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Fast & furious?

Since ancient times man has always searched for that quick magic potion which could give him infinite energy and vigour to attain his aspirations.

April 15, 2009 1:03:47 am

Energy drinks may not be safe for the heart,warns DR ARUN KOCHAR

Since ancient times man has always searched for that quick magic potion which could give him infinite energy and vigour to attain his aspirations. Energy drinks have slowly invaded the markets and promise just the same objective. These drinks are especially popular with athletes,party animals and the younger generation. They are being promoted as non-alcoholic,action-packed,vitaminised energy drink formulated to deal with physical and mental fatigue. There is a dearth of clinical scientific data on the probable detrimental effects of such drinks on health. It has recently been realized that these seemingly harmless drinks may not be safe for the heart especially for those who are suffering from pre-existing heart ailments.

Such drinks promulgate to refill lost vigour and are certainly useful when tasks demanding thousands of calories need to be performed. These drinks are freely available at local grocery stores and indeed are fast becoming popular. The usual ingredients of these drinks are caffeine,an amino acid taurine and huge amounts of calories in the form of sugars. Taurine is a non-essential amino acid found in meat and fish. The caffeine levels found in one tin can of such drinks are equivalent to two cups of coffee and the sugar‘s quantity is roughly equal to five tablespoons. But not much is known about the possible side-affects of such beverages. In a recent trial published in the annals of Pharmacotherapy,it was found that such drinks caused an increase in the blood pressure and heart rates of the study subjects. The results of the trial have incited researchers to recommend that patients who are suffering from heart disease and high blood pressure would do best to avoid these drinks. Researchers further believed that much of the unwanted side affects of these drinks are due to high amounts of caffeine and taurine present in these drinks.

Sadly,there is indeed no instantaneous solution for acquiring swift increase in the stamina. There are other known unwanted side affects of excessive consumptions of these beverages also. These beverages are different from sports drinks which provide fluids,energies and electrolytes. Energy drinks may also cause a sudden surge of adrenaline,which is not good for the heart and body. Large amount of sugar found in these drinks may inhibit the absorption of other nutrients and essential fluids. It may cause some laxative effect also. Such empty calories may in the long run lead to metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Large amount of caffeine could lead to sleep disturbances and restlessness. Thus,a doctor would suggest extreme caution in excessive consumption of these drinks. Further,they may be more harmful for customers who consume them the most,growing up adolescents. A full meal with all the Indian delicacies cooked at home with regular exercise may provide better strength than these quick-fix solutions. The proverb of slow and steady winning the race is also true for your heart and health.

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The writer is an interventional consultant cardiologist working at Fortis Hospital,Mohali

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First published on: 15-04-2009 at 01:03:47 am

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