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Natural Energy-Boosting Coffee Alternatives

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Waking up to a cup of fresh coffee is one of my favourite moments in the morning, however, there is a fine line between being a coffee lover vs. caffeine dependent. If you need the second or even a third cup to restore your energy in early morning or late afternoon, you might want to look into the root cause of your exhaustion. According to the Coffee Association, coffee is one of the most popular beverage in Canada, with ⅔ Canadians drink more than 1 cup per day, average 3.2 cups per day. Given the average cup of coffee contains about 100-200 mg caffeine, one could easily consume up to 300-600 mg of caffeine, possibly exceeding the safe limit of 400 mg per day for adults. Long-term implications of caffeine abuse can cause serious health consequences including, but not limited to:

  • Increased risk of heart disease
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased risk of diabetes
  • Migraine headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety & depression
  • Increased risk of osteoporosis
  • Reduced collagen production

Here’s what’s happening in your body if you’re relying on coffee for a constant supply of energy: chronic stress and stimulants (coffee, alcohol and nicotine) cause the adrenal glands to release stress hormones, resulting in blood sugar fluctuations. Also, it creates a host of health issues beyond fatigue and dependency.

In this blog post, I will be sharing delicious coffee alternatives that help awaken your senses and uplift your energy with significantly lower doses of caffeine.

1. Sip your way to less anxiety with GABA tea  (37mg caffeine per cup)

Nutrition Perks

  • GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is one of the most abundant inhibitory neurotransmitters produced in our brain. One of GABA’s main functions is protecting our brain from over stimulation. GABA tea is produced by anaerobic-aerobic fermentation cycles ensuring the maximum amount of GABA is attained. Research has shown some varieties contains up to 154.99 mg/100g tea leaves.
  • GABA tea also contains theanine, an amino acid that promotes alert relaxation, bringing you a sense of zen.
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Instructions

Add 5-7 tea pearls to 4 cups of boiling water and let it steep for at least 5 min.

How You May Feel

If you have a busy, exhausting day ahead, swap your usual cuppa joe with a pot of GABA to reduce anxiety and improve mental resilience.

2. Get hours of concentration by adding mushroom powder to hot chocolate
(25mg caffeine per cup)

Nutrition Perks

  • Cordyceps (cordyceps sinensis) improves physical stamina by delivering oxygen to cells so they can produce more energy throughout the body. It’s also been shown to help the body rebuild immune cells after a critical illness.
  • Lion’s mane (Hericium erinaceus) has been shown to stimulate Nerve Growth Factor, which is responsible for the maintenance and growth of certain neurons in the brain.
  • Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) is one of the most antioxidant-rich mushrooms out there. Prominent antioxidants include SOD (Super Oxide Dismutate), which has been demonstrated to ameliorate free radical damage at the cellular level. It’s extremely alkalizing, lowering the acidity of cacao, resulting in a sweet, rich taste.

Instructions

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Whisk 1 tablespoon of raw cacao, ¼ teaspoon each of cordyceps, lion’s mane and chaga into ¼ cup dairy-free milk, add hot water and sweeten with maple syrup.

How You Might Feel

This blend can help you enhance your physical and mental energy, as well as your ability to concentrate. Perfect as a mid-afternoon pick-me-up or use as a decadent coffee substitute in the morning.

3. Feed your mind & body with Kombucha (10-25mg caffeine per cup 0.5% alcohol content)

Nutrition Perks

Kombucha is a fermented beverage made from tea and sugar that is dated back from 221 BC. The fermentation process reduces about 90% of the sugar, resulting in the trace amount of alcohol. It’s a nutrient dense drink with B vitamins, S. Boulardii and other types of probiotic strains that nourishes the gut biome, as well as glucuronic acid that supports the detoxification of the liver.

Instructions

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Choose your favourite flavour and sip away! If you are new to kombucha, I recommend the fruity flavours and work your way up to stronger flavours such as the original, ginger or tumeric. This will help your taste buds get acquainted with the brew. You want to start introducing ½ cup at a time to avoid bloating caused by shocking your gut flora with too much microorganisms (1 cup could potentially contain up to 2 billion microorganisms).

How You Might Feel

This naturally fizzy drink is a great substitute for soda on a hot summer day. Having kombucha regularly supports healthy gut biome, digestion, and smooth bowel movements.

We will be talking a lot more about other types of healing and nutritive benefits of tea and how to incorporate them into your daily routine. Join us in the Nutritive & Healing Benefits of Tea Workshop July 24th at 7-9pm (spots are limited)! Tickets link below:

https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/nutritive-healing-benefits-of-tea-sip-to-your-health-tickets-47806570740?aff=ebdssbdestsearch

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Author Bio

Tahlia Sage (Bsc. Food, Nutrition & Health, Certified Nutritional Practitioner) is the founder of Sweet & Savoury Health, instructor, and wellness educator.

Her coaching practice helps clients achieve their wellness goals by embracing functional foods and healthy lifestyle changes. Tahlia’s own health challenges and weight issue prompted her to pursue an education in nutritional science and holistic nutrition. Tahlia empowers her clients to regain balance with easy, concrete steps.

For more fresh wellness tips, visit her blog at sweetandsavouryhealth.com and Instagram @sweetandsavourylife.

References

Coffee in Canada Fact Sheet – Coffee Association of Canada https://www.coffeeassoc.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Coffee-in-Canada-Fact-Sheet.pdfToo much coffee? – American Psychological Association http://www.apa.org/gradpsych/2015/11/coffee.aspx

20+ Harmful Effects of Caffeine https://www.caffeineinformer.com/harmful-effects-of-caffeine

Ator, Nancy A. “Contributions of GABA A receptor subtype selectivity to abuse liability and dependence potential of pharmacological treatments for anxiety and sleep disorders.” CNS spectrums 10.1 (2005): 31-39.

Ou, A. M.S., Wang, S.F. Wu, C.Y. and Tsai, Y.S. 2005. Investigation of optimum manufacturing condition and biological functions. NSC project report

Lai P.L., Naidu M., Sabaratnam V., Wong K.H., David R.P., Kuppusamy U.R., Abdullah N., Malek S.N. “Neurotrophic properties of the Lion’s mane medicinal mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) from Malaysia.” International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms. 2013;15(6):539-54.

Kawagishi H., et. Al. “Erinacines A, B and C, strong stimulators of nerve growth factor (NGF)-synthesis, from the mycelia of Hericium erinaceum” Tetrahedron Letters Volume 35, Issue 10, 7 March 1994, Pages 1569–1572.

Mason, Russ. “200 mg of Zen: L-theanine boosts alpha waves, promotes alert relaxation.” Alternative & Complementary Therapies 7.2 (2001): 91-95.

Panda, Ashok Kumar, and Kailash Chandra Swain. “Traditional uses and medicinal potential of Cordyceps sinensis of Sikkim.” Journal of Ayurveda and integrative medicine 2.1 (2011): 9.

Xu, Xin, et al. “Antihyperglycemic and antilipidperoxidative effects of polysaccharides extracted from medicinal mushroom Chaga, Inonotus obliquus (Pers.: Fr.) Pilat (Aphyllophoromycetideae) on alloxan-diabetes mice.” International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms 12.3 (2010).

Jayabalan, R., S. Marimuthu, and K. Swaminathan. “Changes in content of organic acids and tea polyphenols during kombucha tea fermentation.” Food Chemistry 102.1 (2007): 392-398.

Greenwalt, C. J., K. H. Steinkraus, and R. A. Ledford. “Kombucha, the fermented tea: microbiology, composition, and claimed health effects.” Journal of Food Protection 63.7 (2000): 976-981.