Smoothie Diet

7 Alternatives to Regular Coffee

By Published On: July 9, 20246.8 min readViews: 450 Comments on 7 Alternatives to Regular Coffee
Many people turn to caffeine for an energy boost or to help them focus. But if you have an anxiety disorder, you may find that your symptoms spike when you have your favorite coffee or energy drink. The reason? Too much caffeine can worsen symptoms of anxiety disorders, research shows.

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“Caffeine is a stimulant that can increase energy and focus, but for some that are sensitive, it can be too stimulating and lead to a hyperactive mind with increased stress and anxiety,” says Uma Naidoo, MD, a nutritional psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and a Harvard Medical School faculty member.

A few factors are at play here, says the psychiatrist Ryan Sultan, MD, an attending physician at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and director of the Mental Health Informatics Lab at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City. For starters, caffeine stops your body’s attempt to calm you by blocking adenosine, a brain chemical that promotes relaxation and sleepiness. It also stimulates the release of adrenaline, a hormone that triggers your body’s fight-or-flight response.

“This surge can mimic anxiety symptoms, such as increased heart rate, jitteriness, and heightened alertness,” Dr. Sultan says. As a result, people with anxiety disorders are often encouraged to limit how much caffeine they consume.

In general, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends no more than 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine per day. That equals about four or five cups of coffee. But for people with anxiety, this may be far too much, says Whitney Linsenmeyer, PhD, RD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and assistant professor of nutrition and dietetics at Saint Louis University in Missouri.

Low doses of caffeine are considered to be between 50 mg and 200 mg.

 As for exactly how much caffeine is too much for those with anxiety disorders, it often varies from person to person. Some may find they can still have some caffeine without aggravating their symptoms, while others may need to stay away from it altogether. “I always recommend people listen to their body when it comes to caffeine,” says Dr. Naidoo.

Whether you’d like to limit your caffeine intake or avoid it altogether, here’s a look at seven low-caf or decaf alternatives for an energy boost without the added jitters.


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