Tag Archives: Student health and wellness blog

The Ugly Truth about Energy Drinks

Before you reach for another energy drink, you should know the facts.

From supermarkets to drug stores, you’ll spot students buying energy drinks to not only quench their thirst but help them survive all-nighters in the library.

Since Red Bull was introduced in 1997, energy drinks have seen a major growth, outpacing nearly every other offering in the beverage market. But do we really know what we are buying? Are these drinks safe?

What is really in energy drinks?

There are so many different kinds of energy drinks now-a-days. From Red Bull to Five Hour to Monster, students have many options when deciding their liquid source for energy. So of course recipes vary, but the common element in energy drinks is caffeine.

A standard cup of coffee has about 100 mg of caffeine, a cup of tea 50 mg and a can of coke cola 35-55 mg. How much caffeine does energy drinks have? Well, definitely more. Try anywhere from 50 to 500 mg of caffeine in a single serving.  And the addition of guarana (a South American plant extract that contains additional caffeine) ups the caffeine dose even more. Although the FDA regulates the amount of caffeine in soft drinks (maximum of 71 mg per 12-oz serving), there is no such limit for energy drinks.

Caffeine is a stimulant. Scientific studies in adults show that caffeine can increase alertness, improve concentration and enhance mood. Modest caffeine intake (less than 400 mg per day) is safe for most adults. But too much caffeine can cause problems, including restlessness, irritability and difficulty sleeping. Massive caffeine overdoses can cause reduced blood flow to the heart and abnormal heart rhythms.

Many energy drinks also contain sugar. Sugar is “real energy.” Your body can use the sugar as fuel to do work. But don’t forget that extra sugar means excess calories. A steady consumption of sugar-filled energy drinks will lead to weight gain.

Other ingredients, including the amino acid taurine, ginseng and assorted vitamins, probably have little to no impact on a person’s perceived energy level. Although manufacturers tout the importance of these additives, their purported benefits are unproven. One note of caution-ginseng can interact with a variety of prescription medicines.

Are energy drinks safe for you?

Energy drinks have not been proven safe. In fact, because they are classified as supplements, they are not even regulated by the FDA. This means that their ingredients are not tightly controlled and their health effects are largely unstudied.

We do think that an adult who consumes an occasional energy drink (one a day) is unlikely to suffer harm. But too much can lead to caffeine overdose and health problems, and mixing energy drinks and alcohol is such a bad idea – Don’t do it for the sake of your health!

Before you reach for that magic bottle that promises enhanced alertness, concentration and physical performance, you need to remember the facts. Instead get a good night’s sleep, exercise regularly and eat well… these are the real energy magic-makers.

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Use Coupons For Prescription Medications

Greater savings is available using coupons for brand name prescription medications.

Pharmaceutical companies offer coupons for discounts or rebates for two reasons:

1. To encourage you to try their medication

2. To keep you on their medication

Coupons are available through your doctor, your pharmacist or online. Try a Google search for “drug name” and “coupon.” You may even find offers in your local newspaper or favorite magazine.

Some pharmaceutical companies offer coupons for a free trial of medication, from a three-day introductory offer to an entire month’s prescription free. Others offer a discount or rebate on your out-of-pocket expense, including co-pay amounts, as high as $50 per month. Some are one-time offers, but many are renewable for a few months, or a year, or even for as long as you require the medication. The reusable for a few months or a year, or even for as long as you require the medication. The reusable coupons usually come in the form of a plastic card that you present to the pharmacy each time you need a refill. If the discount is in the form of a rebate, make sure you keep your receipts.

Some of these programs are not available to government-sponsored (Medicare and Medicaid) prescription plan beneficiaries.

A second type of coupon is offered through retail pharmacies and commonly involves new or transfer prescription. The coupon may be worth more than the price of the drug you are purchasing! Some stores will honor another retailer’s coupon as well. Potentially you could actually make a profit — transfer a $5 prescription and receive $20 in store merchandise.

Retail pharmacy coupons may appear in local publications, or show up in your personal mail. In general, they apply to either generic or brand name medications. Discounts may be offered on current or future prescriptions, other store merchandise, or even gasoline purchases. Some retailers offer gift cards rather than discounts. Large retailers offer gift cards rather than discounts. Large retailers offer coupons and discounts online as well. Go to your local pharmacy’s website for additional information.

If you’re lucky, you may able to combine a retail pharmacy coupon with that of a pharmaceutical company.

Happy coupon hunting!

Mother’s Day Breakfast Idea

Mother’s Day is this upcoming Sunday. While browsing through recipes on the Whole Foods website, we came across this cute bed-in-breakfast idea. It’s a morning treat that’s super easy to prepare but special enough for mom.

Heart Shaped Egg-in-a-Hole

Ingredients

2 slices brioche loaf, each about 3/4-inch thick
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 large eggs
Chives for garnish
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method

Using a large (2.5- or 3-inch) heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out a heart from the center of each slice of brioche. Or, use a paring knife to cut the heart shapes. Reserve slices and hearts.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the slices and the heart cutouts to the pan and cook until slightly toasted. Turn slices and cutouts; carefully break an egg into the center of each slice. Cover the skillet and cook until the egg white is just set and the yolk is cooked to your liking, 3 to 4 minutes.

Carefully transfer a slice and a cutout to each of 2 plates and snip some chives over the top. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Serve immediately.

Nutrition

Per serving: 240 calories (150 from fat), 17g total fat, 9g saturated fat, 205mg cholesterol, 480mg sodium, 14g total carbohydrate (0g dietary fiber, 2g sugar), 9g protein

Source: Whole Foods Recipes

Three Ways to Spring Clean Your Diet

It’s spring, which means it’s time to clean your place from head to toe. Sounds like fun, right? But with final exams coming up — who has the time? I’m sure that you would pick cleaning over studying any time… but for now, here are three easy ways you can spring clean your diet before finals week.

1. Switch from soda to lemon water

One of the easiest ways to clean up your diet is to ditch the soda. Whatever you do… don’t fail for the diet or zero calorie nonsense. Diet-soda or regular, there are plenty of health warnings about the stuff. A favorite drink among detox enthusiasts is lemon water — warm or cold. Just squeeze the juice of a half of a fresh lemon into water and sip.

2. Repair cells with kale

Kale is antioxidant rich and considered nature’s scouring pad for its ability to scrub your cells clean. My favorite way to eat kale is to boil kale for about 5 minutes (you don’t want it to turn brown) and sprinkle a small amount of vinegar on it — preferably plum vinegar, which can be found at your local supermarket, like Publix and Whole Foods. Loaded with that dark green pigment, kale is chock-full of antioxidants that fight disease and cell damage.

3. Swap out refined sugar for fruit

If you normally sprinkle sugar on your cereal in the morning, try slicing a banana on top instead. The goal here is to think of fruit as your sweetener of choice — and get creative with it! Try apple slices on your almond-butter sandwich instead of jam, or kiwi slices in your Greek yogurt in place of honey.

There are many ways you can clean out your system, but at least these 3 ways will get you started before you say bye spring semester and HELLO to summer.

Q: How do you spring clean your diet? Any advice for people trying a detox plan this spring?