Doctors say consuming energy drinkscan cause renal and heart problems

Nearly 71 per cent of people in urban areas, between the ages of 14 and 30, have a habit of consuming energy drinks, according to a recent survey by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).

Doctors and dieticians say the statistics are shocking as many children who consume these energy drinks, which promise to boost energy, appearance, performance and improve immunity and overall health, are unmindful of its ill-effects.

Energy drinks are non-alcoholic beverages containing high levels of sugar, caffeine and protein apart from guarana, glucuronolactone, taurine, ginseng, inositol, carnitine and B vitamins as main ingredients that act as stimulants.

Doctors say the high levels of sugar and potentially harmful levels of caffeine can actually harm your health. They can be linked to seizures in known epileptic individuals and behavioural disorders in children.

The high levels of proteins that break into amino acids can also cause renal and heart problems apart from other complications.

The survey conducted in major cities, including Delhi Bangalore, Mumbai, Haryana, Kolkata, Chennai and Hyderabad, had a sample size of 2,500. .

“While 82 per cent of teenagers admitted that they wanted energy drinks during exercise for extra energy, 61 per cent said they used it for better hydration and 40 per cent as they preferred the taste,” said the survey.

C.N. Manjunath, director of Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiology, says indiscriminate consumption of energy drinks can result in renal and heart problems.

“The person can develop high blood pressure that can result in enlargement of the heart and even heart failure,” he says.

NIMHANS Director P. Satish Chandra, a senior neurologist specialising in epilepsy, says high caffeine can bring down the threshold for seizures in a person living with epilepsy.

The high sugar levels result in hyperglycemia in susceptible people and hyperglycemia is known to cause behavioural problems and also seizures in children. There are various studies establishing a link between caffeine and epilepsy among known epileptics, he adds.

‘Temporary rush’

Dietician and wellness consultant Sheela Krishnaswamy says energy drinks can do more harm than good.“It is better to eat a plantain for quick energy. This fruit will also give essential nutrients,” she says.

Pointing out that high caffeine and sugar levels in energy drinks can give a temporary adrenaline rush without any nutrition, Ms. Krishnaswamy says: “Gradually people become dependent on these drinks. Too much caffeine can cause sleeplessness, nervousness and increase blood pressure. Excess sugar can lead to increase in weight,” she says.

Another city-based dietician H.S. Prema says the concept of quick energy is wrong. “Nobody requires something like quick energy. Because of boredom and monotony, people feel low. But this feeling is mostly emotional. A healthy person will not require sudden energy,” she explains.

‘No nutrients’

“Concentrated caffeine or substances that have neurotransmitter stimulators will temporarily rejuvenate a person who is feeling low. But it is not safe because energy drinks do not have any nutrients. When the person’s body is addicted to caffeine in these drinks, it can cause nausea, headache and give a bloated sensation,” Ms. Prema says.

“People also tend to skip meals as consuming energy drinks can suppress hunger,” she adds.