By Mina Shahriary
Guest Writer for Wake Up World
I love coffee, especially when it’s really good — single origin, sustainably grown, fresh roasted, hand poured and happily consumed, resulting in instant increases in alertness and creativity! But lately, my relationship with coffee has become something like “the caffeine curve” depicted below. So, I’ve decided that it’s time to take a serious coffee break.
I’ve successfully quit coffee before (for periods of time), and I know that I need some practical coping strategies. Anyone who has ever been addicted to coffee (or anything) knows that quitting is no easy task! The symptoms of caffeine withdrawal range from pounding headaches, crippling fatigue, irritability and depression to cold and flu like symptoms and muscle pain.
If you can make it through the withdrawal period, which according to Johns Hopkins researchers lasts only about nine days, you can look forward to:
* Deeper, more restful sleep
* Waking up feeling refreshed with lots of energy
* Calmer, more focused thinking
* More balanced moods
* More stable blood sugar
* Healthier hormone balance
* Clearer skin and eyes
* Increased sex drive and fertility
* Improved immunity
* Healthier adrenals (which means you’ll handle stress better)
* Lower blood pressure
To be fair, there are plenty of studies that have demonstrated coffee’s health benefits, but so far, none have been particularly compelling. Most have merely shown a correlation between drinking coffee and reduced risk for certain specific health problems, such as liver disease, Parkinson’s and depression.
According to one study, coffee is the number one source of antioxidants in the SAD (Standard American Diet). My personal belief is the health benefits of regular coffee drinking are probably lost on anyone who eats a very clean, antioxidant-rich diet. It’s also my personal belief that if you enjoy drinking coffee and truly believe that you do not experience any negative effects as result, you should continue to enjoy drinking coffee. (Be honest with yourself!) As with all dietary dogmas, it’s important to remember that what’s good for one person may be disastrous for another.
So without further ado, here are 11 practical strategies that I plan to use over the next few weeks as I attempt to go coffee-free.
1. Get your caffeine from leaves
If you’re not ready to go cold turkey on caffeine, I really recommend investing in some high quality green (or black) tea, guayusa or yerba mate (caffeinated rainforest herbs). I’ve found that it’s well worth it to spend extra on a higher quality product if you’re intending for it to replace your beloved morning cup of coffee. This has been the most effective strategy I’ve used in the past when I’ve stopped drinking coffee.
The caffeine found in green tea, guayusa and yerba mate leaves is chemically different from that found in coffee beans and, while still energizing, won’t make you nervous or jittery like coffee can (when consumed in moderation).
2. Make a superfood elixir
Combine nutrient-dense superfoods like cacao, berries, bee pollen, nut milks and coconut oil with adaptogenic herbs (see #3 below) and a natural sweetener like honey. Watch natural health guru David Wolfe make a cacao/reishi/chaga elixir:
3. Support your adrenals with B vitamins and adaptogens
Caffeine and stress tax your adrenal glands and deplete your body’s stores of B vitamins, but you can easily replenish your levels by taking a B complex supplement. You’ll notice the effects immediately. You can also support your adrenals with adaptogenic herbs like maca, ginseng, reishi and chaga mushrooms, rhodiola, holy basil and schizandra. These herbs have been used for hundreds of years throughout the world to combat fatigue and increase stamina.
4. Try amino acid therapy for mood and energy support
Treating amino acid deficiencies can improve neurotransmitter balance, leading to healthier mood balance and more energy. Many people have used the amino acid D, L-Phenylalanine (DLPA) to ease caffeine withdrawal symptoms. According to blogger Elizabeth Walling of The Nourished Life, L-glutamine, tryptophan and tyrosine are also helpful for improving energy and mood.
5. Get crazy hydrated
You might be surprised at how much more energy you will have if you provide your cells with the fluid and electrolytes they need to function optimally. Increase your consumption of high quality water and things like coconut water, fresh juice and food with a high water content (things like cucumbers, melons and other fruits, celery, lettuce, etc.)
6. Bend over backwards
Many yoga poses are designed to be energizing, but backbending poses in particular can be helpful for boosting your energy. After warming up, hold wheel, bridge or bow for 4-10 breaths. (Or ask your yoga teacher to teach these postures.) YogaJournal.com has a great free guide to backbends (along with other yoga poses).
7. Pump up the jams
Turn on some music and have a spontaneous dance party. You may feel silly, but there’s no chance you won’t feel energized after doing this.
8. Wear red
Research has shown that simply looking at the color red energizes us.
9. Take a cold shower
Cold shower are quite invigorating, though sometimes hard to get into if it’s not hot outside. At the very least, take a hot shower and turn the water cold for a few minutes before you get out. Samurai warriors used to pour buckets of cold river water on their heads every morning in a Shinto purification ritual called misogi.
10. Hang out with energizing people
Call up someone who makes you laugh and feel good about life. Avoid people who seem to suck the life out of you.
11. Cross something off your to-do list
Finish something you’ve been meaning to get done. Whether that task is writing a book, doing your laundry or something that seems self-indulgent like buying something for yourself or planning a vacation, you’ll feel energized by completing it.
About the author
Mina is a natural health enthusiast, avid yoga practitioner and health freedom advocate. She has a passion for discovering and sharing strategies for achieving optimal health and longevity, and has spent the last eight years working in the natural health industry. In addition to researching health and nutrition, writing about the latest happenings in the natural health world and practicing yoga, she enjoys spending time in nature, meditating and making superfood smoothies.
This article was republished with permission from Live in the Now, one of the fastest growing natural health newsletters. Visit LiveInTheNow.com to browse their complete library of articles, or join the nearly 60,000 readers subscribed to their Newsletter.