Energy Drink Alternatives for Natural Energy
Some people go to bed at night excited for their morning cup of coffee. Some of us (including myself) go to bed looking forward to their sweet, chemical-filled, morning energy drink!! Energy drinks have been the craze for the past few years, with all sorts of brands coming up with different types of beverages. The latest hype has been the energy drinks that claim they are "all natural” or super “low sugar”. But when you read the label, you can see the false advertising. This sparks the search for energy drink alternatives. Are there any alternative, more natural wake-up drinks?
- Despite some energy drink companies' marketing tactics, energy drinks are by no means healthy since they can lead to adverse health problems in the long run.
- Energy drinks can hinder teen's growth and development, and also give people of all ages insomnia and increased mental health issues.
- There are many energy drink alternatives that provide your body with a multitude of benefits without drawbacks.
Are energy drinks good for us?
Energy drinks may feel great when receiving that instant boost of energy, but overall energy drinks are actually quite bad for us. Energy drinks were created to increase alertness, energy, and attention span. However, these are only short-term effects, and the ingredients providing that boost of energy can cause long-term adverse health effects.
In the past few years, certain energy drink companies have come up with genius marketing campaigns to distract from the side effects. They advertise the drinks as having more vitamins and less sugar, marketing it to people that may have been against the standard Redbull or Monster energy drink. But the addition of vitamins doesn't decrease harmful ingredients, and it's usually not the sugar content that's your biggest concern.
Here are a few reasons why energy drinks are bad for you:
- Harmful to your heart
The main reason energy drinks have the potential to be so harmful is their effects on the heart. Most energy drinks have anywhere between 80-500 milligrams of caffeine. Drinking large quantities of caffeine each day - 400 mg being the general daily limit - can cause heart palpitations, increased blood pressure, and heart rhythm disturbances. Studies have found that drinking energy drinks every day increases cardiac QT, which in return increases the risk of heart failure.
- Can affect growth and development in young people
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCIH), one third of teenagers consume energy drinks on a regular basis. The teenage years are the most critical years for growth and development. Energy drinks can hinder this growth by disrupting sleep and cognitive development and increasing the risk of mental illness.
Energy drinks also contain extremely high levels of taurine, niacin, and guarana which studies have shown negatively effect the adolescent brain.
- Potential to cause insomnia
Since caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, when you consume a large quantity of caffeine (like energy drinks) your body confuses natural sleep regulation and awareness with energy drink stimulation. Energy drinks make it harder for you to fall asleep, but they can also make your sleep less restful. This can make you feel drowsy and fatigued the next day, throwing you into a vicious cycle of wanting another energy drink to keep you awake, thus continuing to mess with your sleep cycle.
There are many other harmful side effects such as consuming excessive amounts of sugar, messing with your metabolism and digestion, and increasing anxiety and depression.
Energy drink alternatives
If you have trouble visualizing a world without your beloved energy drinks, we have a solution. Although these energy drink alternatives may not give you that instant, artificial energy, they are healthier options that still provide energy and alertness.
On top of a morning kickstart, coffee has been seen to promote brain health, lower the risks of developing mental health issues, and support heart health.
However, when I say “coffee” I am not referring to a cream and syrup-filled beverage from Dunkin' or Starbucks. A cup of freshly brewed coffee from a high-quality coffee bean includes health benefits that only increase if you opt for a cold brew. One or two cups of coffee have about 95-200 milligrams which do the job of keeping you awake but isn’t too strenuous on the heart.
I’m sure you’ve seen the bright green drinks. Matcha is a green tea that comes from the Camellia Sinensis plant. Other than the impressive color, matcha is also high in antioxidants, helps boost brain function, and of course, provides you with a boost of energy to get through your day. You can drink your matcha with any milk/milk substitute, or even make it fancy by mixing it with lemonade for a refreshing twist.
3. Green juice
What better way to start your day than by drinking your daily dose of veggies and getting a kick of energy all at once? Pressed in a multitude of different ways, green juice is a great energy drink alternative because of the number of nutrients and vitamins packed in. Vitamin C, prevalent in these juices, plays an important role in the metabolism of energy, so your energy level sustains all day.
4. Ginseng Tea
Ginseng has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for generations. Energy drinks began utilizing this ingredient in pursuit of that "all natural" label, making it the perfect energy drink alternative. The ginseng herb reduces bodily inflammation, benefits brain function, boosts the immune system, potentially reduces risks of cancer, and increases energy levels.
5. Kuli kuli moringa energy shot
Moringa is a superfood that acts as the main ingredient in the Kuli Kuli morning energy shot. This superfood boosts your energy while also healing the whole body. Its benefits include anti-inflammatory properties, high levels of calcium, protein, and fiber, and lots and lots of antioxidants to keep the immune system strong.
After reading this, I hope that all our energy lovers start to stray away from these cans of doom. Obviously, having one in moderation won’t affect you too much, but why even go there when so many energy drink alternatives exist - many more than appear on this list? Our bodies deserve real nourishment, rather than a quick unhealthy pick-me-up energy drink. Give these energy drink alternatives a try and I promise you’ll never return to the dark side!
Written by Emma Carlson
- Photo by Alexandra Nosova on Unsplash