In this post I will tell you which alternatives I found as well as how to go on a detox or balance your coffee habit if you don’t want to quit entirely.
Detox is a great idea in spring and being a terrible coffee addict myself, I decided to quit. I am off coffee for two weeks now. At first I felt as if I had less energy than usually and some emotional stuff came up that I apparently used to suppress with coffeine. Another observation is that I don’t get headaches in the sauna anymore which I always did when I was still drinking it.
Why Quitting Coffee?
Coffee has some negative side effects as debalancing hydrochlorid acid production (which you need for digestion) and peristalsis, stimulating the release of the stress hormones cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine (increasing the body’s heart rate, blood pressure and stress levels), interfering with the metabolism of the mood regulating neurotransmitter Gamma-aminobutyric acid and preventing mineral absorption to some degree.
From an ayurvedic point of view all stimulants need to be taken with care, if at all. What do they do? They give you energy. But this energy does not magically come out of nowhere. It is drawn from the body’s energy reserves. The body needs times to rest and build up new energy. If it is constantly depleted by stimulants, it cannot renew itself anymore and it will get eventually out of balance.
The Chemical Effect of Coffeine
Nerve cells exchange neurotransmitters and produce adenosine as a by-product. It’s adenosine’s job to protect the brain from overstrain by linking itself to specific adenosine receptors. It’s a signal for the cell to work less. The more active the nerve cells, the more adenosine is discharged and the more receptors are engaged. The chemical structure of coffeine is similar to that of adenosine, so the coffeine blocks the adenosine receptors, thus preventing the adenosine to activate them. Thus, the nerves don’t receive the signal to slow down anymore when overstressed and we can go on even if we are tired. However, doing this continuously without giving your body any rest is not a very good idea.
4 Healthy Coffee Alternatives
1. Grain Coffee
Instant barley or malt coffee. I prefer the organic versions.
- coffee-like taste
- quick to make with an instant powder
2. Lupin Coffee
I love lupin coffee! It tastes very similar to good coffee and you can actually brew it like “real” coffee.
- coffee-like taste
- prepared like filter coffee
Macha is powdered green tea and that makes it full of anti oxidants and a healthy alternative containing much less coffeine (respectively teeine) than coffee, but still gives you energy. The stimulating effect sets on slower and keeps longer than coffee coffeine. Macha latte has become a popular hipster drink in the recent years and is a great alternative if you miss your creamy cappuccino.
- strong and interesting taste (not for everyone)
- rich in vitamins and anti-oxidants (catechins)
- immune-booster, detoxing, can increase metabolism
- contains coffeine but also l-theanine which delayes the dissolution of coffeine in the bloodstream. Instead of the coffee rush, matcha drinkers experience rather a state of calm alertness.
Traditionally brewed in and shared from a mate gourd and enjoyed with the bombilla, a special silver straw that filters the tea before drinking, today it is also available in easy to use tea bag for the quick morning tea.
- special and interesting taste (not for everyone)
- contains vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants
- immune-booster, can increase metabolism
- contains coffeine (mateine) but its effects are slower than in coffee
Ayurveda Against Coffee Withdrawal Symptoms
The ayurvedic herb ashwagandha is a powerful adaptogen. It helps to prevent coffee withdrawal symptoms such as headaches and lethargy. If you already have a coffee withdrawal headache, don’t take it but rather drink a lot of water, herb tea and fresh juices instead until it goes away and start with the ashwaganda then.
Ashwaganda supports the adrenals which can be exhausted by over consumption of coffeine. Take 1 tablet in the morning with water before breakfast and increase the dose slowly to 2 tablets morning and evening if needed.
You want to keep your coffee habit? No problem. Ayurveda knows that it’s all just a matter of balance…
3 Ways to Balance Coffee
If you don’t want to get off the coffee entirely, try adding some nutmeg to the coffee. Nutmeg slows down the heart rate and counters thus the effect of coffeine.
Ayurveda recommends to add some cardamom to your coffee to counter its acidic, stimulating effect by the alkalizing, calming qualities of cardamom. I used to add both, nutmeg and cardamom. Love the aromatic taste of cardamom and the warm sweetness of nutmeg!
Don’t have it first thing in the morning on empty stomach. Coffeine stimulates hydrochlorid acid production which you need to break down food. If you have coffee on empty stomach, you increase the acid level without giving the body food to digest. The best time for coffee is after lunch or in the afternoon. And it goes without saying: Don’t overdo it! Think of your body that needs time to renew and rebuild energy!
Photo: Nordwood Themes via Unsplash