Fighting Fatigue without Caffeine
If you can get through the day without a hit of caffeine when you’re fighting fatigue, then you can probably stop reading this. But the fact is, well over half of all North Americans are hooked on some form of this highly addictive energy stimulant.
Too much caffeine – which is found in foods and beverages such as coffee, tea and soda, chocolate and candy bars – can cause a number of adverse reactions. These include depression, nervousness, irritability, headaches, heart palpitations, insomnia, and digestive upset, to name just a few. Even some popular medications contain a large quantity of caffeine.
As a stimulant, caffeine interferes with the neurons in our brain by triggering a stress response involving our adrenal hormones – the hormones responsible for our fight or flight reactions. In short, we use caffeine to give us energy. Unfortunately, the more caffeine we ingest, the more hormones we release, and the more exhausted we become – so we rely on a quick fix.
Plus our other stress hormone, cortisol, comes to play with daily caffeine use. Once elevated on a regular basis, this long-term stress hormone affects the quality of our sleep, depletes the immune system, accelerates aging, and can significantly affect mood and behavior. Eventually, we can’t live without caffeine in order to function because without it we once again feel tired, drowsy, and experience withdrawal symptoms like tension headaches.
But the effects of caffeine don’t stop there! So if you’re looking to give up or cut back, here are 10 tips and healthy alternatives to help boost your energy.
1. Drink lemon and water.
Many people need that first shot of coffee in the morning to wake up – and because it’s a mild laxative, it helps move their bowels. Replace your morning java with a glass of water and half a freshly squeezed lemon. Consume on an empty stomach. Lemon is very cleansing to our intestinal tract and can help keep us regular. Plus it’s full of minerals and helps to detoxify the harmful effects of caffeine.
2. Vitamin B12
Most of the B vitamins are involved in energy production, but with a standard American diet full of processed foods and caffeinated products, these vitamins can be lacking in your diet. Try adding a B12 supplement to your daily routine. This B vitamin plays a key role in brain function, nervous system function, and blood formation, and it’ll help boost your mental clarity and energy.
3. Adrenal Support
Quitting caffeine will be beneficial to your exhausted adrenals. But it might take some time to repair and restore, especially if you’ve been addicted for many years. Herbal adaptogens have been reported to help the body cope with stress. Talk to your natural health care provider about Siberian Ginseng, Schizandra, Astralagus, Ashwaganda, or Gotu kola regarding their adaptive properties.
4. Mood Support
The neurotransmitter serotonin is known to enhance our mood, and caffeine can raise or lower these levels. Getting off caffeine too quickly can cause us to become grumpy or moody. Adding a natural mood elevator like St. John’s Wort or 5-HTP can help while trying to kick the habit. Ask your natural health care provider for more information.
5. Eat a protein packed breakfast!
Many people cutting back on caffeine will reach for a sugar fix – and because they typically consume the most caffeine in the morning, this is when cravings for carbs emerge. Good quality protein is a long sustaining energy source, which is important to help us through the day.
6. Don’t go cold turkey
Giving up caffeine too quickly will just cause headaches for you and everyone around you! Rapid changes in caffeine blood levels are a surefire way for withdrawal symptoms to arise. Instead:
• Reduce the size of your mug. By downsizing your coffee cup you can trick yourself into thinking you’re still having the same amount of coffee everyday. After reducing the size of your mug for a few weeks, try cutting back on the number of cups you drink.
• Replacement. If you drink several cups a day, try replacing your second cup with an herbal tea, hot soup or other non-caffeinated substitute.
7. Herbal Tea
Peppermint is actually very stimulating! And the herb rosemary can help promote alertness. Try your favorite herbal tea depending on your mood.
8. Coffee Substitutes
Let’s face it, coffee substitutes don’t and will never taste like coffee –but there are many products on the market made from either wheat, rye, barley, chicory or carob. And believe it or not, many people swear on the effectiveness of coffee substitutes to help kick their caffeine habits.
It isn’t a caffeine substitute, but if you’re addicted to caffeine and ingesting too much of it you’re probably dehydrated. Drinking water will also help you flush out toxins and the effects of caffeine.
10. Explore other reasons for your fatigue
If you thrive on caffeine to keep you going throughout the day, chances are you’re missing something. Assess whether you’re getting enough sleep along with a balanced diet of whole foods and plenty of exercise. These factors can go a long way towards keeping you refreshed.