Energy Drinks & Sports Drinks: Are they healthy?

Energy drinks and sports drinks are a big business. Global energy drink sales  reached $57.4 billion in 2020. The global sports drink market size was valued at $22.37 billion in 2018Check out the rows of ergonomically-designed bottles filled with neon-colored sports drinks and the eye-catching designs and colors of energy drink cans and you realize there is no doubt that we are dealing with major marketing strategies.

ENERGY DRINKS

There are two main ingredients in all brands of energy drinks: caffeine and sugar. Depending on the brand, there may also be taurine or extracts of guarana seed or green tea. Some brands add negligible amounts of B vitamins. Listed below are caffeine and sugar amounts found in some popular brands of energy drinks.

BRANDCAFFEINE AMOUNTS
Rockstar180 mg per 12 fl oz
Monster Energy120 mg per 12 fl oz
Red Bull113.5 mg per 12 fl oz
Yerba Mate150 mg per 12 fl oz
5-Hour Energy Shots200 mg per 2 fl oz
BRAND Serving size Sugar per serve (grams) Sugar per serve (teaspoons)
Rockstar16.9 fl oz6716.8
Yerba Mate16.9 fl oz276.8
Monster16.9 fl oz5110.2
Red Bull12 fl oz346.8
5-Hour Energy2 fl ozZeroZero

As a point of reference, an 8-oz cup of coffee has 95 mg of caffeine. The Mayo Clinic suggests that daily caffeine intake should not exceed 400 mg. 

Caffeine is a stimulant and is additive. Caffeine tolerance is created with regular use, necessitating increasingly higher doses to achieve its effects. Caffeine overdose and caffeine toxicity are possible. When caffeine intake is suddenly stopped, withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, headache, agitation, depressed mood, and fatigue can occur. 

SPORTS DRINKS

The claim of sports drinks is that they provide needed hydration and electrolytes to replenish the body following expenditure of energy due to competitive sports and vigorous exercise. 

An electrolyte is a substance that conducts electricity when dissolved in water. Electrolytes are critical for normal functioning of our cells, muscles, nerves, and organs. Essential electrolytes required by the body are sodium, potassium, calcium, bicarbonate, magnesium, chloride, and phosphate.

The main ingredients of sports drinks are water and sugar. In addition to sugar, sports drinks provide electrolytes in the form of salt and potassium. Some brands also include calcium, magnesium and phosphate. 

SUGAR

When a large dose of sugar is ingested, the result is a sugar rush. The stomach prepares for an influx of food, brain and body are stimulated to release insulin and adrenaline into the bloodstream. Heartrate and blood pressure increase. However, no food has been digested and no nutrients have been supplied. The sugar is quickly absorbed without long-lasting results, which results in the crash: feelings of sluggishness, fatigue, and the need for caffeine and sugar. 

Listed below are sugar amounts for some well-known sports drink brands.

BrandServing sizeSugar per serve (g)Sugar per serve (tsp)
Gatorade20.2 fl oz369.0
Powerade20.2 fl oz358.8
Bodyarmor16 fl oz369.0

In response to growing consumer concern over the relationship between sugar consumption to onset of diabetes and obesity, producers of energy and sports drinks have developed sugar-free and low-sugar versions of these drinks. To create a sweet taste, artificial sweeteners are used in place of sugar.

Artificial sweeteners are hundreds, even thousands, of times sweeter than sugar. They excite the sugar receptors on the tongue and fool the brain into releasing insulin.  Artificial sweeteners hijack our sense of taste for the natural sweetness found in healthy foods causing them to taste flat. 

Scientific studies have shown that use of artificial sweeteners actually increases weight gain, blood sugar imbalance, and feelings of hunger and craving, which lead to over eating. 

Listed below are names of artificial sweeteners approved by the FDA.

Scientific NameCommon/Brand Name
AspartameEqual, NutraSweet
SaccharinSweet’N’Low, Sugar Twin
SucraloseSplenda
Acesulfame K (also Ace K)Sunett, Sweet One
Stevia (plant-based))Truvia, PureVia, Sweet Leaf
Sugar alcohols (plant-based)Mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol

BOTTOM LINE

The truth is energy drinks and sports drinks are NOT healthy options, especially for children and teens. The ideal method for creating energy and stamina is to eat a diet rich in whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, leafy greens, legumes, and proteins. All the essential electrolytes we need are found naturally in these foods.

The best way to stay hydrated is to drink plenty of water.  It’s simple to increase the palatability of plain water by infusing it with lemon, fruit, mint leaves, cucumber slices, or aromatic herbs like fresh basil. The possibilities are endless, all it takes is imagination.

REFERENCES:

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/caffeine/Y

https://uichildrens.org/health-library/sugar-sports-drinks

https://www.healthline.com/health/diabetes/is-5-hour-energy-safe-for-people-with-diabetes

https://www.rethinksugarydrink.org.au/how-much-sugar

https://www.buzzfeed.com


Food Addiction & Obesity

Have you ever watched a reality TV program called “My 600-pound Life“? Morbidly obese people travel to Houston, Texas in hopes of getting weight-loss surgery. There are extensive personal interviews as we follow these people on their weight-loss journey before and after their surgery. 

They talk about what food means to them, about how eating makes them happy and hunger is never satisfied. Their every waking moment is consumed with their desire for food and they only feel complete when they are eating. Yet, at the same time, they hate their lives and their bodies. 

Food becomes their addiction and obsession, longing for the comfort only food can bring. Just as strong as the desire for food are their feelings of shame, self-loathing, disappointment, hopelessness, and frustration over their lack of self-control. 

Whenever I watch this program, I cry inside for those frustrated, pitiful, unhappy people. I understand the yearning for change and the shame and disappointment that comes after the eating. Fortunately, I do not weigh 600 pounds, but the struggle of seeking comfort in food is very real for me, too.

Read More

Collagen

Everywhere you look, people are talking about collagen.  What makes collagen so important? Why do we see so many products, cosmetics and foods with added collagen? 

Collagen is the most abundant protein found in our bodies.  Collagen plays a key role in providing strength and structural integrity to body tissues. It is like the glue that holds our bodies together. 

Read More

Could Depression Be a Physical Thing?

Could Depression Be a Physical Thing?

Are you feeling moody? Anxious? Depressed? Trouble sleeping? Sluggish or overactive digestion and bowel movements? Low libido/sexual desire? Poor concentration?

There is common thread running through these symptoms: a lack of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin is one of more than 40 neurotransmitters found throughout the nervous system. It is intimately tied to our sense of well-being. 

Read More

Living with Viruses and Bacteria

We live in a world that is filled with invisible living creatures known as microbes.  Algae, fungi, and bacteria are types of microbes. Microbes are single-celled, living creatures. Look at a drop of pond water under a microscope and you will see a variety of fascinating creatures of different shapes, sizes and methods of movement.

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Acne & Cystic Acne: Diet

Part 3 of a 4-Part Series

Can the foods we eat be related to acne outbreaks?

Ask any teen-ager if they think foods can cause an acne outbreak and I’m pretty sure they will mention chocolate. Well, in addition to chocolate, greasy foods, sugary foods and drinks, as well as highly processed, refined foods are all suspected of contributing to acne outbreaks.

Foods high in sugar and refined carbohydrates tend to cause inflammation in the body. Inflammation is known to increase incidents of acne. Avoiding foods that cause inflammation may help decrease acne outbreaks.

Read More



Becoming Your Own Best Friend: Loving Yourself

Part 3 of a 3-Part Series

As mentioned earlier, a significant aspect of self-mothering is self-reflection, becoming aware of our thoughts and feelings on a deeper level. Journaling and meditation go hand in hand to help us develop the habit of being still and listening. 

Some people love to journal. They’ve been pouring their heart out, solving problems, complaining and expressing gratitude in writing for years. Other people have tried to keep a journal, find it tedious or just don’t keep it up, or have used it occasionally to remember a special trip or period in their life. Then there are those who have never journaled and find the thought foreign and unappealing.

Personally, I fall into the second group.  I am aware that keeping a journal is a powerful tool toward self-discovery, yet, I have never been able to get started and stick with it. However, I have recently discovered a different kind of journal. It is a five-year journal.

A five-year journal allows you to write just a very few lines about your day, a thought, an experience, or an event. It only takes a few minutes at bedtime and there is no pressure. There are no year dates, only a page for each day of the year and each page has five sections of a few lines each. So, the first year, you write the year date and a few lines, then the next year you go back to the same day and can see what you wrote the year before as you begin to describe your current day for the new year.

At the end of the day, you write what has happened. There need be nothing more than that to get you thinking and listening to yourself. As I began to write my few lines, I discovered I often wanted to say something else, but didn’t have any more room for that day. So, I began to write those few extra things into another journal. Suddenly, I was journaling and enjoying the process.

If you have never journaled, or have never been consistent, using a five-year journal could be your gateway to writing and investigating your thoughts and feelings. 

In addition to writing our thoughts on a regular basis, meditation is the most ancient practice of self-discovery. The earliest written records of meditation come from Hindu writings 1500 years before Christ. In addition to Hindu traditions, many other religious traditions have included some form of meditation. Meditation was introduced to the United States following World War II, by soldiers who encountered it while serving in the Pacific Theater.

Regardless of which tradition practices meditation, the purpose of meditation is to quiet the mind, become still emotionally and physically, and become open to inspiration and the energies of the universe. 

Today we often hear the term “Mindfulness” to describe becoming still and quieting our minds so we can become more fully aware of who we are and where our thoughts lead us. Whether you call it mindfulness or meditation, the result of the practice is a calmer, more relaxed state of being, that often leads to personal insight and personal growth.

Finding time for yourself to learn who you are is a great gift. It is an ultimate expression of self-mothering.

There are online courses and centers all over the country where one can learn the art of mindfulness and meditation.  All you have to do is Google. I encourage you to search the internet to find books, centers, courses, DVD’s, and/or CD’s that appeal to you.  The practice of meditation will change your life.

 To end this series, I am including a list of references to help you in your search toward self-love, self-mothering, and better health.

Websites to learn about healthy living:

www.brightlineeating.com   

www.drjockers.com

www.forksoverknives.com

www.oceanrobbins.com

https://selfhacked.com/starthere

Books about healthy eating: 

Bright Line Eating, by Susan Pierce Thompson, PhD

Forks Over Knives—The Cookbook,by Del Sroufe and Chandra Moskowitz

Books for inspiration and personal growth:

The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, by Julia Cameron

The Four Agreements,by Don Miguel Ruiz

The Hidden Words,by Bahá’u’lláh

The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself, by Michael A. Singer


Becoming Your Own Best Friend: Healthy Diet

Part 2 of a 3-Part Series

Last week, we began a three-part series. Click here to read the first entry.  This week, we conquer an important health habit — a healthy diet!

Loving ourselves requires thinking about what we eat and how it affects our health and well-being. We are inundated with foods that have been designed for maximum shelf life and maximum taste appeal. Many of these foods contain ingredients that have been genetically modified for any number of different reasons: promote faster growth; resistance to disease; contain chemicals to control insects; create sweeter taste; or to insure longer shelf life.

Processed foods are chemically manufactured using refined ingredients, artificial additives, and high levels of sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup. They are foods engineered to appeal to our natural affinity for sweet, salty and fat, resulting in overconsumption.

Processed foods contain preservatives, colorants, and chemically created flavors and textures. Because processed foods have been engineered to appeal to our taste buds, they are extremely rewarding and can become highly addictive. They often contain refined carbohydrates, unhealthy fats, and are low in fiber and nutrients. 

Don’t use artificial sweeteners!

A word about artificial sweeteners: DON’T! We should always avoid putting things into our bodies that were chemically created and have nothing to do with natural processes.

The scientific evidence is clear: plant-based, unprocessed, natural whole food diets have been proven to promote health, prevent disease, and even reverse conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.  

A plant-based diet consists of emphasis on eating a variety of vegetables and fruits that are supplemented with whole grains, beans and legumes. Animal products, including dairy, if eaten at all, are a very minor part of this way of eating.

The most important aspect of plant-based eating is that it is not a “diet” in the traditional sense.  It is a lifestyle choice. The concept of a vegetarian lifestyle, has been talked about for more than 80 years.  Robert Bootzin, widely known as Gypsy Boots, was the first person to bring public attention to the importance of organic food, vegetarian eating and fitness. He is actually reported to have opened the very first health food store in the country.

An interesting fact about Gypsy Boots is that in the 1950’s, he was considered a kook, a weirdo, with strange ideas. We now can see he was a leader, so far ahead of his time that people could not understand the truth and wisdom of his teachings. Today, being vegetarian, using organic produce, and exercising to stay fit is a way of life embraced by millions of people. The best part about this lifestyle is that it has been proven by scientific investigation to produce optimal health and prevent disease.