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Emergency Room Cases Involving Energy Drinks Increase – ABCNews

According to this report, the number of people being taken to the emergency room as a result of energy has doubled from 2007-2011, and while many are due to mixing caffeine with other substances (alcohol, medication or other stimulants), 58 per cent of cases are a result of energy drinks alone. It’s great to see such an important issue gaining international media attention – while energy drinks themselves are not the problem, there needs to be greater dialogue about the cause/effect of energy drinks and the importance of healthy consumption habits. While scare tactics have proven insufficient in the past, here the ABC strikes a good balance – do you think we should see more coverage of energy drinks in the mainstream media? Let us know in the comments below!

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Ten energy boosting snacks, no can required.

So, we’ve been chipping away at compiling the cleanest, easiest-to-follow list of grocery store staples that you can sub in when you #canthecan. Without further ado…

Image1. Almonds are a great source of protein and healthy fats – when raw and unsalted, these little nuts help balance your blood sugar levels, keeping you running on a slow burn for longer. Studies show that about a handful of almonds a day can decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease – score!

Image2. The humble banana is packed with potassium and B vitamins – these two work together to slow down digestion and stabilise blood sugar levels, leaving you feeling fuller (and more energetic!) for longer.

Image  3. The high levels of essential omega-3 fatty acids in salmon are great for heart and brain health, maintaining circulation and energy production – it’s the ultimate multitasker!

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4. Eggs are a fab source of energy, as they contain iron, protein and choline – a specific B-vitamin that aids brain function and energy production. Smash a few over a frying pan in the morning, and you’ll be set all day.

5. Everyone’s gone cray for kale, and for good reason! The superleaf is packed with calcium, vitamins and minerals, and is an easily digestible source of energy. Whether you stir it through pasta, add it to your omelette or just eat it raw, kale deserves a place in your trolley. Don’t even argue.

Image    6. Like science? Coconuts contain oils rich in medium train triglycerides – a type of fat Imagethat the body can turn into energy super quick – meaning that you kick that sluggish feeling right in the butt. Can’t be bothered toting around an axe and a sack of coconuts? Natural coconut water will do the trick.

7. Mother-flippin’ bran flakes. Never underestimate the power of a bland-looking cereal – there’s fibre, magnesium, iron and energy-producing B-vitamins, all of which help stabilise your blood sugar levels before you even figure out where your work pants are. But who needs work pants when you have bran?

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Image8. Dark chocolate (that’s chocolate with a cocoa percentage of 70% or more) is a surprising source of iron and magnesium – treat yourself to a few squares in the afternoon to keep yourself chugging along  til quittin’ time.

Image    9. Citrus fruits – limes, lemons, oranges, grapefruits – are packed with vitamin C, a primo player for boosting the immune system. Lifehack: people who are prone to sickness tend to have less energy, so fill two needs at once with a daily citrus fix. Juice if you must, but nutrients in these bad boys are best absorbed through eating.

Image10. If you’ve got a bit of time to play in the kitchen (or know the address of a home-style Indian restaurant), curries can be a great source of energy with the help of a few magic ingredients. Spices like cumin, turmeric and cinnamon boost energy levels through antioxidants, stimulate internal circulation and stabilise blood sugar levels – swap in a curry dish on your next lunch break or dinner date for an exotic energy boost.

For more energy-boosting bites, check out the original article at HuffPost Living

Got a secret snack recipe that keeps you full and energetic throughout the day? Share in the comments below!

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Bubbles and the Brain

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Today we’re shifting gears and focusing on an organ in your body that may unwittingly cop a beating after too many energy drinks – your brain.

Results from a study conducted by the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research shows that there may be a link between energy drink consumption and levels of depression and anxiety in young men. According to lead study author Georgina Trapp, there was no visible link between anxiety and energy drinks in the 500 or so female participants, but a ‘worrying’ link between males and the fizzy stuff.

“Participants were asked to record how many cans of energy drink they consumed a day and how often, for example every day or once a week,”

“We then used standard depression, anxiety and stress scales to assess mental health based on their questionnaire responses and this indicated that young adult males in particular showed a concerning link between anxiety and the consumption of these high caffeine energy drinks.

“Our research showed that drinking one 250ml can or more a day of energy drinks is associated with increased anxiety and the association got stronger as energy drink consumption increased.”

While the results from the study don’t yet offer any reason as to why this link between male anxiety and energy drinks exist, the researchers speculate that the high levels of caffeine elevate restlessness, insomnia, nervousness, irritability and concentration – all symptoms indicative of deeper social anxiety. And with males more likely to internalise and self-medicate than females, young men may be turning to energy drinks to mask or temporarily relieve such symptoms.

Check out the article and tell us what you think. Do you think energy drinks are potential irritants for mental conditions? Have you ever used energy drinks as a mood-booster instead of an energy hit? Let us know in the comments below!

(Image source)

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Desk-zombies unite! Tips for shaking off that 3pm slump and other undead concerns.

ImageWhile our blog posts so far have been focusing more on teens and young adults, it’s important to remember that energy drinks also have a solid fan base in the office too! With early starts, long commutes and shortened lunch breaks, many adults turn to sugary energy drinks to shake them out of that 3pm slump. And while slurping a Rockstar on hump day won’t kill you, there are plenty of ways to boost your energy at work sans caffeine.

  1. Only spend time on important decisions – according to Drake Baer, making too many unnecessary decisions each day can lead to ‘decision fatigue’ – you know that overwhelming feeling when faced with what to eat for lunch or procrastinating over which task to start first? That’s decision fatigue. To ease the strain on your brain, filter out decisions that don’t require priority – pre-packing your lunch or tackling that to-do list in numbered order are great little ways to stay productive without stretching your brain.
  2. Befriend your co-workers – everyone knows the benefits a good group of friends can have, and while we’re not asking you to have group lunch dates or play truth-or-dare by the water cooler, it’s a no-brainer that a positive and welcoming office environment works wonders for your motivation and energy levels.
  3. Eat smarter – the carb-heavy diet of most office workers (pastries with coffee, for instance!) may spike energy levels in the moment, but can lead to slumps later in the day. Introducing slow-burning protein into your daily intake (think eggs, lean meat, natural peanut butter or even some protein powder in a smoothie) gives you enough slow-release energy to last all day.
  4. Where possible, reduce eye strain – sore, overworked eyes can lead to headaches, and headaches in the office are about as fun as math homework on a Friday night. To keep eye strain at bay and energy levels high, sit a safe distance away from the computer, ensure your workspace is well-lit and take frequent breaks from screens. Small changes like these will keep you focused and fancy-free at your desk all day.
  5. Move it! – a healthy hit of vitamin-D or a rapid-fire gym sesh are both great ways to boost energy levels without resorting to caffeinated crimes. Make your next lunch break an al fresco one and reap the rewards all afternoon.
  6. Weekends are for chillin‘ – if you clock off on Friday only to keep stressing about spreadsheets, you won’t be well-rested come Monday. Use Saturday and Sunday as chances to reboot, refuel and do things you enjoy – that’s what weekends were invented for!
  7. Sneak in regular breaks – short, frequent breaks are vital for maintaining productivity and energy levels, even if it’s just a stroll to the bathroom and back. The desk-zombie look isn’t hot on anyone.

ImageFor the full post these tips were sourced from, check out Drake Baer’s fantastic original post on Fast Company.

(Top image source) (Bottom image source)

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Going Green (it’s easier than you think!)

cup of green tea with mint

For as long as we can remember, green tea has always been exotic and mature and not dissimilar to a cup of, well, pee. We always admired it from afar, never being brave enough to buck up and sip. But then we found an article celebrating the benefits of drinking green tea, and that list was loooooooooong. So long in fact, that our primary writer now gets in at least one cup of green tea a day. And the reason we’re spotlighting green tea today? Because it makes a phenom replacement for energy drinks!

Like coffee and chocolate, green tea has naturally-occurring caffeine in it. Unlike energy drinks, green tea has zero synthetic nasties, and there’s no two-can-a-day limit plastered on the side of it. An average cup of green tea has about half the amount of caffeine as a standard espresso (30mL) of coffee. So if you’re an all-day kinda sipper, green tea is great for releasing a healthier amount of caffeine into your system over prolonged periods, minus the 3pm crash, the jitters, scatterbrain syndrome or headaches that so often come with your cappuccinos. Fans of diet/sugar-free energy drinks will get bonus points for making the swap – green tea has a great effect on digestion, metabolism and appetite cravings, making it a no-brainer brew for those watching their weight. Other unsung benefits of green tea include lowering bad cholesterol, improving immunity, digestive and heart function, decreasing the risk of gastrointestinal cancers, and preventing plaque build-up and dental bacteria (bad breath, be gone!).

Green tea can be consumed hot or iced, and plays well with almost any garnish you can think of – slices of apple, a twist of lemon/lime or fresh mint leaves are all killer ways to sass up your cup without skimping on health benefits. And while the taste may take some getting used to, hang in there – the insane health rewards far outweigh that grassy taste at the end of each cup!

Check here, here and here for a closer look at the wonders of green tea. (Image source)

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‘Are energy drinks healthy?’, and other redundant questions.

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It’s Thursday night, and you’re feeling lazy. We get it, we’re lazy too. After a killer week of doing killer stuff, the last thing we want to do is ask you to sit down and skim endless slabs of text. Because that would make us lame, like your parents and teachers…

So here’s a neat, nifty and all-round perfect infographic that sums up one thing we want to get across with our #canthecan campaign – energy drinks are not a healthier option. We know we see surfers, skaters and other athletic dude-babes sucking back energy drinks, but that’s the magic of corporate sponsorship. Energy drinks are loaded with sugar, caffeine and a swag of chemical whatsits that are pro at wrecking havoc on your teeth, skin and vital organs like, you know, your brain, heart, digestive system. No biggie.

Stay tuned to #canthecan, because over the next few weeks we’ll start to bring you the good stuff – tips, changes and swaps you can make to get the same energy kick the way nature intended!

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Heaps of Sugar and Caffeine

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It’s the first day of your last ever school holidays – you’re studying for HSC, right? Right? Wrong. Year 12 students, it’s totally normal (and well within your rights) to kick back and enjoy the last few weeks of freedom before the intellectual massacre final exams arrive. However, these last few weeks are vital in a different kinda way – they’re a time to recuperate, plan ahead, and set yourself up for the breeziest HSC period on the planet. Here are some tried and tested prep tips from a seasoned exam-er:

  1. Dat sleeping pattern. Get it in order, stat. We know HSC often turns into a comp to see who can function on the least amount of sleep, but those people often crash and burn and are more likely to work at carwashes in the long run. Eye bags are not designer, and seven to eight hours of shut-eye a night in the weeks before exams will make you brighter, bushier-tailed and a shit-tonne smarter*
  2. Get your notes in order well before the exam day. That means that you can spend the rest of your holidays chillin’, and all the legwork is done for that inevitable pre-exam cram.
  3. Eat it. Eat it real good. This means cutting back on the sugar, the fats, the extra salt on dem hot chips, the works. Healthy(er) body equals healthy(er) brain – we’re not saying you need to go all Zzyz on us, but making small swaps in your eating habits has major pay-off when it comes to attention span, energy levels, memory… Pretty much everything. Plus, who doesn’t want a bangin’ bod for post-HSC shenanigans? No one, that’s who.
  4. Cram sessions are all well and good, but pay special attention to what your using to keep your energy levels in check. The energy source du jour is the little bullet can of wonder – the cafffeinated energy drink. While these seem like a good idea at the time, we guarantee that the cocktail of caffeine, sugar, taurine, ginseng, guarana and chemical XYZ will spike you for ten minutes before you come crashing headfirst back to earth. And by earth, we mean waking up on a pile of textbooks with no recollection how you got there. Cray, right? If you do find yourself sniffing around for an energy fix after the sun goes down, try swapping that energy drink for a cup of green tea, nutrient-packed fruits like apples and bananas, or home-brewed coffee. These sources pack an energy punch without many of the nasties found in energy drinks. Score.

 

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Catalyst: Energy Drinks – ABC TV Science

Catalyst: Energy Drinks – ABC TV Science.

The ABC’s Catalyst ran a great program on the hidden dangers of energy drinks last month. You could say it was the catalyst (ha) for our own project! Prompted by a case study of a 16-year-old girl suddenly dying after consuming three alcohol/energy drink concoctions in quick succession back in 2011. The program explores the hidden ingredients in many popular energy drinks, and runs an experiment to suss out how just two cans of energy drink can play havoc with your heart rate. It looks at the classification debate regarding energy drinks – are they a soft drink? A supplement? a substance that calls for restriction?

In the vid, Dr Conrad Woolsey calls energy drinks a “brain chemistry Molotov cocktail.”  Why the dramatics? Because, he says, “within the same can, you have stimulants, antidepressants and anti-anxiety agents. If I’m drinking an energy drink, I might not notice that I’m getting anxious and nervous or that I’ve had too much. Whereas if I’m drinking a cup of coffee, I know when I get a little shaky and I know to stop using it.

Catalyst have done a great job in breaking down the complexities of this budding issue (snaps for Catalyst!). So take ten minutes out of your perfectly average Wednesday and check out the link above – it may just prompt you to #canthecan

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Confessional kick-off: the dangers of my own sugar-free vice.

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It’s no secret that the majority of my high school and university escapades have been fueled by caffeine. It used to be coffee, but I became resistant. It used to be standard energy drinks, but I’m a fanatic about dental health. Enter the SUGAR-FREE energy drink – an energy source with all the kick and no nasties… Apparently.

One question I’ve always asked (but not really investigated) is, ‘if it’s not sugar, what is it?’. One common non-sugar, and the one that’s in my Monday morning wake-up call above, is sucralose. Sucralose (street name: Splenda) is a common artificial sweetener, and a little digging reveals a whole lotta baggage that comes from this teeny tiny additive. According to a study published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, consumption of sucralose has been linked to:

  • A reduction of good bacteria in the intestinal system by up to 50%
  • An increase of pH levels in the intestinal system (hint: not good)
  • Impacts on a glycoprotein in the body that can cause major side effects, particularly if the consumer is on certain types of medication

In conjunction with the above study, sucralose has also been linked to things like appetite stimulation, an increase in carb cravings, stimulating fat storage and weight gain, blood sugar increase, gastrointestinal problems and (the kicker…) is chemically more similar to DDT (a common, albeit dangerous, pesticide) than to sugar.

Eye-opening? Yes. Nausea-inducing on a Monday morning? Definitely.

Read more on sucralose here