- Discuss the Physiological effects of the energy drink Red ...
Discuss the Physiological effects of the energy drink Red Bull on the human body
Red Bull is a carbonated, non-alcoholic drink, sold in aluminium
cans, with a highly visible marketing strategy. This emphasises one
desirable function, "energy", and one ingredient, taurine. In fact,
the energy in its true sense comes from the oxidation of glucose,
present in the drink both in its pure form and as its digestive
precursor sucrose. "Energy" is also, more loosely, an
interpretation of brain arousal or alertness, and this effect can
be ascribed to caffeine.
The evidence for the physiological effects of Red Bull can be
sought in two categories: (1) studies and nutritional consensus on
the effects of each ingredient, leading to prediction of the
effects of the commercial drink, and (2) studies of the effects of
Red Bull, the complete product, itself. The evidence from strategy
(2) is weaker.
Other studies on Red Bull, such as those of Ashford et al (2001)
and Warburton et al (2001), compared performance effects of Red
Bull with carbonated water, or a similar looking and tasting
placebo drink, respectively. These studies were therefore unable to
differentiate the effects of the specific ingredients, although
Warburton et al could at least control for the effects of a
carbohydrate load. Seidl et al (2001) studied event-related
waveforms and other neurophysiological and psychological outcomes,
showing a significantly beneficial effect from Red Bull in a
double-blind crossover trial. But again they had no way to separate
the effects of caffeine from the other ingredients, or to show that
the combination was superior to caffeine alone.
Despite the emphasis on taurine as the active ingredient, and
the claims that caffeine, taurine and glucuronolactone combine in
their effect, there is insufficient evidence to reject the
sceptical view that the performance enhancing effects of Red Bull
are mediated only by caffeine, psychology and a carbohydrate