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Energy drinks can turn your 'high' into a low moment

By Vision Reporter

Added 22nd January 2015 11:53 AM

Sharon Kawalya always starts her nights out with an energy drink. She argues that since she has long days and her friends want to hang out, she needs an energy boost to take her through the night.

Energy drinks can turn your 'high' into a low moment

Sharon Kawalya always starts her nights out with an energy drink. She argues that since she has long days and her friends want to hang out, she needs an energy boost to take her through the night.

By Jacquiline Emodek
 

  • High levels of caffeine and sugar in energy drinks could be detrimental to health


Sharon Kawalya always starts her nights out with an energy drink. She argues that since she has long days and her friends want to hang out, she needs an energy boost to take her through the night.

Energy drinks are usually advertised with taglines saying they boost one’s energy and performance.

What are energy drinks?

Energy drinks are beverages that contain high levels of caffeine, sugar and a combination of other ingredients. The amount of caffeine in an energy drink can range from 75mg to over 200mg per serving.

Energy drinks are marketed as dietary supplements, providing mental and physical stimulation.

Dr. Raymond Mwebaze, a physician at Nsambya Hospital, says people react differently to stimulants. He says the effect
depends on the levels of caffeine and sugar in the energy drinks.

“One may feel hot or cold or even experience a tremor just like what happens when some people take strong coffee,” explains Dr. Michael Mungoma, a physician at Mulago Hospital.

Cardiovascular disease


Mungoma notes that high levels of caffeine make the heart overwork,even trigger a heart attack. “Caffeine makes the heart pump faster. There are some people whose blood vessels may be clogged with fats. When blood is pumped at a high pressure and it fails to reach its destination, such a person may suffer a heart attack,” he explains.

Dr. Livingston Kang, a physician at Bethesda Medical Centre in Kampala, says consuming large amounts of energy drinks can cause people with underlying heart conditions to suffer cardiac arrest.

Diabetes

According to Mungoma, excessive sugar is dangerous, especially for people who are glucose-intolerant. “Some people handle glucose negatively. Since energy drinks contain high levels of sugar, they can wear out the insulin cells of the pancreas, which eventually leads to type II diabetes,” he explains.

Dehydration

According to the Journal of American Health College, caffeine leads to dehydration because of the diuretic effect. Diuresis is the discharge of urine, especially in large amounts, resulting from the presence of non-absorbable or poorly absorbable, osmotically-active substance in the renal system.

“Sugar attracts water to itself like osmosis and blocks the antidiuretic hormone (ADH), a peptide molecule that has an antidiuretic action which prevents the production of dilute urine. As a result, there is excretion of water from the body to dilute high concentrations of sugar entering the blood stream. This causes one to frequently urinate, hence losing fluid,” Mungoma explains.

Blood clots and liver toxicity

Mungoma says the above process can also increase the concentration of blood, thereby making one vulnerable to clots.
Kang says despite the fact that people feel rejuvenated after taking an energy drink, they should not consume the
beverage in large quantities.

“It is like a doctor prescribing a Panadol dose thrice a day, but because the headache is constant you decide to increase the dose and that causes liver toxicity,” he says.

Addiction

Mwebaze adds that taking many energy drinks can cause addiction because of the high levels of caffeine that will have
been consumed.

“Addiction to a certain amount of caffeine intake is like being an alcoholic. Reducing that amount of caffeine is diffi cult and the person may experience withdrawal effects such as frequent headaches and migraines,” he says.

Mwebaze notes that energy drinks also cause insomnia and anxiety. “It is like taking coffee in the evening. You will have diffi culty with sleep because the brain is stimulated, leading to inadequate rest.”

Experts advise

Dr. Michael Mungoma, a physician at Mulago Hospital, says the healthiest way to get an energy boost is regular exercising.

“When you are exhausted and you take a walk or a run, you will feel less fatigued. If you sleep, you will still wake up feeling tired,” he argues.

However, Dr. Livingston Kang, a physician at Bethesda Medical Centre in Kampala, says resting when one feels tired is also helpful, adding that having regular meals boosts one’s energy.

“We get energy from calories derived from glucose, protein and fat. These can be got naturally in foods such as posho and meat instead of opting for artifi cial ways like energy drinks,” he says.

Kang also advises people to read the labels on the drinks and food they buy to ascertain what they contain and if the contents are in healthy amounts.

“Many people do not know the ingredients of the items they buy. Some even buy drinks sold on the roadside from vendors, who are equally ignorant of what the drinks contain, which is dangerous,” he notes.

He urges people to know the side effects of what they consume, saying most adverts are geared towards making sales.

“They only advertise the benefi ts and leave out the health concerns such as heart attacks, hypertension, diabetes
and other side effects,” he says.

Kang warns that constantly feeling tired or fatigued may be due to an underlying factor and taking energy drinks may delay the detection of a disease.

“When you have anaemia or low blood pressure which hardly present signs, you will fi nd yourself constantly getting
tired. Instead of going for a check-up, you resort to energy drinks, causing delay in diagnosis,” he explains.

Mungoma says sportsmen can take energy drinks because they, unlike other people, use the energy acquired immediately and therefore, there may be no side effects.

Energy drinks can turn your ‘high‘ into a low moment

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