Drinking energy drinks can help you get your day moving, and they can also help you get better results at the gym. However, many people worry that drinking them regularly can cause kidney stones. Unfortunately, it is true, so keep reading as we look at what ingredients are the problem and if there is any way to avoid them.
Do Energy Drinks Cause Kidney Stones?
One of the biggest contributors to kidney stones is oxalates, a naturally occurring compound in many foods. Spinach, rhubarb, beets, figs, potatoes, tomatoes, chocolate, and many other foods contain high amounts of oxalates, and they are also present in energy drinks. If there are too many oxalates in the kidneys, they can combine with other minerals, primarily calcium, to form calcium oxalate crystals that become calcium oxalate kidney stones. Some people are predisposed to having too much calcium in the urine, which will interact with the oxalates more frequently, leading to more stones, but most people can pass the oxalates safely. However, adding a large amount into your system by regularly consuming energy drinks can increase your risk.
One thing that works hand in hand with oxalates is dehydration. When the body becomes dehydrated, there is a higher concentration of oxalates and minerals in the kidneys, making it more likely that they form bonds and create kidney stones. Some people have bouts of diarrhea after consuming energy drinks, which can dehydrate the body.
Sugar is an ingredient that can raise the amount of calcium in your urine, which is where it will bind with oxalates to form kidney stones. Many energy drinks are high in sugar and contain 26 grams or more per can, which equals around 6 teaspoons, and many drinks contain even more. The high amount of sugar can also lead to several other health issues, like obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay.
Sodium is another ingredient in many energy drinks. Like sugar, the amount of sodium that you consume will affect how much calcium is in your urine, and the more calcium that is present, the higher risk that you will form a kidney stone. Too much salt in your diet can cause other health problems, like increased blood pressure, loss of bone minerals, etc.
Vitamin C is an ingredient that many energy drinks contain that can increase your risk of kidney stones. As your body breaks it down, it forms the harmful oxalates that can bind with the calcium in the kidneys and bladder.
How Can I Prevent Kidney Stones?
Many experts agree that the best way to prevent kidney stones is to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water, especially after consuming food high in oxalates, like coffee, tea, chocolate, or an energy drink. Staying hydrated will help ensure that the dangerous calcium and oxalate particles are eliminated from the body before they can cause a problem. The extra fluid in the kidneys will also make it harder for the minerals to find each other and form a bond.
Eat Plenty of Calcium-Rich Foods
It may seem strange to recommend eating calcium-rich foods because calcium binds with oxalates to form kidney stones. However, that’s exactly what we want. When calcium and oxalates bind in the stomach, they don’t enter the kidney or bladder, and the body excretes them with the feces. When the oxalates cannot bind with calcium in the stomach, they move into the urine and wind up in the kidneys and bladder. When consuming energy drinks or other food high in oxalates, accompanying it with a high-calcium food, like a dairy product, can help, especially since there are no oxalates in dairy. Other foods high in calcium include broccoli, bok choy, and spinach.
Unfortunately, consuming energy drinks can increase your risk of forming kidney stones, especially if you drink them regularly. However, consuming one now and then is unlikely to cause any permanent damage or create any stones, especially if you remember to also drink plenty of water. Dairy products can also help, especially if you consume them along with the energy drink.
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