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An energy drink is a type of beverage that manufacturers claim to provide instant mental and physical stimulation. But does it really do so? Or are there any side effects that we are not aware of? Food science expert Budge Collinson speaks to the CookeryPlus Team and tells us why we, especially kids, shouldn’t be guzzling these drinks…

A recent University of Miami study found that anxiety, hypertension, elevated heart rates, interrupted sleep patterns and headaches are just some of the side effects commonly associated with energy drinks, and those problems are more pronounced in children. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. These drinks have also been linked to heart palpitations, strokes and sudden death.

Budge Collinson, Food Science Expert
Budge Collinson, Food Science Expert

According to Budge Collinson, food science expert, the term “energy” drink is an unfortunate misnomer. They don’t give your body energy; they stimulate you with brief jolts of caffeine and unregulated herbal stimulants, he says. “Soccer moms and dads buy these ‘stimulant’ drinks for their kids before matches because both kids and parents want that competitive advantage,” says Collinson. “For a few moments, you’ll get that spike, but it’s a short-term experience with a heavy long-term toll.”

So, what are some of the ways that kids can get a healthy energy boost? Collinson offers the following tips:

•  Go for a speedy bike ride together, take a brisk walk or hold foot-races in the yard: Numerous studies demonstrate the power of vigorous exercise in boosting energy. Exercise pumps more oxygen – pure, healthy fuel – into the bloodstream and to the brain and muscles for a short-term energy boost. Exercising regularly will increase lung capacity, so the body will get more oxygen on a sustained level for the long term. Exercise also releases endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemical, which makes us feel happy. And happy people are energised people.

•  Seek nutrition from a variety of sources: As humans, we need more than 40 different vitamins and minerals to keep our bodies functioning optimally. Since there is no single food that contains them all, it is important for children and adults to eat a variety, including as many different vegetables and fruits as possible. Adding a daily multivitamin supplement with essentials such as CoQ10, arginine, theanine, resveratrol and magnesium can help ensure bodies, both young and old, are running at top speed.

•  Drink plenty of water: It’s the natural energy drink. Even mild dehydration can leave children (and adults) feeling listless, so encourage children to make a habit of drinking plenty of water. Kids need more water than adults because they expend more energy, and they may not recognise when they’re slightly thirsty. Parents, too, often don’t recognise the signs of dehydration; a national survey of more than 800 parents of kids, from the ages of one month up to 10 years, found that more than half feel that they don’t know enough about dehydration. A quick, light pinch of the skin on the child’s hand or arm is an easy check. If the skin is slow to resume a smooth appearance, the child is likely at least mildly dehydrated.

So, give the energy drinks a skip; exercise, eat good and drink plenty of water to lead a healthy life!