n the last several years the energy drink industry has reached over $9.7 billion in sales within the United States alone. With its marketing targeted towards adolescents and young adults, it’s no surprise that 51% of college students in a recent study said that they consumed at least one energy drink per month. (1, 2)
When you just need to take a nap, but life needs you to still show up energetic and full of life, you might turn to an energy drink as a reliable source to deliver a boost. But your energy drink comes with some eye-opening health concerns that consumers should be aware of. It’s scary to realize the truth about what consuming one of your favorite drinks can do to your body.
Image source: Leicester Mercury/ Chris Gordon
Energy Drink Dangers
Energy drinks include excessive caffeine combined with high sugar content- and sometimes are even mixed with alcohol. When taken in excess, energy drinks can pose a number of threats that make staying tired seem more desirable.
At the young age of 32, Samantha Sharpe from Leicester, UK has experienced first-hand the serious health complications posed from excess energy drink consumption. Since February of 2018, Samantha has been living with a pacemaker.
For 4 years she used energy drinks as a way to push her through her days. Her days included raising three children and worked evenings. Samantha would down an energy drink as a “band-aid” solution to keep her alert.
With time, Samantha’s addiction to energy drinks only heightening. She states, “The drinks made my heart beat faster, which would cause palpitations, then after I would crash when I needed another one, causing my heart rate to drop to 20 beats per minute.”
Though the drinks gave her heart palpitations, whenever she would feel the mid-day crash coming on, she felt the urge to reach for another energy drink, consuming 5-6 energy drinks a day. Eventually, Samantha began experiencing blackouts.
Samantha’s continuing energy drink consumption worsened her first-degree heart blockage diagnosis to second-degree. Due to the amount of sugar she consumed from her daily drinks, she experienced kidney stones and was even on the verge of developing type 2 diabetes.
To help her heart function, Samantha now has a pacemaker which she’s been wearing since early 2018. Samantha warns those who are savvy on consuming energy drinks, “People do not realize how badly it affects you… It breaks my heart when I see kids doing it… The effects of energy drinks need to be advertised more. I think everyone knows they aren’t good for you, but no one has ever said why they aren’t.” (10)
Energy Drinks: What You Need To Know
Especially for those who are sleep deprived, energy drinks are known to get you through those long days and nights. While you may want and need a boost of energy, energy drinks bring up a number of health concerns.
With the energy drink market continuing to climb- come the problems which are beginning to emerge from its consumption. Cardiovascular effects, metabolic, renal, and dental conditions are a few of the health ailments associated with energy drinks. (2)
Aside from the extra pep in your step these lively beverages promise to deliver, here’s what you should know before you reach for the nearest energy drink:
- Energy drinks can affect your sleep and your sanity. The FDA doesn’t regulate the amount of caffeine in energy drinks. Because of this, you might need to put more effort into finding out how much caffeine you’re consuming and when to stop drinking it to maintain your sleep schedule. A good rule of thumb is if you wouldn’t drink coffee after certain hours, an energy drink should be no exception! (3)
- Most traditional energy drinks contain sugars that result in weight gain, as well as posing a risk for type 2 diabetes. (4)
- Over time, the high amount of sugars in energy drinks can become difficult for your body to respond to. When this happens, your body requires more insulin to help glucose enter your cells. This insulin resistance can lead to type 2 diabetes. Additionally, having consistently high blood sugar levels can damage nerves and blood vessels. That can lead to heart disease and kidney problems. (8, 9)
- Mild to severe caffeine overdoses are becoming a real concern, especially among children and teens. (5) Because of this, many are questioning if caffeine can be considered a gateway drug. A recent study by the American Society of Addiction Medicine found there was a strong correlation between teen energy drink use and their use of illegal drugs