The only things that give us energy are:
- Food: nourishing foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats.
- Water: even mild dehydration can result in fatigue.
- Sleep: the current research suggests we all need 7 to 8 hours minimum each night for optimum health.
- Breath: taken in through exercise or specific breathing exercises called pranayama.
Unfortunately, most people are lacking in at least one, or many of these energy sources. So when they feel like they are dragging, they usually turn to quick fixes like sugar and caffeine. Not surprisingly, energy drinks typically contain both – a lot of both.
A 12-ounce energy drink has as much sugar as a regular soda. The caffeine content may be as high as 300 milligrams (mg). In reference, a daily caffeine intake of 400 mg or more has been associated with:
- Nervousness and irritability
- Abnormal heart rhythms
- Decreased bone densities
- Stomach upset and increased urination
In children, the effects can be even more serious, causing both seizures and high blood pressure.
We are not meant to be taking in caffeine in this large of a dose. It’s hard on the body, particularly the adrenal glands, which secrete hormones in response to stress to help us keep up – better known as the “fight or flight response.” Early humans may have had this response kick in a couple times per week – now we’re triggering it a couple times daily through energy drinks and everyday stressors. If you find yourself reaching for energy drinks, maybe it’s time to evaluate your overall lifestyle, so that you can work in healthful, nurturing behaviors that build you up, rather than break you down.