I think most of us at some time or another would've consumed some form of drink to give us a kick. Whether it's coffee or red bull we've probably tried something. But what impact do energy drinks actually have on our hearts and is it healthy?
To start with I just want to be clear that for the rest of the article I'm not including coffee as an energy drink. Yes some people drink it in the morning to get a kick but generally it has only 25% of the active ingredients as other, branded energy drinks. This article is looking at drinks that are full of caffeine and taurine - things like red bull.
Before looking at the impact on our hearts it's also pretty safe to say I don't touch the stuff. If I look at the ingredients list on food and there's more than a handful, and especially if I struggle to read / pronounce some of the ingredients then I generally give it a wide birth. Heavily processed with lots of additives is a sure fire way to lose my custom! But what if I did have a drink of if, and what if you do?
A recent study that has been published has explored the impact these drinks have of our hearts and the results aren't surprising, but it's nice to have some evidence rather than 'just guessing' at the impact. The study involved around 30 people with an average age of 27 and all generally for and healthy. They have the participants energy drinks and then measured the effect on their hearts over time.
They found that within an hour the participants' left ventricle (the chamber in the heart that pumps oxygenated blood around our body) was working much faster and contracting much harder than prior to the drink. They also mentioned that without further study it's difficult to tell the exact implications of this on our bodies. However, what was clear is that this change to the behaviour of the ventricle could exacerbate known problems such as arrhythmia. Their advice was that a anyone with a suspected or known heart problem should avoid the drinks completely.
Like I said above, without further trials it's impossible to prove the impact on a healthy person. However, if I was to make an educated guess I'd say it wouldn't be a positive one. Making your heart best in a way that it doesn't want to, especially for prolonged periods of time if you have the drinks often, can't be good for it. Remember being healthy is all about balance (homeostasis) and the drinks really throw your heart out of balance. That remand your body has to work harder to get it back in balance and fix any problems - all adding to the stress it has to go through which has its toll.
So my advice? Avoid the energy drinks! But what can you do if you need a pick me up? I find these things are pretty effective at waking me up:
- Brazil nuts
- dried mango
- press ups
Brazil nuts work really well - keep a few on you and try them next time you need a boost.