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ENERGY DRINK: UNMASKING THE MYTH

National NIFST Day is celebrated Nationwide on 6th June of every year….This Years theme is ” Food Faddism” A Food Science and Technology Perspective.

BY

NWACHUKWU CHARLES, U MNIFST, MIPAN, MICCON

DEPUTY DIRECTOR/ HEAD OF LABORATORY

NAFDAC ZONAL LABORATORY, AGULU, ANAMBRA STATE

AT

NIGERIAN INSTITUTE OF FOOD SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY 2013 DAY, AT ENUGU, ENUGU STATE.

6TH MAY, 2013

1.0 INTRODUCTION

Energy drink may be used to describe carbonated beverages that contains large doses of caffeine and sugar in combination with other ingredients such as guarana, taurine ginserg, green tea, vitamins, amino acids & mineral.

Guarana is an herb that contains caffeine. Taurine is an amino acid naturally found in meat and fish. Green tea extract contains caffeine.

The term energy drink was created by companies in the beverage industry and it is not international recognized.

Most people consume energy drinks with the believe that they give extra energy and significantly improve;

  • Alertness
  • Physical and mental performance
  • Driving ability
  • Decrease mental fatigue during long periods of concentration.
  • Helps to burn fat stored in the body when ingested during physical activities.

If these are to be so, there are scanty evidence to ascertain if the improvements in any these claims is due to the caffeine, other herbal ingredients, or as a result of the combination or interaction of the ingredients found in the beverages. However caffeine is suspected to provide the energizing ‘boost’.

Many brands of energy drinks are sold in the supermarkets, hotels and bar all over the country. They include, Red Bull, Bullet, Rock star, Monster etc.

2.0 CAFFEINE

Caffeine is a bitter, white crystalline xanthine alkaloid that acts as a stimulant drug. Caffeine is found in some plants, such as coffee, kolanut, guarana berries, green tea etc.

In human, caffeine act as a central Nervous System Stimulant. It can temporary ward off drowsiness and restoring alertness. It is the world most widely consumed psychoactive drug. It is legal and unregulated in almost all parts of the world. Beverages containing caffeine, such as coffee, tea, soft drink and energy drink, enjoy great popularity. It is classified as Generally Recognised As Safe (GRAS) by United States of America, Food and Drug Administration (US-FDA).

Ordinary consumption of caffeine can have low health risk, even when carried on for years. They may be a modest protective effect against some diseases, including Parkinson’s, disease certain types of cancer, reduces likely hood of developing diabetes. Some people experience sleep disruption if they consume caffeine, especially during the evening hours, but orders show little disturbance and the effect of caffeine on sleep is highly variable.

Caffeine has pressor and mild diuretics effect when administered to people who are not use to it, but regular users develop a tolerance to this effect. It is a common notion that caffeine contributes significantly to dehydration.

One serve of most energy drink (250ml) contains 80mg of caffeine. More than 500mg a day of caffeine is considered unhealthy, and can cause insomnia, nervousness, restlessness, irritability, stomach upset, muscle tremors, and increased blood pressure as well as heart rate.

3.0 OTHER CONSTITUTES OF ENERGY DRINK

3.1 TAURINE

The human body can synthesize taurine, which is therefore a non-essential amino acid. Amino acids are the building block of protein. Taurine is however essential for children as the metabolic pathways that synthesize these amino acids are not fully developed. Taurine is found in the brain, retina, heart, and blood cells called platelets. Taurine constitutes about 0.1% of the total human body weight. Taurine can be found in food like seafood and meat. It helps to regulate level of water and mineral salts, and may improve athletic performance. Taurine has been known to lower blood pressure. Controversial studies state that when taken with caffeine, taurine improves attention and verbal reasoning skills.

There is some indication that taurine taken in quantities greater than 2g per day has some function in the maintenance and possibly in the induction of psoriasis, which is a common skin condition that causes redness and irritation. Just one serving of quantity of energy drink contains 1g of taurine. However, the acute toxicity is thought to be about 6kg, so a true overdose is unlikely.

3.2 GLUCURONOLACTONE

Glucuronolactone, also known as DGL, is a natural occurring metabolite in the body. It is formed organically from glucose in human liver and controls glycogen production. Glucuronolactone is known to help in clearing toxic metabolites. No known study has been done that evaluates glucuronolactone without caffeine and taurine as variables but users who supplement with 1.3g per day report positive results in energy and alertness. A serving of energy drink only contains 600mg. Many energy drinks contain vitamin B, the vitamin responsible for the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Vitamin B12 is particularly important in the formation of blood and the prevention of aneamia.

3.3 VITAMIN B3

Vitamin B3 contributes to energy production in the human body by converting fats, proteins, carbohydrates and starches, into energy. The supplement form, niacin, is likely safe with most people. One common major side effect is a flushing reaction that causes burning, itching and redness of the face, arms, and chest; alcohol makes this reaction worse. Other common side effects include stomach upset, dizziness, and pain in the mouth. Large doses of this vitamin can increase the risk of irregular heartbeat. It also increases blood glucose levels, lowers blood pressure, and worsens allergies.

3.4 VITAMIN B6

Vitamin B6 is essential to the production of amino acids. Additionally, it is needed for the creation of DNA. Pyridoxine is the most common form of B6 found in energy drinks. As little as 1-6g of drug a day taken for a year can cause “severe and progressive sensory neuropathy characterised by ataxia (loss of control of bodily movements). Other effects found in lower doses of vitamin B6 intake include painful, disfiguring dermatological lesions, photosensitivity, and gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea and heartburn.

3.5 SUGAR

Sugar is one of the most common as well as most dangerous additives on the market today. It’s sweet taste and short-term positive effects lead health experts to consider the possibility of sugar addiction. Natural sugars, such as those found in fruits and dairy products, provide an easily digestible form of good-for-you energy. The synthetic copycats like refined sugar, sucrose and glucose do far more harm than good.

In fact, more than 32g of extra sugar a day can cause a myriad of health problems such as raised cholesterol levels, suppressed immune system, hyperactivity, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, crankiness, decreased emotional stability, a raised level of neurotransmitters, hypoglycaemia, increased blood pressure, interference with protein absorption, and impaired DNA structure. Just one serving of energy drink contains 27g of sugar.

4.0 EFFECT OF ENERGY DRINKS WHEN MIXED WITH ALCOHOL

Mixing energy drinks with alcohol is common practice. Lager beer, gin, stout are commonly used. Caffeine stimulates the nervous system, while alcohol and taurine are depressants when “uppers” and “downers” are mixed, there is an increased strain on the body. In rare cases, this can lead to heart failure. There are other, more common, risks associated with mixing alcohol and energy drinks. A person who has consumed both will be less likely to notice how drunk they are, because they will feel energetic and be less likely to go to sleep when their body’s alcohol tolerance limit has been reached. When the body’s natural defenses against overconsumption are suppressed, the risk of alcohol poisoning is increased exponentially.

5.0 ENERGY DRINKS DANGERS

Energy drinks contain high content of caffeine and sugar, which in high amounts can be dangerous. Caffeine increases heart rate, which over time can increase the stroke and heart disease.

Overconsumption of caffeine can also lead to nervousness, irritability, and insomnia.

Large consumption of sugar is likely to cause weight gain. It would likely take an average person 15-20 minutes to burn off the 110 calories or more in a serve of energy drink.

Energy drinks causes fatigue and dehydration. There is high sugar content in energy drink, so caffeine aids to absorb water from the body to dilute the sugar consumed. This will lead to body dehydration

 

6.0 ENERGY MYTHS DEBUNKED

 

6.1 ENERGY DRINK BURN CALORIES

What energy drink actually does is give the energy to burn some calories. Caffeine gives a quick boost and has the potential for crash.

6.2 ENERGY DRINK AS NUTRIENT REPLACER

Energy drink provides you a boost at the start of the game or exercise period but has the potential to make you thirsty. So, instead of taking more energy drink, you might like to opt for water or fruit juice – both hydrate you without sending your energy levels sky high.

6.3 ENERGY DRINKS FASTEN YOUR METABOLISM

This energy drink gives your metabolism a quick and temporary boost. Afterwards, your stomach is still stuck with the carbohydrate and caffeine neither of which are metabolism boosters.

6.4 ENERGY DRINK HELP TO ACHIEVE FITNESS

The only thing one can achieve by exercising and drinking liters of energy drinks are more calories to burn. If you are using energy drinks solely to get through a workout, the more calorie-ridden energy you take in, the more calories you have to burn. At a point your body will crash.

6.5 ENERGY DRINK OVERCOMES HANGOVER

After a long night of partying, the next morning you take some serves of energy drink, your headache may increase. Energy drink will help you stay awake, create dehydrating effect. Caffeine slows the burning of the alcohol in the bloodstream. So, rather than be sober, you will just be wide awake and hurting.

6.6 ENERGY DRINKS PROVIDE LONG-LASTING ENERGY

The Energy drink provides quick sport of energy and then you crash. Zero calorie energy shots actually provide a better alternative due to the lack of sugar crash that your body can experience with energy drink.

7.0 ENERGIZING WITHOUT ENERGY DRINK

7.1 EAT WELL

If you eat a complete and balanced diet, chances are your energy levels will not need any extra boost.

  • A large meal may make you feel drowsy.
  • Food high in fat may make you feel groppy.
  • Eating some protein at each meal or snack will give you longer lasting energy, than just eating a high carbohydrate meal such as bread, sweets etc.
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains are healthy and may make you feel “fresh” too.

7.2 GET PLENTY OF SLEEP

If your body gets the rest it needs, you are likely to feel drowsy during the day. While individual needs vary, most adults need seven to eight hours of sleep each night. You will feel more alert and concentrate better with adequate sleep.

7.3 DRINK WATER TO STAY HYDRATED

Dehydration will make you feel tied and it is dangerous to health.

7.4 DRINK COFFEE AND OR TEA IN MODERATION

Coffee and tea contain caffeine. You may take coffee or tea moderately but may certainly would not need an energy drink.

7.5 CUT BACK ON CAFFEINE SLOWLY

If you are dependent on highly caffeinated drink, reduce your consumption slowly. Taking caffeine completely out of your routine can result in withdrawal symptoms which include headaches, body aches and depressive symptoms.

7.6 MOVE IT

If you feel growing tired while studying or working, go for a quick 10 minutes work or do some exercise to make you more alert. Regular physical activity will also improve your energy level. Children need 60minutes of physical activity and adults need at least 30minutes each day.

8.0 SPORTS DRINK & ENERYG DRINK

Sports drinks are beverages consumed to restore the fluid balance and prevent dehydration after rigorous exercise and sweating. It aids in replenishing the electrolyte lost in the sweat and perspiration. Most children and adults only need to drink water during exercise because the workout is not overly intense.

Sports drink and energy drink contain different ingredients. Sport drinks do not contain caffeine.

9.0 CONCLUSION

Energy drink are not healthy to drink on a regular basis. Many of the ingredients found in popular energy drink have a laundry list of side effects and contain more than the recommended amount of potentially harmful chemicals. However, the side effects of each ingredient are not too serious enough hence it has not be banned.

THANK YOU

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