Not all hydrating substances are created equal. There are many dangerous energy beverages in the marketplace today.
Hydration, particularly from water, is necessary to maintain temperature, digest food, transport nutrients to cells, cushion organs, lubricate joints, to keep skin healthy, and to eliminate toxins and waste. The vast majority of the human body is made up of water. Sometimes a person might mistake being thirsty for being hungry, so water can be helpful in weight management as well. Sweating and urination eliminate water from the body, and by the time the signal of thirst is reached, moderate dehydration may already be occurring. It can be difficult to catch up on the water needed if the dehydration is severe enough. Another sign of dehydration is “dark yellow and odorous” urine. Later indications are fatigue, headache, chills, nauseas, lightheadedness, lack of sweat, and increased heart
rate. If these signs happen, it is important to seek immediate medical attention. The general guidelines for water intake are 8 glasses of water a day (or 64 oz.). This number should be adjusted up for people who live in desert climates or who exercise frequently. Besides water, fruits and vegetables have fluids.1
Coffee and Other Beverages
Some people turn to sports drinks, juice, teas, and caffeinated beverages for their hydration needs, but it is important to remember that alcohol and caffeine are diuretics.2 Coffee does have health benefits other than hydration, however, including protection against the following: type 2 diabetes, liver disease, depression, and Parkinson’s disease. It can improve cognitive functioning. Adding too much sugar and cream offsets many of the benefits by introducing needless calories and fat.3 Coffee can boost metabolism and increase adrenaline, it contains antioxidants and nutrients (vitamins B2, B3, and B5, magnesium, potassium, manganese), it can help prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, and it can decrease the risks of colorectal and liver cancers.4 When participating in rigorous exercise or activities, some people may try sports drinks to replace electrolytes, such as Powerade and Gatorade. Others may use enhanced “fitness waters” (Propel) that add vitamins and minerals to the water.5 A healthier option is coconut water. A 2012 study found that coconut water, which naturally has electrolytes, is “equally as effective in hydrating participants after an intense workout”. It has a low glycemic index, it doesn’t have high-fructose corn syrup or artificial dyes and flavors, and a 2010 study found that coconut water may reduce cholesterol and blood pressure. One green tea-based energy beverage, EBoost, is sweetened with natural Stevia. Green tea, like coffee, has antioxidants. Even chocolate milk can be helpful in exercise recovery.6
Energy Drink Dangers
Sodas often contain unhealthy amounts of sugar and caffeine. Even worse are energy drinks, such as 5-hour Energy, Red Bull, Rockstar, and Monster, which often appeal to children. Headaches, migraines, insomnia, cardiac arrest, type 2 diabetes, medication interactions, jitters, nervousness, vomiting, allergicreactions, and even addiction and risky behavior are side effects of energy drinks and shots. The problems stem from too much caffeine and overuse of B vitamins, the latter of which can damage the nerves or liver. Some people mix alcohol with these types of drinks, and this mixture compounds the dangers.7 Combining alcohol with energy drinks increases the risks of drunk driving and rapid dehydration, making it harder for the body to metabolize the alcohol. Four Loko and Joose are two products that have been banned from many places.8 ER visits due to energy drinks have “doubled over the past four years”. Energy drinks have also been linked to increased blood pressure and heart arrhythmias.9