Caffeine, and its partner in crime coffee, is one of the most used (and abused) drugs available today. It also holds the distinction of being one of the few socially acceptable drugs that we consume everywhere, every day. But, just as cigarettes were regarded in the early 20th century, the fact that “everybody does it” does not make caffeine consumption, especially in high-doses, good for you. Let’s consider the effects that the stimulant caffeine has on your body:
- Heart rate increases
- Blood pressure spikes
- Increased respiration (caffeine is responsible for opening airways as it is a class of methylxanthine chemicals used to aid breathing)
- Greater kidney function
- Increased stomach acid production
- Laxative effect (gastrointestinal function increases)
While many people actually use caffeine and coffee for these boosts, and the feeling of being “alert,” the fact is that like any drug the feeling is just that: a feeling, it’s not real. Light coffee drinkers (1-2 cups a day) are generally not going to have too many long term detrimental effects. However, frequent, high volume caffeine consumption can lead to some very real and dangerous health problems. This includes:
- Heart problems
- Acid Indigestion
- Birth Defects
Finding viable alternatives to coffee is essential for overall health and well-being. Certainly a cup in the morning is alright, but rather than turning to decaf (which is chemically treated) to get you through the rest of the day, consider some of these other choices that can provide either the taste or the pick-me-up you crave with less risk.
Carob Water – using a powder made of raw carob (and alkaline-forming food good for the digestive tract) mixed with hot water can be a nice supplement to your coffee cup. Begin by going half and half to wean yourself from the coffee and caffeine and work towards eliminating the coffee completely. You can also add milk for an additional coffee-like experience.
Green Tea – though green tea also contains caffeine, it is significantly less than what is found in coffee. Green tea (or white tea) is also full of antioxidants which will work to increase your overall health through the banishing of free radicals.
Yerba Mate – made from a species of holly and popular in South America, Yerba Mate is caffeine free, yet also creates a stimulant-like effect. Its taste is similar to green tea, described as grassy and vegetal, but it can also be blended with other herbs, such as peppermint, for a different flavor.
Rooibos Tea – with a taste similar to black tea without caffeine, Rooibos tea is brewed in a similar manner and pairs well with milk and sugar or honey, for a coffee-like flavor and experience. It is also full of antioxidants for added health benefits.
For teas, David’s Tea in Southgate Mall has a fantastic selection, along with healthier alternatives to add, like Agave Nectar to replace sugar.
Giving up a morning cup of coffee is a hard pill to swallow for many people. Whether it is the taste of this popular beverage or the emotional experience tied to drinking it, we are clearly a coffee-addicted society. However, unlike many other drugs that people use daily, mild coffee and caffeine consumption is not harmful, even to pregnant women as was once thought.
There are real and lasting negative impacts when that mild consumption becomes an all-day addiction. These coffee alternatives can work well for you no matter which category you fall, since their resulting health boost is a welcome result.
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