There’s no such thing as a safe energy drink

I’ll just come out and say it: “All things in moderation” is a big fat lie.

Some things in moderation — like alcohol or low-sugar fruits — are perfectly acceptable. Healthy, even.

But there are also some things you just shouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole. Not even in moderation. Not ever, in fact.

And if you think that’s a little extreme? Well, I urge you to sit down and take a cold hard look at the horrifying results of this latest study on so-called “energy” drinks…

It only takes 24 ounces to take you down

I’ll just get right to the point: This new study found that just one energy drink (that’s correct — ONE!) acutely and significantly impaired endothelial function in the young, healthy adults who consumed it.

And yes, I am going to name names. The beverage in question was a 24-ounce Monster Energy® drink. And after drinking it, the ability of subjects’ arteries to dilate was cut in half.  

On top of this endothelial dysfunction, heart rate and blood pressure also skyrocketed. Pulse shot up by an average of 12 beats per minute. Blood pressure rose by 12 to 14 mmHg after just five minutes. (And remember, as I’ve mentioned in this space many times, even a modest 3 mmHg in either direction can make or break your heart’s health.)

But you want to know what makes this even more alarming? These test subjects weren’t doing any physical activity — and they still suffered these effects.

So just imagine what’s happening to people who guzzle one of these drinks before a workout, when the ability of the arteries to dilate and pump blood to your heart, brain, and muscles is more critical than ever…

And we wonder why so many young athletes mysteriously die on the field.

Supplements become scapegoats — again

Is this yet another example of Big Food controlling us, rather than our government controlling them? Well, you can probably guess my answer to that question…

And this isn’t the first study to expose a link between energy drinks and elevations in blood pressure, pulse rate, and endothelial dysfunction. There are also plenty of stories out there linking the drinks to serious health events, like cardiac arrest.

To make matters worse, the supplement industry remains perfectly positioned to shoulder the blame yet again. That’s because energy drinks generally contain three key ingredients: caffeine, sugar, and a “proprietary energy mix” — which usually includes high doses of amino acids (such as taurine) and vitamins.

But of course, because it’s “proprietary,” no one really knows what’s in it. We only know that something about this combination is obviously harmful… possibly even lethal.

Clearly, our messaging and marketing around energy drinks need to change. And call me crazy, but I’m guessing the recent uproar will likely focus on heavier regulation — even drug classification — of the ingredients.

Well… all of the ingredients except for the one that deserves it the most: sugar.

Let’s not forget that sugar triggers endothelial dysfunction all by itself. So if we’re really serious about regulating these drinks, we should also consider regulating soda, candy bars, donuts, cake, and the like.

Not a bad idea at all, in my opinion. Honestly, all of these confections should come with a large and very visible warning label, because as you and I both know, sugar kills.

But somehow, I doubt the food and beverage industry would agree with me. And neither would the powers-that-be who keep them in business.

The good news is, you don’t have to wait for warning labels or increased regulation or anything of the sort. You have the power to protect yourself from the mysterious, deadly risks posed by energy drinks simply by avoiding them altogether.

And have a frank and candid discussion about them with any young people in your life who may be tempted by these poisons. We spend a great deal of time and energy warning kids about the dangers of drugs and alcohol — and rightly so. But they need to know that those seemingly innocent energy drinks are every bit as deadly.