Objective: Energy drinks (EDs) target young and active individuals and they are being marketed as enhancers of energy, concentration, and physical and cognitive performance. Their long-term consumption raises serious health concerns related to cardiovascular events. Here we investigate the effects of long-term Red Bull® consumption and its combination with alcohol on certain biochemical parameters and the ultrastructure of the myocardium.
Methods: Male Wistar rats were categorized into four groups and given different treatments via oral administration. The Control (C) group received tap water, the Red Bull (RB) group received 1.5 ml/100 g body weight of Red Bull, the ethanol group (E) received 0.486 mg/100 g body weight of ethanol, and the Red Bull and ethanol (RBE) received a combination of the two beverages for 30 days. In the last 6 days of the experiment, the animals were tested for their physical performance by conducting a weight-loaded forced swim test. Immediately after swimming exhaustion, the animals were sacrificed under anesthesia and samples of the heart muscle were harvested for ultrastructural and biochemical analyses.
Results: Our results showed a significant increase in the heart glucose and glycogen concentrations in the RB and RBE groups. Total cholesterol concentration significantly decreased in the RBE and RB groups. Total protein concentration and ALT and AST activities increased in all groups. The biochemical changes were accompanied by ultrastructural alterations.
Conclusion: Based on these results, we recommend that athletes and active persons should avoid the long-term consumption of the Red Bull ED and, particularly, its combination with alcohol.