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Energy Drinks

Norton Shores Michigan Chiropractor - We all need “energy,” right?  Energy is what allows us to be happy, productive, and effective members of society.  Nobody wants to be dragging themselves through each day.  But who wants to get exercise, eat right, and get more sleep at night?  That’s for suckers!  There must be a quicker and easier way!  Of course there drinks.

Whether you are a snowboarder, working stiff, or soccer mom, it seems as if the beverage industry has an energy drink specifically designed for you!  Whether you want to work all day or party all night (or both), the energy drink business has provided this shortcut on its way to growing into a $10 billion industry, seemingly overnight.So, what’s the problem with the occasional energy drink to get you through finals or a long night of driving?  Nothing, as long as you don’t become dependent on them.

Energy drinks rely on two main ingredients to give you that sudden burst of vitality: sugar and caffeine.  Some are sugar-free (made possible by artificial sweeteners) and most of them also use “natural” ingredients like herbs and vitamins to help give you that sudden “kick” but make no mistake: energy drinks are powerful stimulants.  Besides, using the word “natural” means nothing.  Arsenic is natural...that doesn’t mean you should drink it in large doses.

Frequent high doses of sugar (and even artificial sweeteners according to new research) leads to insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and obesity...all of which are on the rise in America.  But what about the caffeine?  How much is too much?

Caffeine, after all, is a drug.  Too much leads to dependency, which results in over consumption.  Too much caffeine has an adverse effect on your nervous system and endocrine system (hormones).  This can cause a host of problems, including:

    • Insomnia
    • Nervousness
    • Restlessness
    • Irritability
    • Stomach upset
    • Fast heartbeat
    • Muscle tremors

But what is interesting is that caffeine is causing some acute problems, as well. According to a federal study, “In 2011, there were 20,783 reported emergency room visits in which an energy drink was cited as the primary cause of or a contributing factor to a health problem, compared with 10,068 in 2007.”  This includes irregular heartbeats, headaches, anxiety attacks, and heart attacks.  This has caused the FDA to take a closer look at energy drinks, which will likely lead to some stronger warning labels, but those don’t do much good anyway.


If you feel like you don’t have enough energy to get through the day, you would be well served to take stock in your health.  Your body is tired for a reason.  Pushing it past its limits with stimulants means you are robbing Peter to pay Paul.

1.  Are you getting less than 8 hours of sleep per night?  If not, why?  Watch less TV.  Spend less time on your smartphone.  Go to bed.

2.  Are you eating a lot of processed foods?  Heavily processed foods can chronic inflammation in the body.  Feed your body with real food, or suffer the consequences.  Garbage in = garbage out.

3.  Are you under a lot of stress?  Better question...who isn’t?  If so, deal with the cause of your stress and you will feel better.  Employ some stress management techniques.  Get a massage.  Go to the gym.

4.  Are you nursing a lingering spine problem which is causing headaches, back pain, neck pain, sciatica?  Constant physical stress is just like constant mental stress.  It has an adverse effect on your nervous system, sapping you of precious energy.

But what if you have done everything you can but still need help?  If you ask me, coffee is a better option than energy drinks.  And good coffee is packed with antioxidants.  Even better yet, when you compare caffeine content and the amount of acidity (which is why coffee can hurt your stomach), espresso is even better for you.  But just like with energy drinks, it is possible to drink too much coffee/espresso, so limit yourself to no more than 2 medium cups per day.  It is best to limit your coffee intake to the morning as it can affect your sleep if you have it too late in the day.  If you need an extra kick in the afternoon, do some exercise!  Try it!  Go for a brisk walk.  Climb the stairs in your office building.  Bust out 20 push ups.  Do some bodyweight squats.  You will naturally get an adrenaline boost and get your blood flowing, without the caffeine and sugar bomb!


Dr. PlemonDr. Jared Plemon BS, DC is a doctor of chiropractic at Zehr Chiropractic in Norton Shores, Michigan.  He specializes in the treatment of neck pain, back pain, and extremity pain utilizing cutting edge, non-manipulative chiropractic techniques.  He blogs about nutrition, exercise, and how chiropractic care fits in with the overall health landscape.  He lives in West Michigan with his wife and two children.

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