Review: Teeccino

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After recently quitting caffeine, I had a void to fill in my morning routine where my coffee used to be. While the caffeine boost was part of the reason I drank coffee, I also liked the morning ritual. Even though I enjoy herbal teas, I wanted something with a fuller, more robust flavor. In looking for an alternative to coffee, I discovered Teeccino.

Teeccino is a blend of herbs, fruits, grains and nuts that are roasted and ground to brew and taste like coffee (more here).

I ordered a sampler pack of their coffee ground form and tea bags of the French Roast and Hazelnut flavors.

So far I have tried the Almond Amaretto, Chai, French Roast and Hazelnut flavors. I enjoyed all of them, but the French Roast is my favorite and so far is the one I plan on having as my everyday coffee.

The coffee grounds were able to brew just like coffee, although I would recommend having your coffee pot drip as slowly as possible to get a richer flavor.

When it comes to the tea bags, make sure it sits for a couple of minutes before adding in your milk/plant milks. I tried adding coconut milk to it right away, and the flavor didn’t end up as strong that time.

Overall, I would recommend this product to anyone looking to cut back or cut out coffee, or people who just want to try a new interesting warm beverage.

You can buy it online at Teeccino’s website, Amazon, health food stores and some regular grocery stores.

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I Quit Caffeine!

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I recently decided to start a new experiment with my life and quit caffeine. I have been a regular coffee drinker for over a decade, and my caffeine consumption was exceeding 400 mg per day (sometimes over 500). This is more than what many health organizations recommend. I also don’t think as a healthy person in my twenties, I should be dependent on a substance just to have enough energy to get through the day. So I decided to quit. Cold turkey.

I planned in advance to make sure that I didn’t have anything to do the first 2 days (although day 3 turned out to be the worst), and was well stocked with ibuprofen ahead of time.

Day 1: Relatively easy. No headache until the evening and was only slightly fatigued.

Day 2: Had a more noticeable headache and was fatigued all day. I was also more irritable and was resorted to some recreational eating during the day. I kept my appetite in check by drinking a lot of herbal teas. I saw coffee everywhere. I didn’t physically crave it, I was just very well aware that drinking coffee would make everything feel better.

Day 3: Slept more the night before. I woke up with the headache at its peak and getting out of bed was a struggle. Had to go from 2 ibuprofen to 3. I was exhausted and out of it all day and ended up going to bed at 9:30.

Day 4: Headache was gone and I finally started to feel like a human again. My energy levels weren’t 100%, but I felt functional.

Day 5-7: My energy levels increased each day. They are now where my energy was with caffeine, except I don’t need a drug to keep them up and I don’t deal with the crashes every few hours. I still can’t focus as well as I did with coffee, although I’m hoping that will improve over the next week or so.

My workouts this week were lighter than normal, and I mostly focused on cardio. But I actually felt more of an endorphin rush from my workout than before when I would usually drink a coffee before working out.

Learn More:

Caffeine: How much is too much? – Mayo Clinic

Caffeine Myths and Facts – WebMD

Coffee – You Are Not So Smart

 

 

Is Caffeine Healthy?

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Coffee is more than just a morning pick-me-up for me. It is the nectar of the gods. It takes a lot of trial-and-error to find just the right cup. It has to be the right blend, from acceptable sources, brewed to perfection. Or I can get the caffeinated liquid candy from Starbucks. 

Caffeine is the drug of choice in our culture. About 90% of Americans consume caffeine daily and about half consume over 300 mg. The most common sources of caffeine are coffee and tea. Other sources include sodas, energy drinks and chocolate.

What is Caffeine?

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Caffeine is a naturally occurring stimulant also known as trimethyxanthine. It is found in plants such as coffee, tea and cacao.

How Does Caffeine Work?

Adenosine: Adenosine is a chemical that is involved in many biological processes. One of these is acting as an inhibitor (slows it down) for the central nervous system. This plays an important role in sleep. Because caffeine looks similar to adenosine to your nervous system, caffeine is able to bind to adenosine receptors and block adenosine. Because caffeine blocks he inhibitory process of adenosine, your brain speeds up. Over time, regular use of caffeine results in your body creating more adenosine receptors. As a result of this, lack of caffeine will make you become overwhelmed by adenosine and needing caffeine to compensate. 

Adrenaline: The increased brain activity from caffeine tricks your pituitary gland into thinking there is an emergency. This results in it stimulating your adrenal glands. This results in your pupils dilating, your airways opening up, your heart rate increases, your pupils on the surface constrict to slow down blood flow and increase blood flow to muscles, blood pressure rises, blood flow to the stomach slows down, the liver releases sugar into the bloodstream for energy and muscles tighten up for action. 

Dopamine: Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is involved in the brains reward and pleasure centers. In addition to blocking adenosine, caffeine slows down the reabsorption of dopamine, increasing dopamine levels. Dopamine helps regulate movement and emotional responses. It also helps us to see rewards and act on them (reward meaning pleasure).

The Benefits of Caffeine

  • In sources such as tea and coffee, it contains antioxidants, which are important from preventing oxidative damage. 
  • It increases energy levels.
  • It improves mood.
  • It improves cognitive function, including alertness and memory.
  • It increases fat burning and metabolism.
  • It improves physical performance.
  • Associated with lower risk of Type 2 diabetes.
  • Associated with lower risk of alzheimer’s and dementia.
  • Associated with lower risk of Parkinson’s.
  • May prevent liver damage.
  • Associated with lower risk of cancer. 

*Association does not mean causation. 

The Risks of Caffeine

  • Regular use may cause dependency. It may become more about avoiding withdrawal rather than capitalizing on the benefits.
  • Often consumed with added sugar, which should be avoided.
  • May mess with digestion and nutrient absorption.
  • Increases stress levels.

Conclusion

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Caffeine has both risks and benefits. For most adults, caffeine isn’t considered risky until consuming over 300 mg daily (~ 2 cups of coffee). However, this doesn’t factor in dependency, is based on association and is relative to the general population. 

The healthiest sources of caffeine are coffee and tea. It is best consumed in moderation, limiting added sugar. It is also preferable to avoid dependency and trying to go without it every once in a while.

Learn More:

FDA 2012 Caffeine Consumption Report

ASAPScience: Your Brain on Coffee

You Are Not So Smart: Coffee

How Stuff Works: Caffeine

Chris Kresser: Is drinking coffee good for you?

SciShow: Caffeine!

WebMD: Caffeine Myths and Facts

Authority Nutrition: Top 13 Evidence-Based Benefits of Caffeine

MayoClinic: Coffee

Health Ambition: Negative Effects of Coffee

Mayo Clinic: Caffeine Content for Various Sources

How to Keep Your Coffee Interesting (Without Turning it Into a Liquid Cupcake)

You don’t need your coffee to have the nutritional value of a candy bar to make it more fun. Since I am obsessed with coffee, keeping things interesting and healthy living, I thought I would share some tips.

Coffee Grounds

There are many different types of coffee grounds and they can vary in strength and flavor. Also try playing with the amount of grounds relative to water used to make it stronger/weaker.

Flavor

Try adding cinnamon, cocoa powder, nutmeg or whatever else you can think of into the coffee grounds. By adding it to the grounds, you add the flavor but don’t have it disrupt the texture of the coffee. Liquid substances such as vanilla extract or anything that dissolves well can be added into the liquid without compromising the texture too much.

Temperature

I usually go with hot coffee in cold weather and iced coffee in warm weather. I occasionally make a frappuccino by blending iced coffee with ice and whatever other ingredients I want to play with.

Milk/Cream

Dairy products shouldn’t be too much of a concern as long as you do not have dairy allergies/sensitivities (lactose-intolerant, casein or generalized sensitivity). Be mindful of the saturated fat content in relation to the rest of your diet.

Coffee-Mate and similar products are highly processed, often contain trans fats and are so filled with not-food that in an episode of Myth Busters the  powdered form was shown to be flammable. Needless to say, if you are concerned about your health, I’d pass.

Almond milk is a lower calorie alternative to milk. It works well with most flavors and is a healthy non-dairy alternative.*Keep in mind if you are getting sweetened or unsweetened.

Coconut milk is a sweet and flavorful option that is comparable to cream/ half & half.

Soy milk is the highest of the non-dairy options in protein. One downside is that like other unfermented soy products, it can mimic the effects of estrogen in the body. In addition, most Soy is genetically modified. Our planet, other species and our bodies are lab rats for GMOs. While it is a very promising technology (if used intelligently and ethically), they have not been extensively researched on both the short-term and long-term effects on our bodies, other species and the environment as a whole. Let alone thoroughly researching the specific modifications that are used in specific plants in specific environments.

Sweeteners 

Most people use table sugar or artificial sweeteners. Table sugar has a high glycemic index and is empty calories. The safety of artificial sweeteners are heavily debated and there is evidence for and against artificial sweeteners. Personally, I don’t like artificial sweeteners and added sugar is not harmful in moderation. I also tend to be hesitant with artificial sweeteners because I haven’t seen enough evidence to prove it is safe or that is healthier than table sugar at comparable intakes.

  • 1 tsp of sugar = 4 g = 16 calories 
  • Glycemic Index (GI): This is a relative ranking from 0-100 based on how rapidly the carbohydrate converts into sugar and is released into the bloodstream. High glycemic index foods (70+) will result in a more acute spike of blood sugar followed by a crash. Low glycemic index foods (<55) will result in a more gradual release of sugar into the blood stream. This is especially important for diabetics to pay attention to. Glycemic load (GL) takes into account both GI and the amount of carbohydrates consumed. GL = GI x available carbs (grams)/ 100. GI cannot be calculated by looking at the label. Many fruits have high glycemic indexes but are among the healthiest foods in the world..
  • Natural Sweeteners: Natural sweeteners generally have more nutritional value and have lower glycemic indexes than table sugars. Examples of these are coconut palm sugar, honey, maple syrup (the real kind), molasses and agave nectar. While these are better than conventional tables sugar, they should still be consumed in moderation.
  • Stevia: Stevia is a South American plant that has been used there for centuries. It is a  natural sweetener that contains no calories. It does not have the questionable effects on insulin sensitivity, weight management and overall health that artificial sweeteners have. Most stevia-based products are mixed with other sweeteners.