Coffee can be wonderful, I agree. It smells fantastic and has a number of useful properties, including enhancing mental acuity and improving endurance in athletes, as well as helping to protect against dementia and Alzheimer’s. It has also been shown to help in the fight of certain cancers. However, coffee is also addictive, dehydrates you, is very acidic (acidity being a big cause of modern day diseases) and can lead to adrenal fatigue. If you think about it, caffeine is false energy. Drinking large amounts of coffee is like borrowing large amounts of money from the bank; eventually you’re going to have to pay it back and that’s going to be very painful. I see this frequently with many of my coaching clients, and yet, when they finally give up or drastically reduce coffee, they feel so great that they wonder why they never did it before! The best solution to tiredness is to make sure your body has all of the nutrients and rest that it needs to maintain balanced energy so that you don’t feel you have to drink coffee to survive the day.
In my opinion, as a Health Coach, coffee should be used as an occasional treat. Why not try some of these following nutritious pick-me-ups as an alternative?
Green tea has at most a quarter, if not less, of the caffeine contained in coffee. It is made from the same plant as black and oolong tea but, unlike those, hasn’t been fermented. It appears to be for this reason that it has more health benefits, including higher amounts of polyphenols, potent antioxidants vital for fighting cell destroying free radicals. Green tea is a milder stimulant than coffee and studies have shown it to be useful in the fight on numerous cancers, heart disease, stroke, fat loss and dementia. Green tea drinkers also appear to get sick less often. According to Chinese culture, green tea should be steeped for 3-5 minutes and drunk 3 times a day. If you have particularly sensitive digestion, do not drink green tea on an empty stomach as this may cause nausea.
Matcha tea is essentially concentrated green tea. Instead of steeping tea leaves in water and then removing them, with matcha you are in fact drinking the whole leaf (think green tea soup). Matcha tea is the green tea leaf ground down. This means that you are consuming far more potent nutrients than you do with ordinary green tea. And, no, you can’t just drink the green tea leaves; matcha tea is grown in a special way to preserve the chlorophyll which gives it that vibrant green colour. This tea has several times more antioxidants than goji berries, pomegranates and blueberries. Matcha green tea is both energising and calming, thanks to two amino acids called theophylline and L-theanine and is said to both improve concentration and learning ability. One cup of this green elixir a day is enough to keep you going for around 6 hours!
This is a completely different plant to green or black tea. Yerba mate originates from South America and is related to the holly family. It has a long standing tradition of medicinal uses in South America and has been found to contain a vast array of nutrients, many of which are different to green tea; they therefore compliment each other very well. Yerba mate has less caffeine than coffee or green tea and appears not to cause caffeine jitters. Some of the reported health benefits include improved endurance and strength, increased libido, better concentration and creativity. Due to associations of some diseases with long term yerba mate drinkers, it appears best to drink this tea in moderation.
“..cacao flavonols may be beneficial in increasing brain blood flow and enhancing brain function..”
It has been found that cacao has the highest amount of antioxidants of any other food in the world. As you probably know, antioxidants are our number 1 anti-ageing and anti-illness heroes. Cacao is possibly the best source of magnesium, one of the minerals that we’re most depleted of in the modern day diet, yet it’s essential for good health, including great energy. The chromium in cacao helps to balance blood sugars, one of the main causes of energy crashes. Most of us are deficient in chromium. Raw cacao also contains phenylethylamines (PEAs) which give us the same feeling as falling in love, and also play a part in improving mental sharpness and concentration. This compound also helps to curb appetite and has been found to help in weight loss. Cacao contains a tiny amount of caffeine, which can affect sleep for some people (like me).
Maca or maca root, also known as Peruvian ginseng, has a history of cultivation and use in South America that dates back 2,600 years. It is part of the cruciferous family (eg. broccoli, cabbage..). According to David Wolfe, world-renowned superfood expert,
“…maca, as an adaptogenic superfood increases energy, endurance, oxygen in the blood, physical strength, neurotransmitter production, and libido.”
Start off with half a teaspoon, or even less, in your smoothie and see how you get on. When I first started experimenting I ate a tablespoon a day and during that week gave myself insomnia! I felt great though…
Have you tried any of these? What alternatives to coffee has you found to best work for you? Were you a coffee addict who gave up coffee? What’s been your story? Please share below and help to inspire others.