11 HEALTHY ALTERNATIVES TO COFFEE

Although most of us love the caffeine-soaked buzz of coffee, we also recognize that it may not be the healthiest of beverages. Too much coffee can make us anxious, unable to sleep, and may keep our stress hormones burning all day long.  

Whatever your motivation, there are lots of good reasons to give up coffee. Here are 11 alternatives that can help you get off of the “hard stuff”.

1. Teeccino

This is typically what I have most clients go with if they are coming off of a strong coffee addiction, or simply really enjoy the mouthfeel of coffee. There are many different flavors, and it is always happily reported back to me that “this stuff tastes nearly identical to coffee!””

One of the other benefits of Teeccino is that it is loaded with a prebiotic known as inulin. This natural soluble fiber is a component of chicory root, and helps to support a good population of gut flora. Inulin passes through your large intestine and is then eaten by your “good” bacteria (like bifidus and lactobacillus).

This is just one of the many ways to get your gut working well for you! Coffee on the other hand, can have a poor effect on your digestion and stomach (though this depends largely on individual differences and dietary choices).

2. Chamomile Tea

My personal favorite way to unwind, though not at all “sexy”, chamomile tea is caffeine-free, and helps people to unwind, de-stress and may even help improve sleep. It’s probably not your go-to beverage for an early morning — I like to consume chamomile tea around bedtime.

Many experts in a variety of health and wellness circles have long suggested that chamomile tea is an excellent want to relieve stress, anxiety and nerves. The science actually backs up this anecdotal evidence, as well.

The warming aroma of chamomile makes it ideal for late night drinking, and it can be included on a regular basis for the rest of your life, if so desired. Drink up!

3. Ginger Tea

This tea may help improve your digestion, which is something many people struggle with on a daily basis. Unlike the chamomile tea, ginger tea can actually give you a nice, swift, kick-in-the-pants in the morning. Ginger tea may be the first beverage you’ll want to turn to if you absolutely have to have a warm drink in the morning.

Ginger tea also helps with inflammation and can help those who suffer from joint problems. You can even rub it on the skin directly! As mentioned above, ginger tea is also a great digestive aid, and possibly will help you to eat fewer calories (something coffee is routinely praised for).

Some also tout ginger tea as good for helping with nausea and motion sickness. While I haven’t personally tested this one (luckily I do not suffer from motion sickness) it is worth a try if you have to deal with this problem. Ginger tea would be my second recommendation  if you are looking for a nice kick that is close to coffee!

4. Kombucha

This one is more for the diet soda aficionados than the coffee connoisseurs, but kombucha has a variety of flavors, and you can even make your own. GT’s Gingerade flavor is the best substitute I’ve found for clients to consume in order to wean themselves off of soda. The combination of slight carbonation and sweet taste will help quench your thirst on a hot summer day.

Many clients ask me how kombucha is actually made, and the answer is scientifically interesting. This tea is fermented with a SCOBY (that stands for a “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast”). If making your own, this process can take up to 2 weeks.

Though initially containing a decent amount sugar, most of that is dissolved away during the fermentation process, leaving you with a semi-sweet, but very low-calorie beverage!

5. Yerba Mate

This drink will give you some of the buzz of coffee, but with some added nutrients and an interesting interaction with theobromine. Theobromine is a vasodilator, not a vasoconstrictor, so this causes greater relaxation and better blood flow. Yerba mate may also help with insulin sensitivity issues, though the jury is still out on that one.

Yerba mate is sometimes preferred over coffee because it has amino acids, antioxidants, and vitamins and minerals. It even contains more antioxidants than the much-publicized “super-drink” green tea!

If you’re looking for a similar buzz to coffee, but with more focus, fewer jitters and a less intense crash, yerba mate is probably what you will want to try first. It can even be combined with other teas to make a potent neuronal cocktail, if so desired!

6. Peppermint Tea

This is a personal favorite of mine, and I’ve found the delicious taste makes me forget about making any unhealthy choices. Peppermint tea has a strong, pleasant flavor, and also has no caffeine. This goes well with cold winter nights and a good book.

The sweating you may experience from drinking peppermint tea (very mild) is a result of the menthol content. The menthol will conversely cool your body down internally, leaving you feeling very relaxed.

Some claim that peppermint tea can be used this way in order to deal with fevers, and though I haven’t personally tried it, the idea is certainly interesting. This tea feels like a treat, and I often drink it when I’m feeling a craving for something less healthy.

7. Licorice Tea

Licorice tea has a wide variety of uses, such as treating sore throats and as a possible way to reduce body fat. Because this tea has stronger effects, constant daily consumption is not recommended. It may also interfere with some medications, so check with your doctor if you may be concerned about drinking it regularly.

If you are a recovering sugar junkie, licorice tea may help ease your cravings, as it has a fairly sweet taste. I have recommended this many times to clients who can’t stop eating their 3 p.m. candy bar, and it seems to do the trick!

The sweetener found in licorice tea (a natural sweetener) is called glycyrrhizin. This is more than 40 times sweeter than table sugar, and helps to explain why people can’t seem to get enough of this warm treat!

8. Coconut Water

Coconut water is definitely one of the more popular beverages in the Paleo world, and with good reason. Boasting more potassium than a banana, and less sugar than other fruit juices (I’m looking at you, apple juice) coconut water is a safe way to drink some liquid calories.

Preferred after workouts or at lunchtime, coconut water is not usually a morning beverage – but that’s not to say that some creative folks can’t try and make it one! If you have a crazy night out and consume a few too many alcoholic beverages, coconut water can also be a great way to ease your stomach the next morning.

If you are looking to replace electrolytes, consuming some coconut water may be able to help, as well. Some people even recommend applying coconut water onto your skin, and it is included in a wide variety of shampoos, conditioners and skin creams.

9. Rooibos Tea

Rooibos tea is another caffeine-free choice on this list, and it is also low in tannins. People who drink it say that it can help with headaches and even with insomnia. Rooibos has an inviting taste, and is sometimes included as the main ingredient in many tea blends as a result.

Scientifically, rooibos is also interesting, because it has a wide variety of antioxidants, like nothofagin and aspalathin. Since our world is full of cell-damaging free radicals, it is important to consume a regular diet rich in antioxidants.

Some even claim that rooibos is so rich with flavonols, flavones and flavanones that it is a great way to fight back against cancer. While the jury is still out on that claim, there is no doubting the many health benefits of rooibos!

10. Turmeric Tea

Turmeric tea has an active ingredient called curcumin, which has been positively associated with lower rates of memory loss and Alzheimer’s. This is the tea for you if you are looking to boost your brainpower!

Besides the positive cerebral effects of turmeric tea, it seems to have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer potential, as well. Many cultures with long life spans regularly consume turmeric in some form, and including it in one’s diet on a regular basis may be one way to potentially live longer.

Curcumin (the important active ingredient in turmeric) can sometimes be found on its own as well, and helps to block beta-amyloid plaque buildup. This is the reason why turmeric may have such profound effects on Alzheimer’s, as beta-amyloid plaque build up is one of the main associations with the memory-degrading disease.

11. Green Tea

Perhaps the most famous of all coffee alternatives, green tea is loaded with bioactive compounds. The diverse array of polyphenols found in this warm beverage includes catechins and flavonoids. These are the main antioxidants that go to work for your body, helping to stop cell degradation.

Of the many beneficial compounds, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), is by far the most famous. Many diseases have been aided by drinking green tea, and most researchers point to EGCG as the main reason behind these scientific benefits.

Green tea contains a small amount of caffeine, but also has L-theanine, a beneficial amino acid that will help you focus. This is what makes green tea such a great beverage for studying, waking up or even winding down!

Bottom Line

There you have it – 11 healthy alternatives to your morning cup of joe! Though the black liquid may be good on some stress-filled, busy days, it is important to include some variety in your life. And who knows – you may love one of these beverages and never go back to the “hard stuff”! Drink to your health!

This article originally appeared on PaleoHacks.

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