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Ditch the coffee-what to drink instead


It is quite normal for most Americans to wake up and the first thing that crosses their mind is getting their morning cup of coffee. Without it, it can be nearly impossible to function. However, that cup of coffee and having to rely on a substance or drug to function can have side effects. Yes, caffeine is a drug! It has become one of the most accepted drugs in our world and as a result many people use it every day (19). According to the National Coffee Data Trends report 62% of Americans drink coffee every day and the average American coffee drinker drinks more than 3 cups a day (19)!


Coffee is high in caffeine which is one of the biggest downfalls to it but also why people rely on it so much. Coffee has 96 mg of caffeine per 8 oz and an espresso shot contains 64 mg of caffeine per oz (which is typically one shot) which is comparable to 47 mg in black tea and 28 mg in green tea per 8 oz, 8 oz of the average soda contains 22 mg of caffeine per 8 oz and energy drinks on average contain 29 mg of caffeine per 8 oz (11).


Coffee is not the worst thing in the world and there are some benefits too drinking it such as being high in anti-oxidants, increased longevity, increase in memory and focus, and can be an energy boost that might be helpful before a workout (4,10,26) However, there are other options and ways to get these benefits without the downsides. It also should be noted that every one responds to caffeine and coffee differently so while one person may hardly have any side effects; another person may have extreme side effects (29).


Side effects of caffeine

Caffeine has been shown to increase the rates of anxiety that one experiences and create a feeling of jitters or being on edge (3,19). Most daily coffee drinkers may not notices this as much however the effects can still be seen when comparing coffee drinkers to those that do not drink coffee regularly (1). Those that have an increase risk of anxiety or have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder are more likely to have adverse effects from caffeine and their mental health (3). Caffeine has also been shown to increase cortisol levels, which is the stress hormone, which suggests that regular caffeine and coffee use can be linked to one feeling stressed (16).

There are other effects that coffee can cause as well. This includes reproductive effects (26,28), heart attack (6), coffee can also have a diuretic effect on the body by stimulating the adrenal glands (26). Although research shows that most of the time this is not a major health concern, it is something to consider as there is a chance of dehydration. The caffeine in coffee also stimulates the colon and digestive system in an unnatural way (23). This can be helpful when someone may be constipated, however, on a regular occurrence this can cause one to digest their food too quickly and not absorb the nutrients fully. Coffee is also considered acidic which means the the pH is less than 7 on a 14 point scale (18). Even coffee that has been decaffeinated has been shown to increase gastro-oesophageal relux leading to a build up of stomach acid (27, 2).

Pay attention to your body and how you feel. Don’t rely on it. There are better options. Scary to have something in our life that can control or effect us this much. Especially since there are options that have the same benefits without the side effects of coffee.


What to have instead


Tea

Everyone probably expected this one to be on the list and it is no surprise. Tea is cheap and can be found just about anywhere. There are also many different varieties such as black, green, white, and caffeine free herbal tea. Tea is high in anti oxidants and flavonoids which help the body fight off disease such as cancer (27). Multiple studies have found a correlation between lower rates of cancer and drinking tea (8, 25, 33). There is also a lot less caffeine than in coffee (11).

Matcha

This is my favorite alternative to coffee. Matcha is a specifically grown green tea that is then ground into a powder that is whisked into water and consumed. Because the actual leaves are consumed, the anti oxidant count is much higher compared to other teas. There is also less caffeine than in coffee and it also contains L-theanine which is great to help the body feel a state of calm and reduces anxiety (29). L-theanine has also been shown to lower rates of depression (9). The combination of the caffeine and the L-theanine creates an alert calm feeling in the body (7). While traditional teas do contain L-theanine it is in a much lower amount because of the way the leaves are grown and you consume the whole leaf. Additional benefits of matcha are: protecting of the kidneys and liver (19) and may help fight cancer (5, 11,14, 32).

Mushroom coffee

Mushroom coffee is a relatively newer option and may sound odd just because of the name. However, let me tell you it does not taste like mushrooms! It actually tastes very good and some types even contain actual coffee. Other ingredients may include: types of adaptogenic mushrooms, different herbs and spices, tea, and cacao. The reason that this started to become a trend is because of some of the side effects of coffee that were already mentioned. Mushroom coffee has much less caffeine and relies more on the different herbs and adaptogens to create focus. The versions that do contain coffee are only partial coffee which give it the similar flavor of coffee without the side effects. Mushroom coffee is also less acidic.

Many of the types of mushrooms that are in coffee include: cordyceps, chaga, lion’s mane, turkey tail, and reishi. Benefits of these types of mushrooms include: reducing the risk of Alzheimer's and dementia (15), fights cancer (13), is high in antioxidants (12), benefits the health of the liver (31), and increasing the function of the immune (24). And you just make it in a french press of coffee maker!

Conclusion

At the end of the day it is important to do what is best for your own body. As already stated coffee effects everyone differently. Some may choose to forgo it all together or just have it occasionally. No matter what decision you may make for yourself and your choice of morning beverage, the benefits of matcha, tea, and mushroom coffee cannot be ignored as healthier and more nutritious alternatives.



Disclaimer: I only recommend products I would use myself. All opinions expressed here are my own. This post may contain affiliate links and I may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you.








References

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