The Truth About Caffeine + 8 Coffee Alternatives

The Truth About Caffeine: Pros, Cons + 8 Coffee Alternatives

Caffeine is thoroughly entrenched in so many of our daily routines and has become the world’s most widely used psychoactive substance. First of all, what is caffeine? Caffeine is a chemical compound that stimulates the central nervous system. It occurs naturally in coffee beans, tea leaves and cacao beans, and is added to all kinds of products such as energy drinks.

Pros of caffeine

Caffeine causes increased alertness, cognitive performance and a burst of energy. Coffee can improve endurance performance when consumed before exercise, it also contains polyphenols, a type of antioxidant which help to nourish the gut microbiome – that’s the population of trillions of bacteria that live inside our guts.

Cons of Caffeine

One of the biggest downsides of coffee is its impact on sleep quality and quantity. The energy burst only lasts temporarily until it begins to wear off, and coffee may trigger anxiety, digestive symptoms and acid reflux.

Many of us experience other side effects from consuming caffeine, such as migraines, insomnia, a jittery sensation and muscle shakes – that’s because it activates the “fight or flight” response in the body, known as the “sympathetic nervous system”.

It also provokes a similar effect to the blood sugar rollercoaster I discussed in last week’s blog post, with the spikes and crashes. Coffee also reduces iron absorption so it’s best to leave a one-hour gap between iron-containing meals and a cup of coffee.

Many of my 1:1 clients I work with will come to me struggling with digestive problems or hormone issues, and caffeine can be a contributing factor to both of these, so I often find that once we either reduce or eliminate caffeine from their diet, their symptoms start to improve.

 

If you experience gut symptoms, hormone issues or energy slumps, you may want to consider your caffeine intake. Head to Consultations to see how I can help you start your journey to the healthiest version of yourself today!

8 Coffee Alternatives

With caffeine:

  1. Green tea – Green tea is packed with EGCG, a powerful antioxidant that prevents oxidative damage in healthy cells. Green tea is stimulating yet calming at the same time thanks to an amino acid it contains called L-theanine.
  2. Matcha – To amplify the benefits of green tea even further, you could go for a matcha latte, and matcha is essentially green tea leaves that are ground up into a powder, so you consume the whole leaf rather than just brewing a tea bag.
  3. Hot cacao – Cacao in its natural form (before being processed into a chocolate bar) is high in minerals such as magnesium and iron, as well as flavonoids which may help increase insulin sensitivity.
  4. Black tea – Black tea contains lots of powerful antioxidants. It is still reasonably high in caffeine but has considerably less than coffee.

Caffeine-free:

  1. Golden milk – Try this turmeric latte recipe for a warming burst of sunshine in a mug.
  2. Peppermint tea – A great option if you have a sensitive stomach and experience bloating after meals.
  3. Ginger tea – Another gut-friendly herbal tea, great for soothing nausea.
  4. Water – Sometimes we think we need a coffee but really we are just dehydrated – simple as that!

If you’re interested in working together to optimise your nutrition and overall wellbeing, please get in contact via Consultations

 

If you’re interested in working together to optimise your nutrition, transform your health and elevate your quality of life, please get in contact via Consultations or book in for a FREE call

 

Did you find this post useful? If so please share it with others! For more nutrition tips and healthy recipes, check out my Instagram @elibrechernutrition

 

Check out my other nutrition-related blog posts below:

 

 

 

References:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25124982/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33467101/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26899133/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28438661/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33375458/

 

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