluids with Monster or Red Bull, or others, they are at high risk of dehydration. Fatigue is one sign the body does not have enough water intake.

    With up to 30g of sugar, the fallout of this is that it will cause energy levels to crash once the sugar leaves the bloodstream. This sugar rush is short lived, so the consumer is soon feeling more fatigued than they were to begin with. To stay energized another drink is consumed to stay awake or alert and the cycle of addiction continues. Might the answer to the fatigue for someone addicted to energy drinks be to drink more water to stay awake? If not, the cycle of fatigue and energy drink could continue until one day they crash and can’t figure out why this happened.

    Malinauskas states that caffeine is the main ingredient in these drinks that gives energy. However, the amount of caffeine is three times that as one cup of coffee. Caffeine can lead to diseases such as osteoporosis, insomnia, and ulcers according to Malinauskas. Guarana is one ingredient that contains caffeine. One gram of guarana contains 40 mg of caffeine and may increase the total caffeine in the drink, warns Karrie Heneman, PhD. Some side effects noted in Heneman’s studies include nervousness, irritability, sleeplessness, increased urination, abnormal heart rhythms, decreased bone levels and stomach upset.

    Originally published in Vacaville Magazine. Reprint permission on this website granted by Lauren Runow.