Is your energy drink pick-me-up putting too much stress on your heart? Energy drinks are widely available, and if you don’t like coffee or soda, energy drinks provide a fruit-flavored way to kick start your day, or keep you going until evening. But, recent research has shown that drinking too many energy drinks can place unnecessary stress on your heart.
What’s in an energy drink?
Energy drinks contain caffeine, sugar and B-vitamins to give you an energy boost. Many energy drinks also contain taurine, which is an amino acid (a building block for protein). Taurine provides quick energy that can help improve athletic performance.
But the same ingredients that give you energy and keep you going can make you feel nervousoron edge. They can also make your heartbeat faster than normal,and can make it hard for you to fall asleep.
Using an MRI machine, a study group had their heart function measured both before and after drinking 3 ounces of an energy drink containing caffeine and taurine. This small amount of energy drink produced a 6 percent increase in heart rate.
What does this research mean for you?
More studies need to be done, but this study suggests that energy drinks could affect heart health. Over time, energy drinks might wear down the heart muscle. Energy drinks can lead to an abnormal heart beat or high blood pressure. For the long-term health of your heart, fuel your body with more natural sources of energy.
What are some natural sources of energy?
- Citrus fruits.Citrus fruits contain vitamin C, which helps prevent you from getting sick and provides a light energy boost. Vitamin C should be consumed every day to keep your energy levels strong.
- Nuts and seeds.Nuts and seeds provide protein and fiber, which keeps you feeling full longer than refined carbs like sugar and pasta. Fiber-rich nuts and seeds keep you on the move longer than sugar, since they take longer to digest.
- Protein-packed dairy.A glass of milk or cup of yogurt after a workout replenishes your muscles with healthy proteins and other nutrients you need during physical activity.
- Fiber-rich whole grains. Fiber helps slow the digestion of foods in your body. This helps keep your blood glucose levels stable and keeps you feeling full. Fiber-rich whole grains provide a longer lasting fuel source than more refined foods like white rice or white bread. Whole grain fuel boosters include oatmeal, brown rice and granola.
- Water is the world’s first and healthiest energy drink by far! Water keeps you hydrated and helps run every function of your body. When you are dehydrated or low on water, you can get sluggish, lose your appetite or develop muscle aches and pains. Be sure to drink plenty of water, or low-calorie, water-based drinks like unsweetened tea.
Reviewed by Robert Ehrman, MD