The Energy Buzz: Just How Healthy Is It?

Let’s face it, Americans love to be wired! As you stroll down the grocery store aisles where the cranked-up drinks are displayed, it’s hard not to believe that these drinks are good for you. The packaging and advertising brainwash us into thinking you could really be on top of your game if you engaged in a gulp. Vitamins, amino acids, caffeine, herbs, sugar—the ultimate “drug-like” drink, a true thrill-seeking adventure for people young and old, male or female. We’re all looking for that extra “pick me up” to accomplish the impossible every day, right? So what’s the problem?

The reality is that energy drinks are laced with novel additives, taking people into unchartered nutritional territories, especially when mixed with alcohol. Even if they are not deemed truly “dangerous,” energy drinks are fostering a dependence on caffeine and sugar and giving a false sense of energy. Typically, each 8-ounce drink carries a punch of caffeine equal to twice that of a cup of coffee, as well as spices, herbs, and other tinctures aimed at giving you a buzz and extreme refreshment like you have never had. The bottom line is that caffeine produces a real psychological and physiological dependence and creates a “flight or fight” response with your nervous system. This leaves most of us feeling like we’ve been hit by a Mack Truck when it wears off, creating dependency and the need for another “pick-up.”

The typical energy drink carries with it another addictive substance—sugar! The sugar in most of these drinks is equivalent to roughly 10 to 20 teaspoons (or more) of sugar per drink. Sugar is the reason most of us have too much fat around the midsection of our bodies, the one toxic substance we have got to get a handle on. Understanding the negative impact of sugar on the immune system, mood, insulin levels (fat storage hormone), energy, cravings, and hormone balance is imperative to getting yourself healthy and maintaining balance. Energy drinks are loaded with sugar, but if you are tempted to try the sugar-free versions, you will enter the sugar substitute world that bears its own long-term side effects of constant cravings, mental fog, and fatigue. It’s really not worth it folks!

The grogginess that plagues many people in the morning and late afternoon makes it difficult not to turn to these drinks for recovery. In the end, however, it would be wise to steer clear of energy drinks in order to avoid long-term dependence, mood instability, blood sugar swings, and weight gain.

Consider slowly weaning yourself and supporting your adrenal (stress glands) with natural supplementation. The following tips will help:

  • Have all of your hormones and thyroid levels tested to weed out underlying problems that might be contributing to your fatigue (if you are exhausted, it’s likely something is off balance).
  • Consider that with stress you need more sleep, not less—and better sleep, not interrupted sleep, to truly recover and make the necessary hormones for optimal stamina and brain function.
  • Start a B-complex supplement program. Try OnePeak’s B-Kicker Shot or consider a special preparation of B-sublingual supplements.
  • Increase Vitamin D. This will not only “armor-up” your immune system as you head into the winter months, but will also boost energy.
  • Power up your adrenal glands by taking AM Stress supplements.
  • Consider the idea of lowering sugar in your diet to get off the blood glucose roller coaster that leaves you feeling totally wiped out. Start reading labels for sugar, and lower your flour intake.
  • Eat more frequently (every 3-4 hours) with good lean proteins and tons of veggies. This helps fuel your brain with essential amino acids, and nutrients that likely are lacking if you are a sugar/caffeine junkie.
  • Consider a Nutrient IV weekly or monthly of high dose Vitamin C, glutathione, and B-complex or a Myers Cocktail to replace what you are not getting in your diet and to help your energy problem rapidly.

STRESS is the number one zapper of energy. Moving around from one deadline to the next and constantly being “plugged in” and hurried is not normal. Your body isn’t wired to withstand this. Consider a schedule unload and build in at least 10 to 20 minutes per day where you are utterly unplugged. This will clear the mechanism and allow you to stay in the energy game longer, naturally.

Cheers to good natural energy!

Originally published in the Fall 2017 issue of Southern Oregon Magazine