Natural Energy: How It Works and Why It’s Important

January 30, 2013


Natural Energy

Natural Energy

Energy-boosting drinks, foods and supplements have become popular in the last few years as many people look for ways to fight the urge to take a nap mid-day or skip out on that late-night date. While it can be tempting to head to your local convenience store to grab a can of the latest high-profile energy drink, natural supplements, green drinks and chemical-free energy boosters are a better choice – here’s why.

What’s Wrong With Convenience-Store Energy Drinks?

Most mainstream energy drinks are loaded with toxic chemicals like artificial dyes, while the “buzz” they promise to deliver comes from ultra-high doses of caffeine and refined sugar. Anyone who drinks coffee, cola or tea can attest to the temporary boost caffeine can provide during a midday slump, however, ingesting large quantities of caffeine (such as the amounts found in many popular energy drinks) can lead to uncomfortable consequences, and in some cases, serious illness.

Caffeine works by signaling your body to produce more dopamine and adrenaline, substances which both boost your mood and your energy levels. As the effects wear off, there can be a “crash,” also known as a hangover effect, which leaves energy drink users feeling down and lethargic. In an effort to restore the temporary buzz, users often reach for another energy drink, leading them to consume large amounts of caffeine and sugar. A 24-ounce can of one popular convenience-store energy drink contains 240mg of caffeine; that’s the same amount found in about 7 cups of coffee []. These high caffeine levels have been linked to numerous deaths, including that of a 14-year old girl from Maryland who died of cardiac arrest after consuming just 2 energy drinks.

The second big culprit in the convenience stores is sugar. If you stuck 13 spoons of sugar in water and knowingly gave it to somebody to drink, they would probably cringe. Yet that is how many teaspoons are in the average convenience store energy drink. Add orange, red, yellow, green or blue coloring and suddenly it becomes a lot more appetizing. In fact most of the other additives in these energy drinks are to soften the taste of the sugar content. Sugar does give the body a boost in energy levels, however the energy boost is quickly over when the body converts it to insulin. Combined this with the downer you feel when the coffee wears off and before you know it you will need another pick-me-up. It is not uncommon for people to become dependent on these energy drinks and needing 2-3 a day. This multiplies the amounts of sugar consumed to dangerous levels.

Natural Energy – The Healthier, Safer Alternative

Naturally-derived energy supplements, foods and drinks are free from toxic chemicals, dyes and artificial stimulants, making them both safer and healthier than mainstream energy products. These supplements and drinks deliver plant and vegetable-based energy, also known as “green energy.” They contain moderately high levels of natural vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fats, protein and carbohydrates that your body needs to perform at its best, without any “hangover” effect.

Vitamins like B-12 are often found in green energy products. B-12 helps boost energy levels by encouraging the body to convert complex carbohydrates into glucose, the fuel your body needs to power your muscles and support basic functions.

L-carnitine is another common natural energy supplement. It can be taken in a pill form or a powder, and is often combined with other ingredients in green energy drinks such as smoothies. L-carnitine is a naturally-occurring amino acid that works to convert fat (including stored body fat) into usable energy. Vegetarians and vegans often need to take this as a supplement since dietary sources of L-carnitine are mostly animal products like dairy and meat.

The next time you are feeling like you need an energy boost, look for a natural energy supplement, green smoothie or natural green energy drink instead of grabbing a chemical-filled can of sugar and caffeine. You’ll enjoy a natural energy boost without any uncomfortable (and dangerous) side effects.

Greg Wingard is a nutritionist and diet consultant. He enjoys researching the latest developments in using vitamins and minerals for enhancing health. His articles mainly appear on health blogs.

Natural Energy: How It Works and Why It’s Important

This site is for information and support only and NOT a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment!
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