Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Popular energy shots are not healthy

At a recent blood pressure screening at a community event, a 33-year-old man stopped to get his reading.  It was the highest reading of the day: 165/104.

I explained that according to American Heart Association guidelines, normal blood pressure should be around 120/70. When questioned if he had a history of high blood pressure, he denied any knowledge of it.  Upon further probing, he admitted he just finished drinking a 5-Hour Energy shot, something he did at least once daily.
When I explained how unhealthy energy shots were, he replied, “Then why do they sell them?”  Of course, my answer was, “Because people will buy them. They sell cigarettes, don’t they?” 
Energy shots are loaded with caffeine, even though the manufacturers are not required to disclose their products’ caffeine content. 
Caffeine is the stimulant that gives the “kick” or energy boost.  Although it boosts energy temporarily, the unwanted side effects are rapid heartbeat, elevated blood pressure, insomnia, nervousness, difficulty concentrating, nausea, and more. It simply forces the heart to work harder.  Adding up the caffeine consumed in a day with energy shots, coffee, and sodas like cola or Mountain Dew just spells trouble.
Alternatives to energy shots include fruit juices, decaffeinated green tea, and low-fat milk.

Hands down, the healthiest choice for a beverage is water.  No calories, no preservatives, no fat, no sugar and especially no caffeine.
Water keeps you refreshed and hydrated, boosts energy naturally, and aids digestion.

For people who insist they don’t like the taste of water, I suggest adding a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice to make it more palatable.

Bring a reusable water bottle wherever you go — and avoid energy shots and be kind to your heart.

Alice Facente is a community education nurse for the Backus Health System. To comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at www.backushospital.org/backus-blogs or e-mail Ms. Facente or any of the Healthy Living columnists at healthyliving@wwbh.org.

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