Energy drink vs. Pálinka (Pălincă)

I woke up not long ago and decided to go to the gym. Although I try eating as healthy as I can, sometimes it’s not enough so I have to “supplement” it somehow. At my left hand lies an empty grey and red aluminium can of “Rodeo”…no big deal…it can be Bullit, Red Bull and whatever different brands of Burn Up and Down….Let’s cut to the chase, it is one of the basic traits of human society that from the beginning of time we use different substances to stimulate our bodies. Many do this before or during work, other before a party or maybe in order to increase their performances in bed J. While people in Africa were munching on the Cola nuts, other like the Incas were chewing Coca leaves when climbing to the “top of the world” to check the potato crops. (it is known that this way more oxygen gets into the body which is let’s say needed when working at four-five thousand meters of elevation). Hmmm… Coca Cola? Does it ring a bell? Try looking up the initial recipe…Here and there the Asians used opium while the Europeans stuck to alcohol (In vino veritas). All of these probably contributed to our genetics, because although a shot of pálinka doesn’t have great effect on us, my poor friend from Hong-Kong was hugging the wall only after half a shot. But probably his body could tolerate opium better than mine. Meanwhile of course hundreds of different types of coffee, energy drinks and vitamin enriched fluids appeared…And then the important question arose in my head. Who doped himself better? My grandpa or me?

Let’s start with the older one. He got up at half past five in the morning, fed the cows (Muuuuuuu ….) afterwards ate and pored down a shot of pálinka. Son this gives you strength! From here he went to work on the field until noon, and after lunch he drank another shot followed by the last one after supper. Of course there were exceptional days like weddings or St. John’s or St. Peter’s day. Basically you could make palinka out of everything: apples, pairs (according to my old man this is the best), cherries, plums (hmm…traditional), all of these combined and of course there are such legends as pufoaica brew. (I’m gonna talk about this privately because it’s quite disgusting). The effects could range from a slight smile to drop dead coma…But in a strange way if the daily shot was missing, the old man couldn’t work with the same efficiency. We are talking about alcohol that is over 50% so it pretty much swells up your veins and the sugar level is quite high, plus some doctors recommend small quantities of alcohol. So something lurks in this magic potion. Maybe the widened veins could carry more oxygen to the muscles and brain, or what do I know, but the main conclusion is that people worked with greater efficiency that day.

I once again look at my aluminium can and although I know what it contains I will shortly enumerate them so the reader knows it to. So this is perfectly legal and nowhere will you find something written like it damages your health. Occasionally in some clubs they won’t allow you to mix it with vodka, but not everywhere (especially not in Holland). So let’s just look at the ingredients: water (obvious as they didn’t milk the energy drink giving cow), sugar (diabetics of limits), vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6) and from here onwards the grey zone begins, with stuff like: fructosethingysiroup-with-citricsomething and the devil’s potion of sodiumglucooowhatever. (honestly don’t ask me what these are); then come the shady elements like the infamous “E vitamins”, like E 150, 200 (synthetic colorants and conservants that make the drink taste like old communist big round and coloured bubble gums). The next curiosity is inositol (this is regarded as some sort off vitamin B8, so we’ll say that’s its good for your health) and our all time favourite taurine (this is an organic acid that supposedly is beneficial for the body – believe it if you want to, because a lot of gym addicts pump up their muscles with taurine mixtures).

So comparing all of these wonders with my grandpas brew I came to the highly enlightened conclusion, that the latter one contains fruits hand picked from trees (so the bio freaks would probably enjoy it), the other one is made up of synthetically manufactured shady stuff, which we believe that are beneficial for us.

Please regard this article as anything but scientific, as most probably a litre of palinka will knock you of your feet (if you are lucky not to get into a coma) and a surplus of energy drinks will make you stay in bed a couple of days. Don’t forget we are talking about moderate quantities and their effects. Let’s just stick to the idea that occasionally I will have to consume energy drinks when the work-load is too much and I will give another shot of the vicious drink to Billy from Hong-Kong. With these lines I just wanted to emphasise that we should look at what people prohibit us to use and that in most of the cases economic factors lie behind this. The big multinational is not exactly concerned about our health… Who knows? Maybe in a couple of years we’ll have baby powder with taurine, so that the little ones get the sufficient ingredients in time for a “healthy” life. 😛 Super Baby!!!! Awaaayyy!!!!

3rd of April 2008, Utrecht

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