Are you one of those people who can’t function until they’ve guzzled down at least one (very strong) cup of coffee? If the answer’s a resounding ‘yes’, I can certainly relate. By the time the clock strikes 12, I’ve already consumed at least three cups and the kettle’s on for my next fix.
I did a bit of investigating into the drinking habits of my own office and discovered that around 40% of my colleagues drink 5-6 caffeinated beverages per day. Tea seems to be the most popular tipple, with 70% opting for a good old fashioned brew.
How does caffeine actually work?
The science behind how caffeine works is relatively simple.
Our brains produce as chemical called adenosine. When we do exercise or towards the end of a long day, our level of adenosine rises, latches onto receptors and this leaves us feeling fatigued.
Caffeine craftily impersonates adenosine, tricking the receptors into letting it in. But instead of slowing the cell’s activity down, it speeds it up, and like a petulant child blocks the adenosine from getting in. This enables chemicals like dopamine and adrenaline to infiltrate the body.
All this leaves us feeling…
And when we don’t get our fix we succumb once more to…
☹ Lack of concentration
At the end of the day, caffeine is a drug and too much of it can only have a negative impact on our health. A case study from the Virtual Mass Spectrometry Laboratory explains that caffeine stimulates the heart and dilates the vessels, resulting in increased blood pressure.
What are the alternatives?
Here’s a list of healthy alternatives that still manage to provide the ‘kick’ we crave. They’re likely to leave you feeling energised for longer- and with fresher breath too!
1. Peppermint Tea
Aside from being one of the most refreshing beverages ever, this miracle worker reduces feelings of anxiety and boosts concentration. Peppermint tea can improve long-term and working memory, as evidenced in research carried by the BPS.
For a DIY job, add a few leaves to boiling water and let them settle, before adding a dash of natural honey to sweeten.
2. Homemade ginger tea
Bursting with vitamin C and a wealth of minerals, a ginger tea will leave you feeling fit, healthy and ready to go.
You can buy ginger teabags but nothing tastes as good something made from scratch. Just mix a few slices of peeled ginger with a tbsp of honey and a dash of lime for the perfect blend. Mmm.
3. Maca Tea
A superfood from the Peruvian Andes, Maca has a sweet taste and the leaves of the plant can be harvested for tea.
Maca is rich in vitamins B, C and E and can provide relief from both fatigue and stress. It’s also good for the skin and mood. An all-rounder, really.
4. Coconut water
This beverage is similar to marmite in the sense that people seem to love it or thoroughly loathe it. I’m a fan.
I’d recommend it mainly for its ability to hydrate- particularly important in a stuffy office environment. Overflowing with antioxidants and mineral- rich, this drink hydrates the body by replacing lost fluids.
5. Schizandra Tea
This fruity berry tea was first used in in ancient Chinese medical practice and is famous for its energising qualities. It’s also very kind to the liver, so much so that it protects as well as cleanses it.
Schizandra has a unique taste that’s can’t really be put into words. It’s nicknamed the Five Flavours tea because it contains a combination of sweet, sour, spicy, salty and bitter tastes.
And at the end of a long, taxing day you can curl up on the sofa and unwind with a lovely chamomile tea!