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How do you get up and going in the morning? With a hot cup of coffee, black tea, or green tea? While these are wonderful ways to start a day, there are many other herbal teas available to us that can provide a boost of energy and nutrients without the pesky side effects that accompany the daily consumption of caffeine.
Here are five great choices that you can experiment with to replace your morning cup of joe. Not only will they hydrate and refresh you for the day, but they may even provide long-term health benefits with regular use.
5 Caffeine Free Teas To Energize Your Day
Lemon & Ginger Tea
This tea is so simple to make that you can purchase a tea blend of it (Pique makes a wonderful Ginger Digestion Elixir available for purchase online) or make it with ginger root and fresh lemon juice. The lemon in this drink will kick start your digestive system while hydrating your body. Both of these benefits provide energy.
The ginger in this tea will also support your digestive system in case you feel nauseated, giving you a better feeling start to the day. Ginger is also known as a “warming” herb and can help you to warm up on a colder winter morning.
Both of these wonderful plants also support your immune system. They are full of antioxidants and minerals and are also very helpful with minimizing inflammation, which can help you get moving faster in the morning with less soreness and stiffness.
Ashwagandha, also known as India, Ginseng, energizes you in three distinct ways: by enhancing your cardiovascular system, improving your brain functionality, and boosting your mood. The many antioxidants in this plant contribute to heart health over time by stimulating blood circulation. Active ingredients in this drink help the brain to create acetylcholine, an important chemical for focus and memory.
One delicious way to drink ashwagandha is in a chai-like blend.
Combine the following:
- 1 cup of your milk of choice
- ½ tsp. Ashwagandha powder
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp coconut oil
- 1 tsp honey
- a pinch of nutmeg
Gently simmer your milk without letting it boil and stir in the other ingredients. Let them seep together for 5 minutes before serving.
[And if you want to shortcut the process, grab this delicious Tulsi Ashwagandha Tea from Thrive Market]
Ginseng is a very powerful adaptogen with many health benefits that can contribute to sustained energy. It is great for your immune system and may lessen the severity of colds in adults. Studies have linked ginseng to anti-obesity effects.
Ginseng decreases mental stress, relieves menstrual cramps, and lowers blood sugar levels which can contribute to increased energy. It also provides a boost to your metabolism and improves your cognitive abilities and concentration.
When making this tea, make sure to steep it for 5 to 10 minutes to extract all of its benefits. You can add honey and lemon to taste. Many people also enjoy drinking this tea iced.
Moringa leaves are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, making them incredibly nutritious. The tea leaves contain a decent amount of fiber which helps to reduce hunger pangs as well as detox the body. They can also lower the amount of glucose in the blood, meaning that they are great for those who want a stable blood-sugar that can last all day long.
When preparing moringa, place 1 cup of leaves into a pot filled with three cups of boiling water. Boil for 5 minutes and then allow for the tea to cool down. Or if you’d prefer, grab these ready-made Biodynamic Moringa Mint Tea bags from Thrive Market. Add fresh fruit juice to this drink, such as lemon, lime, or pineapple juice.
Maca Root Tea
Maca root has been a popular energy drink for many centuries. It boosts your energy over time (drink it consistently for 2 to 3 weeks to see results) and does so without any harmful stimulants. The maca root contains 10.5% protein, 8.5% fiber, 19 essential amino acids, many vitamins, and minerals. It is a nutritionally whole food that can help overall nourish you and repair fatigue.
Maca has also been studied for its hormone-balancing effects for both women and men. This can also lead to an increased libido for those who have low levels of hormones restoring to a normal balance. It can also curb fatiguing experiences such as hot flashes, dryness, mood swings, and irritability.
You can make your maca tea (grab yours here) into a mocha by adding a bit of milk and chocolate to it. You can also add maca to your smoothies for an energy boost.
Types Of Energy: Adaptogens Vs. Stimulants
There are many different pathways for our bodies to receive nutrients that can boost our energy. Here are the two main ways we receive energy from our beverages
These substances help the body by reducing the impact of stress on the body. This helps to avoid chronic fatigue as well as damage caused by cellular stress. These types of herbs have been widely popular in Chinese medicine for centuries and are only beginning to receive scientific attention in the western world in the past few centuries.
Studies have shown that adaptogens increase focus and increased work capacity in stress-filled environments. They also have anti-inflammatory properties, which may help with long-term conditions such as chronic diseases and auto-immune conditions. They are also effective in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety.
These herbs are most effective with consistent use so that the body can repair and protect itself against stressors over time. However, they are generally free of side effects, meaning that they won’t lead to sleepless nights, energy crashes, or mood swings, unlike the next category.
Plants and herbs that have naturally occurring amounts of caffeine, theobromine, and ephedrine that directly affect the nervous system are known as stimulants. They work by temporarily increasing the availability of certain chemicals in the brain and making these brain pathways more effective.
Stimulants can lead to elevated mood, increased alertness, and increased energy. Side effects include a heightened body temperature, increased alertness, elevated blood pressure, and dry mouth. Long-term effects include stroke and cardiovascular failure. It’s also possible to become dependent or addicted to stimulants.
Which Type Of Plant Energy Should I Use?
Since stimulants simply “rev up” your nervous system for temporary energy, they are not ideal for long-term or high-dosage use. In addition to leading to heart issues, seizures, and insomnia, they can create psychological issues such as anxiety and paranoia. If possible, use stimulants such as caffeine occasionally and not consistently. This way you won’t build up a tolerance and can easily maintain a low to moderate pattern of usage.
Plant adaptogens decrease sensitivity to stressors. This helps the body to recalibrate itself to any situation, rather than simply speeding the system up. For example, sometimes having too much energy makes it hard to focus and study, or read. While a caffeinated substance would contribute to the problem by providing you with more energy, an adaptogenic substance would help to calm you down and feel more comfortable, leading to an easier time studying.
Benefits Of A Caffeine-Free Lifestyle
Better Nutritional Absorption
Drinking caffeine can reduce the bioavailability of magnesium, zinc, potassium, calcium, thiamin, iron, and vitamin B. Caffeine can block the absorption of nutrients in your body by up to 70%. Additionally, caffeine is a diuretic, meaning that it increases the production of urine. This means that caffeine can dehydrate you as well.
Caffeine can affect the electrical activity as well as the blood flow to your brain. This can cause hypertension, which creates a low-grade headache. Daily caffeine drinkers don’t notice this headache after a while because it becomes their “new normal”. Even worse, caffeine withdrawal can lead to severe headaches as well.
Lower Risk of Cardiovascular Issues
As mentioned above, excessive and consistent long-term consumption of caffeine can lead to several cardiovascular issues including heart attacks, strokes, and heart disease. Many caffeine drinkers are familiar with the “rush” that caffeine provides, and the noticeably increased heartbeat. Over time this strains the heart and especially affects people with pre-existing conditions.
Drinking a caffeinated beverage 6 hours before sleeping can significantly decrease the quality of your sleep, as can drinking several cups a day. This is due to caffeine’s effect on the nervous system, which struggles to regulate when overstimulated.
Now that you have a basic understanding of adaptogenic herbs, you can go ahead and start experimenting with a couple of different teas. Remember to try preparing the tea in a few different ways to see which flavor profile works best for you.
Even an occasional cup of non-caffeinated herbal tea will provide a large vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant boost to your day, so you can’t go wrong!
Rachel Dennis is the founder and author of City Homesteads, a blog that explores ideas of homesteading, gardening, and sustainable practices in urban and suburban environments. Connect with Rachel at cityhomesteads.com