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Energy Drinks: CAUTION!

Nowadays, energy drinks are present and accessible almost everywhere, in grocery stores, convenience stores and even in some sport shops. It is also a frequent occurrence to notice empty energy drink containers near schools and arenas, and see young people walk on the street and people driving cars while drinking energy drinks.

To stimulate sales of those products, several ad campaigns use posters, TV commercials and even motor vehicles bearing energy drink companies logos and colours. As well, manufacturers sometimes sponsor sport events and widely distribute free drinks. All those ads promote their products by indicating that energy drinks help stimulate mind and body, boost intellectual alertness, combat fatigue and even improve physical stamina.

The products are so fashionable that consumers trivialise their use. Young people, athletes and workers use them often and for several reasons. Often, when I visit workplaces, I notice empty containers in construction trailers, vehicles and even at workstations. What does the use of energy drinks really do for you, are they truly necessary? Will their consumption add value to your performance?

First of all, let us have a look at the ingredients of those drinks and at their side-effects. Actually, experts have been warning people for several years after noticing an increase in patients in hospital emergencies after drinking excessive amounts of that type of drinks. According to the experts, consumption can affect mood, cardiac function, the ability to concentrate and quality of sleep, all effects that are diametrically opposed to the virtues advertised. That is why it is imperative to remain alert when using those drinks that are everything but innocuous. The marketing of energy drinks focuses on the natural sources of ingredients and indeed, most of them contain extracts of plants such as ginseng, ginkgo biloba and guarana, which help stimulate the body and increase concentration. However, guarana seeds contain twice as much caffeine as coffee does, so that is why it can be dangerous to ingest it in large quantities. Moreover, once combined, those plant extracts dramatically multiply the effects of caffeine. In addition, since users of energy drinks could become dehydrated prematurely, they must make sure to drink more water. Energy drinks also contain a very large quantity of sugar. Every 250 ml container can contain up to 7 to 9 teaspoons, meaning 110 to 140 calories.

Energy drinks tend to have quite an array of adverse effects on your health. Extended use of those drinks can cause side-effects on the central nervous system (lack of sleep, irritability, anxiety, headaches), cardiovascular system (blood pressure increase, rapid heart rate, risk of arrhythmia), digestive system (overproduction of acidity, heartburn and gastrointestinal disturbances) and renal system (overproduction of urine leading to loss of water (dehydration) and minerals (sodium, potassium, etc.)).

Therefore, energy drink users in the workplace could find themselves in a state of dehydration without feeling it immediately. Moreover, studies show a relationship between dehydration and musculoskeletal injuries, particularly while working under conditions of extreme heat.

In conclusion, the use of energy drinks is not recommended. While they produce some effect in the short-term, their side-effects are much harmful to your health. Those drinks are to be removed from the workplace and not recommended before a work shift, particularly in hot weather. After publication of the 2012 Food and Drug Administration (FDA) report on the subject, it seems that the effects of energy drinks on our health remain under close scrutiny by the researchers. However, this much is certain: health hazards are real. A healthy diet combined with a healthy lifestyle guarantee optimal work performance![i]

[i] Source: HAMMOUM, Sabrina. La vérité sur les boissons énergisantes et énergétiques (The Truth About Energy Drinks)