Lately, many of us have had to press pause on the activities that keep us active and energised. Spending more time indoors may make us more prone to feeling sluggish, and more likely to reach for an afternoon coffee.
But there are healthy alternatives to caffeine that can give you the energy boost you crave along with some other unexpected health benefits.
This plant originates from Peru and was originally used to enhance sex drive, stamina and fertility. It has increased in popularity, and is thought to enhance mental focus, support adrenal function and fight off fatigue. Maca can be taken either as a supplement or in powdered form, which can be drunk in a smoothie or heated with milk as an alternative to your morning coffee.
Peppermint tea has been shown to help support brain oxygen concentration and exercise performance. It can also help to improve digestion, boost your immune system and assist weight loss by reducing appetite. Fresh mint, tea and peppermint essential oil all have similar benefits.
Deficiencies in B vitamins such as nicotinamide riboside can cause fatigue, mood problems and make it harder to concentrate. Nicotinamide riboside (NR), a type of vitamin B3, can be converted by our bodies into a coenzyme called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+). This coenzyme is essential to the healthy function of all living cells and in maintaining a healthy metabolism. Vitamin B can be found it both supplements and foods including nuts, lean meat, fortified grains and seeds.
Packed with nutrients, protein, carbohydrates and vitamins A and B, this caffeine-free chocolate substitute is actually a part of the legume family. The high amount of pinitol in carob has an insulin-like effect on the body, giving it a natural energy boost. Not only can it be used as a natural sweetener in a hot chocolate or smoothie, but it also offers digestive benefits.
If you need a quick pick-me-up, a handful of nuts is a great healthy go-to. One study found that regularly eating nuts improved brainwave frequencies associated with cognition. Because nuts contain carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats, your blood sugar levels stay balanced, meaning you get the energy boost without the spike and fall you’d get when eating sugar or drinking coffee. While most nuts are high in healthy fats and a are great source of energy, some have different benefits. Walnuts, for example, are packed with antioxidants and have been shown to benefit memory and learning skills.
Cordyceps are thought to help the body deliver energy to the muscles, have anti-ageing properties, reduce fatigue, boost strength and sex drive, benefit heart health and fight inflammation.
If you have a light stomach, it may be best not to image search cordyceps. It is actually a family of parasitic fungi that attack the larvae of insects, growing long slender ‘stems’ from the host’s body. In order to gain the multiple health benefits of cordyceps, it may be best not to think about where they’ve come from.
Used in traditional Chinese medicine, ginseng is thought to help replenish energy levels. It has been adopted by many modern energy drink companies as an ingredient. It is thought to sharpen the mind and improve endurance, memory and concentration.
Ginseng can be taken as a supplement or in its more popular tea form. It’s important to read the dosage instructions before use.
Have you found yourself feeling more sluggish or fatigued than normal? Would you swap a cup of coffee for one of these alternatives?
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Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.