Sugar high or sure to die

By RYAN COTTEN, Ranger Reporter:

Brad White, a physical therapy major, began drinking energy drinks to stay awake in high school. The highly-caffeinated, sugar-laden beverages soon became a habit that continued into college and helped him survive his busy days.

“I would go to class in the mornings, go to work and then go lift weights in the evenings, so I would get pretty tired. Taking an energy drink definitely woke me up,” he said.

Then it happened. “My chest started feeling really weird and I thought I was having a heart attack,” White said.

White wasn’t actually having  a heart attack, but he may have been having a reaction to his energy drinks. Research by the American Heart Association has shown that these drinks raise blood pressure and increase heart rate. High doses of caffeine in the drinks can also cause anxious and jittery feelings, kidney damage and dizzy spells.

White was consuming six to eight Monster energy drinks a week for four years. He said he realized that all of the sugar was “destroying [his] heart.” Since that incident, White has eliminated all caffeine and sugar-related drinks from his diet and he hasn’t had any further problems.

Nevertheless, energy drinks are sold in vending machines across the Amarillo College campuses and most students do not appear concerned.

“Monsters and Red Bull are the main drinks I see on campus,” Ashlyn Garton, a general studies major, said, noting, “Students drink them a lot to get them through the day.”

Garton said she believes that students drink energy drinks on campus because they’re more convenient and easier to purchase than other beverages that boost energy, such as coffee.

Angie Downs, a nursing instructor, said the drinks are popular because they do give most people more energy. “Energy drinks can help students focus and make them less drowsy.”

But Downs said that these beverages do have dangers. “According to the National Institute of Health, the biggest risk for college age students is consuming alcohol with their energy drinks. If students are taking energy drinks, they need to make sure that all the alcohol is out of their system,” Downs said.

Matthew Rivers, a mass media major, said “I think there is too much sugar in energy drinks and I think they should try to make energy drinks with less sugar but somehow taste the same. I think you feel worse after the sugar wears off.”

Students and staff at AC are split on whether energy drinks are really beneficial or an obstacle to success.

“I would tell my daughter to take energy drinks in moderation, but I would stay away from the higher concentrated drinks,” Downs said.

“Energy drinks destroyed my heart, so I wouldn’t recommend college students drink them,” White said.

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