Taurine is not only present in drinks: it is also used by our brains to function.
In recent years, taurine has become part of our habitual vocabulary as a result of the boom in energy drinks. Despite the controversy that has been created around it, it is an element that has always existed naturally in natural foods and even made by our own body. Also, although this substance is popular for its use in drinks, it is also a neurotransmitter, which is why our neurons use it to function.
Throughout this article we will know what it is, where we can find it, as well as its benefits and harmful effects.
What is taurine?
Taurine is a derivative of the amino acid cysteine that our body manufactures naturally and that, in addition, is also present in a series of specific foods.
Its curious name dates back to the year 1827, a time during which German scientists Friedrich Tiedemann and Leopold Gmelin isolated it for the first time from a sample of bull bile.
In humans, we can find it in large quantities in organs such as the heart, as well as in muscles, platelets and throughout the nervous system throughout its development period.
This substance stimulates the nervous system, which is why our body uses it in highly stressful moments or in which intense physical activity is required. Due to these stimulating effects, large amounts of synthetic taurine are currently produced, which has become the main ingredient in energy drinks.
However, its use has generated not a few controversies since some studies ensure that an excess of taurine consumption can cause serious damage to our body. Taking into account that our body manufactures it naturally and that we can find it in a large number of foods, maintaining a varied and balanced diet is enough to achieve healthy natural levels of taurine.
Where can we find it?
As we have mentioned, we can find natural taurine in various foods of both animal and vegetable origin. Likewise, in recent years the types of beverages in which taurine, artificially synthesized, is established as one of the main ingredients have become popular.
1. Taurine in natural foods
Through a varied and balanced diet we can maintain adequate and stable levels of taurine, so it would not be necessary to resort to substances made in the laboratory.
Those foods that contain greater amounts of taurine are those that come from the sea. Among them, the octopus and the vast majority of shellfish stand out. Culinary preparations with ingredients such as raw or boiled fish (never fried) are good options when the person wants to get a good dose of energy.
In the same way, meat from poultry such as chicken also harbors large amounts of taurine, especially the meat found on the thighs of the animal. Other meat foods rich in taurine are those that come from pork and cow.
Regarding foods of a plant nature, there are a large number of legumes such as chickpeas, lentils and beans that contain large amounts of taurine. Likewise, nuts such as hazelnuts or almonds, or soybeans and algae are also known for their great contributions of this substance.
2. Taurine and energy drinks
As discussed above, in recent years energy drinks have reached surprising popularity. Among them, it seems that those that are composed of taurine as the main ingredient enjoy even greater fame.
In the beginning, these drinks were designed to enhance the cardiac output of athletes and athletes during exercises, especially in the world of bodybuilding. However, some time later, some popular soft drink and energy drink companies combined it with other compounds such as caffeine to also increase physical and intellectual resistance.
Consumed in moderation, these beverages do not have to pose a health hazard. However, we must not forget that they are not natural synthetic compounds, so it will always be better to opt for the options from food. In addition, another of the drawbacks of these drinks is their high content of gas and sugars, harmful agents for health.
On the other hand, its consumption is completely discouraged in people with hypertension problems; as well as the combination of taurine with other depressants of the nervous system such as alcohol. The reason is that this mixture can cause abnormal heart rhythms.
What benefits does it bring?
First of all, it is necessary to specify that when talking about the possible benefits of taurine, reference is made to the occasions when it is found naturally. This is because in those cases in which it is made synthetically or is presented in the form of a synthetic drink, it is accompanied by many other highly recommended additives.
Although taurine was discovered more than a century ago, this substance is still the subject of numerous studies that try to discover each and every one of its therapeutic or beneficial properties. In addition, its moderate consumption through natural ingredients can promote and maintain blood pressure levels in healthy people.
Currently, it is known that taurine favors protein synthesis, which is why it helps our body to assimilate the proteins we consume much better. In addition, taurine-based nutritional supplements are widely used to promote bone development and growth.
Its use to enhance attention
Other benefits are related to the effects it exerts on the neuromotor system, which helps the user to maintain a greater focus of attention, as well as a high performance intellectual and physical state. This makes it popular with students, despite the fact that it is normally consumed through energy drinks, with consequent physical wear and tear.
Harmful effects on the body
As has been pointed out on various occasions, taurine is a substance that enjoys as much fame as it has controversial reactions and opinions. These debates revolve around the negative effects that synthetic taurine has on the body.
Some research establishes a relationship between this taurine made from chemical and artificial compounds with physical problems and conditions such as hypertension, strokes, pathologies and heart problems and seizures.
Due to the risk that this poses to health, energy drinks with taurine have even been banned in some northern European countries, which have linked them to the death of some people consuming these drinks.