“Energy” Drinks or “Stimulant” Drinks?

Does anybody “need” them?

by Kirsten Falcone, RN
Hilbert College Wellness Centerenergy-drinks-healthy.jpg

Energy! Think of that word and the concept of consuming extra energy. Energy is a good thing, right? Who doesn’t want to have more energy? This is the deceptive way the beverage industry frames their advertising for so-called “energy” drinks. “Energy” drinks can be found almost anywhere soda pop and bottled water are sold. Even with the increasing dire news events and warnings concerning their use, many statistics show that energy drinks are among the fastest-growing consumer crazes today.

Some best-selling drinks currently on the market are Red Bull, Monster, Rock Star, NOS, Full Throttle and No Fear. Two locally popular brands are Mountain Dew Kickstart and Venom Black Mamba. Even if you have never tried these, their reputation precedes them.

Well, now, you might think having a little extra energy is a great idea! What could be so wrong with that? I wondered that, myself, so I went looking for more information. Even though I wanted to believe these drinks had some value, almost every respectable source I found stated that drinking “energy” drinks is not only not beneficial, but can be extremely harmful.

The FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) does not regulate “energy” drinks, and this is probably the main problem with these drinks. (More on this later.) Despite the lack of regulation, many companies have put labels on their products. If we trust that the labels are truthful, the basic ingredients are caffeine; another caffeine source called guarana; taurine, an amino acid that amplifies the strength of the caffeine; B vitamins; L-carnitine, an amino acid derivative; sugar; and sodium.

Caffeine

The main ingredient in energy drinks is caffeine, and not just a little caffeine, but some sources state up to 500 milligrams in a 24-ounce can. Caffeine is unhealthy for people under 18, because people under 18 are still developing, and caffeine affects the absorption of calcium into bones and tissue. Caffeine has a proportionally larger effect on smaller bodies, and it causes even greater hyperactivity, mood swings and anxiety due to its effects on neurological and cardiovascular tissue. Caffeine also suppresses appetite, which would not be beneficial for growing bodies. It also constricts blood vessels, has diuretic properties (which is dehydrating), and makes any kind of cardiovascular exercise risky. Of great concern, also, is the fact that caffeine is an addictive drug.

For adults (or those who are done developing), caffeine should be limited to 200-300 milligrams or about two cups of coffee per day. According to the Mayo Clinic, most adults should consume no more than 400 milligrams per day.

Caffeine may be helpful for keeping alert. However, in mass quantities, and combined with the other ingredients in these drinks, there are some side effects worth mentioning. They include:

  • Heart palpitations, and increased heart rate,
  • High blood pressure,
  • Increased stress,
  • Upset stomach, and nausea,
  • Dehydration,
  • Leg weakness,
  • Feeling jittery and nervous,
  • Sleeplessness and sleep disruption, leading to fatigue and lower immunity against infection,
  • Mental confusion and difficulty concentrating,
  • Agitation, anxiety, and hyperactivity,
  • Increased risk-taking behavior,
  • Cardiovascular and nervous system damage in children,
  • Habit-forming or addictive characteristics.

Sugar Content

I decided to do a little personal research. At the local grocery store, I bought several cans of various “energy” drinks. They included Red Bull, Mountain Dew Kickstart, Monster Energy, Rockstar, Rockstar Pure Zero, and Venom Black Mamba. The added sugar in these drinks ranged from 20 grams in Mountain Dew Kickstart to 53 grams in Venom Black Mamba. To put this in perspective, this is as much as about 5 to 12 teaspoons of added sugar. Ingesting sugar is a problem for diabetic and prediabetic people. The RDA (recommended dietary allowance) of added sugar is 36 grams or nine teaspoons for men, and 25 grams or six teaspoons for women. Keep in mind that this is not the only source of added sugar in most people’s diets!

This amount of sugar may sound like a lot, but, in contrast, a can of Coca Cola has 39 grams of added sugar, so one could easily downgrade this amount of sugar to nuisance status, compared to some of the other ingredients. Let’s keep going….

Calories

Of course, calorie content is sugar-related. The calorie content in the samples I bought (not including Rockstar Pure Zero, which has no calories) ranged from 80 calories for a 16-ounce can of Mountain Dew Kickstart to 240 calories for a 16-ounce can of Venom Black Mamba. The recommended daily number of calories for adults is between 2,000 and 2,500. If you are concerned about calories, you should be concerned about the empty calories in these drinks.

Sodium

Now we’re getting somewhere. Sodium seems to be a greater concern than sugar, surprisingly. In my samples, the sodium content ranged from 35 milligrams in regular Rockstar to 310 milligrams in Venom Black Mamba. The others were in the 105 to 180 range. It pays to read the label, since there are two servings in some 16-ounce cans, and only one in others. In a 16-ounce can of Monster, there are 360 milligrams of sodium! In comparison, our can of Coke contains 45 milligrams of sodium. The RDA for sodium is not as stringent as for sugar, but a general recommendation is set at 1,500 to 2,300 milligrams per day. Cutting out sodium from the diet has been a cardiologist recommendation for decades. When contemplating this gargantuan amount of caffeine and sodium, one begins to understand the solemnity of the potential health threat in these drinks.

B Vitamins

It is safe to say that B vitamins are definitely the only good thing about “energy” drinks. However, most nutritionists are skeptical about vitamin supplements, suggesting that most supplements are not absorbed into the body well, unless they are part of solid food. In fact, according to Johns Hopkins University, vitamin supplements are of no value. Therefore, the addition of B vitamins to “energy” drinks appears to be a gimmick to fool the consumer into equating these drinks with health, which has turned out to be the opposite of the truth!

No FDA Regulation

As mentioned, the FDA does not regulate “energy” drinks, so the companies who make them can put anything on the label that they want. All of the samples I bought had a label, but, according to some sources, the true amount of caffeine is rarely listed. Several of the ingredients in these drinks are known to enhance the effect of the caffeine, and some contain their own even stronger amount of caffeine. Bottom line: We don’t really know the exact amount of caffeine or other ingredients contained in them!

Flavor and Other Qualities of “Energy” Drinks

My personal research revealed a few things. I am a morning coffee drinker. I usually drink the recommended one to two cups brewed at home, and I add some cream or sweetened Coffee Mate (an indulgence I know I could edit due to the sugar in the Coffee Mate!). Though I was used to my caffeine drink tasting somewhat sweet, I didn’t care for the carbonated and syrupy, sickly sweet smell and taste of all of the drinks in my sample. In fact, I really felt they were true to their names—especially “Monster” and “Venom.” (At least that labeling is correct!) The flavor is definitely not why they are popular!

In lieu of coffee one day, I drank a Red Bull. In my opinion, there was nothing at all redeeming about Red Bull. On consecutive days, I drank Mountain Dew Kickstart, Monster Energy, and Venom Black Mamba. The best thing I can say about them is they are gone. The worst? They were revolting. I needed to brush my teeth thoroughly after what seemed like a sugar steep. I am happily a coffee drinker once again.

Marketing and Slogans

Marketing can be a good thing, but it can also be misleading. I worked in marketing before I was a nurse, so I believe that the marketing to the young generation is responsible for these ubiquitous drinks. The advertising and slogans printed on the cans might reveal a clue:

The Red Bull can states, “Vitalizes body and mind. Red Bull is appreciated worldwide by top athletes, busy professionals, college students and travelers on long journeys.” (Yes, it could definitely be a “long journey” to the Emergency Department! Mixing Red Bull and other “energy” drinks with an exercise routine is a bad idea.)

The Mountain Dew Kickstart label states, “New energizing original dew. Real fruit juice.” (In small writing, “Contains 5% juice.”)

The Venom Black Mamba label states, “When you want to stay razor sharp and are ready to take on the world, you need the venom of Black Mamba. Venom packs a powerful payload of strong fierce energy….Take on the world and OWN IT!”

The Monster Energy label states, “…athletes, musicians, anarchists, co-eds, road warriors, metal heads, geeks, hipsters, and bikers dig it—you will too. … Unleash the Beast!” (I daresay the “Beast” could represent the foolish choice of drinking Monster.)

As you can see, every can portrays language that praises the contents of the can, promising it will make you cool, energized, and ready to handle anything. The problem is, it couldn’t be further from the truth. “Energy” drinks are NOT health drinks. If they were health drinks, would almost ALL of them have warning labels? They do! All but Mountain Dew Kickstart had warning labels that stated, “Not recommended for children, pregnant or nursing women and persons sensitive to caffeine.” In addition, their warnings should say, “Do not use while exercising.”

Alternatives to Caffeine

Instead of using caffeine, make these lifestyle choices/changes:

  • WATER, because we need to replenish our bodies, of which 50 to 70 percent is water! Drinking water will immediately energize you if you are dehydrated.
  • Proper nutrition, so your body has the correct fuel for all its processes,
  • Sleep, so your body and brain can heal and recharge,
  • Exercise, for your circulation, muscles, heart, brain, and more!
  • Avoid extra sugar, because we get enough in food,
  • Avoid or limit alcoholic beverages, and DO NOT mix them with energy drinks.

If you must imbibe caffeine, then regular coffee, one to two cups per day (allowing no other caffeine that day) is the safest caffeine you can consume. We know about the caffeine in coffee, but the lack of regulation on “energy” drinks should be a red flag.

 

In conclusion, does anybody “need” “energy” drinks? No. It is my opinion that these drinks should not be labeled “energy” drinks, but, rather, “stimulant” drinks. A stimulant is a drug, and that is what these drinks are. As with any addiction, it is best to break the habit.

 

For further reading, and more information on stimulant drinks, visit these Web sites:

CNN:
https://www.cnn.com/2017/04/26/health/energy-drinks-health-concerns-explainer/index.html

WebMD:
https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/whats-the-buzz-about-energy-drinks#1

National Institutes of Health:
https://nccih.nih.gov/health/energy-drinks

Mayo Clnic:
https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/energy-drinks/faq-20058349

U.S. News and World Report:
https://health.usnews.com/health-news/health-wellness/articles/2015/01/16/are-energy-drinks-really-that-bad

Energy Drinks Lawsuit:
https://www.energydrinkslawsuit.com/fda-regulate-energy-drinks/

American Heart Association, Sugar 101:
http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/Sugar-101_UCM_306024_Article.jsp#.WtDqhIjwaUk

SFGate, FDA recommended sodium intake:
http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/fda-recommended-sodium-intake-1873.html

Healthline, L-Carnitine:
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/l-carnitine

Caffeineinformer.com, 20 harmful effects of caffeine:
https://www.caffeineinformer.com/harmful-effects-of-caffeine

LiveScience.com, Is caffeine bad for kids?:
https://www.livescience.com/36164-caffeine-bad-kids.html

Johns Hopkins Medicine, Are vitamin supplements beneficial?:
https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/healthy_aging/healthy_body/is-there-really-any-benefit-to-multivitamins

Regain Your Svelte Self

Tips on losing weight for the warmer months

by Kirsten Falcone, RN
Hilbert College Wellness Center

apple

If you are like most college students, you have put on a few pounds since you arrived last August. Now (believe it or not!) summer break is on the horizon, with all its skin-bearing attire. Suddenly, those pounds are a bit more noticeable. Before you goon a diet, be sure to check your body mass index (BMI). Anyone whose BMI (see below for BMI article link) is between 18.5 and 24.9 is a normal weight, so you may still be within that range, and you do not really need to lose weight. However, if your BMI is above 25, it is a good idea to instill some new habits.

Exercise. Before considering cutting calories, it is important to add exercise into your routine. A good start, and one that is easy to maintain, is simply to briskly walk at least three times per week, for 20 to 30 minutes or more. Walking and swimming are the least jarring of all the options available, and they are great for your cardiovascular system, as well as many other bodily systems. If you increase your physical activity, and your calorie intake remains the same, you may find that adding exercise is the only lifestyle change needed in order to accomplish your goal.

The time of day matters when it comes to exercise. Ideally, the morning is the best time, because it jump starts your metabolism for the day. (But don’t make the mistake of not exercising at all, because you aren’t a “morning person.” Some exercise is better than none.) Also, be aware that if you exercise too closely to bedtime, you will lose the benefit of an increased metabolism, as your body will slow down in preparation for sleep. You will also run the risk of experiencing sleeplessness, which leads us to the subject of…

Sleep. Studies have shown that a lack of sleep hinders metabolism. In addition, if you are sleep-deprived, you will be less motivated to spend energy on maintaining your exercise and nutrition habits. It is important to adhere to the same bedtime every night, and sleep at least seven to nine hours. For example, if you function best on eight hours of sleep, always try to get eight hours. Seven will not be enough for you. Some people do okay on seven, and some need nine. It varies by person.

Believe in your potential. If you can get enough sleep, you will have the foundation for the right mindset. If you want to get in shape, you have to believe that you can. Give yourself regular pep talks. Read stories of others who have lost weight and kept it off. You are young, and there are no excuses. You can do this!

Nutrition. Changing what you eat may be important, if you don’t eat a balanced diet. However, sometimes changing the way you eat is more important. For example, you should eat the vegetables and fruit on your plate first before you eat the main course. (No, potato chips and French fries are not considered vegetables!) This will help you acquire the vitamins and fiber you need and may keep you from overdoing it with the usually more fattening entrée.

Another strategy is to eat only half of what you would normally eat, such as half a sandwich, or use a smaller plate, which tricks you into thinking your portion is larger than it is. (And don’t go back for seconds!) If you are out at a restaurant, it is OK to eat only half. Also be aware that a large percentage of the meal’s calories can be hidden in the beverage, so always opt for healthful choices, such as skim milk, unsweetened tea, or just plain water. Try to skip the caffeine, if possible, or limit it to the equivalent of two cups of coffee per day. (Stay tuned for a future article on “energy” drinks. Here is a preview: they are not a healthful choice!) It is also important to take the proper amount of time to eat, since the stomach will not usually register it is full until 20 minutes afterward.

It is sensible to read labels for items such as sugar, salt, fat, and fiber. If you can substitute whole food for labeled food, it’s all the better. An apple a day really does keep the doctor away! Plus, make certain you drink enough water.

Stay hydrated. The current recommendation for how much water to drink involves doing a little math: Take your weight in pounds, and drink from half that amount to that whole amount in ounces every day. For example, someone who weighs 150 lbs. should drink 75 to 150 ounces per day. This seems like a lot, but all the liquid from your diet adds up. Sometimes when we think we are hungry, we are really just dehydrated. Drinking a glass of water before you eat will cut down on how much you will eat.

Don’t skip meals. You are less likely to get hungry and overeat at your next meal. Plus, skipping meals often leads to binge-eating, and that is not the goal you are seeking. The most common meal that dieters skip is breakfast. But breakfast is still the most important meal of the day. To avoid becoming hungry before lunchtime, many people swear by including protein at breakfast. A typical protein-rich and low-calorie breakfast, then, might include poached eggs, whole-wheat toast, fruit and a glass of skim milk. (The eggs and milk here are the items with the protein.)

Food Journaling. Keeping a food journal is a good option for those who are accustomed to snacking throughout the day. It is easy to forget about that cookie here or that small bag of chips there. Keep the journal with you at all times, so you won’t forget to write things down.

Charting. As long as you are already journaling, a great habit to begin is to keep track of your weight from week to week. If you graph out your weight and hang it on the wall by your scale, you will have a visual reminder of your success. You may also want to put reminders in places where temptation is great, like the refrigerator or pantry door.

Fad Diets. Skip them. They don’t work. In the long run, you will gain all your weight back, plus more. The best course of action for losing weight is exercise and portion control, period.

Electronic Help. Though the jury is still out on the effectiveness of electronic help, devices such as Fitbits, and smart phone apps, some people swear by them.

The takeaway for losing weight: Start now, believe you can do it, reduce your calories and increase your activity. Do these things, and you will be well on your way to a svelte self.

 

For more information on losing weight, visit these Web sites:

Hilbert College Wellness Center, BMI Article:
https://hilberttoday.wordpress.com/2014/04/21/body-mass-index-information/

MedlinePlus, Exercise and activity for weight loss:
https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000385.htm

WebMD, Food and Fitness Planner:
http://www.webmd.com/diet/food-fitness-planner/default.htm

Healthline.com, 10 best weight-loss apps:
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-best-weight-loss-apps

Lose It!, Weight loss apps:
http://www.loseit.com/

MyFitnessPal, Weight loss app:
http://www.myfitnesspal.com/mobile/iphone

Runtastic, Fitness tracking app:
https://www.runtastic.com/

How Stuff Works article: Can Technology Help Me Lose Weight?
http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/gadgets/fitness/can-technology-help-me-lose-weight.htm

Protein: Too much of a good thing?

by Kirsten Falcone, RN
Hilbert College Wellness Center

Protein has played a great part in our fast-paced culture lately. There is an increasing demand for convenient products that offer results quickly. An abundance of protein drinks, bars, and other products on the market promise consumers a stronger, more attractive physique if used regularly. Historically, protein has been understood to be part of a balanced diet. But, did you know that protein can be both good and bad for you? The following is an introduction to whet your appetite.

What is protein? Proteins are complex strings of amino acid molecules found in the cells of everything living. The varying shapes of proteins determine the purpose or function involved. Our bodies use 20 amino acids strung together like beads in different arrangements for nearly every function. Nine of these amino acids must be acquired from food or supplements, while the body is able to manufacture the rest. We think of protein as being essential for muscle tissue, but it is actually used in every bodily tissue, including blood and bones.

Who needs protein? Everyone. Every cell in your body has protein in it. In many poorer countries around the world, there is a shortage of protein in people’s diets. However, in the United States, it is rare for anyone to be protein-deficient. Most American diets comprise up to twice the amount of protein needed.

Why do I need protein? Every cell in your body is protein-based, so when a cell breaks down, it needs to be replaced with protein. Growth and repair of cells is part of the job of proteins. Proteins also act as hormones (chemical messengers in the body), and enzymes (substances that speed up cell processes). Other duties of proteins include the maintenance of fluid and electrolyte levels, the transportation of nutrients, the preservation of acid-base balance, the support of a strong immune system and production of antibodies, and as an energy source (usually after fats and carbohydrates have been depleted).

When should I eat protein? An adequate supply of protein should be eaten daily.

Where can I get protein? Most Americans acquire enough protein from diet alone. In fact, as already stated above, it is estimated that Americans consume up to twice the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) every day! Protein can be found in meats, dairy products, eggs, and some plant sources, such as beans, whole grains, nuts and soy products. Beans and rice have long been known as a poor man’s substitute for “complete protein,” since, when eaten together, they (like meat) provide all of the amino acids the body needs. Animal proteins have all nine of the essential amino acids our bodies need, but almost all plant food sources are deficient in one or more. You can eat the beans and the rice at different meals during the day (contrary to what nutritionists used to believe).

How much protein do I need? On average, the body needs 0.36 gram of protein per pound (or 0.8 gram per kilogram) per day. Therefore, a sedentary man weighing 190 pounds will need 68 grams of protein per day, and a sedentary woman weighing 150 pounds will need 54 grams per day. Active people, pregnant and nursing women, and children and adolescents need more, due to the requirement for more protein during growth and development.

To give you an idea of the amount of protein in food, a three-ounce serving of broiled chicken breast has 28 grams of protein, a cup of skim milk has 9 grams, two tablespoons of peanut butter have 8 grams, an egg has 6 grams, and (for you Buffalonians) according to Livestrong.com, chicken wings each have between five and nine grams of protein.

Some consumers are attracted to the idea of building their muscles by using protein products, and so they will drink a protein shake after a workout, for instance. Others appreciate the convenience and flexibility it gives them, and they believe they are improving their health by doing so. Therefore, protein shakes have become quite popular, and there is an expectation that these shakes will be a beneficial addition to a nutritious diet and exercise routine. However, there are pros and cons involved.

Pros of protein shakes:

  • They could help vegans and seniors acquire enough protein.
  • They may benefit athletes, after training (but only one drink to two per day could be considered beneficial).
  • They may help reduce high blood pressure.
  • Soy protein can reduce cholesterol levels and prostate cancer growth.
  • Whey proteins help in weight maintenance, strengthening immunity, anti-oxidant action, cardiovascular health, and lowering blood glucose.
  • They may help increase lean muscle bulk and strength.

Cons of protein shakes:

  • They are expensive, costing around $45 or more for one container. Each container typically holds 50 or more servings.
  • They add calories to your diet. One scoop of protein powder (mixed with milk) added to your post-exercise routine will set you back about 230 calories!
  • They are unnecessary. Most athletes already consume more than twice the amount of protein in their diets than the RDA.
  • You have to work out to build muscles. Building muscle happens from regular strength training, not just consuming protein.

Health-related cons of protein shakes, or too much protein:

  • They may contribute to heart disease (if the protein comes from animal sources, because it is associated with higher cholesterol levels).
  • They could cause bone loss and osteoporosis. Amino acids found in animal sources make the blood more acidic, causing calcium to be pulled out of the bones in order to buffer the acid.
  • They exacerbate kidney disease by increasing the workload of the kidneys when filtering protein during digestion. (Diabetics who have kidney disease should be wary of consuming too much protein.)
  • Diarrhea is a side effect of ingesting too much protein.
  • Dehydration can be caused by not drinking enough water with protein powders.
  • They are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), so anything could be in them, including heavy metal toxins. (See below.)

According to “Consumer Reports,” in 2010 arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury were found in many samples. This is alarming because those metals can have toxic effects on several organs in the body! “Federal regulations do not generally require that protein drinks and other dietary supplements be tested before they are sold to ensure that they are safe, effective, and free of contaminants, as the rules require of prescription drugs,” states Consumer Reports’ Web site (http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2012/04/protein-drinks/index.htm).

In conclusion, there is no quick fix to make you healthier. A healthy lifestyle consists of many things, including balanced nutrition from food, regular exercise, sleep, hydration, socialization, and more. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. The takeaway: It’s probably okay to use protein powder or ingest a high-protein meal in moderation, but too much protein can be too much of a good thing.

 

For more information on protein, visit these Web sites:

MedlinePlus.gov, general protein information:
https://medlineplus.gov/dietaryproteins.html

USDA.gov, general protein information:
https://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/protein-and-amino-acids

WebMD.com, Choosing a protein shake:
http://www.webmd.com/diet/protein-shakes

WebMD.com, Do you need protein powders?:
http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/features/protein-powder#1

MindBodyGreen.com, Why you really shouldn’t use protein powders:
https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-11371/why-you-really-shouldnt-use-protein-powders.html

LiveStrong.com, Does protein powder do anything bad to your body?:
http://www.livestrong.com/article/543282-does-protein-powder-do-anything-bad-to-your-body/

ConsumerReports.org, Protein drink information:
http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2012/04/protein-drinks/index.htm

Kaplan University, Protein supplements:
http://healthandwellness.kaplan.edu/articles/nutrition/Protein%20Supplements.html

Be Savvy. Be Safe.

Facts About Drinking Alcohol

by Kirsten Falcone, RN
Hilbert College Wellness Center

Seasonal changes are on the way, and that means many college students will find opportunities to enjoy outdoor festivities where they may be serving alcohol. But, since 21 is the legal drinking age, it’s worthwhile to look at some alternatives to drinking alcohol that could be equally as enjoyable or more so.

First, let’s review a little about drinking alcohol. Drinking alcohol is generally not healthful or smart. In fact, the only alcohol recognized as beneficial is one glass (five ounces) of red wine per day for women (two for men). If you do happen to drink beyond what is considered healthful, here are some guidelines to follow:

  • One (serving-sized) drink per hour is all your liver can metabolize. If you damage your liver, contrary to hearsay, it does not always grow back to normal. (Think fatty liver and cirrhosis.)
  • Serving sizes: If you choose to drink alcohol, be aware of these serving sizes:
    • Beer—12 ounces
    • Liquor—one ounce
    • Wine—five ounces.
  • Stay hydrated. In order to prevent dehydration, drink eight ounces of water per hour. (This will also help ward off a hangover the next day.)
  • Don’t binge drink, which is defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) as imbibing five or more drinks for men, or four or more drinks for women, in a two-hour period.
  • Designate a driver. Make sure one person is a designated driver, or arrange another mode of transportation.

Some reasons to avoid alcohol: Drinking alcohol damages liver tissue, sometimes permanently. Brain tissue is permanently damaged by drinking alcohol (something to “think” about, if you are a serious college student). It can also lower inhibitions and make you act in a way you would not normally act. Alcohol is a depressant, and so somebody who drinks alcohol regularly is more likely to develop mental health side effects, such as chronic depression. Alcoholic beverages are also highly caloric, with very little nutritional value. If you put junk into your body, you will get junk in return. It is not the best choice for an ambitious college student. Also, many young people these days are on prescription medication, which is contraindicative for drinking alcohol.

So, then, what are some alternatives to drinking that cold beer? There are countless resources online. (A few are listed at the end of this article.) Here are a few good ideas both for social events and when at home:

  • Sip a non-alcoholic beverage if attending a party where alcohol is served. For example, have orange juice, instead of a screwdriver. Drink ginger ale, instead of a Moscow Mule. Or, have a V8 instead of a Bloody Mary.
  • Drink something new to you, like herbal tea, or a Thai latte.
  • Invest in a blender, and learn to make fruit smoothies!
  • Nonalcoholic beer or sparkling grape juice is a good choice for those who do not want to draw attention.
  • Club soda, with a lemon twist, will satisfy your thirst and your taste buds simultaneously.
  • Be conscious of why you are drinking. Is it an oral fixation? Are you stressed out? Are you drowning your sorrows? Or, are you celebrating something? If you are drinking for the wrong reason, then find an alternative.
  • Think about calories. Sometimes considering calorie content is enough to change over to water. If you are trying to trim your waist for the summer, then less is more.
  • Alternate each drink with water. That way you will be drinking only half the alcohol, theoretically, as you would have been before.
  • Get involved with an active group of people, such as a group at com. Or find a campus group that interests you. Since we become like the people we hang around with, it makes sense to choose healthy people.

Finally, you’ll be glad you resisted the temptation to drink because:

  1. It’s much more fun to be in control.
  2. You won’t have a hangover when you need to study.
  3. You will not be suffering from the consequences of decisions made when under the influence.
  4. You will actually remember the fun you had and the memories you made.
  5. Your waistline, liver, brain, and overall health will thank you.
  6. Making the right choices will empower you and not depress you!

 

For more information on enjoying an alcohol-free holiday, visit these Web sites:

Alcohol facts and statistics
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/alcohol-facts-and-statistics

Fact sheet about alcohol and your health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/alcohol-use.htm

Narconon.org
http://www.narconon.org/blog/sobriety/twenty-drug-free-sober-activities/

Treatmentsolutions.com
https://www.treatmentsolutions.com/31-things-to-do-instead-of-drinking-alcohol/

Related news story
USAToday.com
http://college.usatoday.com/2014/03/17/st-patricks-day-emphasizes-need-for-collegiate-alcohol-abuse-recovery-programs/

Kaely’s Kindness 5K Race

The 5k Race was organized by Hilbert students under the leadership of freshman Logan Yotter.  The race was held on November 19 and had over 200 runners participate.  Monies raised benefitted the Kaely’s Kindness Foundation, which supports teenage girls battling cancer.