5 Energy-Boosting Alternatives From The Vitamin Aisle
Better Nutrition|April 2019

If your day starts with a zombie-like stagger to your Nespresso machine, you might want to rethink your relationship with caffeine

Lisa Turner

It’s not that coffee (or tea) are bad; studies have shown that they’re high in antioxidants and may decrease the risk of diabetes, Parkinson’s, heart disease, and cancer. But slamming caffeine doesn’t give you true energy. Instead, it creates a fake rush by prompting the adrenal glands to release adrenaline and cortisol, stress hormones that, over time, deplete the adrenals and create an overall drop in true energy—and a greater dependence on caffeine as a drug.

The same goes for energy drinks and shots laced with caffeine and guarana (a “natural” caffeine source). Even worse, they’re usually loaded with sugar, artificial flavors and colors, and preservatives, which studies show can lead to other adverse effects including arterial dilatation, aneurysm formation, rupture of large arteries, anxiety, insomnia, gastrointestinal upset, muscle twitching, headaches, and a decrease in insulin sensitivity. And that’s not just for heavy users: even one drink per day can dramatically increase blood pressure

True energy—not the jittery, boundless feeling that derives from a surge of cortisol or adrenaline—comes from adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is a usable form of energy for cells and is created from the foods we eat. Insufficient levels of ATP lead to both mental and physical fatigue. And while the occasional cup of coffee is fine, if you’re propping yourself up three times a day with espresso and strong black tea, it’s time for a change. Kick caffeine to the curb and try these energizing alternatives for a natural high.

GINSENG

Traditionally used in Chinese medicine to nourish the organs, improve qi (vital energy), and increase stamina, ginseng is considered an adaptogen, meaning it supports and protects the body by rejuvenating and invigorating it. There are two main types of ginseng: American and Asian, also called Korean or Panax ginseng. Panax ginseng is considered more stimulating than American, and is your best choice for long-term vitality and overall balance. (Siberian ginseng, also called eleuthero, is not a true ginseng, although it has beneficial health properties of its own.)

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