Energy Drinks and Hospitalizations Checklist: How to Ask The Right Questions

It’s happened again: someone was admitted to the hospital after consuming an energy drink. Reporters covering the story warn readers about the dangers of energy drinks…something is missing. In this post, I’ll review real headlines about energy drink to demonstrate how the omission of a few minor details hurts consumers, as well as the scientists who study energy drinks.

If you read a news story about someone being hospitalized because of a vegetable, you’d have some questions.

On the surface, the mere idea sounds ridiculous.

“Hospitalized…because of a VEGETABLE? People eat veggies all the time without dying, why would someone go to the hospital?”

In fact, leafy green vegetables were the number one source of foodborne illnesses from 1998-2008. Moreover, this hypothetical news story is a perfect example of how asking the right questions can save lives.

When someone is hospitalized because of a vegetable, scientists and doctors are able to piece together the clues and figure out whether or not to issue a recall, if so, what food and even what brand and lot numbers. The end result is information which saves people from eating something that could hurt them. If only we could do the same thing for energy drinks.
(Hint: we are not)

When it comes to energy drink-related hospitalizations, we are not asking the right questions. There are several examples of real energy drink news stories where small but critical details were omitted. Not only does this hurt consumers, but it also hurts scientists who desperately need this data to study the health effects of energy drinks.

The good news is these missing critical details can be summed up in just five questions.
Yes, just FIVE QUESTIONS!
Let me walk you through these five questions and why they matter so much, using real news stories about energy drink-related hospitalizations.

Have we met? I’m Danielle, the “GreenEyedGuide”.
I started studying biochemistry in college the same year Monster Energy hit US markets. Ever since, I’ve put my education to use studying the science behind caffeine and energy drinks. I’ve always been disappointed with the black-and-white “Energy Drinks Will Kill You” messaging because the science is a lot more complex…after all, how can coffee be so good and other forms of caffeine be so bad? My goal is and always has been to answer questions about these controversial energy drinks using the latest research so people can decide what’s right for them based on facts, not fear.
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Will Energy Drinks Hurt Blood Vessels?

A study presented at the November 2018 American Heart Association conference claimed, “Just one energy drink may hurt blood vessel function.” It’s been a few months since the last “energy drinks are killing people” freak out, so I suppose we were due.  Instead of pointing out all the limitations in the study (because this Healthline article beat me to it and did a great job) I’m going to skip the science for today and just talk about the 10 energy drinks that will not hurt your blood vessels.

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8 Facts for Caffeine Awareness Month [infographic]

March is Caffeine Awareness Month! To commemorate this occasion, I’ve assembled the information (all of it with reference citations) every caffeine consumer should know.

March is caffeine awareness month

This infographic was prepared by food scientist and biochemist Danielle Robertson Rath, founder of GreenEyedGuide.com and author of “Are You a Monster or a Rock Star: A Guide to Energy Drinks”. This infographic is possible thanks to the generous support of CaffeineInformer.com. Thanks also goes to Dr. Clay Jones.

REFERENCES:

 

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One of the biggest questions surrounding energy drinks is whether they are more dangerous for the heart than caffeine from coffee. Some people worry it’s the combination of ingredients, not just the caffeine content itself, which makes energy drinks more dangerous. As a biochemist studying energy drinks, I strive to better understand this risk by reviewing the latest research on caffeine and energy drink ingredients. In this Research Recap, we’ll review an experiment on how caffeine and taurine affect the contraction behavior of the heart muscle. Read more

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