The Truth Behind Energy Drinks

Energy drinks may help us stay awake and give us that extra push to get through the day, but at what cost? How many of us really know what the ingredients are in these drinks? Companies pay advertisers millions of dollars to make their products look appealing while masking the negatives, leaving us misinformed and unaware of any dangers. They claim these drinks will revitalize the body and mind, increasing endurance and concentration. However, what they do not tell us is that these drinks have about 3 times as much caffeine as a regular cup of coffee along with multiple other ingredients that act as stimulants, all of which can weaken one’s cardiovascular system and even lead to a heart attack. That doesn’t sound as appealing though, does it?

Recently, multiple deaths, one of them being a 14 year old girl, have been linked to the energy drink known as Monster. Many people do not know how the over-consumption of such energy drinks can be dangerous to one’s health. People see the commercials that show these drinks giving people ample stamina or even wings to make them “fly.” Without any knowledge of how these drinks could negatively affect one’s health, who wouldn’t be tempted to have these drinks all day long? However, the truth is that these drinks not only have up to 3 times the amount of caffeine as a regular cup of coffee, but they have other ingredients, such as taurine, ginseng and guarana, which act like caffeine as well. Caffeine releases a neurotransmitter in the body known as norepinephrine, which then releases a hormone into your blood that causes your heart rate to increase and your blood vessels to contract. If too much norepinephrine is released in one period of time the heart can go into overdrive and possibly even lead to a heart attack. Excessive caffeine consumption can also cause other serious side effects over time such as chronic hypertention, thyroid dysfunction, nerve damage, and heart disease. As you can see, having more than one of these energy drinks a day can definitely take a toll on one’s health, which is why this matter should not be taken lightly.

Having one energy drink here and there when undergoing strenuous activities, like studying for finals or working a 12 hour shift, is not the issue at hand. The issue is that people do not understand the severity of excessively drinking these energy drinks day-after-day whenever they feel the need. To make things worse, people can also build a tolerance to caffeine, which would require them to drink more and more as time goes by to get the same effects they once had with just one drink. Trying new methods to stay awake or to get re-energized is one solution to this problem. Taking a 20 minute power nap is one of the best methods to rejuvenate the body as well as the mind. Exercising, or even jogging in place for a few minutes, also gets the blood flowing through your veins to wake your brain and muscles up. Green tea and Kombucha are natural drinks that contain a minimal amount of caffeine compared to the average energy drink and also work as potent antioxidants to eliminate dangerous free radicals from the body. Also, taking a daily multi-vitamin containing B-vitamins, such as B-12 and niacin, will help supply your body with the energy it needs to get you through your day. Lastly, sleeping at least 6 to 8 hours a night will give your body a chance to recuperate and regain enough energy to face a rigorous schedule ahead. Hope these tips help and thanks for reading. This has been your dose of Vitamin Jas.

The Dangers of Stress

Unless you are an orthodox monk living atop Mount Athos, chances are that you will be stressed at one point or another in your lifetime. Stress is an inevitable part of our daily lives and can take on many forms, such as forgetting where you left your keys, being stuck in traffic, or even getting your order mixed up at the coffee shop. Contrary to what most people think, stress affects your body both physically and mentally. Stress makes your body feel as though it is under attack, causing it to wear out over time. Finding ways to cope with or resolve your stress is more important than you may think and should not be overlooked.

Acute, or short term stress, is different than chronic, or long term stress. If you are stressed out here and there and do not let it affect you for long, you are not in as much danger as those who feel stressed more often than not on a daily basis. Chronic stress can compromise your immune system, which is what controls your body’s defense mechanisms. When you undergo long periods of stress, your immune system becomes weak and your body becomes more susceptible to illness. The bacteria and viruses you are exposed to everyday have a better chance of infecting your body because your defense mechanisms are not as strong as they normally would be when you are calm and relaxed. Have you ever noticed that you tend to get sick when you are studying for a big exam or preparing for a major presentation at work? That is not just a coincidence. Constantly being nervous, not sleeping enough and over-exerting yourself are all forms of stress that increase your chances of getting sick. Over time, stress will not only suppress your immune system, but may even compromise your body’s circulatory system, blood sugar regulation and even cell growth. All this may lead to more serious health problems down the line such as hypertension, diabetes and possibly even cancer.

Learning to control your anger and anxiety when encountering a stressful situation is crucial. Take deep breaths to increase oxygenation and blood flow in your body. Try to think realistically about the situation instead of jumping to over-exaggerated conclusions before they even happen. Think about if what you’re getting mad or anxious about is really worth damaging your health over. Take 10 seconds to calm yourself before reacting to the situation. Find an enjoyable activity to release your anger and frustration through, such as exercise, so you do not repress it and let it build up within you. Last but not least, try to smile or laugh because it sends a signal to your brain to release endorphins, which have a calming effect on the body. Hope these tips help! This has been your dose of Vitamin Jas.

 

Fiber is Your Friend!

How many people associate fiber with cardboard? How many people think that fiber is something that only their grandparents have because people only need fiber when they’re old? Well, fiber can actually benefit us at any age and doesn’t always necessarily have to taste bad. Fiber can be found in many tasty foods such as fruits, beans, nuts and even popcorn! So, stop thinking about fiber so negatively and learn why fiber is one of the most essential additions you can make to your diet.

Fiber is most commonly known for increasing regularity, but the list of benefits goes way beyond that. Aside from relieving occasional constipation, fiber can also lower blood cholesterol levels. Fiber binds to LDL, which is known as “bad cholesterol,” and carries it out of our bodies through our feces. For people with diabetes, or at risk for diabetes, fiber helps decrease blood sugar levels by slowing down the absorption of sugar and preventing large spikes in insulin secretion. Fiber also aids in weight loss because it gives our meals bulk, making us full faster and keeping us full for a longer period of time. Also, foods high in fiber tend to have less calories, so there is less potential to gain weight. Fiber has also been linked to lowering blood pressure because it absorbs excess water in the colon. Most importantly, fiber binds to toxins and harmful bacteria that may have entered the body through our food and eliminates them through our feces so that they cannot be reabsorbed into our bloodstream. This also helps decrease inflammation in our bowels, which decreases the chances of developing such illnesses as irritable bowel syndrome.

As mentioned earlier, foods high in fiber include fruits, vegetables, oatmeal, whole grain bread, nuts, and beans. If none of these foods stimulate your appetite, you could also take fiber supplements. There are fiber caps or even fiber chews out there, such as Fiber Choice, that would deliver the full daily dose of fiber you would need. Women need about 25 grams of fiber a day and men need around 38 grams. Do not confuse fiber with laxatives. Laxatives are often stimulants that can make your body dependent if used for longer than 2 weeks. They also deplete your body of essential electrolytes, which can be very dangerous, especially for your heart.

So, now when you think of fiber, I hope you don’t just think of old people eating prunes or Metamucil. Instead, think of all the benefits fiber can bring and how it can help regardless of what age you happen to be. One last thing, make sure to drink plenty of water with a high fiber diet to get optimal results. Thanks for reading. This has been your dose of Vitamin Jas.