The effects of energy drinks on our bodies

Published by Dr Luke Powles
Associate Clinical Director, Bupa UK Health Clinics

31 August 2018 . United Kingdom

With news that the British Government is considering banning the sale of energy drinks to people under 16, it’s a good time for all of us to consider our caffeine intake and think about what it’s doing to our bodies.
Woman drinking coffee at desk

Caffeine tolerance varies between individuals, however generally speaking, adults shouldn’t have more than 400mg a day, which equates to about four coffees. And it’s less for pregnant women and children.

Energy drinks contain about 80mg of caffeine per can, but they may have other stimulating substances that can affect us too. In the short term too much caffeine and stimulants can increase your heart rate which can make you feel irritable, anxious, light-headed and give you palpitations. The stimulant effect can also cause headaches and make it difficult for you to fall asleep.

With energy drinks, if you drink too much it can also upset the balance of acid in your stomach by relaxing the oesophagus which can cause heartburn and irritate your stomach lining and gut. In some cases, it can also cause cramps, diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting in some people.

Typical energy drinks also contain a lot of sugar. Steve Preddy, Head of Clinical Services and dentist at Bupa Dental Care, recently shared with me some interesting facts about how this can affect your teeth. He told me that each time you have a sugary drink, the levels of acid in your mouth rise, which raised the risk of tooth decay. As the acid eats away at the enamel it can make your teeth thinner and weaker.

As with everything, it’s all about moderation, if you like energy drinks make sure you listen to your body and if you have any negative effects, stop drinking it, have some water and steer clear of anything that contains caffeine.

Caffeine is addictive. If you want to cut back or if you’re concerned about your diet speak to your GP, or get a health assessment for a snapshot of how your health is now and advice on what changes you can make to become healthier.

Dr Luke Powles

Associate Clinical Director, Bupa UK Health Clinics

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