top of page
  • connorthomashealth

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


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).


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!


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.


  1. Alsene, K., Deckert, J., Sand, P. et al. Association Between A2a Receptor Gene Polymorphisms and Caffeine-Induced Anxiety. Neuropsychopharmacol 28, 1694–1702 (2003).

  2. Boekema PJ, Samsom M, van Berge Henegouwen GP, Smout AJ. Coffee and gastrointestinal function: facts and fiction. A review. Scand J Gastroenterol Suppl. 1999;230:35-9. doi: 10.1080/003655299750025525. PMID: 10499460.

  3. Bruce M, Scott N, Shine P, Lader M. Anxiogenic effects of caffeine in patients with anxiety disorders. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1992 Nov;49(11):867-9. doi: 10.1001/archpsyc.1992.01820110031004. PMID: 1444724.

  4. Butt MS, Sultan MT. Coffee and its consumption: benefits and risks. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2011 Apr;51(4):363-73. doi: 10.1080/10408390903586412. PMID: 21432699.

  5. Can-Lan Sun, Jian-Min Yuan, Woon-Puay Koh, Mimi C. Yu, Green tea, black tea and breast cancer risk: a meta-analysis of epidemiological studies, Carcinogenesis, Volume 27, Issue 7, July 2006, Pages 1310–1315,

  6. Cornelis MC, El-Sohemy A, Kabagambe EK, Campos H. Coffee, CYP1A2 genotype, and risk of myocardial infarction. JAMA. 2006 Mar 8;295(10):1135-41. doi: 10.1001/jama.295.10.1135. PMID: 16522833.

  7. Dodd, F. L., Kennedy, D. O., Riby, L. M., & Haskell-Ramsay, C. F. (2015). A double-blind, placebo-controlled study evaluating the effects of caffeine and L-theanine both alone and in combination on cerebral blood flow, cognition and mood. Psychopharmacology, 232(14), 2563–2576.

  8. Gao M, Ma W, Chen XB, Chang ZW, Zhang XD, Zhang MZ. Meta-analysis of green tea drinking and the prevalence of gynecological tumors in women. Asia Pac J Public Health. 2013 Jul;25(4 Suppl):43S-8S. doi: 10.1177/1010539513493313.

  9. Hidese, S., Ota, M., Wakabayashi, C., Noda, T., Ozawa, H., Okubo, T., & Kunugi, H. (2017). Effects of chronic l-theanine administration in patients with major depressive disorder: An open-label study. Acta Neuropsychiatrica, 29(2), 72-79. doi:10.1017/neu.2016.33

  10. Higdon JV, Frei B. Coffee and health: a review of recent human research. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2006;46(2):101-23. doi: 10.1080/10408390500400009. PMID: 16507475.

  11. How much caffeine is in your cup? (2020, February 29). Retrieved April 18, 2021, from

  12. Kalaras, M. D., Richie, J. P., Calcagnotto, A., & Beelman, R. B. (2017). Mushrooms: A rich source of the antioxidants ergothioneine and glutathione. Food Chemistry, 233, 429–433.

  13. Kang JH, Jang JE, Mishra SK, Lee HJ, Nho CW, Shin D, Jin M, Kim MK, Choi C, Oh SH. Ergosterol peroxide from Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) exhibits anti-cancer activity by down-regulation of the β-catenin pathway in colorectal cancer. J Ethnopharmacol. 2015 Sep 15;173:303-12. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2015.07.030. Epub 2015 Jul 22.

  14. Kurahashi N, Sasazuki S, Iwasaki M, Inoue M, Tsugane S; JPHC Study Group. Green tea consumption and prostate cancer risk in Japanese men: a prospective study. Am J Epidemiol. 2008 Jan 1;167(1):71-7. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwm249. Epub 2007 Sep 29.

  15. Liu, J., Xing, J., & Fei, Y. (2008). Green tea (Camellia sinensis) and cancer prevention: a systematic review of randomized trials and epidemiological studies. Chinese medicine, 3, 12.

  16. Lovallo, W. R., Whitsett, T. L., al'Absi, M., Sung, B. H., Vincent, A. S., & Wilson, M. F. (2005). Caffeine stimulation of cortisol secretion across the waking hours in relation to caffeine intake levels. Psychosomatic medicine, 67(5), 734–739.

  17. Phan CW, David P, Sabaratnam V. Edible and Medicinal Mushrooms: Emerging Brain Food for the Mitigation of Neurodegenerative Diseases. J Med Food. 2017 Jan;20(1):1-10. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2016.3740.

  18. Preiato, D. (2019, November 06). Is coffee acidic? Retrieved April 19, 2021, from

  19. National coffee Association. (n.d.). Retrieved April 18, 2021, from

  20. Nehlig A. Are we dependent upon coffee and caffeine? A review on human and animal data. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 1999 Mar;23(4):563-76. doi: 10.1016/s0149-7634(98)00050-5. PMID: 10073894.

  21. Noriko Yamabe, Ki Sung Kang, Jong Moon Hur, and Takako Yokozawa.Journal of Medicinal Food.Aug 2009.714-721.

  22. Rao SS, Welcher K, Zimmerman B, Stumbo P. Is coffee a colonic stimulant? Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 1998 Feb;10(2):113-8. doi: 10.1097/00042737-199802000-00003. PMID: 9581985.

  23. Ranheim T, Halvorsen B. Coffee consumption and human health--beneficial or detrimental?--Mechanisms for effects of coffee consumption on different risk factors for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2005 Mar;49(3):274-84. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.200400109. PMID: 15704241.

  24. Sheng X, Yan J, Meng Y, Kang Y, Han Z, Tai G, Zhou Y, Cheng H. Immunomodulatory effects of Hericium erinaceus derived polysaccharides are mediated by intestinal immunology. Food Funct. 2017 Mar 22;8(3):1020-1027. doi: 10.1039/c7fo00071e.

  25. Shrubsole MJ, Lu W, Chen Z, Shu XO, Zheng Y, Dai Q, Cai Q, Gu K, Ruan ZX, Gao YT, Zheng W. Drinking green tea modestly reduces breast cancer risk. J Nutr. 2009 Feb;139(2):310-6. doi: 10.3945/jn.108.098699. Epub 2008 Dec 11.

  26. Temple, J. L., Bernard, C., Lipshultz, S. E., Czachor, J. D., Westphal, J. A., & Mestre, M. A. (2017). The Safety of Ingested Caffeine: A Comprehensive Review. Frontiers in psychiatry, 8, 80.

  27. Vuong QV. Epidemiological evidence linking tea consumption to human health: a review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2014;54(4):523-36. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2011.594184.

  28. Wendl B, Pfeiffer A, Pehl C, Schmidt T, Kaess H. Effect of decaffeination of coffee or tea on gastro-oesophageal reflux. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 1994 Jun;8(3):283-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2036.1994.tb00289.x. PMID: 7918922.

  29. White, D. J., de Klerk, S., Woods, W., Gondalia, S., Noonan, C., & Scholey, A. B. (2016). Anti-Stress, Behavioural and Magnetoencephalography Effects of an L-Theanine-Based Nutrient Drink: A Randomised, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Crossover Trial. Nutrients, 8(1), 53.

  30. Wikoff D, Welsh BT, Henderson R, Brorby GP, Britt J, Myers E, Goldberger J, Lieberman HR, O'Brien C, Peck J, Tenenbein M, Weaver C, Harvey S, Urban J, Doepker C. Systematic review of the potential adverse effects of caffeine consumption in healthy adults, pregnant women, adolescents, and children. Food Chem Toxicol. 2017 Nov;109(Pt 1):585-648. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2017.04.002. Epub 2017 Apr 21. PMID: 28438661.

  31. Wu X, Zeng J, Hu J, Liao Q, Zhou R, Zhang P, Chen Z. Hepatoprotective effects of aqueous extract from Lingzhi or Reishi medicinal mushroom Ganoderma lucidum (higher basidiomycetes) on α-amanitin-induced liver injury in mice. Int J Med Mushrooms. 2013;15(4):383-91. doi: 10.1615/intjmedmushr.v15.i4.60.

  32. Yang G, Shu XO, Li H, Chow WH, Ji BT, Zhang X, Gao YT, Zheng W. Prospective cohort study of green tea consumption and colorectal cancer risk in women. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2007 Jun;16(6):1219-23. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-07-0097.

  33. Zhan X, Wang J, Pan S, Lu C. Tea consumption and the risk of ovarian cancer: A meta-analysis of epidemiological studies. Oncotarget. 2017 Jun 6;8(23):37796-37806. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.16890.

7 views0 comments


bottom of page