Millions of people wake up every day and enjoy their morning coffee, resigning themselves to the fact that they might not be very productive without it.
The reason, of course, is the natural caffeine found in coffee beans, and while a little bit of caffeine doesn’t cause a lot of harm by itself, there can be problems with excessive doses or when it’s combined with other products.
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The first thing to realize is that caffeine is addictive, and if you stretch yourself so thin that you need large amounts of the chemical to stay active, you need to be careful that you don’t suffer from addiction.
The withdrawal symptoms rival those of cigarettes, from crippling headaches to extreme lethargy, shakiness and more.
The world’s obsession with the chemical has led to blends that seek to satisfy a craze for “the buzz.” These blends commonly take form in energy drinks and supplements, and they can be dangerous if consumed in high volumes.
A cup of coffee or an espresso should be considered a medium dose of caffeine, whereas if you’re looking for something smaller, try some tea, which has plenty of other helpful effects for your mind and body.
Why They Work
An important part in finding your stimulant “green” zone is to understand how stimulants operate.
Caffeine and other substances give you that “alert” sensation by opening up the blood vessels in your body, increasing blood flow to your brain (and other parts).
Of course, with everything, there’s a yang, and one of the biggest pitfalls of caffeine is the “crash” you get after the boost wears off. This is due to your blood vessels constricting back to normal, causing the opposite effect.
Other chemicals, such as flavonols found in dark chocolate, have similar effects, and while one approach to having a steady flow of alertness throughout the day might be to keep a small, steady amount of these chemicals in your body, an alternative is thinking in terms of quality, rather than quantity.
The solution for those that still want a little boost but don’t want to go overboard would be surprised to know that there are plenty of substances that can provide extra energy.
There are many ways to improve what your blood is bringing to your brain, rather than just increasing the blood flow.
Vitamin E and magnesium, which are easy to get from almonds and other nuts, are very effective at keeping you alert. If nuts don’t tempt your palate, consuming a healthy amount of protein will help stimulate the orexin neurons in your brain, which are responsible for keeping you awake.
Keeping your blood clean can help you stay focused, so loading up on antioxidants, such as those found in blueberries, can help you stay on point for long sessions. Additionally, the fatty acids found in cold water, fatty fish called DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) helps improve memory retention and prevent memory loss.
Finally, you can always try to help your blood’s main function, which is to provide oxygen to your organs (and mind).
Long, deep breaths, regulated breathing exercises and meditation can help you keep a regular supply of air in your bloodstream, and taking a nice walk outside to get some fresh air might help give you the wake-up call your body needs to keep going.
There’s a lot of merit to the old saying “eat a balanced diet.” Mixing it up will help your mind get the nutritious blood it needs to stay alert.
Avoid surviving on caffeine alone, and let your body get the helpful vitamins and minerals it desires so your brain stays fresh.
Here is a list of natural stimulants for you to explore that are much better than consuming energy drinks.
- Cacao powder/nibs
- Chia seeds
- Coconut oil
- Green tea
- Yerba mate
- Gotu kola root