Ditch the coffee and kick-start your day with these energising foods and drinks
For many of us, coffee is as much a part of our morning routine as reaching for the snooze button. Besides its obvious energy-busting qualities (and ability to activate turbo mode in humans), caffeine has been attributed with boosting memory and stimulating hair growth. But a recent study by Mayo Clinic Proceedings shows that anything more than four cups a day can be harmful to people aged 55 and over. Whether you want to cut down, or try something new, here, two Dubai-based nutritionists reveal eight ideal replacements.
Rosemary tea What’s in it? Still water, fresh rosemary sprigs and organic oranges.
What’s it good for? ‘Caffeine can prevent the absorption of some nutrients and minerals,’ says Gabi Kurz, wellness chef at Talise Nutrition Madinat Jumeirah. ‘Rosemary contains powerful antioxidants and high levels of vitamins and pantothenic acid. It has the same awakening properties as coffee but it doesn’t contain caffeine so it isn’t addictive,’ she says. ‘It’s best to avoid it at night because rosemary will keep you awake. Drink up to three cups of rosemary tea a day if you’re suffering from indigestion,’ says Gabi.
Green juice What’s in it? Green papaya, green apple, celery sticks, flat leaf parsley, pineapple and lemon.
What’s it good for? ‘Coffee gives an instant energy hit but when you start coming down, you might find you need another fix,’ says Gabi. ‘The great thing about juice is that it goes into your blood stream immediately so you feel the effects and gain vitamins and nutrients straight away. However, if you are addicted to caffeine and you switch to juice, you might not be as satisfied. This morning juice contains natural sugar from the fruit, which provides a boost. It’s a great way to detox and will provide energy so you will be more focused. When you’re cleansed from a detox, you have a much clearer head, with better attention span,’ says Gabi.
Water, lemon and ginger What’s in it? Hot, warm or cold water, add a slice of fresh lemon and a slice of fresh ginger.
What’s it good for? ‘Drink this first thing after waking, then wait approximately 30 minutes before eating breakfast, as this will ensure your body gets the most energy and nutrients from food,’ says Dubai-based Anila Marti, nutritionist and founder of Health and Life Coach. ‘Use fresh lemons that are preferably organic. Lemon in water eliminates toxins to aid digestion and reduce phlegm. Coffee with milk can produce phlegm, so if you have a cold, stay away from milky coffees,’ she says.
Breathing exercises ‘Taking three to four deep breaths in through the mouth and out through the nose is a great way to start the day,’ says Anila. ‘Do this by standing up straight, with your arms by your side, then as you breathe in, lift your arms out to the side and reach up, then breath out as you bring your arms parallel to the floor. Breathe in again as you stretch your arms forward, and out as you bring your arms back to your sides again,’ she says. ‘Gentle stretches can help to energise your body first thing in the morning and get your blood pumping.’
Apples ‘An apple is a great start to the day as it contains carbohydrates which will release slowly to give you energy for the morning and especially before your morning workout,’ says Anila. ‘It also contains fructose, a slow release sugar, that takes time to digest giving you more sustained energy than a coffee with sugar or sweetener which gives you only an instant hit of energy. The fruit also contains digestible fibres which will make you feel full and helps digestion.’
Porridge oats or oatmeal ‘Coffee can actually make you more tired, as the boost you get from caffeine is nothing more than chemical stimulation as your body struggles to adapt to increased blood levels of stress hormones,’ says Anila. ‘Plain porridge is a great breakfast energiser, as it contains protein, carbohydrates and fibre and helps to improve digestion, reduce high cholesterol and help prevent heart disease,’ she adds. ‘Studies have shown that people who eat eggs or porridge for breakfast are more likely to lose weight than those who eat other breakfast items such as muffins, cereals or bagels,’ says Anila. Chef Gabi, wellness chef at Magnolia and Talise Nutrition Madinat Jumeirah (04 366 6818). Anila Martin, Health & Life Coach, www.healthandlifecoach.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eggs ‘Eating an egg (boiled, scrambled, as an omelette or poached) is a great way to start the day,’ says Anila. ‘They are rich in protein and will keep you fuller for longer; plus they contain iron to boost your energy levels and coupled with some wholegrain toast and spinach are a complete meal, containing carbohydrates for slow release energy and spinach for iron which will be easily absorbed.’
Green tea What is it? Hot water and green tea leaves or a tea bag.
What’s it good for? ‘Consumed on its own, green tea is calorie free, whereas a latte or cappuccino can set you back up to 400 calories,’ says Anila. ‘Heavy caffeine use can cause problems such as restlessness, anxiety, irritability and sleeplessness. Green tea is full of antioxidants to help fight and prevent against cell damage and it can improve cholesterol levels,’ she says. ‘Research has shown that green tea drinkers appear to have lower risk for a wide range of diseases, from simple bacterial or viral infections to conditions including cardiovascular disease and cancer.’