Local News

Some Ingredients In Energy Drinks Can Damage Body

Posted August 2, 2002

— There have been several stories lately about athletes and heat -- particularly football players. Health experts are warning athletes about ingredients found in some popular energy drinks.

At Chapel Hill High, water is the name of the game for football players.

"We have plenty of water breaks during practice and we have managers walking through with water bottles," football coach Joe Wolfe said.

Most players know to keep themselves hydrated when they are on the field, but what they may not know is the potential dangers of sports energy drinks that promise to boost your energy and raise your performance.

"They don't even know it's inside of them. The parents don't even know that they're inside them," registered dietitian Jackie Berning said.

Ma huang and guarana are just some of the substances found in energy drinks that can be harmful to athletes. Berning said she has some concerns about those substances, particularly ma huang.

"[It] is a natural occurring ephedra and then we're looking at a product called guarana, which is a natural caffeine, which is about four to five times more powerful than a cup of coffee," she said.

Berning said the stimulants also put increased pressure on the heart and affect the body's ability to sweat and regulate temperatures.

"Combined with the dehydration, combined with the physical exertion out here, what we do find is that it can be a deadly combination," Berning said.

Wolfe said so far, none of his players have been sick due to the heat, but everyone should be aware of it.

"It doesn't take but one exception to be a problem," he said.

Health experts suggest that athletes drink fluids the night before a game and in the morning before they practice.


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