This week Gareth Edwards, our Alkaline Diet Expert and highly qualified nutritionist, is writing on why coffee and traditional tea are not so alkaline, and what you can do to transition away from them.
A lot of us reading this article might list coffee and teas as two of the hardest drinks to cut out when switching to an alkaline diet. Maybe you are one of the many people who used to wake up in the morning thinking that the only things which get you going is a cup of coffee or tea.
Unfortunately coffee and tea are not so alkaline as Gareth will highlight in the article below. There are however delicious and alkaline alternatives, which will also get you going in the morning!
Why Coffee & Tea are Bad For ME!
So, last month a large population based study, in the Journal of the American Heart Association , stated quite emphatically that drinking tea and coffee could reduce your risk of suffering from coronary heart disease. Having read the research paper from one end to the other, I am not about to start drinking lots of cups of black tea (or smaller quantities of coffee) in order to strengthen the supply of blood to my heart muscle.
What’s the appeal of tea and coffee?
I vividly remember my first taste of tea. Its bitterness was quite off-putting. “Never mind,” said my parents, “you’ll get used to it”. The swift addition of several tea-spoons of sugar quickly removed the bitter taste and I took another step on the path to adulthood by joining in the Great British ritual of sharing a cup of tea.
The primary ingredient that gives both tea and coffee their desirability is the apparently refreshing or energising effects associated with caffeine and other plant chemicals contained in them.
If your diet and lifestyle are not keeping you fully energised then a drink which contains bio-chemical stimulants is likely to have an appeal. It will create the impression of keeping you going.
With 60% of adult body weight consisting of water, replacing water lost through urination, perspiration and respiration is essential to maintaining life. Adding something to the water that has flavour and makes you feel more alert could well appear attractive.
Occasional and conscious use of stimulating foods or drinks is unlikely to be life threatening! The potential issue arises when they replace healthy nutritional and lifestyle choices as your “fuel”.
Drinks which contain caffeine give you energy at a cost. By acting pharmacologically on your adrenal system, they activate your flight and fright response systems, drawing on mineral and vitamin reserves rather than providing you with the fuel or building blocks to energise you.
The American Heart Association study?
So if all this is true, why did the study published last month suggest potential health benefits from drinking tea and a certain amount of coffee? Firstly one has to be aware that this was an observational study, rather than one that linked cause and effect.
While it appears, from the study that the more (by implication, black) tea that people drank, the less coronary heart disease they suffered, we cannot be sure that the drinking of the tea actually caused the effect. The point is made in the discussion that the “confounding factors” of diet and lifestyle were not accounted for.
It is possible, say for example, that people who drank more tea did more exercise or had a greater social life. The participants were Dutch, who all cycle everywhere. As we all know these factors would help restore the alkaline design of the body (even though the trial participants were drinking more tea!).
The researcher’s principal suggestion, that drinking (we think) black tea could lead to a reduction in coronary heart disease is none the less an interesting one and worthy of further research. It is a dried plant leaf with hot water poured on it. It is however important to remember that no overall reduction in disease or death rate was shown to exist through consuming these caffeinated beverages.
The acid test.
If you’re really left in any doubt about whether tea and coffee should be part of a healthy lifestyle test it. Buy some pH sticks and test their effects on your urinary pH (away from other food and drinks).
What to do?
If you are drinking a lot of tea and or coffee try giving it up for a month and see how your energy level is at the end of the month. You might have to go through a bit of pain to get there, but, like many, you may find a new level of mental clarity and energy by doing it.
If that seems too hard then you could stop adding sugar and cut back on any milk that is added.
What’s the alternative?
It’s actually pretty rare that I spend much time in consultations focusing on complex strategies to help people cut back or stop tea and coffee. The real focus needs to be on energising your body in an alkaline and healthy way. Now that it’s summer, eating more fresh and raw vegetables should be easier.
Buy the Live Energized Alkaline Recipe System to help you get creative. There are plenty of refreshing alternatives to tea and coffee in the drinks section. Green powdered drinks with pH drops are also loaded with polyphenols, which are one of the active ingredients that scientists think may give tea its health “benefits”.
Search iHerb.com for Alkaherb tea, which is a delicious herbal blend of 49 alkalising herbs, roots and blossoms, as well as range of alkaline minerals. This high alkaline blend has a pH of 8.5 and is a fantastic way to contribute to your alkalising hydration. It is a great alkaline alternative to coffee and “black” tea.
1. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2010 Jun 18. [Epub ahead of print]
Tea and Coffee Consumption and Cardiovascular Morbidity and Mortality.
de Koning Gans JM et al.
Disclaimer: Not intended to diagnose any condition, please seek help of nutritionally aware physician if experiencing health challenges.