Over the past two decades there has been an explosion in the popularity of energy drinks. Energy drinks have somehow taken the world by storm and have even been replacing coffee in some cases, but they may be doing more damage than good. These often-craved beverages have evolved over the years into more commercial versions of their previous selves. Energy drinks such as Red Bull, NOS, Amp, Rockstar and Monster, to name a few, have become the next addiction in America, with annual sales even in the billions.
Most of these drinks contain large doses of caffeine, as well as other legal stimulating substances such as taurine and ginseng. Along with these stimulating substances, some energy drinks contain harmful substances known as excitotoxins such as, aspartame and monosodium glutamate (MSG). These chemicals known as excitotoxins cause such health conditions as obesity, infertility, migraines and even cancer to name a few.
The World Natural Health Organization says that, excitotoxins are amino acids such as glutamate, aspartate and cysteine, that also serve as neurotransmitters in the brain. When brain neurons are exposed to these neurotransmitters in too high a dose, they can become very excited and fire impulses rapidly until they reach a state of exhaustion. Soon after, as if they were “excited” to death, these neurons suddenly die. Neuroscientists have named this class of chemicals “excitotoxins,” due to the progression.
Like most damaging addictions, the minimal amount just does not satisfy some habitual consumers, after a while, thus causing them to consume more energy drinks in order to reap the benefits they once felt after drinking only one. Despite coffee being the number one drug in the world consumed on a daily basis, these drinks have given coffee some serious competition. Unlike coffee, which does have some health benefits if consumed in moderation, most commercial energy drinks do not and may even do more harm to the body, than good.
The damages caused by these energy drinks are astounding and unheard of as opposed to cases where people consume too much coffee. Dr. Mercola stated in an article on his website, that in December 2011, a 14-year-old girl suffered a fatal cardiac arrhythmia that was linked to caffeine toxicity after consuming two 24-ounce energy drinks in a 24-hour period. The girl’s mother, with the help of Senator Dick Durbin, have since called on the FDA to regulate the caffeine content in these drinks.
Dr. Russell Blaylock explained in his book, Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills, that more and more diseases of the nervous system are being linked to excitotoxin build-up in the brain. Disorders such as strokes, brain injury, hypoxic brain damage, seizures, migraine headaches, hypoglycemic brain damage, and even AIDS dementia have been linked to excitotoxin damage.
Despite most of these commercial brands containing some damaging substances, there are still some good brands on the market that can be considered healthy alternative energy drinks. Even though these healthy alternative drinks may contain caffeine as well, they contain naturally occurring caffeine as opposed to the artificially infused caffeine found in most energy drinks. Some companies that sell healthy alternative energy drinks are Guayaki, Runa and Scheckter’s. Many of these alternative drinks can be found in supermarkets such as Wholefoods, Stop & Shop and Giant.
By Robert Masucci
Photo by Simon Desmarais – Flickr License