Coffee is the second most consumed drink in the world after water, and caffeine is one of the most widely consumed food ingredients in the world with over 90% of people consuming caffeine on a daily basis.
How much coffee should we drink?
Caffeine does have side-effects and too much caffeine simply isn’t good for us. The FDA suggests that we have a maximum of 400mg of caffeine per day as more than this can result in “dangerous, negative effects”. 400mg of caffeine is equal to 4 cups per day of brewed coffee. But, coffee is not the only food that contains caffeine: energy drinks, sports supplements, coca cola, black tea and green tea all contain caffeine so if we want to remain within our caffeine limits, most of us have to lower our coffee intake to even less than 4 cups per day. Those who are under the age of 18, pregnant, planning on becoming pregnant, breastfeeding or have underlying heart conditions or high blood pressure should limit their caffeine intake even further.
What are the negative effects of caffeine?
As most of us have experienced, excessive consumption of caffeine can cause headaches, insomnia, nervousness, irritability, frequent urination or inability to control urination, muscle tremors and fast heartbeat. For some people, those who are considered caffeine-sensitive, even small amounts of caffeine can cause these negative side-effects. For people who have underlying health conditions, these side-effects can become dangerous. Besides the obvious side-effects, caffeine and coffee have other possible negative effects that are not often spoken about:
- Since caffeine is a stimulant it tends to stimulate muscle contractions in the gut which for some people can cause stomach pain and diarrhea. This reaction to caffeine is especially prominent in people with IBS.
- Coffee is high in tannins which can block absorption of iron from food. A cup or two of coffee a day shouldn’t have major negative effects on your iron levels but sipping on coffee throughout the day can definitely contribute to iron deficiency. Since iron deficiency is one of the most common deficiencies in the world, it’s important to recognize the role that coffee consumption can play in exacerbating this deficiency.
- Even though caffeine can help to give one a slight energy boost, this “caffeine-high” is usually short-lived and the long-term effects of relying on caffeine for energy can result in insomnia and sleep-deprivation. Sufficient good quality sleep helps to prevent chronic diseases, regulate weight and helps the brain to repair and regenerate and prevent brain degeneration with age. Because of this, most health professionals recommend avoiding caffeine intake after midday to ensure a good night’s sleep.
So how do we cut down our coffee intake?
In order to answer this question, we first have to understand why we drink coffee.
Why do we drink coffee?
If you are one of the 64% of people that consumes coffee on a daily basis, you will know that drinking coffee is not just about the taste or the energy boost but also about the ritual. Studies have found that despite caffeine having stimulant effects, almost 1/3rd of people drink coffee to relax and most women report that they like to drink coffee because the ritual helps them to relax.
Rituals are habits that become a mindfulness practice and they play a powerful role in human life. Just like meditation, prayer, exercise or smoking a cigarette, rituals force us to slow down and be in the present. Daily rituals help us to stay centered and grounded and help us to find a quiet space in our minds amongst the stress and busyness of everyday life.
So how has coffee become a ritual?
Think about the way in which you prepare your coffee. Where you like to enjoy your coffee. Whom you like to enjoy it with.
Perhaps you make your coffee in the silence of the early morning and enjoy sipping on it slowly and deliberately during this quiet time. Perhaps you sip your coffee on your balcony whilst looking out at the view. Perhaps you like to walk down to your local coffee shop and sip your coffee whilst watching the passersby and centering yourself for the day ahead. Perhaps you sip your coffee in your car before entering the chaos of your office for the day. Perhaps you sip your coffee as a study break to help you to clear your head and refocus. Or perhaps you sip your coffee with some of your favourite people whilst leaving all of your worries behind.
If we really want to reduce our coffee intake, we have to find a beverage that can provide us with the same ritual but without any of the negative health effects. A café-style beverage that you can enjoy at your local coffee shop or whilst out with a friend. A beverage with a full-bodied mouthfeel that you can enjoy in the comfort of your own home or whilst sitting in your car. A beverage that can be made in a slow and deliberate way and that is pleasantly aromatic enough to have a calming effect on the mind. The red espresso® signature range of Rooibos products fits this description perfectly. red espresso® offers a range of Rooibos products from the classic red cappuccino®, to Ground Rooibos for use in coffee appliances to the range of sugar free flavoured pods that are compatible with Nespresso machines.
The red espresso® signature range can be enjoyed as an espresso, cappuccino, latte or Americano and can be prepared at home using your preferred method of brewing - espresso machine, Aeropress, French Press, stovetop moka pot or Nespresso machine - making sure that you maintain all of the ritual of your coffee making process. Keurig K-Cup pods will be launching soon too.
All of the red espresso® products are naturally caffeine-free so they don’t have any of the negative effects of coffee and as a bonus, they boast an amazing antioxidant content which can help to reduce risk of diseases such as heart disease and cancer. One way to quantify the antioxidants in food is something called the ORAC value. An ORAC value expresses the ability of a food to fight free radicals in the body.
The ORAC value of Rooibos tea is 6, Green tea is 11 and red espresso® Rooibos has an ORAC value of 59. Owing to its patented grind and espresso method of preparation, red espresso® Rooibos contains 4 x more polyphenol antioxidants and has 10 times the ORAC value (free radical fighting abilities) than regular Rooibos tea. Drinking Rooibos tea in the traditional way filters out the leaves and therefore only small amounts of antioxidants actually enter the hot water. The red espresso® Ground Rooibos is made from 100% Rooibos tea leaves which allows you to really get all of the health benefits of this amazing tea by consuming the whole leaves in powdered form.
red espresso® also offer a wider range of unique caffeine-free café-style beverages to help you to replace some of the coffee in your diet with their Superfood Latte Mixes that make use of a range of delicious antioxidant-rich superfoods such as Matcha, Beetroot, Turmeric and Rooibos. And their range of vegan friendly chai lattes available in spiced and vanilla chai latte flavours.
Thanks to red espresso®, it is now possible for all of us to cut down on our caffeine intake whilst still maintaining all of the ritual and pleasure of our coffee-drinking habits, enjoying an intense, strong, full-bodied taste, and getting a great antioxidant boost at the same time.
Disclaimer: The information on this blog is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.
Written by Jessica Kotlowitz, Registered Dietitian as a paid partnership with red espresso®
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Jessica Kotlowitz is a Registered Dietitian with a Masters degree in Nutrition (Stell. University). Jessica has a private practice in Cape Town which focuses on plant-based nutrition.
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*red espresso® is not affiliated with, endorsed or sponsored by Nespresso. Nespresso® is a registered trademark of Société des Produits Nestlé S.A.