Don’t get us wrong, we love caffeine. It gives us a sense of adrenaline in the morning, and studies have shown that it increases dopamine levels, which then fuels our addiction to feel happy. However, caffeine is a stimulant that results in an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, making it dangerous if consumed in large dosages daily. From coffee and tea to chocolate and energy drinks, you might be taking in more caffeine than you realise.
Caffeine is not the best in the long run and is especially ill-advised for pregnant women and those susceptible to anxiety to have too much of it. Here, we’ve compiled a list of caffeine alternatives for those who are trying to shake the habit yet still keep awake for those never-ending days.
In traditional Chinese medicine, ginseng has always been one of the most beneficial ingredients to the body. It has been said to supplement the body’s five viscera, namely the spleen, lungs, heart, liver and kidneys, as well as to sharpen one’s mind and increase alertness. In Asia, drinking ginseng tea or ginseng juices are extremely popular. Korean ginseng juice is sweet and usually made with other natural energy boosters like jujube. Students in Chinese culture, drink ginseng tea not only for its concentration enhancement benefits but also its cold prevention abilities. The drink is a little bitter, so many add a bit of honey or some large jujubes to neutralize the taste.
Another natural alternative to caffeine widely used in Asian cultures is Cordyceps. The fungi is thought to increase athletic performance and endurance, and its a favourite among the fatigue for supporting energy levels. It is widely put in double-boiled soups, but can also be found as a powder for drinks and smoothies.
Although Maca has been around for centuries, it has gained newfound popularity as a superfood for health junkies. It is widely known for its properties of increasing mental focus while combating fatigue, making it a keeper in your kitchen for sure. Add a couple of scoops of Maca to your smoothie or make it hot with some milk for a great way to start the morning.
If you’re looking sweet midday snack for an energy kick, try sticking with natural sugars from berries. Berries are nutrient-dense and a good source of fibre, which means that the energy boost will last longer and will not give you sugar crash after. Opt for blueberries and blackberries if you like fresh berries, or try goji berries for a dried alternative. For breakfast try blending the berries to make a breakfast smoothie, complete with coconut water, oats and bananas for the ultimate start to the day.
We get it, sometimes the day just seems to drag on and you need a snack to distract yourself from something. Nuts are the perfect alternative to a caffeinated pick-me-up, as they are nutrient and fibre-dense, as well as a great energizer. Nuts, in general, have also been associated with improving brain-wave frequencies associated with cognition, so you can stay sharp the natural way. If you’re looking to increase memory and learning abilities, studies have shown that eating walnuts will aid in this aspect as well.