Could your cup of Joe be making you sick?
We live for that morning mug of steaming hot coffee that wraps its smooth, velvety arms around us and tells us it’s all going to be okay -- not to mention its promise of immediate energy from the caffeine jolt.
But America’s favorite drug might be doing more harm than good when it comes to your health. Studies have shown that coffee can irritate your stomach and the lining of your small intestine. The acidity of coffee has been associated with digestive discomfort, indigestion, heartburn, GERD, abdominal spasms and dysbiosis, which are imbalances in your gut flora.
If you’ve found that you’re unable to indulge in a comforting cup of coffee in the mornings due to medical reasons, you might already be resigning yourself to a life of lethargy. But all hope is not lost! There are plenty of ways to beat sleepy mornings without coffee.
Dig Into Breakfast
We know it's important to start every day with a nutritious breakfast, but it becomes even more imperative if you’re trying to summon physical energy and kick things into gear sans coffee. Rotate between energy-boosting foods high in protein like Greek yogurt, eggs or protein-packed smoothies like this creamy chocolate breakfast shake or gluten-free and vegan oatmeal breakfast cookies.
Work It Out
There aren't many things as good at getting your brain in gear as an early morning sweat session. But if a trip to the gym sounds like a grim diagnosis, get creative with other ways to get your blood pumping: take your dog on a brisk walk or hop on your bike and pedal to a scenic park. If even that sounds too ambitious, just aim to do a few jumping jacks and some light stretching to get things moving.
While coffee might be an instant quick fix, guzzling lemon water will keep you going through your entire day. Staying hydrated helps you feel better overall and staves off sluggishness, while the zest of the lemon jolts your senses. Another hydrating alternative is sipping coconut water, which is chock full of enzymes and electrolytes to keep you feeling energized.
Go for the Greens
Wheatgrass juice is known for being a natural energizer, since it’s made up of essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients. A quick shot of this natural energy supplement is easily digested and will rapidly assimilate into your body. If you’re not a fan of the taste, opt for a green smoothie instead, like this kale and avocado superfood smoothie.
Trick Yourself With Chai
Chai tea is a rich, soothing drink made with comforting spices like cinnamon, ginger and cardamom. While it has significantly less caffeine than coffee, the tea’s smooth, delicious and creamy consistency can trick your mind into thinking you’re actually drinking coffee. Make it even creamier by adding a little steamed almond or coconut milk.
Shower in the Morning
Mornings can be hectic, so it’s tempting to shower at night when you know the morning brings the rush to get yourself out the door and to work on time. But experts recommend showering when you first wake up and switching back and forth between hot and cold water, which will immediately raise your alertness.
Try Carob Powder
Even though carob powder is caffeine-free, many people swear by its ability to rival coffee. Similar to cocoa, naturally sweet carob powder tastes just as delicious mixed with warm milk and a touch of agave or honey, and it prevents you from an energy crash later on in the day.
Take a Whiff
When you awaken your sense, you also awaken your mind. Have you noticed that coffee commercials show people smelling their coffee first thing in the morning? Try smelling a scented candle when you first wake up to activate portions of your brain that help combat grogginess. Other ideas include smelling salts or essential oils for a quick and natural boost.
Embrace Tea Time
Fill your coffee void while filling your body with healthy antioxidants by sipping on green tea. The small amount of caffeine won’t give you the jitters, and the antioxidants boast amazing disease-fighting and healing properties. Not a fan of green tea? Opt for the bold-tasting licorice tea instead, which doesn’t have any caffeine but is known as being an adrenal tonic, meaning it increases energy levels.