8 Healthy Alternatives to Coffee and Soda

By Michael Galvan | 12/14/2015

The United States is one of the largest global consumers of caffeinated beverages. Nearly half of Americans drink at least one soda per day, and 63% drink at least one cup of coffee.But often times this thirst for caffeine is coupled with high-calorie, sugar-laden drinks, which isn’t entirely healthful. Excess amounts of caffeine can have negative effects on the body. Caffeine has been linked to higher blood pressure 2, an increased risk for heart attacks 3, and insomnia 4.For many, it becomes so natural to drink caffeine that they are completely unaware of their physical dependence, and attempts to quit can result in severe withdrawal.So how do you reduce your caffeine intake if you still feel like you need some extra energy? There are several options to re-energize your body that don’t involve large doses of caffeine.

Mix your water with honey and a ginseng extract.

Ginseng extracts are produced from the root of the ginseng plant. It is one of the oldest natural remedies and is prominent in traditional Chinese medicine. Many people swear by its invigorating effects. Ginseng has also been shown to enhance memory6 and calmness7.  This compound is bitter though, so try mixing it with water and natural sweetener like honey.

Drink some green tea.

Green tea originated in China and is brewed from Camellia sinensis leaves. Some of the more active ingredients in green tea are catechins (natural antioxidants) and small amounts natural caffeine. Green tea has significantly less caffeine than a cup of coffee.

Chew mint flavored gum.

A recent university study found that that mint gum was linked to a self-reported decrease in sleepiness8. The researches hypothesized that it might be linked to the act of chewing itself or the “arousing effects of the mint flavor” that may help create an extra pep in your step.

Sip on a chai latte.

This is popular combination of black tea blended with aromatic Indian spices and herbs. This mixture has a consistency similar to coffee and contains only a small amount of natural caffeine. Even Oprah has switched to chai lattes to help her power through the long work days.

Drink more water.

Water is the best thing for your body. Many times slight dehydration will manifest itself with feelings of fatigue. Try drinking more water to improve your energy levels.

Eat fewer fatty foods and more whole wheat carbohydrates.

A recent study linked higher fat consumption with increased daytime sleepiness, while higher carbohydrate intake was associated with increased alertness9. Whole wheat carbohydrates provide fuel for the body and essential fiber. Whole wheat carbohydrates also have less sugar than many of the processed varieties. 

Make yourself a seaweed salad.

Seaweed is known for its naturally high iodine content. Iodine can help regulate your weight and energy levels.

Sniff some cinnamon.

Researchers at Wheeling Jesuit University found a link to the scent of cinnamon and behavior. Participants found that a smelling cinnamon can improve attention span, working memory and cognitive functions.10 It has also been shown to help lower high blood pressure.

Chow down on citrus fruits.

Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, kombucha, and lemons are packed with vitamin C.  Vitamin C is crucial for helping turn fat to energy.

While small amounts of caffeine in coffee may be beneficial, there are no health benefits due to the large doses of caffeine in sugary soda. These are healthy alternatives to carbonated beverages and energy drinks. When trying to kick the mass amounts of coffee or afternoon soda, take the process one day at a time. Caffeine deprivation can cause serious withdrawal symptoms, but by slowly introducing alternative methods of staying alert, you may find yourself with just as much energy from healthy sources. 

References

1. http://www.gallup.com/poll/156116/nearly-half-americans-drink-soda-daily.aspx

2. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0895706102031552

3. http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-08/esoc-clw082815.php

4. http://europepmc.org/abstract/MED/186223/reload=0;jsessionid=CzWm7s65jDRhoHPFzX4K.10

5. http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/psychiatry/research/BPRU/docs/Caffeine_Dependence_Fact_Sheet.pdf

6. http://rd.springer.com/article/10.1007/s002130000533

7. http://rd.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00213-010-1964-y

8. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0031938411005087

9. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/10/fat-daytime-sleepiness-food-alertness-carbohydrates_n_3239837.html

10. http://www.wju.edu/about/adm_news_story.asp?iNewsID=1106&strBack=%2Fabout%2Fadm_news_archive.asp