Most people wake up to a warm cup of joe in the morning to give them a much-needed energy boost. For others, coffee serves as a source of comfort and routine practice. However, some studies have found that large amounts of caffeine can harm our bodies and minds. After all, caffeine is still a drug, and with the current popularity of energy drinks, one of the most widely consumed of them all.
What the FDA says about coffee and caffeinated energy drinks
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA),
“In the U.S., 80 percent of adults consume caffeine every day – the average adult has an intake of 200 mg per day, the amount in two 5-ounce cups of coffee or four sodas. A study of 7th, 8th, and 9th grade students in Ohio found that students took in an average of 53 mg of caffeine per day, but almost one in five students took in more than 100mg of caffeine each day.”
The FDA states that a 5 oz (small) cup of coffee contains 60-150 mg of caffeine, depending on the darkness of the roast.
Small amounts of coffee have negligible side effects, but it still raises cortisol and adrenaline, which activates the fight-or-flight response. Many people report feeling calmer and less restless without caffeine in any form. In our on-the-go society, most of us resort to caffeine to help us get through the day, but perhaps we should ask ourselves why we feel the need to keep such a busy schedule in the first place. Instead of needing more caffeine to power through the day, we could carve out more time for ourselves to rest. However, I digress, back to talking about coffee.
FDA calls caffeine a widely-used drug
Caffeine is classified as a drug as well as an additive, according to the FDA. Plus, it is still one of the most widely consumed sources of caffeine in the world. Even though it’s a drug, it does not seem to cause harm in most cases, so the government does not regulate it.
However, just like other drugs, caffeine can cause withdrawal symptoms and fall under a substance abuse disorder, according to the American Psychological Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual version 5. Using large amounts of caffeine to the point where the user feels physical and mental symptoms classifies it as a substance abuse disorder.
Benefits of trading coffee in for natural energy drinks
If you’ve been looking to give up coffee, here are some reported findings of benefits you might notice after just seven days:
– Reduced headaches after an initial withdrawal period
– Reduced muscle tension and tightness
– Better concentration
– Feeling more alert in the morning without restlessness
– More regular and healthy bowel movements
– Return to regular sleep cycles
– Better awareness of hunger and fewer junk food cravings
– More balanced, healthy response to stress
Enjoy improved cognition when you try these natural energy drinks and give up the java
According to the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, caffeine from coffee can affect sleep, alter mood and blood flow in the brain, your metabolism and genes, and the neurotransmitters in the brain that affect memory processing and cognitive performance. Their research found that ‘Peak plasma caffeine concentration is reached between 15 and 120 min after oral ingestion in humans.’ Also, keep in mind that caffeine takes about six hours to leave the body altogether, so if you have an afternoon cup, it may still be in your system when you go to sleep. This might be contributing to the insomnia epidemic sweeping the globe, in combination with other factors such as stress and using technology at night.
While many people believe that caffeine helps them function better, studies have shown that it doesn’t help in all cases. The above-cited research found that ‘An increase in arousal improves the performance of tasks where relatively few sources of information have to be monitored, particularly under conditions when the need for selective attention is stressed by time pressure. When, on the other hand, multiple sources of information or working memory have to be used, an increase in arousal and attention selectivity has no apparent beneficial effect on performance, which may consequently even decrease.’
One of the metabolites of caffeine in the body is paraxanthine. Paraxanthine blocks the body’s adenosine receptors, which then raises epinephrine levels in the blood and diastolic blood pressure. So, in other words, when you drink coffee, your body responds as if there is a threat and activates the fight-or-flight response. This explains how so many people get through their days on caffeine because they’re running on pure adrenaline.
So, now that we’ve gone over the potential dangers of coffee and how it can affect the mind and body, what are some alternatives? We will go over six natural energy drinks you can make in the morning that will give you just the boost you’re looking for!
THESE SIX HEALTHY, NATURAL ENERGY DRINKS CAN IMPROVE YOUR MOOD AND BOOST YOUR ENERGY LEVELS
1 – APPLE-BANANA SMOOTHIE
Both bananas and apples provide a ton of vitamins and minerals, and the natural sugars will give you a huge boost of energy in the morning! Bananas have a ton of potassium and B vitamins to help boost brain health and increase stamina. Apples contain a lot of potassium as well, and also Vitamin C.
- 1-2 peeled apples
- Two bananas
- ¼ cup cold, non-fat milk or dairy-free alternative
- ½ cup crushed ice
Directions: Mix all ingredients in a blender until smooth and serve the energy drink chilled.
2 – KOMBUCHA TEA
Kombucha – a type of fermented green tea – contains probiotics, vitamin K-2, vitamin B-12, and fatty acids. The last two ingredients are very beneficial for a healthy brain. Keep in mind that making it yourself can be dangerous if you don’t follow the recipe exactly, or use ceramic wares to make it. Lead from these containers can seep into your kombucha, so avoid ceramic at all costs. Also, be sure to clean all other containers you use prior to making the tea, so harmful mold doesn’t form in the mixture.
- 1 gallon of water
- Four black tea bags
- ¾ cup of organic sugar or organic artificial sweetener
3 – SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Yeast and Bacteria)
Directions: First, place the SCOBY in a glass jar and set aside. Bring your water to a simmer and mix in the tea. Add the organic sugar (or sugar substitute) and boil for about 15 minutes over low heat. Allow the mix to cool before pouring it into a glass container. Place a rubber band over a paper towel or coffee filter and put it on top of the jar. This will allow the mixture to breathe and ferment. The culture will develop in seven to ten days.
4 – LEMON WATER
Lemon water aids in digestion and detoxification, adds a healthy glow to the skin, promotes weight loss, boosts energy and mood, enhances immunity, and helps to prevent kidney stones. Lemons also provide 187% of your daily Vitamin C and a good serving of potassium, magnesium, and copper.
- Three lemons
- 1 tbsp maple syrup or honey
- One liter of water
- 1 tsp of cayenne pepper
Directions: Mix thoroughly and enjoy!
5 – COCONUT-MATCHA ENERGY DRINK
Matcha is touted around the world due to a natural calming agent called l-theanine. When consumed, it provides a calm, focused, and happy energy. While it still contains caffeine, matcha doesn’t cause jitters and other unpleasant side effects like coffee does. Coconut contains a fatty acid called medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). MCTs provide a quick burst of energy while also promoting brain health and lowering cholesterol.
- 1 cup of coconut water
- Two teaspoons matcha powder
- Orange slice for garnish (optional)
- A few ice cubes (optional)
Directions: Mix matcha powder with coconut water and mix thoroughly. If desired, garnish with an orange slice and serve over ice cubes.
6 – MINT TEA
Along with some refreshing mint, vitamin-C-packed lemon juice will become a go-to energy drink!
- 1 cup of cold-brew green, white, or mint tea (decaf)
- 1 cup of cold water
- A glass full of ice
- One whole freshly squeezed lemon
- A few sprigs of fresh mint
Directions: First, combine all ingredients in a shaker bottle of some sort. Then, pour into a water bottle and enjoy!
Final thoughts about drinks that can replace coffee for energy
While it might seem daunting to give up coffee, you’ll get used to it quickly when you notice the cleaner energy boost you receive from the drinks listed above. You can even try one per day so that you have a nice variety throughout the workweek! We don’t want to demonize coffee, as it has been proven to have health benefits, but some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others.
Many people report having more energy without the jitters and anxiety when giving up coffee. While it does do its job in awakening the world, it also comes at a price. Once you get used to life without coffee, we guarantee you’ll have a new kind of addiction to a life with free-flowing, calm energy in the mornings!
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