NEW STUDY SHOWS THAT ENERGY DRINKS ASSOCIATED WITH MENTAL PROBLEMS, AGGRESSION, AND FATIGUE
Certain industries have a history of using wartime "generosity" to get soldiers hooked on their products, namely alcohol and tobacco. Those of you who have watched an "OLD SOLDIER" trying to drink their nightmares away, or smoking through their 'trache' outside the side door of a VA hospital, know exactly what I mean. It seems that we need to add yet another product to this list.
A study from last month's issue of Military Medicine tells the story via its title; Energy Drink Use in U.S. Service Members After Deployment: Associations With Mental Health Problems, Aggression, and Fatigue. A team of four researchers from Walter Reed's Center for Military Psychiatry and Neuroscience concluded that, "energy drink use was reported by one in six soldiers and was significantly related to mental health problems, aggressive behaviors, and fatigue in a military population following a combat deployment." As I will show with both tobacco and alcohol, it's not like targeting military personnel is anything new when it comes to marketing (or 'hooking') our sons and daughters on highly addictive products.
From WWI through Vietnam, the US military has made sure that our boys got their smokes. And even though this practice was supposedly done away with after the Vietnam War, numerous sources show that it continued all the way into the 1990's and 2000's. Information on this topic is abundant and comes in the form of message board threads, journal articles, studies, and an array of pieces from a wide range of magazines and books. One of the more telling titles came from a 2014 issue of Mother Jones (Is the World’s Most Powerful Military Defenseless Against Big Tobacco?).
"War is indeed dangerous, but cigarettes kill far more soldiers and citizens than war does. It’s not even close. More than 480,000 Americans die from smoking and secondhand smoke exposure every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—more than died on the battlefields of World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam combined. Cigarettes kill more soldiers and sailors than wars do, and cost taxpayers billions. Yet Congress keeps shooting down the Pentagon’s efforts to snuff them out."
Thanks to millions of American servicemen coming home from Europe and the South Pacific addicted to tobacco, within three years after WWII (it ended in August of '45), lung cancer was shown to be growing at a rate five times greater than that of other CANCERS. In WWI, part of the Doughboy's ration was loose tobacco and rolling papers. However, because of ease of use, it didn't take long for factory-rolled cigarettes to become the smokes-of-choice for US servicemen, who, by WWII were being provided with 4-packs as part of their C-rations.
Earlier this year, the Truth Initiative published a piece titled Tobacco Use in the Military, which not only provided tons of information on Big Tobacco's specific efforts to hook the US GI on their products, but revealed how ridiculously high the smoking rates continue to be in, as opposed to outside the military. For more information, read The Cigarette Manufacturers' Efforts to Promote Tobacco to the U.S. Military from the October 2005 issue of the same journal we are discussing today (Military Medicine), the NIH's online book, Combating Tobacco Use in Military and Veteran Populations, or 'Everywhere the Soldier Will Be': Wartime Tobacco Promotion in the US Military from a ten year old issue of the American Journal of Public Health. Which brings us to industry promotion of alcohol in the military.
Honestly, we see virtually the same phenomenon with Big Alcohol's promotion of drinking (mostly beer) as we did for tobacco ---- and it's nothing new. The magazine, All About Beer, published a 2002 article by Alan Moen titled Beer Goes to War, which revealed that advocating beer drinking within the military has been going on for a very long time, much to the delight of brewers.
"As part of a soldier’s regular daily ration as decreed by the Continental Congress, beer fueled the flames of freedom burning within its armies. The statute, enacted on November 4, 1775, stipulated that each soldier be provided with 'I QT of Spruce Beer, or Cider/man/day.' George Washington himself, major general of the American rebel army, was a firm believer in the importance of beer as a staple for his troops. According to historian Gregg Smith, 'among Washington’s least recognized but most valuable skills was locating his encampments within reach of a supply of beer.'"
The trend continued through the Civil War, WWI, and into WWII, where the USDA actually mandated that a whopping 15% of all US beer production go to our boys overseas (as well as 30% of our national cigarette production). By the time Vietnam rolled around, beer was ubiquitous to military facilities, with numerous articles and message boards speaking of fire-bases supplied with stacked pallets of their most important ammunition, beer. Industry sentiment was captured by Jake Hall, writing for a 2015 issue of War on the Rocks (A Farewell to Sobriety, Part Two: Drinking During World War II).
"Consider the lobbying hours that American distilleries must have put in with politicians, insisting that war or no, they were all still capitalists together, and that making torpedo fuel was good, but making money was essential."
Since I am not against having a few beers now and then, what's the point? Only that American industry has proven time and time again that it will do whatever it takes to both create and keep market share, seeing our soldiers as highly valuable commodities; damn the long-term health-related consequences. Enough, however, about tobacco and alcohol; let's take a moment and step into the world of the American military's latest addiction ---- "Energy Drinks".
The most popular energy drinks today (Red Bull, Rockstar, Amp, and Monster) also happened to be the ones specifically mentioned in this study. Numerous other studies, however, have likewise shown energy drinks and their ingredients (copious amounts of sugar, caffeine, etc) can lead to MIGRAINES, INSOMNIA (due to creating an artificially induced state of SYMPATHETIC DOMINANCE), ADDICTION, INSULIN RESISTANCE & T2D, HBP, and any number of others including cardiac arrest / heart failure. The study we are looking at today specifically listed ANXIETY, DEPRESSION, and alcohol abuse (a whopping 30%), along with various forms of violent behavior and PTSD, as commonly associated with regular consumption of energy drinks. Is anyone shocked?
Earlier this year (July), the National Institute of Health issued a rather freaky warning for energy drink consumption, which provided a glimpse into just how popular these products are with the younger generation. "Energy drinks are widely promoted as products that increase energy and enhance mental alertness and physical performance. Next to multivitamins, energy drinks are the most popular dietary supplement consumed by American teens and young adults. Men between the ages of 18 and 34 years consume the most energy drinks, and almost one-third of teens between 12 and 17 years drink them regularly." Among other facts mentioned, was the propensity to use them as alcohol mixers.
Takeaways from today's study were that seven months post-combat, over three quarters of the nearly 700 soldiers quizzed, still reported regularly consuming energy drinks, with 1 in 6 quaffing more than two a day. What's probably not surprising is that a 2012 study (Energy Drink Consumption and its Association with Sleep Problems Among U.S. Service Members on a Combat Deployment - Afghanistan, 2010) showed that consumption was even higher for soldiers in the field, with an almost unbelievable 45% drinking these creatures daily (BTW, that study came to similar conclusions as this one). Listen to the findings from the authors of today's study.
"In the deployed context, the appeal of energy drinks is understandable given that there is substantial restriction in sleep as well as regular circadian disruption due to night-time operations; indeed, caffeine is a recommended option to sustain alertness in this environment. During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, energy drinks were often made readily available to deployed service members at no cost. Interestingly, energy drink use was associated with fatigue. This relationship suggests that energy drink use may potentially exacerbate, rather than alleviate, fatigue. This finding stands in contrast to the marketing of energy drinks as a way to increase energy and reduce fatigue."
I well remember the marketing campaign for the first energy drink; something called Jolt (1985) that I am not sure whether or not is still around ---- "All the sugar and twice the caffeine". Bottom line, if you or your children are regular or even semi-regular consumers of energy drinks, SODA, or worse yet, DIET SODA, stop it already. Numerous studies have not only shown their association to a myriad of health problems, but just as bad, for a significant number of people this stuff is as addictive as crack (HERE).
If you are looking to turn your life around, break out of the fatigue and mental fog, diminish your systemic inflammatory load, and basically start the process of taking your life back, now is the time to start preparing and planning. I say preparing and planning because the NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION you are contemplating in less than a week, will be broken in less than two ---- unless you do two things. Create a written plan (HERE) and get an accountability partner who will encourage you, chide you, or drop kick you into next week, whichever is most appropriate for your situation (HERE). If you want to see my generic protocol for getting healthier, it's HERE and it's completely free. And if you liked today's post, be sure to see that it makes the rounds on FACEBOOK --- especially if you have teenagers!
STILL TRYING TO LOSE WEIGHT WITH DIET SODA IN 2018?
By now, everyone knows that sugar makes people fat, but a large review of 26 years of patient data found that people who drink diet soft drinks were more likely to become overweight than those who drank regular sodas. Not only that, but the more diet sodas they drank, the higher their risk of becoming overweight or obese - 65 percent more likely for each diet drink per day! The findings, the latest from the long-term San Antonio Heart Study, took even the researchers by surprise as they found that regular soft drinks had significantly less connection with serious weight gain than did diet soda.
SUGARY DRINKS ARE A WORLDWIDE PROBLEM
While the AHA recommends a maximum of 450 calories a week from sugary drinks, much of the world is following America's lead and going beyond that ---- far beyond that. In fact, I saw a recent study touting the fact that the number one source of calories for American teens was soda (HERE). Here are some other "Fun Facts" concerning American consumption of soda and other sugary drinks that come from this and other studies.
- About 10% of our nation's calories are coming from soda and sugary drinks.
- 5% of the American population over two years old is consuming at least 48 oz of soda or sugary drinks per day.
- The Institute of Medicine recommends that a maximum of 25 percent of our calories should come from added sugar (one more reason you cannot trust the government to keep you healthy).
- According to a 2010 study published in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), 1 in 6 Americans is surpassing the 25% mark.
- Cal State Davis published, in a 2011 issue of The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, that just two weeks of exceeding the 25% added-sugar limit using HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup) as the source of sugar, dramatically increased cholesterol, triglycerides, and other markers of cardiovascular disease.
- In 1977 and 1978, boys drank over double the amount of milk as compared to soft drinks (at my house it was probably 25 times that), and girls 50 percent more milk than soft drinks. By 1994–96, boys and girls were drinking over double the amount of soda as milk.
- Soda and sugar are both associated with lower intake of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
- Numerous studies show proof that soda and sugary drinks are directly related to weight gain, overweight, and obesity, which puts people at risk for Type II Diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, and cancer ---- all of which continue to be seen in younger and younger populations.
- Soda is a known cause of OSTEOPOROSIS and contributes to kidney stones.
- I could go on and on and on.
Interestingly enough, several governmental organizations are telling citizens to cut the sugar by consuming "Diet Soda". With what we now know about Aspartame (NutraSweet), how beneficial can this be? Not only is this stuff bad in every conceivable manner, it actually causes more weight gain than normal soda (HERE) It seems that people are very confused these days. They are SWAPPING SUGAR FOR MORE SUGAR and assuming that juice-like drinks or "Sports Drinks" must be good for them because they made people like Michael Jordan, Peyton Manning, and Mia Hamm, what they are today. Get kids hooked, and they're too often HOOKED FOR LIFE.
60 MINUTES INTERVIEWS ROBERT LUSTIG ON SUGAR & PROCESSED CARBOHYDRATES
Lustig obtained his bachelors degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1976, and received his M.D. from Cornell University Medical College in 1980. From there, he spent six years as a research associate in neuroendocrinology at The Rockefeller University. He performed his pediatric residency at St. Louis Children's Hospital, and his clinical fellowship at University of California San Francisco which he joined in 1984. He has authored over 85 research articles and 45 book chapters. He is the former Chairman of the Obesity Task Force of the Pediatric Endocrine Society, a member of the Obesity Task force of The Endocrine Society, and on the Steering Committee of the International Endocrine Alliance to Combat Obesity. On May 26, 2009, Lustig gave a lecture called “Sugar: The Bitter Truth”, which is posted on YouTube. The video has gone viral.
SUGAR: THE BITTER TRUTH
VIDEO COURTESY OF UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA (UCTV)
- Fructose causes high uric acid levels, that lead to both High Blood Pressure and gout. I blogged about this (HERE) almost a year ago.
- Fructose causes your liver to synthesize fats, which leads to high cholesterol, high triglycerides, and heart disease.
- Fructose causes Insulin Resistance (high levels of blood sugar and insulin simultaneously), which in turn causes Type II Diabetes --- a problem now being seen in grade school children.
- Fructose increases fat deposits in the liver. The number one cause of fatty liver and Cirrhosis is not alcohol abuse ---- it's sugar consumption.
- Unlike other foods, Fructose does not reduce the hunger hormone ghrelin. Ghrelin by way of affecting both insulin and the hormone leptin, tells the brain to stop eating. No Ghrelin, and you keep on eating ----- fructose.
- Fructose feeds cancer. Although the 60 Minutes interviewer oooohed and ahhhhhhed over the research on this topic, it has been common knowledge for decades. Simply do a Google search on "SUGAR FEEDS CANCER" and see what comes up. I promise you'll be freaked out --- even though the medical community is doing their best to bury this information.
By any measure, Americans consume a lot of sugar. Even the conservative estimates say that Americans are eating between 1/3 and 1/2 lb of sugar per person per day, with no end in sight. One of my most popular blog posts ever was on this very topic; unbridled sugar consumption and the affect of uncontrolled blood sugar on our health. It is the transcript of a talk that I delivered to our local Rotary club about six months ago ----- a short, two part series called, THE NUMBER ONE HEALTH PROBLEM IN AMERICA TODAY. If you are interested in getting off the sugar, go back and click on the link just below Dr. Lustig's video.
TEEN VIOLENCE AND SODA POP
Those who drank five or more cans of soda pop every week were significantly more likely to have also used alcohol and smoked cigarettes at least once in the previous month. The researchers also found that heavy consumption of soda pop was significantly associated with carrying a gun or knife, as well as violence toward peers, family, and partners.
Not quite a quarter of those who drank one or no cans of soda a week carried a gun or knife, and 15 percent had perpetrated violence toward a partner. In comparison, among those who consumed 14 or more cans a week, 43 percent carried a gun or knife and 27 percent had been violent toward a partner.
Think about it folks. As parents, we all know what soda does to the behavior of little children. Is there any reason to believe that older children (and even adults) are not affected as well?
SODA POP AND OSTEOPOROSIS
STOP THE MADNESS BEFORE YOUR BONES CRUMBLE TO DUST!
Bone is a living and dynamic tissue that responds to mechanical stresses and loads by becoming stronger. This is why lack of weight-bearing exercise ---- STRENGTH TRAINING (not a lack of dietary calcium) is considered to be the number one cause of osteoporosis. And we all know that there is not a more sedentary people on the planet than Americans.
But let's move beyond this issue of "sedentary" for a moment and talk about the effects of acidity. Your body likes a pH of about 7. This is smack dab in the middle of a pH chart, and considered "neutral" (see chart below). As an over-generalized rule, most healthy foods tend to be alkali (above 7), while most unhealthy foods tend to be acidic (below 7) --- the more acidic a food is, the worse it is for you. This is a big reason that sick people are almost always acidic. The chart below comes from the University of Minnesota's School of Dentistry, and is a list of the most acidic brands of soda.
Be aware that a pH scale is analog. This means that each number is a factor of 10 times greater or less than the numbers next to it. For example; milk is 10 times more acidic than pure water, and the banana is 10 times more acidic than milk. This means that a banana is 100 times more acidic than pure water. What can we say about soda pop? If it is, on average, pH 3, then it's 10,000 times more acidic than pure water. If it is pH 2.5, it will be about 50,000 times more acidic than pure water. Why am I talking about 2.5 pH soda? Stay with me for a moment.
EVERYONE KNOWS WHAT SODA POP DOES TO TEETH
IT DOES THE SAME THING TO BONES!
Many of us have used vinegar to clean mineral (calcium) deposits from our shower heads. Just take a plastic baggie full of vinegar, put it on the shower head, rubber band it in place, let it sit over night, and presto! The next morning the softened calcium deposit wipes off as easily as bacon grease from a stove top! Although this is not the exact mechanism that soda consumption causes osteoporosis, you should be starting to get the picture. Acid dissolves calcium!
BUFFERING STRONG ACIDS:
So, why don't I immediately die when I drink a Pepsi ---- after all, it is 50,000 times more acidic than water? It is because your body was created with a series of internal pumps and buffers to blunt the effects of strong acids. This is because you will die if your body cannot maintain a slightly alkali blood pH of between the narrow range of 7.35 and 7.45. Any higher or lower, and you rapidly run the risk of extreme consequences (including Rigor Mortis!). If you drink just one 12 ounce can of Pepsi or Coke (and in this age of the "Big Gulp", who drinks just 12 ounces any more?), it will take four (4) gallons of alkali water (pH 9) to buffer this acid. I personally don't know very many people who chase their soda pop with a five gallon bucket of water! So what does your body do to survive this acid insult if gallons and gallons of alkali water are not readily available? It has to get buffering power from somewhere else --- quickly. So it steals buffering power in the form of calcium from the easiest available source(s)
Think for a moment. When it comes to heartburn and acid indigestion / reflux, we have all been brain washed to think in terms of Rolaids Spells Relief, and Tums for the Tummy; but what is it in those products that buffers or neutralizes acid? Calcium! Calcium Carbonate --- the same kind of calcium found found in limestone, oyster shells, or egg shells. Calcium Carbonate has another name you might be more familiar with --- chalk. By the way, calcium from rocks and shells is a terrible source of dietary calcium (HERE), unless you enjoy hardened arteries and arthritis. Only use calcium supplements that comes from raw (cold processed) bone (HERE)!
When you drink SODA --- yes even DIET SODA, your body explodes into action to buffer the extremely high acid that is invading the system. It needs buffering power and it needs it quick. Where does it get it? It gets it from the most readily available sources of calcium that it can find ---- calcium from blood, bone, and DNA. So, every time you drink soda (or eat other high acid content foods --- SUGAR, white flour, etc), your body is robbing Peter to pay Paul. It is stealing calcium from vital parts of the body, and using it to buffer the effects of the soda. This is why I urge women (particularly small women, or women who used to be small) to avoid soda at all costs. If you don't, the medical community will use a bone density test to sell you on the fact that you have Osteoporosis, and need one of the so-called "BONE BUILDING DRUGS" --- drugs that actually CAUSE OSTEOPOROSIS!
WHY DIET SODAS CAUSE OBESITY
Aspartame is arguably one of the largest cause of health problems in America. It is sold under the brand names: NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful, and Equal-Measure, and used to sweeten thousands of "food" products. But how does a chemical that has no calories cause one to get fat? It's really quite easy to understand.
Like MSG, aspartame is an excitotoxin. Excitotoxins cross the blood-brain barrier unrestricted, and contribute to all manner of neurological disorders. They attack the part of the brain that regulates HORMONE PRODUCTION. Among other things, this causes HYPOTHYROIDISM, a condition which affects at least 10% of the American population, which slows the metabolism. But that's not all.
When you ingest aspartame (a known liver toxin) it is absorbed from the intestines and passes immediately to the liver for detox. The liver breaks down aspartame to its toxic components - phenylalanine, aspartic acid, formaldehyde, and methanol (wood alcohol). This process requires a lot of energy from the liver which means there will be less energy remaining in the liver cells. This means the liver cells will have less energy for fat metabolism, which results in fat storage. Excess fat may build up inside the liver cells causing "fatty liver". When this starts to occur, it is extremely difficult to lose weight.
Although it contains no calories, aspartame causes causes DYSGLYCEMIA (unstable blood sugar levels), which increases the appetite, causes high levels of blood insulin, and causes the sugar cravings that many people (particularly women) would compare to a crack addiction. INSULIN is a storage hormone that moves sugar out of the blood and into the cells to be burned or stored ----- as fat.
Let me leave you with a little tidbit from the Congressional Record, Senate, S - 5511, May 7, l985. "Aspartame has been demonstrated to inhibit the carbohydrate-induced synthesis of the neurotransmitter serotonin (Wurtman affidavit). Serotonin blunts the sensation of craving carbohydrates and this is part of the body's feedback system that helps limit consumption of carbohydrate to appropriate levels. Its inhibition by aspartame could lead to the anomalous result of a diet product causing increased consumption of carbohydrates." Do you think that carbohydrates can make you fat? To answer this one, ask yourself a simple question: How does one fatten a beef? I grew up on a Kansas farm, and can assure you that carbohydrates (grain, sorghum, molasses, etc) is the only way to get the job done! But let's explore this "Serotonin" thing just a little bit more. Listen to what Ralph Walton, MD, says about aspartame and its effect on serotonin levels.
Food seeking behavior and satiety are driven by an area of the brain known as the hypothalamus. Stimulation of the medial hypothalamus in a laboratory rat leads to eating. Stimulation of the lateral hypothalamus leads to satiety and cessation of eating. Placing a lesion in the lateral hypothalamus produces an obese rat. The lateral hypothalamus is driven by serotonin. I believe that consuming large amounts of aspartame decreases the availability of serotonin and is thus analogous to placing a lesion in the lateral hypothalamus. Although much of this work is recent, clinical suggestions that aspartame can lead to paradoxical increased appetite date back to Blunder's work of 1986. An evolving view in modern psychiatry is that although depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder, impulse control disorders, and eating disorders have historically been viewed as separate entities, in fact they should be viewed as a continuum of disorders all involving some degree of dysregulation of serotonin. I believe that at this time there is overwhelming evidence that aspartame contributes to this dysregulation.
And for those who may have been interested, approximately 90% of the body's serotonin is manufactured in the Gut (HERE). Poor GUT HEALTH, means that you will not be making the serotonin your body needs to feel 'normal'. Odds are you will be labeled with DEPRESSION, and all bets are off from here on out.
Dr. Schierling completed four years of Kansas State University's five-year Nutrition / Exercise Physiology Program before deciding on a career in Chiropractic. He graduated from Logan Chiropractic College in 1991, and has run a busy clinic in Mountain View, Missouri ever since. He and his wife Amy have four children (three daughters and a son).
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