Is It Time To Break Up With Coffee?
“…caffeine is a curse, addicting us to a regime that makes us more tractable and productive workers, speeding us up so that we may better keep pace with the manmade machinery of modern life.”
-Michael Pollan, “This Is Your Mind On Plants”
Caffeine, the ultimate blessing and curse wrapped up in a cute mug. We know we shouldn’t drink too much, but now we’re hooked. Americans drink up to 400 million cups of coffee, not in a year, not in a month but daily. It is time to quit coffee?
Technically, coffee comes from a plant. So we’re drinking plants; how bad can that be? Ultimately the coffee high that starts our days creates a “chasing the dragon” effect of repetitive energy bursts and crashes. Although caffeine is found naturally in leaves, seeds, and the fruits of many plants, it also has some unhealthy downsides.
But fear not! There are plenty of great-tasting healthy alternatives to boost your energy and power you through the holiday season. Not only can they help you to maintain consistent energy, some of them even taste like coffee.
Why Take A Break From Caffeine
Caffeine found in plants is actually nature’s built-in defense mechanism giving it natural herbicide and pest-repellent powers. At some point, humans, ancient warriors, and scholars who had work to do, stumbled upon its wonders in the form of cacao beans, tea leaves, kola nuts, and the bean that can now be found on every modern urban corner, the coffee.
Caffeine can not only lead to crashes in energy; your body can build a dependence on a daily cup or four of coffee. In addition, large amounts of caffeine consumed daily can negatively affect mood, sleep patterns, and leave long-lasting effects on major organ systems.
What’s So Terrible About Caffeine
Caffeine is essentially the chemical component of coffee plants. The resulting jolt of energy can cause numerous undesirable side effects that, over the long run, can be much more severe than just insomnia. Drinking more than four servings of caffeine a day can contribute to:
Breast tissue cysts
What To Know Before You Take a Break From Caffeine
While we may not think of caffeine as a mind-altering type of drug, it is a central nervous system stimulant that falls into that drug category. If you are thinking of taking a break from your black tea or coffee, there are a few things you should take into account first:
- Cut down on your caffeine consumption slowly. Gradually reduce your consumption over 2-3 weeks to avoid withdrawal symptoms like headache, fatigue, and drowsiness.
- Switch for decaf. Try alternating decaf and caffeinated tea or coffee to reduce your intake.
- Set a time limit. Commit to a cut-off time to quit drinking caffeinated beverages each day.
- Swap it out. Switch out your caffeinated beverage for a healthy energy-giving option, like the ones listed below.
Five Great Energy-Giving Substitutes For Caffeine
One of the best upsides to swapping out caffeinated beverages is that you might find even healthier options with their alternatives. Many alternatives are nutrient-dense and provide longer-lasting energy to avoid the typical crashes associated with drinking caffeinated beverages.
1. Cold Pressed Juices
Fresh cold-pressed juices are nutrient-dense and offer a natural way to support your body in giving you energy. Drinking juice is the equivalent of liquid nutrition, which gives your digestive system a break from dissecting the nutrients from processed drinks. This leads to faster absorption of nutrients giving your body a natural jump-start without the caffeine.
2. Chicory Root Powder
If you are a coffee lover who just misses the taste, chicory root can be roasted like coffee beans into a coffee-like alternative, giving you comfort without the caffeine. Chicory root comes from a plant with bright blue flowers used for centuries in France, South Africa, and now Nebraska. Used for centuries in natural medicine and cooking the root is powdered root is hailed for its ability to regulate blood sugar, aid digestion, and help with weight loss. Products like Dandy Blend are easy to prepare and hard to differentiate from true coffee.
If you are missing a warm mug in your hand in the morning, Golden Milk is an excellent substitute for caffeinated tea or coffee. It is traditionally made by combining warm milk with spices such as; cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric, ginger, black pepper, and sometimes a dash of honey. It has long been thought to boost immunity and reduce inflammation in the body.
4. Rooibos Tea
For the tea lovers who double up their black tea leaves for an extra caffeine kick, Rooibos Tea is caffeine free and makes a great alternative or even an option to alternate with your coffee if your ultimate goal is just to cut back.
5. Brewed Cacao
Cacao is naturally bitter on its own and makes a solid substitution for a cup of dark coffee. The cacao beans are roasted similarly and have a similar flavor profile. Cacao is 99.9% caffeine free but contains theobromine, a naturally occurring phytonutrient that can give longer bursts of energy without the caffeine crash. You can customize your cacao drink by adding vanilla, cinnamon, or plant-based milk. In addition, adding superfoods like maca and reishi mushroom can boost its energy, giving powers even further!