Coffee vs. Energy Drinks - The Results Might Scare You
For a lot of us, caffeine is something we live on.
Some of us may wake up with a cup of coffee, drink a pre-workout before the gym, or religiously have a pot ready all day.
What do you prefer — coffee or an energy drink?
First, Let's Go over What Caffeine Does to Our Bodies:
The FDA says about 80 percent of American adults take some form of caffeine every day.
Did you know caffeine does more than just keep you awake?
Related - Find Out the Health Benefits of Coffee
Caffeine is actually a central nervous system stimulant and it affects our bodies in a few ways:
- The stimulant effects cause mental alertness right away. This also can help relieve drowsiness and fatigue.
- Too much caffeine can overstimulate your brain — leading to confusion.
- One study suggests that the mood-enhancing effect of caffeine was linked to a 45 percent lower risk of suicide.
- A small amount of caffeine may help your hangover, but too much or having withdrawals can cause headaches.
- Cranky before you have your first cup of coffee? You experience irritability as a symptom of withdrawal.
- Studies suggest drinking four or more 8-ounce cups of caffeinated coffee may lower your risk for oral and throat cancers.
- Caffeine can cause a rapid heartbeat. Caffeine could also cause arrhythmias, so if you have a preexisting issue, talk to your doctor.
- Coffee, soda, and energy drinks all are acidic, so it may cause some heartburn.
- If you drink too much caffeine, you could experience nausea or vomit.
- Achy muscles are another withdrawal symptom of caffeine.
- Caffeine helps keep regular bowl movements.
- Studies suggest women who consume too much caffeine may experience difficulties getting pregnant. Experts recommend consuming no more than 300mg a day.
- Caffeine prevents calcium absorption, which increases your risk for osteoporosis.
- Caffeine will make you urinate more. Long-term use of high amounts of caffeine can cause bladder instability.
- Caffeine can temporarily raise your blood pressure.
- Caffeine can give you the jitters — if you have any anxiety or sleep disorders, caffeine could make it worse.
According to the Mayo Clinic, it's safe for most healthy adults to consume up to 400 milligrams of caffeine per day.
As you drink around the same amount of caffeine per day, your body will develop a tolerance to it. Your overall health, age, and body mass all can determine your tolerance to caffeine.
If you are looking to slow down on caffeine, it's best to decrease your consumption slowly so the withdrawals aren't so bad.
So Coffee Versus Energy Drinks — Who Wins?
After doing a little research, I found few studies about coffee and one about energy drinks.
Before we jump into the juicy part of this article, I want to say I'm all for grabbing a 2 for $3 energy drink occasionally. I found some alarming things about energy drinks, but I also found some remarkable things about coffee that is ultimately going to make me switch to coffee only.
One study I found suggests drinking coffee prevents the development of both Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.
So that cup of joe in the morning may actually be doing more than you think. Researchers from the Krembil Brain Institute suggest the chemical compounds called "phenylindanes" are believed to be the key to preventing our brains from falling victim to these debilitating conditions.
“Coffee consumption does seem to have some correlation to a decreased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease,” says study co-author Dr. Donald Weaver, co-director of the Krembil Brain Institute, in a release. “But we wanted to investigate why that is — which compounds are involved and how they may impact age-related cognitive decline.”
I'm no coffee expert — I just drink whatever is served to me. But this study took three types of coffee — light roast, dark roast, and decaffeinated dark roast — and took a look at their makeup.
“The caffeinated and de-caffeinated dark roast both had identical potencies in our initial experimental tests,” says Dr. Ross Mancini, a research fellow in medicinal chemistry. “So we observed early on that its protective effect could not be due to caffeine.”
This is where Mancini discovered phenylindanes. The only chemical the researchers examined in the study that prevents the build-up of beta-amyloid and tau — two protein fragments known to lead to Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
The study suggests the longer the beans were roasted, the greater amount of phenylindanes were present. So it looks like I'm going to try out some dark roasts.
“What this study does is take the epidemiological evidence and try to refine it and to demonstrate that there are indeed components within coffee that are beneficial to warding off cognitive decline,” says Weaver. “It’s interesting but are we suggesting that coffee is a cure? Absolutely not.”
Could this be the start of a war against Alzheimer's and Parkinson's?
I'm all for slamming a Monster before a test or work, but after I found this study... I don't think I will anymore.
Most energy drinks have taurine, caffeine, and other herbal supplements. Some drinks also have large amounts of sugar which isn't good on your waistline or to the lining of your blood vessels.
So in this study, the researchers from the McGovern Medical School at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston monitored 44 healthy medical students in their 20's.
The participants had their blood vessel function tested before drinking a 24-ounce energy drink, and then again 90 minutes after they consumed the beverage. They used ultrasound technology to measure artery flow-mediated dilation — used to determine one's overall blood vessel health.
The results were staggering — Vessel dilation started around 5.1 percent in diameter on average before the drink, and 2.8 percent 90 minutes later. This decrease suggests acute impairment in vascular function — the blood flow in the arteries.
“As energy drinks are becoming more and more popular, it is important to study the effects of these drinks on those who frequently drink them and better determine what, if any, is a safe consumption pattern,” the authors wrote.
Wrapping It Up
Did you know in 2014, the World Health Organization warned energy drinks may pose a danger to public health? A study published recently in the Journal of Frontiers in Public Health also found they may cause kidney damage, increased blood pressure, and even some mental health problems.
This isn't a bash energy drinks article. If you are someone like me who enjoys drinking caffeine, but you want to try a healthier way... the switch to coffee may be the right choice.