Did you know that 2.5 billion cups of coffee are drunk worldwide every day? That’s a lot of coffee! Second only to water. And how about you? How many cups of coffee do you drink a day? Are you an occasional coffee drinker when in need of an energy or mood boost or a coffee addict who can’t even get out of bed without their morning caffeine fix? Paris-based holistic health practitioner Déborah Passuti explains why caffeine is a psychoactive substance to be consumed with caution.
Type ‘coffee’ and ‘health’ into Google et al. and the first hits that come up will certainly reassure you of the benefits of coffee: Coffee can help prevent certain cardiovascular diseases. Coffee has been proven to be effective against some types of cancer. Even the most hardcore coffee addicts will feel a sense of relief about the long-term effects of their caffeine habit. But as the saying goes, all things in moderation. And that applies to caffeine, too. “Coffee does indeed have many benefits, but too much of it can be bad for you,” explains Passuti. Caffeine is a drug that stimulates the body – the heart, the brain, the digestive system – pushing it into overdrive. Over time, the diuretic, laxative, psychoactive and stimulating effects of caffeine cause the body to function less well without it. The body begins to ‘crave’ it. This sets off a vicious circle. And before you can say “what a ‘latte’ coffee”, the addiction’s kicked in.
Time to make a break for it from the coffee break?
“I wouldn’t necessarily advise giving up coffee cold turkey. I don’t think it’s ever a good idea to do anything in excess. If you do though decide to go all-out and ditch the caffeine altogether, it’s important you wean yourself off it gradually, so as not to ‘shock’ the body. Ideally, you should be aiming to drink one cup a day max, preferably in the morning and never on an empty stomach, as this causes your blood sugar levels to rise,” she says – caffeine remains in the bloodstream for an average of 14 hours.
Swap your mocha for a matcha
Those who love a coffee have a wide range of alternative drinks to choose from, “but should bear in mind that these won’t give them the same caffeine kick as they get from coffee. Drinks containing spices like ginger, turmeric and cloves are an interesting option because they’re invigorating but not stimulating. Thyme tea is another stimulating alternative,” says Déborah Passuti.
One of the options that’s the most like coffee is chicory: “It’s a good alternative because it contains fibre and minerals that aid digestion. You can even buy coffee-chicory blends, to help ease the transition.”
Green tea is another great substitute for coffee: You can drink up to three cups a day of it. Be careful with black tea, though, which contains a lot of theine, a diuretic substance that also puts excessive strain on the body’s excretory functions.
“Finally, I’m a big fan of matcha tea. I even recommend it as a great detox. It’s not a classic tea, because of the very specific way that it’s made, whereby special molecules develop, activating the anti-oxidant power of theine, but modulating its stimulating effect. The result: a relaxing, anti-oxidant drink that stimulates memory and focus, without disrupting the body’s precious equilibrium,” concludes Déborah Passuti.