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  • Healthy Alternatives to Caffeine

    With the rising popularity of energy drinks, many folks are wondering if it’s possible to get an energy boost from more natural sources and specifically, are looking for options other than a cup of java or that giant carbonated can of RedBull. To that end we bring you our top seven healthy alternatives to caffeine that you may find beneficial. As always, remember to consult your physician before attempting ones that involve supplementation.

    Ginseng: Much like caffeine, ginseng, derived from the ginseng root, has a stimulating effect. Ginseng has been shown to increase blood flow in the body thereby creating sensations of wakefulness. In terms of its benefits, Ginseng has been used for a myriad of purposes from treating depression to helping men with sexual dysfunction. The root is most often available in dried form, but the extract is readily available at most health food and drugstores in various forms such as caplets.

    Ginkgo Biloba: Another herbal extract, ginkgo biloba like ginseng, works by increasing blood-flow to the brain and extremities. Used for centuries in Chinese medicine, the increase in bloodflow is often associated with feelings of alertness and increased energy. As well, some research has shown that ginkgo has nootropic properties, that is to say helping with focus, memory and concentration.

    Apples, grapes and citrus fruits: While they won’t give off the same type of rush as caffeine, apples, grapes and citrus fruits contain fructose which boosts blood-sugar levels, thereby giving a boost of energy. As well, chewing an apple opens up neural and muscle passageways, making it an ideal pre-workout snack.

    Stretching: Hitting the wall at 3 PM and find yourself needing a siesta? Try stretching instead of reaching for that coffee maker. Stretching revs up oxygen metabolism in your blood, which should help re-energize you for the rest of your afternoon. To take things up a notch, try Yoga or Pilates, two disciplines that improve your strength, flexibility and circulation, thereby helping your energy levels day-round!

    B12: If you don’t remember the infamous Seinfeld episode where George Costanza eats a piece of mango to regain his “swagger,” his claim after eating the fresh fruit was that it felt “like he had just had a B12 shot.” He felt renewed and re-energized and indeed, B12 can do just that, helping with mental clarity and energy enhancement. The best way to take a B12 supplement? Under your tongue, due to the way the vitamin is absorbed by your body.

    Ice Water: No, not a cold shower (although that certainly can do the trick as well) but a glass of ice cold water first thing in the morning not only serves to rehydrate your body, but the extreme cold will stroke your body’s metabolic fires to warm the water up as your body absorbs it, thus giving you a caffeine-free boost.

    Get enough sleep: This one seems pretty evident but one sure-fire way to avoid resorting to constant heapings of caffeine is ensuring that you’re not tired to begin with, that is to say, you’re getting the necessary seven to eight hours of sleep a night that your body needs. In today’s society, a lack of sleep is unfortunately too often viewed as a sign of strength and commitment when in reality, it’s extremely necessary for proper bodily functions, let alone avoiding caffeine.

    So there you have it. Crunch on that apple, down that cold glass of water, take a shot of B12 or simply, shut off the late-night talk shows and get some proper zzzz’s. All will help you avoid caffeine and keep you sharp, alert and focussed throughout your day.

     

    Adam Francis

    July 1, 2014

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