I don’t actually drink coffee, except for an occasional cafe mocha, but so many times I hear friends and family saying how much they *need* coffee and can’t function without it and have to have it to start and or get through their day. Coffee has few real benefits but many detriments so I’d like to offer some alternatives to coffee for those who think they need it or for those who would like to drink less or none.
Before I get to that information though I’d like to pass on some info about caffeine withdrawal and its symptoms. The top 10 withdrawal symptoms are: Headache, sleepiness, irritability, lethargy, constipation, depression, muscle pain/stiffness, lack of concentration, flu-like symptoms, and insomnia. The onset of withdrawal symptoms typically begins 12-24 hours after abstinence, with the peak intensity occurring at 20-51 hours. The withdrawal symptoms last for a range of two to nine days. This is a considerable amount of time that makes it easy to understand why people would have a hard time cutting caffeine from their diet. Sometimes though for your health and greater good you have to tough things out and then incorporate things like those below into your life to make it better in the beginning of stopping drinking coffee, and in the long run.
1) Eat organic apples. You might be thinking to yourself that there is no way eating an apple provides even close to the same amount of morning energy that drinking a cup of coffee does. But eating an apple can actually provide more energy than coffee, as the fruit’s natural blend of fruit sugars, complex carbohydrates, and dietary fiber elicits an energy boost that is consistent and lasting.
2) Drink fresh juice from the juicer. Even better than just eating an apple every morning is juicing fresh apples, along with things like carrots, beets, spinach, celery, wheatgrass, and various cleansing herbs. Fresh juice from the juicer is packed with energizing vitamins, enzymes, and other living nutrients that many people say they can literally feel coursing through their veins upon consumption.
Unlike with coffee, fresh juices will not lead to an energy crash halfway through your day. Drinking coffee overstimulates the central nervous system in the same way that stress does, which can cause serious health problems. Instead, fresh juice stimulates your entire body with a plethora of energizing and life-giving nutrients that help cleanse the blood, improve blood flow, and detoxify the body. (http://www.joyoushealth.ca/2009/04/15/fresh-juice-vs-coffee/)
3) Make some organic yerba mate in the French press. Long revered throughout South America as a “drink of the gods,” yerba mate is rich in 24 unique vitamins and minerals, 15 amino acids, 11 polyphenols, and a wide array of other antioxidants and nutrients that boost immunity and provide lasting energy. Yerba mate also contains a unique form of caffeine, which some people refer to as “mateine,” that boosts energy levels without causing the negative side effects that coffee often does.
Just like coffee, yerba mate can easily be brewed in a French press every morning and taken to go. Just be sure to use less-than-boiling hot or warm water when brewing yerba mate as its somewhat delicate nutrients can become damaged from exposure to high heat. (http://guayaki.com/mate/130/Yerba-Mate.html)
4) Steep some organic green tea. The health benefits of green tea are extensive. Besides boosting energy levels, green tea promotes healthy blood flow, enhances immune function, and encourages weight loss. Like yerba mate, green tea is loaded with free radical-scouring antioxidants. A single cup of green tea, in fact, contains greater antioxidant activity than a serving of broccoli or spinach. (http://www.lef.org/abstracts/codex/green_tea_index.htm)
Though green tea does contain some caffeine, its unique nutritional profile helps taper caffeine’s effects within the body. A cup of green tea also contains significantly less caffeine than a cup of coffee does, which means its overstimulating effects will be subdued. (http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/green-tea-000255.htm)
5) Supplement with eleuthero root. For many people, lack of energy is often related to chronic anxiety and stress, both of which can take a heavy toll on hormone-regulating adrenal glands. Supplementing with herbal adaptogens like eleuthero root, also known as Siberian ginseng, can help restore adrenal function, which in turn can promote balanced energy levels throughout the day.
Your adrenal glands are responsible for producing the hormones cortisol and adrenaline, both of which provide your body with energy and strength. Taking eleuthero root can ensure that these and other hormones are being produced in proper amounts so that your body will not even need a stimulant like caffeine in the morning just to get going. Some other powerful adaptogens include ashwagandha, ginseng, and rhodiola. (http://www.mountainroseherbs.com/newsletter/07/september/adapt.html)
6) Add some raw cacao to your morning oatmeal. Rich in a substance known as theobromine, raw cacao helps naturally stimulate the central nervous system and promote balanced energy levels. Cacao also contains the mood-elevating amino acid tryptophan, which can help eliminate anxiety and stress by boosting serotonin levels and releasing endorphins, which are endogenous opioid peptides that give the body a natural “high” feeling. (http://www.fitday.com)
Available in both powder and “nib” form, cacao can be added to smoothies or juices, or used as a topping on oatmeal or breakfast cereal. You can even eat cacao nibs straight, or add them to your favorite trail mix.
7) Add goji berries to your diet. A powerful, energizing “superfood” with an extensive history of use in traditional Chinese medicine, goji berries are loaded with complete proteins, 21 essential trace minerals, 18 amino acids, beta carotene, and a host of other energizing nutrients. A 2008 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that drinking goji berry juice regularly for as few as two weeks, significantly boosts energy levels, improves sleep quality, and promotes healthy digestion. (http://www.nutraingredients.com)
Some further tips: Drink plenty of water, eat foods high in fiber to avoid constipation, take Melatonin for sleep issues if having difficulty getting to and staying asleep (it’s none addictive, your body doesn’t begin to rely on it for sleeping, but it can give some people weird dreams), take time for yourself and do things you enjoy that keep you active and engaged, and remember the withdrawal period only lasts a short time- you CAN get through it!!