Coffee has a lot going for it – it is a creamy, soothing and rejuvenating drink that makes us feel alert and awake and that has a whole culture surrounding it. It is practically a way of life and it’s a highly sociable drink too. Too bad then that it’s not that good for you and that there are several side problems with drinking it:
• If you have sugar, chocolate flakes, cream, marshmallows or non-skimmed milk it can be fattening
• It causes jitters
• It worsens nervousness
• It can be expensive
• It’s addictive
• Withdrawal causes headaches
• It can cause heart palpitations
• It can affect your ability to sleep
• It can cause crashes once the caffeine runs outpatient
• It can put strain on your immune system as a result of the increased activity
• It’s a diuretic
• It causes dehydration
Bearing that all in mind then it’s a good idea when possible to switch to something healthier and safer. That’s where the healthy alternatives to coffee come in that can give you the soothing feeling that a warm drink provides, the opportunity to drink with friends, and the same kick – and some might even give you a bit of an energy boost too.
Green tea is a perfect alternative to coffee or tea that is much healthier and more mild. In many cases green tea won’t contain caffeine but can still give you a boost in other ways, such as through the inclusion of mint. Green tea is also known for containing a lot of antioxidants and these can help you in the fight against cancer causing free radicals and slow the visible effects of aging. There are lots of different types of green tea though and this means that some do contain caffeine if you’re not ready to give that up yet while others contain other fruits and flavors.
Not ready for green tea yet? Well black tea can still be a step down from coffee in terms of caffeine kick if you don’t leave the tea bag in too long and if you choose a milder option such as breakfast tea.
Decaffeinated coffee does what it says on the tin (literally) providing you with coffee that doesn’t give you the same buzz and then crash. This then can give you the taste (nearly) of coffee and the same warm and creamy feeling you get from drinking it. However bear in mind that some forms of decaf coffee are unhealthy in other ways.
If it’s an energy boost you’re looking for then there are many energy drinks and energy bars that can give you a quick boost in energy. These contain various ingredients designed to wake you up and give you energy, and some isotonic mixtures will be designed specifically for post-exertion in order to replace lost waste, salt and sugar.
Many of those aforementioned energy drinks count guarana as one of their main ingredients. This is an herbal stimulant much like caffeine except it has some differences that make it quite a lot healthier – for instance guarana doesn’t cause jitters and headaches and it won’t stop you sleeping. You can get it in bars and drinks, or you can use it on its own in tablet form.
Effervescent Vitamin Tablets
Vitamins and minerals are great for boosting your energy and health. B complex vitamins will help you to get more energy out of the carbs you eat, while C will help you boost your immune system and many others have other positive effects besides. If you want to have this in a refreshing drink to perk you up in the mornings then why not try using an effervescent tablet – drop one of these into a glass of water and then watch it fizz around before enjoying the flavored water that results.
In the hours leading up to bed time drinking coffee is particularly ill advised and will give you difficulty sleeping and mean that when you do sleep it’s broken and light sleep. Horlics on the other hand, which is a sweet oat drink made with warm milk, will help to encourage the production of melatonin to send you off to sleep. Of course having just warm milk on its own will do the same thing too.
Probiotics are drinks that help to improve your digestion by altering the balance of flora inside your stomach – adding good bacteria into the mix to help you break down your food and avoid digestion problems. Some work better than others and it’s not entirely certain just how much of a difference they can make to your health (certainly some advertizing over-hypes their effectiveness in a misleading manner). The idea is that by taking some energy away from your digestive system, and by helping you to more quickly dispose of food sitting on your stomach; that you would be able to feel much lighter and more energetic as a result. Regardless of just how effective they are though they are certainly healthy alternatives to coffee and something pleasant to drink in the mornings that might perk you up. The downside is that they’re very small and quite expensive.
If you don’t want to go the probiotic route, then yogurt will still contain some of those good bacteria while at the same time being cheaper and more abundantly available. It’s also very soothing and sweet and this makes it a great drink to wake you up in the morning – almost like a healthy alternative to a milkshake.
A smoothie is another great one to start the day with that has many positive health benefits and none of the stimulant nature or addictiveness of coffee. A smoothie works similarly to an effervescent multivitamin in terms of what it can do for you – it’s packed with vitamins and minerals and these can help to boost your energy and protect your immune system. However at the same time they are also made from real fruit and this has several advantages – first of all it will create a smooth and creamy texture that is very refreshing and pleasant to enjoy, and secondly it often comes with peel included and this means you get fiber in your drink. That then will mean that you can clear out your passageways and prevent cholesterol and indigestion etc which will all again to keep you energetic and healthy. The sugar in smoothies also provides you with a great source of energy that can keep you going into the afternoon – but it’s important to recognize that this is a bad thing too giving you lots of simple carbs that can cause you to gain wait, and potentially damaging your teeth. So use with caution.
Of course rather than having a smoothie you can just stick to one juice, and this will be the equivalent of having one portion of fruit (if it’s real juice). Many different juice drinks have different health benefits and particularly if you choose tomato juice, prune juice or grapefruit juice these can have a vast range of very positive benefits. And they’re cheap too!
Frappuccinos are icy drinks that you can get in coffee shops which gives you a great alternative to order when you’re with your colleagues on your lunch break or having a staff meeting in Starbucks. They’re not always necessarily healthy however bear in mind – it depends on the flavor you get, so avoid chocolate or latte frappuccinos and instead choose a mango or strawberry.
Okay so hot chocolate isn’t healthy by any stretch of the imagination – but if it’s the caffeine you’re worried about then this will greatly reduce the amount of caffeine you’re taking in.
Again these aren’t necessarily healthy, but they don’t have any caffeine in them, and actually if they’re made well they don’t have to be unhealthy. If you’re making this at home then start the day by whisking a banana or some strawberries along with some milk and this is a very tasty treat that’s not high in calories.
The best solution then is to mix and match these different drinks throughout your day and throughout your week. This way you will get the different benefits of each of them, but not risk overdosing in caffeine or sugar, or spending a fortune on probiotics. Use the right drink for your mood and your situation and as with anything – drink in moderation.