Caffeine has it's benefits. It can help speed up pain-killers in doing their job, can wake you up for short periods of time which can have a positive short term effect on memory and mental alertness, and coffee, in whatever form, is just so gosh-darn delicious.
But here's the dark side:Not only do most of us not tend to drink our coffee 'black' and end loading it up with unnecessary calories from sugar or (soy?) creamer, or consume those terrible 'energy drinks' full of high fructose corn syrup and non-vegan artificial colors and flavors, caffeine can raise your heart rate, dehydrate you, and cause gastrointestinal duress. It can also aid in insomnia, work to perpetuate anxiety, and cause problems with the nervous system. Why put your body through that much trouble?
My near 9 month foray into veganism has taught me something: I can have discipline in my vices, and I can stop doing things, at least in terms of diet, that hurt me. So 2 weeks ago, I quit coffee. Let me tell you something: After the initial fuzzy-brain syndrome, I feel great. I have energy in the morning, I sleep like a log at night, and I don't have any more coffee-related problems with my stomach or my nerves. My anxiety has been cut in half.
My aunt used to buy the most wonderful jasmine green tea, the smell was encompassing, even in the tin, and the flavor is lovely, fragrant, and calming all at once. I've recently switched to either Jasmine tea or hot apple cider when I am craving something warm in the morning.
Also, lately, a bunch of my friends have gotten the flu, I have been fortunate enough to avoid this, and, upon research, I found out that this Jasmine tea drinking and flu immunity may not be mutually exclusive! An article found here says the following:
"...In addition, jasmine tea fights viruses and bacteria, preventing thus influenza, cavities and food poisoning, including cholera, dysentery, mouth bacteria damaging teeth and piccoli causing gastric ulcers. One of the jasmine tea health benefits is to improve intestine conditions by blocking development and growth of bad bacteria and strengthening good bacteria. Connecting with such substances as human waste, meat, fish and breath, the tea prevents odor. Gargling with jasmine green tea is also believed to be one of the most effective ways to protect oneself from influenza, as the tea performs anti-viral functions.
...Other jasmine tea health benefits include the ability to reduce the risk of blood clot, prevent allergy and flue, reduce high blood pressure and blood sugar, keep fluid balance, boost the immune system and provide oral care and fluoride that helps protect cavities and prevent tooth decay.
Most green teas with jasmine contain a significant amount of polyphenols, plant-based substances which have proven to have antiviral, anticancer and antioxidant properties."
Jasmine tea that is combined with green tea is also full of cancer fighting, skin beautifying antioxidants, and is known as an aphrodisiac. So drop the coffee and jump on the Jasmine Tea train with me! It might just save you from a nasty flu this season, and help with other health problems down the line.
Here are some ideas if you need a boost in the morning and want to kick the caffeine:
-Ginseng, found in local Asian markets and Health Food Stores, this is an adaptogenic (meaning it finds the source of physical and mental stress and works to fight it) which strengthens the system, and creates an energy boost that does not have a 'crash' later in the day. This is also one of the best hangover cures I know, other than a big glass of water and rest.
-GETTING THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF SLEEP, 8 hours in a dark space, devoid of loud music or TV or any sort of light, preferably at night, and preferably at the same time every night, waking at the same time every morning. If nighttime and same-time every night sleep are not possible, then at least try to get your 8 hours in every day.
-A fresh juice or smoothie in the morning, or, barring that, a big glass of water and some fresh fruits or veggies.
-Stepping outside as soon as you wake up, even for 5-10 minutes. Breathe in the fresh air, expose yourself to daylight, and welcome the day. You'll be surprised what wonders this can work. If it's too chilly to go outside, open the shades and the windows to let nature do it's work to wake you up. This is the cheapest (free!) and easiest way to get energy in the AM.
Good luck, get plenty of rest and fluids to help you stay healthy this flu season, and for those of you who might try to kick the caffeine, let me know how it goes!