In two new studies from Curtin University, researchers found that excessive consumption of energy drinks, even sugar-free varieties, may cause big damage to brain cells and increase the risks of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
The first suited found excessive use caused damage to blood vessels in the brain.
The other study, published in, found that energy drinks induce metabolic syndrome to almost the same extent as caused by a Western diet of high saturated fats.
Energy drinks containing large quantities of caffeine and sugar are increasingly being consumed- particularly by young people.
Many may believe that sugar-free varieties are ‘healthier’ for them, but the current studies found the opposite.
The first study examined the potential harm to the brain and found that energy drinks, even sugar-free forms, disrupted the blood vessels and increased inflammation in the brains of mice models.
The team says this is particularly concerning because damage to brain blood vessels and heightened inflammation are early characteristics of many neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis.
The second study evaluated the effect of chronic energy drink consumption on a cluster of conditions that can lead to heart disease and stroke, known as metabolic syndrome.
The team found sugar-free energy drinks also promoted metabolic syndrome and increased blood glucose and cholesterol in mice models, at similar levels to standard energy drinks.
The findings showed long-term energy drink intake, sugar-free or not, results in heightened blood glucose and bad fats (triglycerides), which are the common feature of diabetes. It also increased body fat without any changes in weight.
The researchers say that both studies should ring alarm bells for consumers.
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The study findings are published in Frontiers in Nutrition and Nutrients. One author of the study is Associate Professor Ryusuke Takechi.
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