The popularity of energy drinks continues to rise and, unfortunately, so do their dangerous side effects. The popular energy drinks on the market today do not contain sugar, which the body needs for energy. Rather, they contain caffeine, a stimulant, in very high amounts.

Ginseng, guarana and taurine (an amino acid) and other herbs are also added to such drinks to enhance the stimulating effects of the caffeine. Increased heart rate and increased blood pressure can result, leading to heart attacks, cardiac arrest and even death when consumed in excess.

Look at it this way: The typical energy drink contains 70-200 mg of caffeine per 16 oz. A 16 oz cup of coffee contains 80-300 mg. Although they appear to be comparable, those who consume energy drinks often do so in excess to try to gain a competitive edge. And not only that, they carry an addictive component due to the caffeine. Which is why energy drinks have been banned in several European countries.


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The traditional sports drinks that have been around for a long time, such as Gatorade and Powerade, are much safer. However, in extreme excess, they can also be dangerous because they can throw off the body’s electrolyte balance. In moderate amounts, sports drinks are used to help hydrate and restore electrolytes lost though excessive sweating. So unless someone is a professional dancer, practicing all day, they are often not necessary.

What should the typical Irish dancer simply choose to rehydrate with? Water. My advice is to avoid the energy drinks completely. Use sports drinks only when dancing intensely for a few hours. And always drink plenty of water.

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