Caffeine is the most addictive drug on the planet. Yes, it’s a drug. And, yes, we like it too.
Coffee is a drug
Caffeine is classified as a drug because it stimulates the central nervous system, causing increased alertness, a temporary energy boost and general happy feelings. Fun stuff!
But, caffeine is also a stress on the body. It stimulates the adrenal glands to secrete cortisol which, in turn, elevates blood pressure, blood sugar and heart rate. Excess consumption can lead to blood sugar imbalances and that dreaded afternoon crash. Coffee can cause heartburn and digestive upset and be dehydrating, to boot, because of its diuretic effect.
Is coffee healthy?
On the flip side, there have been many health benefits associated with moderate caffeine consumption. In fact, A Johns Hopkins study found that caffeine helps boost memory and other studies have linked coffee to lower risk for certain types of cancer, though the evidence remains unclear.
Regardless of the supporting evidence on either side of the great coffee debate, one thing is clear: coffee is addictive and people love coffee.
6 natural coffee alternatives
We’re not about to give you a list of reasons you shouldn’t be drinking coffee, but we are going to highlight some excellent energy-boosting coffee alternatives in case you're looking to get a handle on a 5-cup-a-day problem.
Fun to say, tasty to drink. Kombucha (kom-BOO-cha) is fermented tea that not only boosts your alertness, but is packed with probiotics and antioxidants to keep your first and second brain (your gut) running smoothly throughout the day.
This medicinal mushroom has been a staple in natural medicine for centuries and has long been lauded for its anti-aging and health-promoting properties. And because Cordyceps are considered “adaptogens”, meaning they help the body respond to stress, you can add energy-boosting to their list of benefits.
3. Green Tea
With roots that trace back to ancient China, green tea is a caffeinated drink that makes a healthy alternative to coffee. Eight ounces of green tea contains about 25 milligrams of caffeine, which is about ½ the amount of caffeine found in black tea, and ⅓ the amount in a regular cup of joe, according to the Mayo Clinic. Since green tea is loaded with antioxidants, this earthy drink can also provide antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and immune-stimulating benefits.
When you’re reaching for that second cup of java, reconsider in favour of Rhodiola (pronounced ROWE-dee-OH-lah). This natural plant extract is another adaptogen that can increase energy, stamina, and strength, and concentration and enhances our body’s ability to cope with stress. Add it to your daily routine as supplement via capsule or smoothie booster.
Maca is a South American root vegetable (it’s actually a cruciferous veggie, meaning that it’s related to broccoli + cabbage) that’s sometimes referred to as “Peruvian Ginseng”. Maca roots are dried and ground into a wholefood powder, which is traditionally used to improve memory and regulate cortisol release. Enjoy the superfood powder for its distinct caramel and malt-like flavour—an energy-boosting addition to any smoothie, oat bowl or sweet treat.
You’ve probably seen ginseng extract as a common ingredient in many popular energy drinks. That’s because it works! Usually, people are referring to a specific Panax variety of ginseng, which is typically recommended in a liquid extract, tincture or tea form. While both compounds in caffeine and ginseng have been linked to increased sensations of alertness, the manner in which each one affects the body is considerably different. As opposed to the immediate and extreme, energy boost that comes with caffeine, ginseng promotes a more sustained invigorating effect to help you keep calm AND alert throughout the day.
If you’re open to trying new things, you don't have to use caffeine as a kick-start if you don’t like how it makes you feel. Stock your fridge and pantry with these healthy, energy-boosting superstars to help boost your energy and your health!
Note: Make sure to talk to your trusted healthcare practitioner about starting a new supplement routine as some individuals may have sensitivities to stimulating compounds.