Dirty secrets: What’s in those sports & energy drinks?

Sports and energy drinks are the craze among the teens to thirties. They are touted to improve energy and alertness. But surprisingly few people know what they really contain.

Energy drinks are beverages which contain potent stimulants like caffeine, herbal supplements, chemicals like taurine, vitamins and sugar or sweeteners for flavour.

Caffeine is the main active ingredient in energy drinks. The fact is they often contain three times as much caffeine as the average cola. That comes to up to 80 mg in a serve! And that’s just the caffeine listed as such on the label; energy drinks also provide additional “energy” from the guarana, kola nut, yerba mate, and cocoa which are all sources of caffeine. So who actually knows just how much caffeine you could really be ingesting.

Even worse, energy drinks are widely used to mix alcoholic drinks because it helps to relieve tiredness and increase alertness while “having fun”. This is dangerously misleading because this false security leads to high-risk behaviour.

A big problem with these drinks is that there is no real regulation to find out or report just how much caffeine is in them. They are often listed as “dietary supplements.” However, caffeine should be avoided by children and even teenagers.

Caffeine has been long known to cause ill-effects in these age groups and even in young adults, if they have seizures, diabetes, heart abnormalities or mood disorders. A heavy dose of caffeine (yes, as much as is found in energy drinks!) can itself cause seizures, manic elevation of mood and even sudden death!

Caffeine narrows blood vessels in the heart and brain, increases your heart rate and the force of pumping, makes your cells unable to respond to insulin (which fosters diabetes) and can even alter how genes are expressed in preemies. It disturbs sleep in children. It raises the blood pressure, and reduces the amount of calcium absorbed in the intestine, which could lead to osteoporosis later in life.

Do your body a favour: Exercise, get fresh air and watch what you eat and drink.

Ladies: Are your high-heels doing damage?

Sashaying along in high heels does have that chic appeal. But look closer. Does your body agree?

We all know the typical high-heeled walk, with back arched, chest pushed forward, and foot pointed down. Every inch of height adds enormous load to the ball of your foot and the small delicate bones of the toes, instead of on the strong ankle and heel bones. And the higher the heels, worse the pain!

Since you don’t come down first on your heel, your steps become shorter and more abrupt. This eventually damages the small bones and ligaments in your foot.

Your hip ligaments are stretched on the outside, while the large tendon that runs behind your ankle is being scrunched up. If you wear stilettos for too long, normal walking becomes painful, even after you take them off. And constant pressure on the inside of your knees sets them up for osteoarthritis!

And in front, as your ankle stretches down for that slim, tapered leg look, you’re actually endangering your foot circulation, and could be setting yourself up for unsightly veins later on.

Is it worth all this? Or would it be better to keep your fancy shoes for that one-hour cameo appearance or for the really big party – and wear good-looking but comfortable supportive shoes the rest of the time?

Quick tip

If you’re standing around, stretch your legs a bit by standing up on your toes and then gradually drop to your heels. You can also flex your buttock muscles as well, but maybe when nobody else is looking.

Inspiration

Toughness is in the soul and spirit, not in muscles.

~ Alex Karras