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Healthier Energy Drinks

Tuesday, 22 Mar 2011 09:51 AM

Many popular energy drinks contain caffeine or other stimulants that can raise blood pressure and heart rates even in young, healthy people, and aren’t advisable for anyone who already has hypertension or other risk factors for heart disease. But there are healthier ways to get a quick energy boost.

In energy drinks, amounts of caffeine vary from less than that found in a cup of coffee to much more. Sugar, which can contribute to unhealthy cholesterol levels, is another common ingredient. You can compare caffeine content of various products here, and sugar here.

Rather than buying bottled drinks that take up space in your fridge and are bulky to carry, convenient single-serving packets of powders can be mixed with water or juice and offer some healthier options. Some powders offer ingredients that enhance your body’s natural energy production, without artificial flavors or preservatives, loads of sugar, or stimulants that leave you wired or exhausted after a short-term boost.

Ribose

A carbohydrate that is present in every human cell, ribose (also called D-ribose) is used to generate energy. Our bodies make it from food but it’s also available as a dietary supplement and can improve energy levels without causing jitters, heart palpitations, or other unpleasant side effects.

Studies have tested ribose on people with heart failure, coronary artery disease, and chronic fatigue syndrome who had severe energy problems. In all these situations, ribose stably improved energy levels to significant degrees, usually with 5 grams taken three times daily. In the case of chronic fatigue, it has also improved sleep.

The combination of increased energy and better sleep may seem counterintuitive, but when a human body can’t produce enough energy, muscles can’t relax, making it difficult to get adequate rest. Solving the problem of energy production on a cellular level can help to solve the sleep problem.

Ribose is found in many energy drinks with other, unhealthy ingredients. For pure ribose, Carlson Ribose Packets contain individual 3-gram, 12-calorie servings of a powder that can be mixed with water or other cold beverages. Ribose also is available in chewable tablets, capsules, and containers of powder.

B Vitamins

A combination of B vitamins is essential for the efficient conversion of food into energy. These and vitamin C also help the human body to withstand the energy-depleting effects of stress. Both are ingredients in various energy drinks, along with stimulants and sugar.

To skip unhealthy additives, consider Emergen-C packets with B and C vitamins and small amounts of minerals in an effervescent powder. When mixed with water, the powder makes a fizzy drink and the nutrients are rapidly absorbed. It comes in a variety of flavors and some versions contain additional nutrients for specific benefits, such as bone, joint, or heart health. Most versions contain 20 to 25 calories but the "lite" packs have only five calories.

Whether you try an energy booster or not, keep in mind that taking a walk each day is a time-tested way to enhance energy. And don’t forget to allow enough time to get a good night’s sleep.


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