Saturday, January 15, 2011

Sleep-Deprived/Red Bull induced Headaches

I thought I'd do some research today on the after effects of Red Bull. (As I sit here with a pounding headache.)

According to a study at Men's Fitness, scientists at the Institute of Sports Medecine in Germany found that Red Bull boosted brain performance and physical performance: if you time ingestion of a can to thirty minutes (for the caffeine to kick in) before exercise. "The [Taurine in the] drink strengthened heart contractions and increased stroke volume, which is the amount of blood, oxygen and nutrients the heart can pump to the working muscles, a major determinant of how long you can keep on going and going and going." Never mind the crash later that comes with the 5-tbs of sugar in the original can.

However, I am skeptical of the health benefits connected to this beverage, especially when used by teens or with alcohol. The scary findings of Australian medical scientists in one study reveal even more for one to worry about. As reported by Rob Taylor, this article discusses the abnormal effects on the blood, making it "stickier" likened to a patient with cardiovascular disease, which leads to increased risk of heart attack or stroke. 

Other interesting facts: 

-Red Bull has actually been previously banned in France, Norway, Uruguay and Denmark and 11/16 states of Germany. (Although the bans have been overturned in France on legal grounds, and in Norway and Denmark as well.)

-Even Red Bull suggests limiting intake to two cans (or less) per day.

-In 2009, there were trace elements of cocaine discovered in batches of cans being shipped into Taiwan from Austria.

The Verdict: The risks outweigh the benefits. Obviously large quantities of this beverage can cause severe heath problems and even death. While most of the ingredients in Red Bull are unhealthy for a human body, people, including myself, will continue to use this product, (hopefully only infrequently) for the benefits of staying alert and energized. Having spent two weeks in hell two years ago detoxing from a Sugar Free Red Bull addiction, I still shudder to think about drinking that bitter, carbonated liquid, and my current headache from withdrawal keeps me convinced that it will be a while before I'll be drinking this drink again...