Wake up & smell the tea

Dr. Ruddy, ND
Inner Fire Yoga Teacher

Though coffee is often touted as a choice beverage with myriads of health benefits (true in the right context), in my clinical practice I all too often witness the other side of the story, where coffee proves to be the major culprit in a slew of chronic health symptoms: headaches/migraines, indigestion/heartburn, anxiety, insomnia, and fatigue, to name a few. For the modern yogis today living a presumably busy/demanding life outside their yoga mat, I find coffee a risky choice for a long-term, sustainable yoga practice. This is due to its unpredictably high amount of caffeine, which exaggerates our body's daytime "fight-or-flight" response (via catecholamines, our stress hormones). Over time this can irreversibly deplete the adrenal function needed for healthy aging. We can thus think of our adrenal glands as our "rechargeable batteries", which already recharge less optimally in the long run even without the effects of caffeine. For those of us seeking a quality beverage with low or no caffeine, here are some worthy contenders with their own unique health properties: 

1. Green Tea: rich in catechins (antioxidants), incl. ECGC that enhances metabolism (fat burning); also high in L-theanine, which helps regulate mood & focus, hence the "lift" without the "jitters" or "crash" attributed to coffee. Tip: Organic means less pesticides. 

2. Yerba Mate: contains mateine, a stimulant with less diuretic effect than caffeine; xanthines including theobromine, another feel-good stimulant more commonly associated with chocolate. Tip: Dr. Ruddy's favorite is Mate Chocolatte by Guayaki (with a splash of chocolate hazelnut milk)! 

3. Ginger: rich in volatile oils that help aid digestion, anti-inflammation, muscle & joint health, and reduce fatigue. Tip: for those aware of their ownAyurvedic constitution (thanks, David Lincecum!), add honey to relieve Kapha, rock sugar to relieve Pitta, and rock salt to relieve Vataconstitution."