Coffee to stay awake? Out of fashion
“It lift your mood, it lift all” .Have you ever heard that? Such phrases are often used to promote energy drinks; the new modality in young people. A drink that has all in one, it promises quenches the thirst, give energy and avoid burnout. Among the most famous brands are Ciclon, Monster, Red Bull, Burn, among others.
These energy drinks are composed of carbohydrates, fats, proteins and stimulants such as caffeine and ginseng. Like its name implies, these drinks promise to the consumer, improve the body energy, physical resistance, reduces tiredness, control sleepiness and increase concentration. That is why many college students drink them when they need to stay awake studying for several hours .
Mairim Rosa, a second year Biology student of UPR- Mayagüez, said that for her these drinks are very effective to control sleepiness. “In my case they really work. When I have to study for many hours and I feel tired, just by drinking half of the content of one can I can be active and awake for several hours” said the student.
Excessively or continuously consuming these drinks can be hazardous to health. What makes these drinks are so irrigation is the high content of caffeine and other stimulants they contain. Even many times the dose of the ingredients contained in a unit (can) are not standardized, so it is unknown whether it is being consumed little or too much of a specific ingredient. Sometimes one unit can contain up to 300 milligrams of caffeine.
Nilka Rivera, professor in chemistry with a PhD in Chemical Medicine said that these beverages may cause dependence because its caffeine content. “They send message throughout the nervous system that stimulate you to drink more and more” said Rivera.
A person who usually consumes these beverages may present symptoms that include: headache, dilated pupils, intoxication, insomnia, tremor, anxiety, hypertension, vomiting and nervousness.
A high consumption of energy drinks may also affect the central nervous system, and may appear nervous and neuronal diseases. People who frequently consume these drinks are also at risk of having a central hemorrhage, as the beverages contain compounds that thin the blood from the body.
The stimulants of these drinks may increase heart rate and blood pressure. Can cause sudden heart attack in people with heart condition and diabetes. These drinks are contraindicated for: children under 13, pregnant or lactating women, persons with diabetes or highalterial pressure, people sensitive to caffeine, people with anxiety disorders and people under psychiatric treatment.
Energy drinks when mixed with alcohol can be harmful to health.There have been cases of people without cardiac risk factors who have suffered heart attacks or strokes due to consumption of these drinks mixed with alcohol.
One of the reasons why this mixture can be fatal to health is because the caffeine when mixed with alcohol creates a state of hyperactivity and euphoria that hide the effects of alcohol. This causes the person to not realize of how is his true state of drunkenness and make him drink more alcohol. This can end with a fatal intoxication.
There is a false rumor about these drinks. Some people think that these are energy drinks are good for people who do a lot exercise because these beverages contribute to the hydration of the body. This thinking is completely wrong. The high concentration of caffeine and sugars contained in these drinks may have a diuretic effect that increases the risk of dehydration and can cause gastrointestinal discomfort and laxative effects.
There have been cases where the death of young people has been linked with the consumption of energy drinks. Recently it became known in the media about the death of a young man named José Hernández Cordero, student of UPR-Medical Science Campus, who died in the University Library and had drank one of these drinks before his sudden dead.
Another case of death associated with consumption of these drinks is the case of Tyler John, a boy aged 11 from England who hanged himself after drank an energy drink. His parents claim that his death was caused by drinking and that such beverages can change the behavior of a person.
Currently, the excessive use of these beverages has become very common and normal in young people, mostly college students. Paula Hernández, a Biology student of UPR-Río Piedras, drinks five or six energy beverages per week. “Energy drinks are good for me, they help me to stay up all night and finish all my stuff. I drink like five or six drinks in a week, it depends of the amount of work that I have on the week” said the student.
The high level of young people who constantly use these drinks has reached a point of concern. That is why the Office of Environmental Quality, UPR-Mayagüez has designed campaign to target young people about the risks they expose themselves to take energy drinks.
In an Interview to Jeannette Rivera-Barbosa, Administrative Secretary of the Office of Quality of Life at RUM, she said that this campaign was effective and fulfills its purpose. “Students often ask what are the effects of excessive consumption of these drinks? We give them lectures and conference about this issue and suggest them be judicious in deciding what is good there body and what not” said the secretary of the program.
In an interview with Hernán Méndez, Stress management Office Coordinator at UPR-Mayagüez , he finds sadly how youth still drinking this beverages even knowing the serious damages they can cause “The most sad part of this problem is that young people knowing the danger they cause they still decide to drink them”.
After Méndez said this, we relate it with the interviewed student, Mairim Rosa, who after being asked if she had experimented some wear reaction after drank one beverage answered yes, but seems to not by concerned about the risk that it represent. “Just once, I felt my heart raced and I got scared. But then I calmed down and has happened again” the young said.
Méndez recommend to experiment another techniques for avoid sleepiness and to improve the level of concentration without resorting of drink this energizing beverages. Some of these techniques are : exercise, stress management, skills of concentration, socialize (not with alcohol), hobbies and spirituality. “These practices increase the amount of serotonin; these are neurotransmitters that control the State of the mood” Méndez conclude.
Dr. Rivera also invited students to avoid the excessive use of energy drinks and to find other methods to maintain they awake and to improve their academic concentration. “There are other methods people, you must be aware of what you eat or drink,” said Rivera.