In the offices and homes of people around the world, a caffeinated drink to get the day underway is a ritual so common that it’s arguably a habit. Looking ahead to the goals we often make in the New Year, addressing your relationship with caffeine is the low-hanging fruit of health resolutions.
Although extremely popular, caffeine also boasts a list of negative side effects and it’s easy to over-indulge when on the go. Dehydration (caffeine is a diuretic), dizziness, shakiness, insomnia, anxiety, dependency, and withdrawal aren’t exactly attractive reactions to your favoured caffeinated brew – and the list doesn’t stop there.
Yes, you can safely have one coffee in the morning without becoming a quivering mess, but what goes up must come down! In a 2021 New York Times article, neuroscientist Seth Blackshaw explains that caffeine prevents adenosine – a chemical that builds sleep pressure – from binding to brain receptors. This means you feel temporarily more awake, but adenosine is still building up in your body, and once the caffeine wears off you are left with a high level of sleep pressure. Does the word ‘slump’ sound familiar
The article goes on to explain that building up a tolerance to caffeine is common. As your liver adapts by making proteins that break it down faster, you end up needing more of it to feel the same effects. You can see how it can spiral from here. So, how else can you sustain your energy throughout the day?
Taking a brisk walk can do wonders; it increases your blood circulation, sending more oxygen and nutrients to your brain and your muscles. This is particularly helpful if your job involves lots of sitting. Some research has shown that small brisk walks (pay attention, office workers and truck drivers) can help lower your blood sugar more than one longer walk.
Speaking of blood sugar, avoiding peaks and troughs by considering the glycaemic index of the foods you are eating is another excellent way to sustain energy. It can be as simple as swapping rice flake cereal for porridge in the morning.
Keeping your blood glucose low prevents an insulin spike, which carries the sugar out of the blood, and can result in levels dropping low enough to feel hungry, lethargic, and even dizzy. While it may not always be feasible to avoid a sweet treat, they’re best not to be consumed on an empty stomach, to slow the digestive process and avoid an energy crash.
Bee pollen has long been recognised as a great source of sustained energy. One of the reasons is its high vitamin B profile, a group of vitamins which work to convert the food you eat into energy. While B vitamin supplements are commonly isolated into subsets, bee pollen contains a range of the B group, which have been shown to work together.
David O Kennedy explains in his PubMed Central article that there are closely related functions of each of the B vitamins, and while 9, 12, and 6 are commonly focused on, it is their collective effect that can optimise functions such as energy production.
These are just some of the ways in which you can support your energy levels without reaching for the coffee (or black tea!). It’s time to step off the caffeine rollercoaster.
By Keren Cook, NatureBee
Kennedy DO. B Vitamins and the Brain: Mechanisms, Dose and Efficacy–A Review. Nutrients. 2016 Jan 27;8(2):68. doi: 10.3390/nu8020068. PMID: 26828517; PMCID: PMC4772032.