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A dangerous combination: alcohol and energy drinks

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A dangerous combination: alcohol and energy drinks

The Association for Dietetics in South Africa (ADSA) says the growing practice of downing energy drinks as mixers with alcohol should be avoided at all costs.

Says Berna Harmse, Registered Dietitian and President of ADSA, “Mixing energy drinks with alcohol can prolong the drinking session by keeping the person awake longer. This can result in a greater intake of alcohol and an increased chance of serious damage from alcohol.”

Drinkers may think that caffeine counteracts the adverse effects of alcohol, but it does not.

“Says Harmse, “People who combine energy drinks with alcohol underestimate their true level of drunkenness – a state of mind that can be labelled ‘being a wide-awake drunk.’ They think that they are sober, but they are not.”

Harmse says they may then tend to binge drink which may make them vulnerable to sexual assault or driving while intoxicated. Scientists have also blasted myths that energy drinks containing high quantities of caffeine combat alcohol impairment, confirming instead that the caffeine only reduces alcohol induced drowsiness, but not the actual impairment.

Says Harmse, “The trouble is this: energy drinks are an upper. They increase your heart rate and make you ready to spring into action. Conversely, alcohol is a depressant, or a downer. Thus, when you combine the two it can have seriously adverse effects on your heart and body.”

For more advice on making healthier lifestyle choices, contact a registered dietitian. Visit www.adsa.org.za for names of registered dietitians.

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