Sleepless nights, something gnawing at your stomach, and surges of energy – any coffee drinker can attest to these things at some point. True, this drink is addictive that you can’t seem to function without it; you have to have that shot of caffeine even when you have to deal with discomfort and insomnia sometimes.
And what’s running on your head is “You want me to give up coffee, but is there a better, albeit healthier, alternative? More importantly, can this substitute give me the focus I need to start my day the way coffee does?”
These beverages will make you leave your medium-roasted beans and pack your filters and presses.
Something Is Brewing, and It’s Not Coffee
It’s a fact that people consume coffee as if it were water. Per this infographic, more than 50 percent of Americans over 18 years old drink coffee daily. The numbers may be different now (the National Coffee Association reported those trends in 2010) as, in a list published seven years later, the US was not among the countries that are part of the top 20 coffee consumers.
The same list from the International Coffee Organization, however, places the US second to Monaco as having the most number of branches of this coffee shop with a twin-tailed mermaid for a logo.
While coffee is life for some, this beverage has a dark side too.
Coffee May Irritate Your Stomach
No matter how veteran you are as a coffee drinker or how you have built a “strong stomach” for it, you may still feel queasy after a mugful. You may also get this bloated feeling or experience cramps and pains. An upset stomach is definitely the last thing you need on a busy workday.
Your stomach reacts to coffee negatively for several reasons. For one, coffee is acidic; every cup contains a high quantity of chlorogenic acid, which may irritate the lining in your stomach in the long run. This condition is called gastritis, and drinking coffee on an empty stomach only aggravates it.
You may also be coffee intolerant or allergic to caffeine. As this article shows, you may have been drinking coffee all your life and experience upset stomach and thought nothing of it until a test confirms it for you.
Coffee Puts You on Edge
Coffee is famous especially among working folks and students because caffeine is a stimulant that improves mood and mental focus. You rely on caffeine to fuel your motivation and productivity.
But with more quantities of caffeine consumed, your senses become heightened. This scenario explains why you feel anxious, nervous, and jittery or even giggly. The increased alertness can pose a problem when it’s nighttime and you can’t sleep. You may have to turn to milk to get some Zs.
Ultimately, the effect of caffeine varies from person to person, but you have an idea of how overreliance on it creates a not-so-good mood.
Coffee May Lead to Increased Risk of Heart Disease
Don’t let your guard down especially if you consume lots of coffee every day. This high consumption nudges your cholesterol level up and, worse, increases the risk of heart disease.
Moreover, you have to factor in sugar and cream in the equation. Sugar plus the calories can add up and lead to weight gain. Tempting blended coffee drinks are also not helping you.
Studies have conflicting results as to the link between coffee consumption and cardiovascular disease. Nonetheless, it’s a wake-up call for those who drink coffee in excess.
Coffee Lacks Nutrients That Other Beverages Have
As the following list will show, coffee is not as nutritious or healthy as other drinks are. These beverages offer energy in a more natural way or with less alteration to your overall mood.
Coffee also lacks vitamins, minerals, and other substances that would have helped in the body’s recovery and immunity. It instead causes you to urinate a lot, which makes you feel dehydrated.
4 Alternatives to Coffee
Tea >> Green Tea >> Matcha
Tea is a favorite drink worldwide and the closest contender to coffee. As to which one is better, look into tea’s health benefits, which primarily include relaxation and disease prevention.
Green tea, in particular, is rich in antioxidants that protect the body from free radicals that damage cells and cause diseases. This kind of tea helps prevent heart ailments and certain types of cancer. According to a recent study in its early stages, green tea contains epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a bioactive compound that may be beneficial in dissolving plaques that clog arteries and trigger stroke.
There’s a variant that’s even more potent than green tea. Matcha, a variety of green tea grown in Japan, derives its potency from how it is prepared: by getting its young leaves, grinding them into powder, and whisking this powdered matcha by adding warm water. This preparation gives matcha its bright green color and smooth, frothy texture and allows it to retain a higher level of antioxidants such as EGCG than brewed green tea does, as found by ConsumerLab, an independent group that tests health and nutrition products.
Interestingly, matcha like any kind of green tea, contains caffeine, although of lesser quantity than that found in black tea and coffee. You can thus have your energy boost for the day, minus the jitters.
Milk and Alternatives
In a 2015 guidance, the US Department of Agriculture related the importance of dairy products, including milk, yogurt, and cheese, in one’s diet. Milk has calcium, which strengthens bones and prevents osteoporosis. It also contains vitamin D and potassium, which play essential roles in bone and cardiovascular health. Drinking milk has been linked to lower blood pressure among adults.
For those who are lactose intolerant or have allergies to milk, soy and almond milk are substitutes to cow’s milk. The two are plant-based substitutes that contain calcium, protein, and fat.
Whole milk has no caffeine, but it can provide energy for the body to function. You can refer to the USDA guidelines for the amount and proportion of vitamins and minerals of milk and alternative products.
There’s truth to the adage “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. Whether you consume it whole or in liquid form, an apple wards off hunger and thirst.
Apple juice is known for its hydrating power and is given to sick kids or adults who are at the risk of dehydration. This juice is rich in plant compounds or phytochemicals like flavonoids, which help the immune system. The antioxidants found in 100 percent apple juice can prevent heart disease as they lower the bad cholesterol levels.
More importantly, apple juice contains sugar, so you can be sure to stay awake when sipping this juice as when drinking coffee.
Is there any need to say more? Water is as natural as it can get with zero calories. Drinking water is refreshing and hydrating.
You can feel your body energized when you gulp down a glass first thing in the morning. And as you go through your day, drink more to activate your energy and mental power. Indeed, water has been overlooked for the longest time, but after reading this, it’s about time to reconsider it and pay more attention to your daily intake.
Coffee has its merits, but they are sometimes outweighed by risks, as outlined earlier. Try any of those alternatives as you wean yourself off coffee.
Let’s drink to that!