By Trudy Brooke from Begins Within
Let’s not just stop at ‘the bull’, while I’m on the subject let’s bring into the picture – all energy drinks (with or without sugar), sports drinks, cola drinks (all of them! – diet, zero, etc) – I don’t need to mention them by name – the advertising and marketing industry has made sure we know them!
While this doesn’t apply to everyone, and certainly not the well-informed readers of this blog site, I am sure you will join me in recognising the problem that is within our community as a whole. We see the same neglect to health in many highly promoted items from so called ‘healthy’ products to things that many consider ‘can’t be that bad’ to the downright dangerous.
Working in a profession that calls for a high level of accountability and duty of care in regard to what we use as safe treatments and prescriptions, yet there seems to be no such accountability for so many blatantly dangerous products available for any age to purchase.
I cannot believe it when I see children at local sporting events drinking these drinks, either before or after a game, and mostly I mean a one hour game, hardly an endurance event, an event that brings about the need only for rehydration! Have you ever been into a food store and seen someone purchase takeaway food and 1-2 sports drinks for lunch thinking it a healthier alternative? What is going on? Why do we give so much power to advertisers? If we truly wish to reclaim responsibility for our health (and that of our families) we need to first start with asking questions and not believing the hype.
Why do we even reach for them? Firstly marketing has us believe that they give you extra energy and let’s face it that is appealing, in this fast paced life many choose to live in, extra energy sounds just like what you want…But extra energy is the last thing you get, actually when you come down from the energy rush, you hit a point lower than before you needed the rush, ‘no problem’ – that is when you reach for another redbull (or drink of choice!) and peak and crash, again and again – getting the picture?! The caffeine content varies between these drinks and while some are caffeine-free the artificial sweeteners, flavours and high sodium content causes problems with the balance of the fluid within the cells which interferes with energy production, so some of these things you consume to get a ‘hit’ or to get you through a game actually deplete your energy. The truth is there are no ‘wings’, you don’t get the body of an athlete and you don’t get to run your life effectively on 2 hours sleep and junk food!
Have you wondered why there is so much ‘agro’ going on – road rage; car park rage; shopping rage & so on? People & the media keep asking the question ‘why are there so many attacks or random fights breaking out amongst young people after a few drinks?’ No one however seems to be joining the dots. Well those that know me well know that this is a subject that gets me going!!
I think the most frightening aspect is that the target market is teenagers to young adults which, from a nutritional point of view is when it can contribute to long term damage – growth is at its maximum so all required minerals are needed for optimal growth; stress levels are often high due to peer group activities, demands of school, uni or starting work, not to mention social activities & sport, leading to a strain on nervous and immune systems.
The highly caffinated drinks interfere with the bodies signalling system for insulin production leading to insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome which can lead to diabetes. As these drinks interfere with mineral absorption necessary minerals (particularly calcium and magnesium) are leached from the bones leading to poor bone growth, juvenile arthritis, hyperacidity, poor digestion. With poor digestion comes poor nutrient assimilation, and many of these same missing minerals are vital for normal neurotransmitter and brain function. The domino effect through the body and its systems are not isolated, digestion affects everything in the body. The body is trying to deal with the effects of a caffeine buzz or falling off a caffeine crash. Subsequently the effect on the adrenals & thyroid affects how we cope with and respond to stress & stressors…which brings me back to the ‘agro’! Those who have heard me go on & on about magnesium (for those of you who haven’t give me a call sometime and I’ll be happy to fill you in!!) will know how this very important mineral (and the cofactors that work with it such as zinc and b vitamins) is responsible for so many reactions in the body and that when it is removed or blocked by drinking these drinks leads to a magnesium deficiency causing irritability, reduced digestion, anxiety, behavioural disturbances, poor concentration, depression, disturbance of heart rhythm, poor appetite, agitation and much, much more!
Mixing energy drinks with spirits and shots has become very popular, however combining alcohol with a highly caffeinated drink actually masks the effects of alcohol, leading people to underestimate just how alcohol affected (drunk!) they are. This leads to poor decision making such as: driving, uninhibited &/or risky behaviour, aggressive responses (fights, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, glassings) and other anti-social behaviour due to binge drinking and the effects of mixing alcohol & stimulants. When drinking alcohol with energy drinks a false self awareness of intoxication is present and as the person is not truly aware of how intoxicated they are they tend to drink more alcohol increasing their risk of acute alcohol poisoning and intense intoxication.
The bottom line is – if you don’t have enough energy to make it through the day there is something out of balance with your lifestyle – whether that be insufficient sleep, exercise, nutrition or even joy. When you are in good health, physically, mentally and emotionally the body is able to naturally produce all you need to boost you along as you need to.