By Amina Nazarli
Commercial says energy drinks give “wings” to those who want to be active and have a zest for life -- but at what cost?
To some, the candy cigarettes of the 21st century are dangerous elixirs, while others consider them magic potions of vitality. Energy drink consumption represents a global public health problem, especially among adolescents and young adults.
Energy drinks are widely promoted as products that increase alertness and enhance physical and mental performance. Marketing targeted at young people has been quite effective.
These drinks are also the most popular supplement consumed by Azerbaijani teens. Today, next to teenagers even adults become energized with drinking a jar of this allegedly cool and stylish energy drinks.
The global energy drink market was worth $39 billion in 2013 and is forecast to reach $61 billion by 2021 -- however, manufacturers say nothing about the dangers of energy drinks.
To get to the bottom of this sugar-packed can, Trend spoke with Deputy Chairman of the Health Committee of the Parliament MP Musa Guliyev. The expert claims that the massive dissemination of energy drinks in Azerbaijan, especially among young people, issue that is of concern to the society.
Before discussing how energy drinks affect your body, one needs to know what they’re made of. Here are some of the most common supplements found in popular energy drinks, and what they do:
Taurine. Taurine is an amino acid that is naturally produced by the human body. However, the version found in energy drinks is manufactured.
Guarana. Guarana comes from a plant native to South America. Amazonians have used it for a long time to increase alertness and energy.
Ginseng. Ginseng has been used for centuries as a medicinal herb and is believed to increase energy, have some anti-fatigue properties, relieve stress, and promote memory. The chemicals in ginseng are nothing that’s naturally created by the human body, so having this in a drink could possibly be risky for some who are sensitive to these chemicals.
B Vitamins. Vitamins B6 and B12 don’t absorb well when taken orally, so the small amounts placed in most energy drinks will likely have little chance of producing the desired effect.
Taking into account the fact that both energy and sugar and caffeine are the same as taurine in energy drinks, overuse can lead to heart attacks and increased blood pressure, sleepiness and hysteria.
Energy drinks "may pose danger to public health," warns the World Health Organization. Children "should not consume" them, says the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The main point is that, energy drinks contain a large amount of caffeine and sugar and overuse can lead to heart attacks and increased blood pressure, insomnia and hysteria. A large amount of caffeine literally sucks all the juice out of our body and has a negative impact on the nerve system. The caffeine is slowly eliminated from the body, although it effects our organism last for about 3 hours. Besides, caffeine is addictive. Caffeine is also a good diuretic, so the use of these drinks after exercise is undesirable. They can lead not only to deterioration of health, but also to the loss of life.
That being said, some researches show that these drinks may cause insomnia, and possibly interfere with proper drug action of certain medications such as insulin, oral hypoglycemic agents, blood thinners, and diuretics.
Guliyev said that recently sudden deaths from energy drinks have increased.
“Complications of energy drinks among young people and adolescents have risen all over the world, including in Azerbaijan. The damage of these drinks to the developing organisms is even bigger. These drinks have a negative effect on people's psychological condition, the cardiovascular system, or metabolism. These drinks cause nervous breakdown, and people who accept them do not sometimes control their activities,” the MP explained.
Guliyev suggests implementing some measures to restrict the sale of energy drinks in Azerbaijan, although it is impossible to fully prohibit their sale.
“Energy drinks should be included in the list of products subject to exclusion rate, and additional exclusion rate should be imposed to prices,” said the chairman, believing that in this case, the teenagers will not be able to buy them.
The MP thinks that the advertising of energy drinks should also be prohibited and their sale should also be regulated and licensed under the sale of tobacco products and alcoholic beverages.
Chairman of the Water Producers' Union, Dovlat Mammadov, in turn, offers complete elimination and prohibition of the sale of this product.
“Three cups of energy drinks are equal to half a liter of vodka. Therefore, these drinks also cause traffic accidents. Today, young people are drinking to drive off their sleep. But these drinks do not work. After its consumption one feels excessive energy due to the chemicals, but after 4-5 hours they feel fatigue and sleep. Therefore, most drivers sleep while driving. If you look at the car accidents, most of them have energy drinks inside,” he explained.
Energy drinks are not recommended for pregnant women, children and adolescents. In addition, these beverages have negative effects on people suffering from high-blood pressure, glaucoma, cardiovascular disease, sleep disorders and neuroses or who suffer from an allergy to caffeine. Doctors do not recommend to mix them with alcohol.
For now, there’s not enough evidence to definitively say whether or not energy drinks are bad for you.
So, if you are a student preparing for exams, an employee in your laden days, an athlete training for competitions and a clubber and the one who are tired but want to be peppy, there are plenty of other ways to wake yourself up and keep energized, number one being getting a good night’s rest to begin with.
Even a cup of coffee is probably a better choice because you are not adding a bunch of other supplements to your caffeine intake.
Amina Nazarli is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @amina_nazarli
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