“Red Bull gives you wings” say the commercials. But it turns out that misusing energy drinks, including the industry leader Red Bull, can give you health problems as well.
The premise sounds good – drinking a beverage that gives you extra energy, and nowadays, who can’t use a little extra energy? Energy drinks have become a 1.1 Billion dollar industry with all of the major producers, and most of the smaller ones, jumping to get a piece of the action.
Targeted primarily to teens and young adults, energy drinks combine varying amounts of caffeine, vitamins, sugar, and other ingredients such as taurine and ginseng. Most energy drinks have the same amount of caffeine as 1-2 cups of coffee. Red Bull in particular has the equivalent of 1 cup of coffee, Jolt Cola the equivalent of about 3 cups.
So where’s the down side?
There are several in my opinion.
First, I’m not a big caffeine junkie having learned the hard way how addictive it can be (I used to pound down a six-pack of Dr. Pepper every day). If you’ve ever been “hooked” on caffeine and then tried to quit, you know how bad caffeine addiction can be. Anything that is that addictive can’t be good for your body.
Second, mixing Red Bull with vodka has become a very popular drink. Combining the Red Bull (or any energy drink) with alcohol is a really bad idea. According to experts, the caffeine in the Red Bull can mask the effects of the alcohol. In other words, people actually become more drunk than they think they are. This can lead to some really bad decisions – like deciding to drive yourself home, for example.
Third, researchers are finding that drinking energy drinks such as Red Bull may increase the risk of stroke and heart attack, even in young adults. Studies have shown that healthy blood vessels can show some signs of damage after drinking just one can. It’s for this reason that Red Bull is banned in France, Norway, Denmark, and Uruguay with other countries currently performing studies of their own.
What’s my take?
Well, those that know me know that I don’t believe in artificial stimulants. If you don’t have enough energy to make it through the day, then you’re not getting enough sleep, exercise, or proper nutrition. There should be no reason to “boost” your energy level by artificial means. If you’re in good health, you should be able to do this naturally. My advice is to learn how to balance your health the natural way and ditch the artificial “crutches.”
Lastly, if you do enjoy energy drinks such as Red Bull, drink them responsively. That means don’t drink too many, don’t drink them when performing strenuous physical activities or playing sports, and for God’s sake, don’t mix them with alcohol.
>>Update: be sure to see my latest post on this topic titled “How Safe are Energy Drinks Like Red Bull?“
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