Where are my coffee lovers at? What about the haters?
Let me start out by saying, there’s room for us all here.
Personally, I loveeeee my morning cup of coffee with Califia Farms Better Half or organic half and half. When I’m on-the-go and traveling, I am sure to be toting some shelf-stable Nutpods in my carry-on bag or purse! There’s something so great about the ritual of the warmth, the sweet bitterness, and the smell (ohhh the smell) that puts a smile on my face while I sip my morning cup.
In addition to the experience of coffee, its many health benefits are also a reason to enjoy a warm (or sometimes iced) cuppa joy. Through plenty of research studies, it has been shown to reduce risk of type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, and even certain cancers!
But even with all of the benefits enjoying coffee can bring, tolerance to caffeine (the active component in coffee) is something that can vary greatly from person to person.
Common side-effects for those sensitive to caffeine include jitters, anxiety, high blood pressure, sweating, and an upset stomach.
In my own experience, I’ve found black coffee to give me shaky hands and an upset stomach (sure signs that the acidity and caffeine in my coffee are something I need to keep in check). One way to cut the acidity and slow the release of caffeine into your the bloodstream is to incorporate a fat/protein source. I absolutely love that coffee can be a vehicle for other healthy foods—when I’m feeling fancy, I like to whip up a creamy latte with nutrient-rich ingredients like coconut butter, cinnamon, and collagen peptides!.
However, even with some modifications, there are groups of people who need to watch their caffeine consumption a bit more closely than others. Women who are pregnant have been told to limit caffeine intake to 200mg or less (approximately two, eight ounce cups) due to potentially negative effects on fetal safety. Those with adrenal fatigue, insomnia, or hormone dysfunction could potentially benefit from removal of caffeine altogether until the problem at hand is resolved.
This fact right here speaks to what the Institute of Integrative Nutrition calls bio-individuality—the stance that foods and food components that work for some definitely don’t work for all. Rather than a prescriptive “one size fits all” approach to our nutrition, looking at how our body reacts to and digests certain foods can be an approach to rising as our most radiant selves. Finding our most supportive, nourishing, and satisfying diet is highly unique, and takes into account our genes, preferences, activity levels, schedule demands, and even stage of life!
If you are struggling with sleep, don’t like the taste of coffee, or are simply looking to switch up your morning ritual, here a few lower-caffeine and caffeine-free alternatives to try!
For the coffee devotees looking to cut out their afternoon cup and improve sleep quality: Teecino Herbal “Coffee” (caffeine free)
No joke, I was so surprised when I tried it and found it actually tastes like coffee. However, this “coffee” is actually an herbal tea. Teecino contains three times the herbs of traditional tea bag to give it a bold, rich flavor similar to coffee. It is made up of organic carob, barley, and chicory and contains zero caffeine!
Consuming caffeine even six hours before bed was shown in one study to decrease sleep time by 1 hour. Additionally, exceeding the recommended amount of 300-400mg/day (3-4 eight ounce cups), has been shown to lead to digestive distress.
Swapping out your afternoon coffee for Teecino also provides a gut health bonus—the chicory root in the drink contains inulin, a prebiotic fiber. This helps feed those probiotics in your stomach and support digestive function!
For the girls on-the-go with no time to get sick—say hello to matcha! (lower caffeine)
Even being a coffee lover, I occasionally enjoy whipping up a matcha latte instead.
Why I love matcha…
Stressor Support: A 1tsp serving of matcha contains roughly 30-45mg of caffeine (depending on the source). This is about half the amount you’ll find in a cup of coffee. When I wake up with a mile-long to-do list or I have a busy day, I make the matcha swap to lower my overall caffeine consumption in an effort to keep my stress response down (lookin’ at you cortisol).
White teeth: Unlike coffee, matcha doesn’t leave me stains and isn’t nearly as acidic as coffee! Oh… and I can’t forget to mention—no coffee breath!
Antioxidants: Matcha contains catechins in higher amounts than most other teas because the whole leaf is ground and consumed, rather than steeped. Catechins are a plant compound that act as antioxidants in the body, helping to reduce free radicals that damage our bodies’ cells and lower our risk of chronic disease and infection! If you are a “go go” girl like me, matcha can be a tool to keep you healthy all year long!
Two notes on matcha…
1. Steer clear of the sugar-filled matcha latte at Starbucks. A tall has 25 grams of sugar…eek.
2. Be informed! Many matchas are not made with quality leafs and don’t contain the health benefits I’m describing above…Here are 5 Ways To Spot Good Quality Matcha. My health coach-approved brand (and personal favorite) is Jade Leaf!
Want to reminisce with your inner-child without the sugar rush? Upgrade to Reishi Hot Chocolate by Four Sigmatic (caffeine free)
Let’s be real—chocolate is my favorite food group. In one way or another, I incorporate chocolate in the form of cacao (which is very different from cocoa) into my diet daily.* Raw cacao and dark chocolate can be high in magnesium and a rich source of antioxidants, but your Hershey’s chocolates and many drug store brands don’t make the cut… Look for brands made without soy lecithin and milk powder, and contain a 70% cacao or higher. My favorite brand is Evolved Chocolate, which has products made with a touch of coconut sugar and nourishing cacao butter. The company motto is “chocolate: it’s food, not candy.” WORD.
*stay tuned for a future blog post on my favorite healthy chocolatey indulgences!
In addition to the chocolatey flavor, I love the nutrient profile of Four Sigmatic’s Mushroom Cacao Mix. It contains only two gram of unrefined sugar (as opposed to 23 grams in your leading brands) and a boost of one of the latest superfoods in the wellness world—mushrooms!
Mushrooms have been used for thousands of years in Eastern cultures for medicinal and therapeutic uses, but are becoming increasingly popular in the West. Did you know shiitake mushrooms are valued in East Asia as a part of cancer treatment? Studies have shown just four weeks of oral ingestion led to a reduction of adverse effects experienced from chemotherapy!
According to Tero Isokauppila, the founder of Four Sigmatic, if there’s one mushroom people should start incorporating in their diets, it’s reishi. Reishi has long been praised for its calm-inducing properties, aiding in sleep and promoting health and longevity. It’s also believed to control blood glucose levels, and modulate the immune system!
Before your big interview and after a stressful day…calm the butterflies in your stomach with Traditional Medicinals Ginger tea with Chamomile (caffeine free)
If I’m sipping on a “true” tea these days, it’s most likely containing ginger! Lately I’ve been loving the warming, spicy taste of this root plant! Ginger is well-known to aid in digestion and reduce nausea. When we’re hit with the flu many of us have been told turn to ginger ale, but I recommend picking a naturally sugar-free and soothing version of the spice like grated ginger root or a tea like this one!
Paired with chamomile, which has been studied for reducing anxiety and promoting sleep, sipping on this tea can help soothe and calm your nervous belly and help you drift off into a restful sleep!
Disclaimer: Information on this page is not to be substituted for medical advice. Please consult your doctor or health care professional to ensure your safety before using nutritional interventions and supplements.