Red bull has become one of the most popular ways to increase energy and fight off fatigue, and in today’s world this seems more like a staple than an occasional indulgence. One of the questions for today was ” Is Red Bull really bad for you?” As I see so many of my friends and family indulge in energy drinks, I think that it is time to examine what exactly it is that you are drinking.
Let us first address regular Red Bull. The following is a list of its ingredients and health effects:
Carbonated Water: There is speculation over its interruption with digestion and stomach acidity, but for the most part is found harmless.
Sucrose: This is common table sugar. Refined sugar such as sucrose is directly linked to tooth decay (cavities), high blood sugar (which can cause dizziness, fatigue and can lead to diabetes), weight gain (obesity), gout, elevated triglycerides (a risk factor for heart disease) and an increase of virus, bacteria, fungus (Candida) and cancer (sugar is their direct food source).
Glucose: This is a simple sugar that is absorbed extremely fast by the body, therefore creating a jolt of energy. This is often of short duration however because the body quickly releases a shot of insulin, rapidly lowering your blood sugar. When blood sugar quickly drops, so does endurance and energy. Therefore, the crash from glucose can cause an increased appetite and fatigue.
Taurine: Taurine is an amino acid found naturally in the body that is used for cardiovascular and skeletal muscle function. While taurine is an important amino acid for the body, the excess levels of taurine can cause increased vasodilation (widening of blood vessels). Increased vasodilation can cause too much blood flow to the heart leading to cardiac stress.
* Red Bull drinks are banned in Norway, Uruguay and Denmark because of the potential risks to cardiovascular health.
Caffeine: One can of red bull contains 80 mg of caffeine, about the same as 1 cup of coffee. The problem is that when you pair caffeine with a vasodilator (taurine), you are shuttling the caffeine more directly into the cells. This can cause an increased heart rate, which can lead to heart arrhythmias. According to Johns Hopkins University, in a 2007 survey of 496 college students, 51 percent consumed at least one energy drink a week, and 19 percent of students reported heart palpitations from consuming energy drinks. Furthermore, caffeine is a diuretic (increases water excretion) which leads directly to dehydration and stress on the kidneys. In Chinese medicine the kidneys are the root of energy for body so in the long run caffeine is only going to perpetuate the cycle of fatigue.
B Vitamins: While B vitamins are essential to most functions in the body, not all B vitamins are created equal. The B vitamins found in Red Bull are synthetic, meaning man made. The problem is that most all synthetic B vitamins are derived from coal-tar. Yes, you heard me right, coal-tar. Furthermore, some synthetic B vitamins are even made with toxic substances such as cyanide and formaldehyde. Essentially when you put this form of vitamin into your body, it is not going to act the same way a normal B vitamin would that was from food. One reaction you might encounter is flushing (red flush). This is a very common effect from synthetic niacin, which happens to be in Red Bull. When you introduce B vitamins into the body that are not natural, they have to take other substances from the body called co-factors in order to utilize them properly. Therefore, they can be an “anti-vitamin,” disrupting the natural system in body leaving you depleted in other areas.
You can learn more about it here.
Now we can check out the two added ingredients in Sugar- Free Red Bull:
Aspartame: Aspartame is the technical name for Equal. It is one of the most toxic additives on the market. Some of its effects are; headaches, migraines, nausea, abdominal pain, fatigue, sleep problems, vision problems, anxiety, depression and chest problems. Furthermore, they have found that it can trigger chronic illnesses such as; brain tumors, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, chronic fatigue syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, mental retardation, lymphoma, birth defects, fibromyalgia, and diabetes. You can learn more about it here.
Acesulfame K: Acesulfame K contains the carcinogen methylene chloride. Long-term exposure to methylene chloride can cause headaches, depression, nausea, mental confusion, liver effects, kidney effects, visual disturbances, and cancer, particularly bladder cancer.
Artificial sweeteners are probably one of the worst things you can ingest. I would rather that you consume boatloads of refined sugar than sugar replacements. These chemicals are extremely toxic and they will actually cause the complete opposite effect of what you are using them for…. they will actually cause you to gain weight. Yes, you hear me right, gain weight. Even if it is a zero calorie drink, artificial sweeteners trick your body into thinking that it is getting calories when it is not. And guess what happens next? Your body then suddenly realizes that it did not fulfill its needs and causes you to feel hungrier again. Except this time, your body is going to hold onto those calories leading you to gain weight. Slick trick huh.
One more thing I must say about artificial sweeteners is that they ruin your skin. I cannot tell you how many times I have had friends that are energy and diet drink addicts that have problems with their weight, bowel movements, or lack there of, and SKIN. If you want to stay slim and have clear skin there is not way around it… no artificial sweeteners, i.e. no diet drinks. Okay I have said it 🙂
Now to get back to the point. If you have not been convinced yet that Red Bull and other energy drinks like it are NOT good for you, but in fact really bad for you, I will mention one other thing. In 2000, France banned Red Bull due to the death of an Irish basketball player that drank four Red Bull right before a game. Yes, death by Red Bull. Not what you had in mind huh?
I know your intentions are good, but the point is that energy drinks are full of synthetic chemicals, sugars and high levels of stimulants that are actually really hard on your body. While you might benefit from them in the short-run, they are only going to make your fatigue worse in the long run. The high levels of sugar, taurine and caffeine will cause adrenal and kidney fatigue, which essentially means that you will no longer produce enough adrenaline to give you the energy you need. So pretty much these toxic energy drinks will become your life force. Sounds like an addiction to me….
There is light at the end of the tunnel though. There are a few really great natural alternatives that will give you the energy boost you need without any toxic side effects. My favorites are:
Yerba Mate: This is a tea from South America that not only provides you with natural energy but also with acute mental clarity and focus.
Guarana: Guarana is an Amazonian plant that is as powerful as coffee in stimulating energy but it does not cause any “crash.” This is my favorite of all of the stimulants because it also has adaptogenic properties. This means that it increasing your level of functioning no matter what levels of stress you are dealing with. Plus, it goes great in chocolate smoothies! But remember, I am talking about RAW Guarana here, not the synthetic version that is found in energy drinks.
Tea: Green and Black tea are also great alternatives to energy drinks but more geared towards those who are more sensitive to caffeine. The boost from tea is much more gentle, so if you are in fact a caffeine addict, you might need to go for something stronger such as the guarana.
Now I know that this is not the easiest change to make, but I assure you that you can do it! I was highly dependent on coffee and energy drinks, but the change is necessary. The best part is that you actually feel so much better. I actually wake up with energy every morning and no longer feel a crash in the afternoon. While I would like to attribute this to my natural high- energy personality, it is really from making the change. This has allowed my adrenals to come back to life and actually do their job. Now just one teaspoon of Guarana in the morning is enough to keep me peppy all day long.
* By the way: you can purchase Yerba Mate and Guarana on their links.