In the UK alone, it’s estimated that around 95 million cups of coffee are drunk every day. Which is no surprise. Many of us rely on coffee or some source of caffeine to wake us up in the morning and keep us focused in the afternoon. However, caffeine does come with side effects - increased coffee consumption can lead to sleep loss, stress, and can stain your teeth among other things.
We've got plenty of coffee alternatives to suit your needs, but first let's talk about why you might want to cut down on the cupfuls!
Are there any health benefits to drinking coffee?
Historically, coffee has a poor health reputation due to its caffeine content, meaning that the health benefits that coffee brings can often be overlooked. Coffee is naturally high in antioxidants and there is also some research to suggest that drinking coffee can help support your metabolism. Due to its high caffeine content it may help with the breakdown of fat during physical activity and even while you are resting.
Is caffeine bad for you?
Coffee is one of the most common sources of caffeine - a natural stimulant which works by stimulating the brain and nervous system. Caffeine helps you to stay alert, which is why coffee is often drunk in the morning and during a busy day. But as mentioned before, it can have negative side effects. However, decaffeinated coffee is one option that takes away these negatives, the only problem is that you then miss out on that stimulation.
It is recommended that you drink no more than 3–4 cups of coffee a day and drinking more than that may result in adverse health problems - excessive levels of caffeine increase both heart rate and blood pressure, leading to issues with your overall health. Caffeine can also cause anxiety, insomnia, low energy, mineral deficiency and digestive issues. Therefore, it should be drunk in moderation.
For those reasons, you may want to avoid caffeine completely or cut down on your intake. Luckily, there are plenty of alternatives to coffee. However, depending on your coffee habit, before you decide to cut down, you may experience caffeine withdrawals. A 2004 study found that the 10 symptoms mostly associated with caffeine withdrawal include: headache, fatigue, decreased energy, decreased alertness, drowsiness, decreased contentedness, depressed mood, difficulty concentrating, irritability, and feeling foggy. The more coffee you drink before cutting down, the worse your withdrawals. Luckily, if you’re not really into caffeine, you may not experience any issues at all.
What are the benefits of cutting down on coffee?
- Decreased consumptions of coffee or caffeine can help lower your blood pressure
- Caffeine can stay in your system for quite some time (up to 6 hours) and people who have no caffeine after 12pm or cut down on caffeine completely report better quality of sleep
- Many people report being grumpy until they’ve had their morning coffee and others feel sluggish when the caffeine wears off in the afternoon. So cutting down may result in better moods.
- Caffeine stimulates the adrenal glands so quitting coffee or caffeine can make you feel less anxious.
- As you know, coffee can stain your teeth so cutting it out of your life may result in whiter and healthier teeth
- Unless you drink your coffee black, caffeinated drinks generally add empty calories to our diets that we don’t really need. A study from Victoria University found that when caffeine is in a sugary beverage it causes people to consume more of that drink compared to a sugary beverage without caffeine.
- Cleaner environment - just think of the number of plastic bottles, cans, and cups that have to be produced in order to meet the demand of coffee lovers.
- Coffee decreases blood supply to the intestines, which can cause slow digestion. Therefore, reducing your intake can result in a better digestive system. A high amount of caffeine and amino acids have also been known to cause stomach discomfort ranging from bloating, gas, nausea, and cramping.
Tips to help you cut down on coffee consumption
Although caffeine withdrawals aren't serious, they’re not fun either - they can cause headaches, mood swings, and tiredness for the first 1- 2 weeks. So in order to minimise those effects here are some tips to help you on your journey:
- Firstly, you need to understand that caffeine is habit-forming and cannot be dropped just like that. If you currently drink four cups of coffee per day, for example, make plans to gradually cut that to three, and then two, and so on. This makes your journey to cut caffeine much more specific and attainable.
- Get more sleep. Caffeine is a temporary solution to a larger problem - you're just too tired. Instead of trying to fight the urge to sleep with coffee - a better, more consistent sleep-cycle may be the best thing you can do for your mental and physical health. This means trying to go to bed at the same hour every night, getting up at similar times, and avoiding the cycle of late nights and heavy oversleeping on weekends.
- Try diluting your coffee with water or extra milk. An easy and gradual way to begin cutting down coffee consumption. This allows you to still drink the same number of cups per day, that way you’re not subjected to the stress of a sudden change in habit/ routine.
- Drink LOTS of water! You may be surprised by how much fluid you take in with cups of tea/coffee during the day. If you’re feeling tired and headachy, it could be because you’re dehydrated. Cut out the fizzy drinks as they contain caffeine along with lots of sugar and additives.
- If those don’t work, up your exercise regime as physical activity is known to produce similar stimulating feelings as coffee. Regular exercise increases blood circulation, wakes up your body and mind, and has long term physical and mental health effects.
- If none of the above are an option for you, there are also some great energy boosters that you can add to your coffee to help you balance your caffeine intake and get your body less reliant on a morning coffee.
8 Natural Coffee Alternatives
Matcha and green tea
Matcha is like green tea but better. It's got antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins, and nutrients. Matcha holds the ultimate green tea superpowers for health. It does have caffeine, but less than coffee, and it's a slow release so there's not a huge high or crash - matcha lets you maintain a steady flow of energy levels after drinking and it is the perfect fuel before and after workouts. When consumed before a workout, it increases blood flow to muscles, protects the heart, and increases the availability of glycogen - the critical muscle fuel.
Bananas are one of the world's finest foods for supplying fuel energy. In the morning you may be feeling weak and fatigued because your body lacks sugar. A banana is a great source of healthy carbohydrates to get you going with plenty of energy. It is also rich in potassium (an electrolyte that helps maintain normal nerve and muscle) and vitamin B6, both of which increase your stamina.
Spinach contains 24 mg of magnesium, making it a good caffeine alternative. This mineral can help refuel your body by activating adenosine triphosphate (ATP), an essential component for energy production.
If you don’t like bananas, spinach is a good substitute as it still contains a good amount of potassium. There are many foods you can make with spinach, including making a smoothie and adding it to your meals along with other greens.
As another caffeine alternative to coffee, peppermint can help boost your energy in many ways:
- It has anti-inflammatory properties that can ease many types of pain such as stomach cramps, migraines, and headaches.
- The oil may reduce the chances of daytime sleepiness.
- It can also provide sinus relief.
- It boosts your digestive health, reducing the risk of an upset stomach.
- Peppermint can also relax your body, so you can get better sleep.
While you can consume this as tea, you may also use it for aromatherapy with a diffuser. You can also look for supplements that contain it as an active ingredient, or, grow some yourself and add the fresh or dried leaves to water, drinks or smoothies.
Lemon water is a great way to start your day. It’s calorie- and caffeine-free and provides an ample dose of vitamin C. As an antioxidant, vitamin C plays a role in your immune system and protects your skin from sun damage. It’s essential for creating collagen, a protein that provides the basic structure for your skin, tendons and ligaments.
The best and healthiest way to stay energised all day is with a glass of water. Even mild dehydration can have a harmful effect on energy levels, mood, concentration, and performance. Just about every aspect of your physical and mental health can be improved by drinking enough water!
When you’re feeling low or run-down, it’s an instinct to reach for the kettle and coffee beans, but think twice next time and try these caffeine alternatives first. Besides increasing your energy levels they can offer more nutrients to help maintain optimal health and well-being.
Chicory roots are caffeine-free, so if you want to reduce your caffeine intake, you can use it as an alternative to coffee. Chicory coffee is made by roasting, crushing and brewing the roots of chicory plants. It has a coffee-like taste, slightly earthy and nutty. It is used on its own or mixed with coffee to complement its flavour. Chicory root is a good source of fibre that can improve some aspects of digestive health. For example, it can support the health of the gut microbiota, which is thought to be strongly associated with health and disease. Chicory root also contains inulin, a type of fibre that has been shown to help control blood sugar levels in human and animal studies.
Cacao and cocoa sound similar, but the two terms refer to different substances - cacao is basically a raw material that can make cocoa. Cacao contains little or no caffeine, but is high in theobromine which is closely related to caffeine and acts as a mild stimulant. Theobromine provides coffee-like euphoria and satisfaction but it provides a smoother, burst-free energy boost. This means that drinking cacao will not make you nervous or jittery. Likewise, maintaining your magnesium levels through cacao can keep your energy levels up. A very low amount of magnesium in your diet can cause fatigue, moody, weakness, muscle cramps and digestive problems.
6 Supplements to Use As A Natural Coffee Alternative
If you're constantly downing coffee cups all day long, you need B vitamins as one of your caffeine alternatives ASAP. It’s possible that your fatigue is a sign of vitamin deficiency and vitamin B is a typically good vitamin to have. But if you’re looking for the best energy supplements in this category, B12 is the best. B12 is all about helping your body transform food into energy that your cells can then use. B vitamins play a vital role in cell metabolism and the formation of red blood cells. They also help your body to use and create energy from the foods you eat.
Green tea Supplement
Green tea extract is a great way to boost metabolism and improve your physical performance. It can also improve your sensitivity to insulin and lower your blood sugar, reducing your risk of developing type 2 diabetes .Green tea increases energy and improves brain function. It also includes L-theanine which decreases anxiety and works synergistically with caffeine to improve brain function. So green tea extract has the energising qualities of coffee without the jittery feeling.
Designed to provide an instant energy boost. Energiplex helps to relieve tiredness and fatigue. It also helps to support energy metabolism and the wholefood Beetroot and Watermelon assist in absorption and boost effectiveness.
Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in your body, it can’t work properly without it. Getting enough magnesium is important to keep your body working at its best as it plays an important role in sleep. Magnesium has been shown to have a mood-improving effect
A therapeutic adaptogenic formula combines powerful medicinal mushrooms with nourishing Cordyceps, Chaga, Ashwagandha, Rhodiola, Korean Ginseng, Maca, and vitamin B12 to adapt to your body's stress response and naturally support energy levels.
The adaptogen is designed to help with...
Ashwagandha is one of the most important medicinal herbs in the Indian Ayurveda and it’s one of the world’s oldest medicinal systems. Over the years, researchers have been able to discover that Ashwagandha is able to increase our body’s resilience to both physical and mental stress. Because stress is something that drains our energy levels physically and mentally, having supplements of this nature can provide us with more energy. Beyond that, there is also research that suggests we can alleviate fatigue associated with exercise with this too.
Discover more health-based lifestyle tips with Fushi, we cover what’s trending, nutrition tips, natural beauty care and more. Also check out our very own collection of natural remedies to help with muscle and joint pain. Ranging from oils, vitamins and supplements we have everything you need to help ease your pain!