I was a coffee fanatic for most of my adult life. But four years ago, after a concussion from a car accident, my doctor suggested taking a break from caffeine to see if it would help reduce my symptoms of headaches and brain fog.
Although studies are limited, some researchers have found that too much caffeine can irritate your already-sensitive brain and slow recovery, especially during the first few weeks after an injury.
As a dietitian of 20 years, that was enough incentive for me to give up caffeine and find alternatives for energy and focus.
Keep in mind, though, that everyone tolerates caffeine differently. For healthy adults, the FDA says that 400 milligrams (about four or five cups) of coffee a day isn't generally associated with dangerous effects. But if you start to experience signs of excessive intake — difficulty sleeping, a rapid heartbeat, jitteriness — you may want to cut back.
Along with prioritizing sleep, physical activity and time outdoors, here are five foods and drinks I stock up>1. Turmeric lattes
Curcumin, a compound found in turmeric, contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits.Edalin | Getty
Giving up coffee doesn't mean skipping the ritual of a warm morning beverage.
Instead of a caffeinated drink, I enjoy a blend of warm milk, ginger, maple syrup and turmeric powder. The milk helps me start my day with natural protein, while the maple syrup offers a bit of sweetness and some unique anti-inflammatory properties.
Curcumin, a compound found in turmeric, has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. Studies have found that it can also help buffer high cortisol levels (a.k.a. your primary stress hormone) and support a reduction in mental fatigue.
Black pepper can help the body absorb turmeric better, so I add a pinch of that to my drink, too.
Staying well-hydrated can improve sleep quality, cognition and mood, studies have found.Elizabeth Fernandez | Getty
It sounds basic, but staying hydrated with water helps maintain energy levels by keeping our muscles energized.
These nutrient-dense berries are rich in serotonin, a hormone that has been linked to sleep regulation.merc67 | Getty
Getting adequate sleep helps you stay alert during the day, but we all know it can be hard to get quality rest.
Eating kiwifruit may help. These nutrient-dense berries are rich in serotonin, a hormone that has been linked to sleep regulation. A 2011 experiment found that eating two kiwifruits>4. Lean beef
Lean beef is a great source of iron.bhofack2 | Getty
Iron helps transport oxygen throughout the body. If you're iron-deficient and oxygen isn't getting to where it needs to be, you can feel very tired.
Lean beef is>5. Pasta
Plant foods like pasta contain various B vitamins that support energy levels.Evgenija Lanz | Getty
Carbohydrates are the body's main source of energy. Starch is a complex carb made from chains of small sugars. We get energy when these chains are broken down during digestion.
Plant-based foods like pasta are great sources of starch, and they contain various B vitamins that support energy levels.
Eating too much pasta at once, however, can make some people feel sleepy. To eyeball the appropriate serving size, it helps to remember that one serving of cooked pasta is about the size of a baseball.
For dinner, I'll sometimes pair gluten-free pasta with some extra virgin olive oil, sautéed vegetables, lean protein like chicken or shrimp, and a dash of parmesan.