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Toxic Monsters

March 04, 2013
Toxic Monsters

Are high energy, adrenaline-boosting, power drinks killing teenagers and children? A recent lawsuit against Monster Beverage Corp. alleging responsibility in the death of a 14-year-old girl from Maryland has raised concerns about “caffeine toxicity.” Do energy drinks harm our bodies? Should Christians be concerned about sipping lattes? And does the Bible have anything to say about our beverage choices?

Energy drinks are a huge success these days. Stock market growth has gone through the ceiling for the three biggest manufacturers: Red Bull, Monster, and Rockstar. They’ve all had double-digit gains in recent years.

“But the success has also brought greater scrutiny. This summer, the New York state attorney general’s office subpoenaed Monster as part of an investigation into how energy drinks are made and marketed. Subpoenas were also sent to Living Essentials, which makes 5-Hour Energy shots, and PepsiCo Inc., which makes AMP. Lawmakers have also called on the FDA to investigate the use of ingredients such as taurine in energy drinks and whether the caffeine levels are safe for children.”

We all know that caffeine gives a buzz, but many health experts realize that consumers, especially teens, don’t realize the side effects of large dosages of caffeine consumption, including the jitters, addiction, irregular heartbeat, insomnia, nausea, diarrhea, twitching, mood swings, and light-headedness. Though research is divided on some potential benefits of caffeine, the risk factors are high. [2] Just how much of a harmful substance—let's face it, another term for poison—is too much?

Monster Beverage Corp. is fighting back after a wrongful death lawsuit was filed against the company last fall. The FDA has attributed five possible deaths to Monster Energy and 13 possible deaths to another adrenaline-boosting drink manufacturer, 5-Hour Energy. Monster lawyers have pointed out, when comparing ounces, that high levels of caffeine can be found in Starbuck’s drinks, which are being consumed by growing numbers of children, along with McDonald’s new caffeinated cold beverages now being sold. But it seems like a red herring, a game of “we’re all bad for you, but some of us are ‘more bad’ than others.”

The Bible actually talks about what we drink. In the New Testament, the apostle Paul writes: “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). He states earlier in this book, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20).

Consuming caffeine has harmful risks to the mind and body. It gives a false sense of clarity, but the buzz goes bad. We do not glorify God in our bodies when we knowingly take in substances that compromise the one organ through which we hear the Holy Spirit speak to us—our minds. We should do everything we can to push the monster out of our lives and listen to the peaceful Word of God.


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