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Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit
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Nutrition - Beverages


Beverages




Water

Make water interesting and handy by keeping a jug of water in your fridge flavoured with lemon, orange or cucumber slices.

 

Energy Drinks: Consume with Caution!

Many people looking for a quick blast of energy are gulping the latest beverages -energy drinks.  Energy drinks, such as Red Bull, Red Rave, and SoBe Adrenaline Rush, may sound like a great answer to early mornings or late-night parties; however there are health risks associated with energy drinks and they should be used with caution.




What are energy drinks?


Energy drinks promise improved mental and physical performance for a short period of time.  They usually contain sugar, caffeine and guarana (a South American plant that contains caffeine).  Energy drinks should not be confused with sport drinks, such as Gatorade and Powerade, which do not contain caffeine and re-hydrate the body.




Caffeine Content of Selected Beverages

Product   Milligrams of caffeine
Red Bull® (250 ml can) 80
Coffee, brewed (237 ml) 135
Tea, leaf or bag (237ml) 50
Cola, regular (355ml can) 36-46
Cola, diet (355ml can) 39-50




Are energy drinks safe?


Caffeine affects each person differently.  The effects of caffeine depend on how much is consumed, your age, body size and your overall health.  For some people, caffeine may cause a short-term increase in heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and breathing rate.  Caffeine may also cause headaches, tremors, nervousness, irritability and sleeping problems.  Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine; therefore energy drinks are not recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women.  Health Canada recommends a maximum of 400-500mg of caffeine per day for adults and 300mg for pregnant and breastfeeding women. 

Energy drinks can dehydrate.  The caffeine in energy drinks has a diuretic effect, which causes you to urinate more often and may cause your body to lose too much water.  For this reason, energy drinks should not be used during or after exercise when you need to re-hydrate. 

Energy drinks should not be mixed with alcohol.  The effects of mixing a stimulant (caffeine) with a depressant (alcohol) are not yet known.  There is also concern caffeine may hide the effects of alcohol.  As a result of this effect, people may not realize their inability to perform tasks that require alertness, such as driving a car. Caffeine does not reduce the amount of alcohol in the blood stream and does not sober you up.

Health Canada is investigating some serious medical reactions linked with energy drinks including dizziness, nausea and vomiting, stomach pain, electrolyte imbalances and heart irregularities.  These effects have been reported after too many energy drinks were consumed or when mixed with alcohol.


Energy drinks and kids

Energy drinks are not recommended for children because they are high in sugar, calories and caffeine.  For example, one 250ml can of Red Bull contains almost 7 teaspoons of sugar, 110 calories and 80mg of caffeine.  The sugar and calories in energy drinks may lead to tooth decay and weight gain. 

Recommended maximum caffeine intakes for children

Age Maximum amount of caffeine per day
0-3 years 0mg
4-6 years 45mg
7-9 years 62.5mg
10-12 years 85mg

Children are more sensitive to caffeine than adults.  They can become restless, irritable and have problems sleeping if they have too much caffeine.  Drinking too much caffeine can cause calcium to be lost from the body; therefore calcium is not available to build strong bones and teeth.  Also, if energy drinks replace calcium-rich drinks, such as milk, growing bodies and bones suffer even more. 

If you choose to consume energy drinks, follow the instructions on the label - do not have large amounts or mix with alcohol.  Also be sure to drink plenty of other fluids, such as water and milk, to stay hydrated.

Energy Drinks are not Sports Drinks

Energy Drinks are not made to help with hydration. In fact they can hide signs of dehydration which will negatively affect athletic performance. In addition, the high sugar and carbonation in energy drinks can lead to an upset stomach. Energy drinks are not the same as sports drinks.

Energy Drinks and Dental Health

The high sugar content in energy drinks can cause cavities. The citric acid can erode tooth enamel.

 

 


Staying Well-Hydrated in Extreme Heat

In extreme heat, the body loses more fluid through sweat.  It becomes even more important to drink enough fluid to help avoid the health risks of extreme heat, including heat exhaustion and heat stroke.


How do I know if I am drinking enough fluid?

On a daily basis, the easiest way to tell if you are drinking enough fluid is to check the colour and amount of your urine.  If your urine is dark and has a strong odour, it is concentrated with wastes and you need to drink more fluids.  If you are urinating less often, this can also be a sign that your body needs more water.  When your urine is pale yellow, your body has returned to its normal water balance. 

As well as watching urine colour and volume, you should also pay attention to how you feel.  Signs of dehydration include fatigue, headaches, dizziness, nausea, dry mouth & lips, and having low energy.  If you are thirsty, this is one of the last signs of dehydration – you need to drink before you feel thirst.



How can I consume more fluid?


The best choices for replacing sweat loses and staying well-hydrated include:

  • Water
  • Milk
  • 100% Fruit juices
  • Carbonated water
  • Watery foods such as watermelon, grapes, soups, applesauce
  • Sports drinks or soft drinks – but these can be high in sugar and caffeine (which dehydrates the body)
  • Watery “treats” such as jello, popsicles, and freezies

Avoid drinks that contain high amounts of caffeine, including coffee, tea, dark soft drinks, and some sports drinks.  Caffeine is a diuretic, and may lead to increased urination and fluid loss from the body.  Also, avoid alcohol, which can also lead to fluid loss from the body (extra fluid is used when the body tries to rid itself of the alcohol).

It is recommended to avoid strenuous exercise in extreme heat conditions.  When doing any physical exertion, make sure to drink fluid before, during, and after the activity.  Loss of sweat even during activity is loss of fluid from the body. 




Drop the Pop




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