Quitting Coffee and Medicinal Mushroom Alternatives
Few things awaken the senses more than a bold cup of coffee. There was a time when coffee would be the thing to make me jump out of bed, from the rich aroma of the beans grinding to the sublime first sip. The whole ritual would define the start of my day and make the world seem a little bit brighter.
There’s a good reason for this. Coffee, or more specifically the caffeine in coffee, increases energy metabolism throughout the brain, acting as a central nervous system stimulant providing noticeable increases in alertness. In 2005 researchers used functional MRI to determine how coffee activates different areas of the brain in 15 volunteers. They observed greater activation in parts of the prefrontal lobe, which are areas involved in 'executive memory', attention, concentration and planning.
However, the focus and feel-good effects derived from coffee is borrowed energy and in a sense is a debt that the body repays.
The Darker Side of Coffee
Post Coffee Crash & Sleep Disruption
Caffeine works to enhance feelings of alertness and energy by blocking the sleep-inducing molecule, adenosine. Adenosine accumulates in the brain throughout the day, preparing the body for rest in the evening. Caffeine disrupts adenosine’s natural rhythm and the effects are twofold. Once the coffee is metabolised, the adenosine again flushes the body’s receptors and the sense of tiredness returns, giving us that post-coffee crash, and it also influences our natural circadian rhythm, resulting in potential sleep disturbances.
Caffeine also rewires our brain chemistry enhancing dopamine signalling in the brain, rendering it addictive. The result of this feel-good trigger has a downside, which is the depletion of serotonin over time which can result in feeling low, flat or even depressed.
Ever had those coffee jitters? By acting as a stimulant for the nervous system, caffeine increases blood flow, heart contractions and significant quantities can also cause heart palpitations which result in that undesirable, jittery feeling.
What Happens When You Quit Coffee?
I’m not going to lie. The first time I quit coffee cold turkey it was horrible and I lasted about three days. I felt blunt, flat, unable to focus like I was stumbling through the day in a mental haze. It was at this point I realised my invisible addiction and the grip it had on me. I also experienced a symptom I wasn't expecting, insomnia. In the early evening of my first day without coffee, I was so tired I could barely keep my eyes open, but upon getting into bed, I was tired but wired and just couldn't drift off. I later learnt that insomnia was a common symptom of coffee withdrawal due to adenosine disruption.
Common symptoms of caffeine withdrawal can include:
- Fatigue and tiredness throughout the day
- Irritability and temporary blues.
- Brain fog or lack of focus
Life After Coffee
Your Body Resets
Once over the initial hump, the body begins to essentially detox from coffee allowing adenosine to reset and function normally and encouraging the sleep and wake cycle to drop back to its normal rhythm.
If you’re worried about productivity in the morning without coffee, rest assured your body is working in the background to get you up and into action. Cortisol is a hormone produced in the adrenal glands and one of its roles is to promote alertness. In the early morning, your body’s natural cortisol production spikes to transition you into wakefulness and promote action.
After quitting coffee you may find yourself with better-sustained energy, more stable moods and better quality sleep.
Take it Slow
In light of this, it's best to take quitting coffee slowly. On my second attempt, I made a plan and stuck to it, gradually reducing my coffee consumption from one cup down to nothing over the course of a month.
Caffeine-free Energy with Medicinal Mushroom Coffee Alternatives
One of the biggest factors was having something to replace my morning coffee ritual with. When I was first looking to ease off coffee, I naturally turned to medicinal mushrooms to fill the gaps when it came to increased energy and focus and having an arousing effect on the body without actually being stimulants.
We created Dawn Blend for a morning ritual that truly elevates, providing lasting energy to carry you throughout the day.
Dawn is a blend of rich Peruvian cacao and a hint of warming spice, deliciously infused with adaptogenic Cordyceps and Turkey Tail mushrooms, Australian Native Kakadu Plum, and the highest quality all-natural, organic ingredients.
Cordyceps in Dawn Blend
The Cordyceps in Dawn Blend, in particular, is a deep energy awakener. Traditionally, Cordyceps was used to restore vitality, stay healthy and promote longevity nourishing both the yin and the yang energies that reside in the kidneys storing the life essence qi. By nourishing our qi we restore this lifeforce energy that increases our cellular performance, physical resilience and overall health.
Cacao in Dawn Blend
Cacao is a good source of tryptophan which is a dietary precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin supporting a positive mood and relief from stress, and also anandamide the 'bliss chemical', a neurotransmitter that when released in the brain produces a feeling of euphoria. Cacao is also rich in magnesium, an array of antioxidants and minerals and theobromine which has been shown to aid in the absorption of nutrients, helping make sure you're accessing all of the beneficial compounds in your Dawn Blend.
Visually it’s hard to tell the difference between a long black coffee and a Chaga tea. With its deep, robust flavour and energy-enhancing potential, Chaga can be a great coffee substitute if you’re looking to take a break from caffeine and the crash that often comes with it.
Chaga is a medicinal mushroom that boasts immense immunomodulating potential. Brimming with adaptogenic beta-d-glucans, antioxidants, skin protecting melanin, betulinic acid and an array of proteins, sterols and enzymes, Chaga is revered as an anti-ageing, energy potentiating and immune-supporting powerhouse.
Chaga has a rich, dark and somewhat earthy flavour with a hint of floral-like notes. Its slightly bitter profile comes from its triterpenes, and the subtle presence of vanilla comes from Chaga’s naturally occurring vanillin content.
Chaga’s robust qualities make it a perfect morning brew.
Making a cup of Chaga tea is one of the easiest recipes you’ve ever encountered. Pop the kettle on and add ¼ to ½ tsp of your Inner Atlas Chaga extract powder to a cup of boiled water, stir 2 to 3 times, and enjoy.
Over to you
If you’re feeling like it’s time to break up with coffee for a little while, plan ahead and give yourself at least 2 to 3 weeks to see how you feel. It also doesn’t have to be forever. I still have the occasional coffee from time to time, but the difference is I’ve broken the pattern of addiction and don’t wake up craving it the following day. If you take the leap, we’d love to hear how you go. Feel free to drop us a note in the comments below.