“Drinking” to Health in New York

energy-drinksIn a continued effort for New Yorkers to enhance their general health and well-being, we take a look at some of the energy drinks available on the market. When one is training hard or engaging in regular workouts, these beverages can be a great way to replenish energy and repair muscle. But they should just form part of the replenishing process. According to Sports Medicine, consuming a diet with a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein is a great way for endurance athletes who are training daily.

Other than that, in general, energy drinks may contain some (or all) of the following: caffeine, taurine, guarana, B vitamins, ginseng, L-carnitine, sugars, antioxidants, glucuronolactone, yerba mate, creatine, acai berry, inositol, L-theanine, milk thistle, ginkgo bilboa, artificial sweeteners and quercetin.

Energy Brands (today owned by the Coca-Cola company), produces Smartwater which is an electrolyte-enhanced water.   When it first started out, company founder J. Darius Bikoff just distributed it to health food stores and independent NY retailers. A few years later – when the line expanded to Fruitwater and Vitaminwater – the beverages became available throughout America. Given the popularity of Vitaminwater, the company went global and is now available throughout the world.

Another popular energy drink is Rockstar Energy. The company claims that its beverage has been “scientifically formulated to speed the recovery time of those who lead active and exhausting lifestyles—from athletes to rock stars, designed for those who lead active lifestyles – from athletes to rockstars.”

Monster Energy Drinks claims to give its consumers so much more than just a beverage with energy. “Monster is way more than an energy drink. Led by our athletes, musicians, employees, distributors and fans, Monster is…A lifestyle in a can.”

Improving New York Health: Reducing Sodium in our Diets

saltOne of the biggest impediments to improving New York health is the amount of sodium New Yorkers have in their diet. The problem is not just individuals, but food companies. And there is a lot that the market can do to substantially improve the potential of New Yorkers health by reducing sodium input into their foods.

Reducing sodium has huge health benefits. Knocks down the likelihood of high blood pressure, hypertension, strokes, heart attacks and the like. In addition, in a recent New York Times article, Thomas A. Farley pointed out that in America today, “according to best estimates, excess sodium is killing between 40,000 and 90,000 people and running up to $20 billion in medical costs a year.” So along with the improvement in New York health, reducing sodium would also indirectly result in an enhancement of the city’s finances – and indeed throughout the nation.

It can be done. Apparently sodium levels in fast food can vary a huge amount. For example, one slice of pizza can have anywhere between 370 and 730 milligrams – that’s a wide range. It’s just a case of getting food manufacturers on board. This is the first step. Once there is a reduction in the amount of salt in people’s food, individuals’ desire for the salt also drops.

This is not a new issue for New Yorkers or any Americans. But the question becomes quite political when one asks how much should the state be involved? Do we want a situation in which the Mayor for example, is determining our soda input?

Still, New York City is doing relatively well vis-à-vis the salt reduction campaign. Since 2010, its health department has been working via the National Salt Reduction Initiative (a conglomeration of 90+ health departments and organizations) to try to encourage food companies to cut sodium of their own will, based on what the UK has been doing over the last few years. Today, 21 companies (including Kraft) have joined in, by adding less sodium in basic products such as canned beans. So it’s starting.

If there is a move to seriously reduce sodium in processed foods in America, hopefully this will have a direct impact on enhanced health throughout the nation, bringing long-term benefits to those at greatest risk of hypertension, etc.