energy, food & drinks

9 Healthier Alternatives to Coffee You Can Try Today!

Coffee has always been a quick fix for early morning grogginess, late evening slumps, or late-night work sessions. The intense aroma of freshly brewed coffee may make you alert, but all good things come with a price, and coffee is no exception.

 

The caffeine content in the coffee gives you a temporary high that follows with a crash [1]. This crash results from the buildup of adenosine in the brain, making people fatigued after some time. People also experience jitters, acidity, and overall nervousness as a side effect.

 

So, why not ditch coffee for some time? Give your nervous system a break and go for healthy and nutrient-rich alternatives instead. You might discover that they taste just as good!

 

 

Be prepared for withdrawals

 

Yes, avoiding coffee can give you caffeine withdrawals [2], especially if you’ve been an avid coffee drinker for quite some time. The symptoms may include (and are not limited) to headaches, tremors, poor concentration, anxiety, and irritability.

 

If you’re a coffee freak, you might need to be cautious about transitioning to alternatives. Keep it slow and let your body get used to other options.

 

The best place to start is by consuming drinks with lesser caffeine content instead of going cold turkey. That way, you can enjoy delicious drinks without having to worry about any withdrawal symptoms.

 

Replace your cup of joe with these healthy alternatives!

 

 

1.   Chicory Coffee

 

Do you want an alternative that tastes like coffee but has no caffeine to harm you? Chicory coffee might become your next best friend. It’s made of roasted and ground chicory plant roots and offers quite a handful of health benefits.

 

For instance, it’s beneficial for the digestive system, liver, gallbladder, and upset stomach. It improves the heartbeat and regulates the sugar levels in the body [3]. Chicory leaves are also often used to reduce skin inflammation.

 

Chicory contains healthy dietary fibers such as inulin [4]. Moreover, it contains a compound called beta-carotene [5] that converts to Vitamin A (retinol) inside our bodies. Vitamin A improves your skin, vision, and regulates the heart, lungs, and kidneys.

 

You can find chicory coffee powder in the supermarkets or brew it at home yourself. Keep in mind that some people experience bloating due to excessive intake [6]. Moreover, people who are allergic to ragweed or birch pollen should avoid chicory [7].

 

 

2.   Matcha Tea

 

Much(a) can be said about Matcha tea. Made from the same plant as green tea, "Camellia Sinensis," it has far more benefits than regular tea.

 

Matcha tea is made by grinding tea leaves in powder form and dissolving it in a hot cup of water. This way, you consume entire tea leaves rather than drink the extract like green tea.

 

matcha latte

 

It typically contains 19-44 mg [8] of caffeine per half teaspoon (one gram), which is less than coffee. Despite that, it still gives you that energy burst you need to kick start the day. Plus, it’s more bioavailable, which means your body absorbs it quicker.

 

What's more impressive is that it won't give you the dreaded energy crash and will provide you with energy steadily all day long.

 

A study on mice suggests that matcha can enhance antioxidants activity in the body [9]. In addition, multiple research work done by scientists proves that drinking matcha tea improves cognitive ability, reduces weight, and enhances mood.

 

And that's not all! Matcha is also full of L-theanine, which negates the ill effects of caffeine. L-theanine also calms the nerves and reduces the overall stress level. Give it a try, and you might find it to be the perfect drink to replace coffee.

 

 

3.   Yerba Mate

 

With less caffeine than coffee, Yerba Mate is the perfect alternative if you want to slowly back away from caffeine. It will increase your energy levels and perk you up without causing any jittery after-effects. 

 

Yerba tea originates from South America and is made from the Ilex Paraguariensis plant. This chocolate-flavored herbal tea contains many antioxidants to help boost your immunity, regulate cholesterol levels, improve athleticism, and lowers belly fat. Furthermore, it regulates metabolism which translates into a healthier gut and fresher mind [10].

 

Although it has less caffeine content, you should consume it in moderation by limiting the intake to not more than 2 cups a day. Some studies indicate an increased risk of cancer due to excessive mate intake, although no conclusion has been drawn about its cancer-causing effects [11].

 

 

4.   Chai Tea

 

Chai Tea is an aromatic Indian spicy black tea that is made by boiling spices like cinnamon, cloves, ginger, black pepper, and cardamom [12]. Some also prefer adding star anise, coriander seeds, fennel, and peppercorns. It’s usually made with cow’s milk or soy milk but you’ll find non-milk variations of chai as well. All of the spices provide many health benefits to the body.

 

chai tea

 

Cinnamon is known to regulate blood pressure and heart rate. Some researchers suggest that 1-6 grams of cinnamon if consumed daily can reduce LDL cholesterol levels and triglycerides. It’s good for your heart and all the diseases associated with this central organ.

 

Ginger helps reduce blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity [13]. If you feel morning sickness, ginger in your chai will relieve nausea as well. Perfect for fresh mornings!

 

Black pepper in the tea can improve digestion, heart health, immunity, reduce cough and cold symptoms, and inflammation.

 

One cup of chai contains 20-59 mg of caffeine, while your average cup of coffee contains about 120 mg of caffeine. If you’re longing for that morning caffeine boost, Chai can definitely be a healthy alternative to coffee.

 

 

5.   Kombucha

 

Try out kombucha (a.k.a mushroom tea), a fermented tea that contains healthy strains of bacteria and yeast. Microbes are left to ferment in green or black tea for about a week, which produces small amounts of alcohol and certain acids that make it carbonated.

 

Kombucha is a good source of antioxidants that can help with liver acidity. Moreover, the antimicrobial property of acetic acid in this beverage kills potentially harmful microbes and improves the gut microbiome [14]. It is also good for your heart as it reduces the risk of heart diseases by 31% [15]. In addition, it reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes [16].

 

Make sure you make your Kombucha perfectly and don't end up over-fermenting the tea. Otherwise, your drink will sadly start tasting like vinegar and become contaminated with toxins [17].

 

 

6.   Vegetable and Fruit smoothies

 

Give your body a treat by having a smoothie made up of fresh veggies and fruits [18]. Smoothies are caffeine-free but still give you the boost needed to be active all day.

 

This mixture of vitamins, essential minerals, and calories is also a complete meal. And above all, it's natural. Compared to coffee, it almost has no side effects.

 

A healthy dose of vitamin A, K, and C present in an average glass of smoothie is a great way to jump-start your day [19].

 

healthy smoothies

 

Smoothies made from fresh fruits and veggies are full of fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins. They are also easier to consume in your daily routine. Some popular choices include green veggies like carrots, spinach, and kale. And for fruit, consider delicious berries, bananas, mangos, and oranges.

 

Make sure you use seasonal fruits and veggies to get the most out of nature's energy sources. Also, be aware of the fact that low-quality blenders may not be able to extract vitamins properly. Always use high-quality blenders.

 

 

7.   Apple cider vinegar with water

 

Replacing coffee shouldn't be difficult. A glass of water mixed with apple cider vinegar could do the trick. Apple cider vinegar or ACV has immense benefits ranging from managing blood sugar levels, diabetes, weight loss, and skin health. One or two teaspoons in a medium-sized glass of water are enough to see the benefits.

 

Research shows ACV helps regulate insulin sensitivity, which is beneficial for type 2 diabetics [20]. One study showed how ACV aids in proper digestion and helps people reduce weight [21]. In addition, apple cider vinegar positively affects cholesterol and triglyceride levels [22].

 

All these health benefits increase bodily health and mental alertness naturally without inducing caffeine in the system.

 

 

8.   Lemon with water

 

It’s as simple as it gets. A simple glass of hot water mixed with fresh lemon extract is a great way to start the day. It won't give you the buzz you usually get from coffee, but its rich antioxidants and vitamin C will rehydrate your body, improve digestion, and rejuvenate your skin. 

 

 

9.   Supplements

 

You can always skip through all the effort it takes to prepare a morning beverage and consider using supplements instead. A scoop of our caffeinated energy mix is enough to supercharge your day without that hated post-energy crash, thanks to its balanced combination of caffeine and L-Theanine. 

 

The ingredients are balanced according to “Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)”, which gives your body the right ratio of nutrients and caffeine to boost your everyday performance. Something you won’t get by preparing your own beverages. 

 

Plus, nutritionists encourage the use of supplements in the morning as they stimulate the brain and the gut [23]. However, it's better to take such a supplement with a meal or snack for proper digestion.

 

 

Bottom line

 

No wonder coffee puts a smile on our face, but even the best things are bad if carried to excess.

 

Replacing your morning cup of joe with some of the above recommendations could be a life-changing experience for you. And no, it's not an exaggeration. Reducing your dependency on caffeine is immensely healthy for your mind and body.

 

Ease your way into quitting coffee, this will help you with caffeine withdrawals [24]. Try out some of the healthiest alternatives to coffee mentioned above having all the antioxidants, vitamins, probiotics, and minerals your body needs to function properly.

 

 

References 

 

[1] Walle, G.V.D. What Is a Caffeine Crash? Plus 4 Tips for How to Avoid It. 2020; Available from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/caffeine-crash.
[2] Juliano, L.M. and R.R. Griffiths, A critical review of caffeine withdrawal: empirical validation of symptoms and signs, incidence, severity, and associated features. Psychopharmacology, 2004. 176(1): p. 1-29.
[3] Streit, L. 5 Emerging Benefits and Uses of Chicory Root Fiber. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/chicory-root-fiber.
[4] Inulin - Uses, Side Effects, and More. Available from: https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-1048/inulin.
[5] Contributors, W.E. Health Benefits of Beta Carotene. Available from: https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-beta-carotene.
[6] Gorin, A. This Common Health Food Ingredient May Be Making You Bloated. 2022; Available from: https://www.foodnetwork.com/healthyeats/healthy-tips/chicory-root-fiber-digestive-issues-gas-bloating.
[7] Cadot, P., et al., Oral allergy syndrome to chicory associated with birch pollen allergy. Int Arch Allergy Immunol, 2003. 131(1): p. 19-24.
[8] Koláčková, T., et al., Matcha Tea: Analysis of Nutritional Composition, Phenolics and Antioxidant Activity. Plant Foods Hum Nutr, 2020. 75(1): p. 48-53.
[9] Kochman, J., et al., Health Benefits and Chemical Composition of Matcha Green Tea: A Review. 2021. 26(1): p. 85.
[10] Nutrition and healthy eating. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/yerba-mate/faq-20058343.
[11] Dasanayake, A.P., A.J. Silverman, and S. Warnakulasuriya, Maté drinking and oral and oro-pharyngeal cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Oral Oncol, 2010. 46(2): p. 82-6.
[12] Petre, A. How Chai Tea Can Improve Your Health. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/chai-tea#TOC_TITLE_HDR_2.
[13] Leech, J. 11 Proven Health Benefits of Ginger. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-proven-benefits-of-ginger.
[14] Sreeramulu, G., Y. Zhu, and W. Knol, Kombucha fermentation and its antimicrobial activity. J Agric Food Chem, 2000. 48(6): p. 2589-94.
[15] Kuriyama, S., The relation between green tea consumption and cardiovascular disease as evidenced by epidemiological studies. J Nutr, 2008. 138(8): p. 1548s-1553s.
[16] DeMaio, K.B. Have Type 2 Diabetes? Consider Drinking Kombucha. 2022; Available from: https://www.healthcentral.com/slideshow/kombucha-power-drink-for-blood-sugar-and-diabetes.
[17] SungHee Kole, A., et al., A case of Kombucha tea toxicity. J Intensive Care Med, 2009. 24(3): p. 205-7.
[18] Castillejo, N., et al., Red fresh vegetables smoothies with extended shelf life as an innovative source of health-promoting compounds. Journal of Food Science and Technology, 2016. 53(3): p. 1475-1486.
[19] Contributors, W.E. Green Smoothies: Are They Good for You? 2020; Available from: https://www.webmd.com/diet/green-smoothies-are-they-good-for-you.
[20] Iman, M., S.A. Moallem, and A. Barahoyee, Effect of apple cider vinegar on blood glucose level in diabetic mice. 2015. 20(4): p. 163-168.
[21] Johnson, J. Does apple cider vinegar help with bloating? 2019; Available from: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326866.
[22] (2012) Influence of apple cider vinegar on blood lipids. Life Science Journal-Acta Zhengzhou University Overseas Edition. pp. 2431-2440. ISSN 1097-8135.
[23] Brissette, C. Morning or night? With food or without? Answers to your questions about taking supplements. 2019; Available from: https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/morning-or-night-with-food-or-without-answers-to-your-questions-about-taking-supplements/2019/02/04/5fcec02a-2577-11e9-81fd-b7b05d5bed90_story.html.
[24] Donald Hensrud, M.D. Does coffee offer health benefits?  ; Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/coffee-and-health/faq-20058339.