Energy drinks: The good, bad and ugly – UMUSEKE – News indeed
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John Mgirane works long hours. During the day, he works as customer care at a telecommunications company, and, at night, he helps out at his mother’s supermarket in Kimironko. The supermarket runs until midnight. It wears him out and to get that extra burst of energy, he relies on energy boosters, commonly known as energy drinks. He takes at least one each day and on bad days, two.

Energy drinks are mostly consumed by teens
Energy drinks are mostly consumed by teens.

An energy drink is a type of beverage containing stimulant drugs, chiefly caffeine, which is marketed as providing mental or physical stimulation. The boosters are preferred by people seeking extra energy kick or endurance. Although ingredients may differ from brand to brand, the most common are caffeine, sugar (artificial sweeteners) and herbal extracts such as guarana.

Caffeine is a renowned stimulant also found in coffee and tea. Caffeine, whether it is in coffee or tea or a soft drink, moves easily from the intestines into the bloodstream, and from there to organs, and before long has penetrated almost every cell of the body.

caffeine
caffeine.

This is why caffeine is such a celebrated stimulant. Most substances cannot cross the blood-brain barrier, which is the body’s defensive mechanism. Caffeine does so easily. Within an hour or so, it reaches its peak concentration in the brain, and there it does a number of things amongst them blocking  the action of adenosine, the  brain chemical that’s responsible for making  you sleepy, lowering your blood pressure  and slowing down your heartbeat.

Then, as quickly as it builds up in your brain and tissues, the caffeine is gone—which is why it’s so safe. Caffeine in ordinary quantities has never been conclusively linked to serious illness but in energy drinks the amounts could excessive.

Some users may argue that the drink’s ingredients (caffeine and sugar) can be found in other beverages that are considered ‘safe’ such as tea and coffee but the amount varies; some energy drinks have an equivalent of caffeine in seven coffee cups.

Energy drinks also contain high amounts of sugar in form of glucose which can be readily absorbed into the body system. These sugars contain calories.

Although the manufacturers claim that energy drinks can improve your endurance and performance, many health experts disagree. Any boost you get from drinking them, they say, is solely from the sugar and caffeine.

The most common brands of energy drinks in Rwanda are Red Bull, Horse Power and Shark. They retail at between Rwf1,000 and Rwf2,000 at most supermarkets and shops.

The New Times 

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