I drink homemade Dandelion Root Coffee many times per week. Every time I happen to mention this, or post a photo of my morning joe on Instagram I get the same questions, “Why give up coffee? What’s wrong with coffee? Why do you use a coffee substitute?”
Of course, giving up coffee is not for everyone. It’s what works best for me and my nervous system. If coffee agrees with you I see no reason to give it up. But take a minute and ask yourself. Do I use coffee as a crutch to keep going, or to get started when I have no energy? Is it keeping me from listening to and understanding my natural rhythms, and more importantly, does it enable me to be incongruent about the fatigue I feel? This was the case for me.
I gave up coffee back in 1993. I remember the weekend well. I lived in New York City and there was a huge snowstorm. The city was shut down. My boyfriend (now husband) and I spent the weekend lying on the couch in his apartment on 34th Street. I think I had a headache for three days straight from caffeine withdrawal.
It’s been over two decades now since I gave up my coffee habit. Why? For me, caffeine acts as a stimulant. I naturally have a very active nervous system that doesn’t need any extra energy. I do best with inputs that are relaxing –think slow walking, gentle stretching, reading, and sleep. Those activities calm me down and keep me more even-keeled. Not that I’ve ever been even-keeled, but with coffee, I behave like a hamster and just can’t get off that crazy hamster wheel of “doing.” I’m best when I focus on “being.”
In case you’re contemplating it, here are 5 Reasons to Give Up Coffee
5 Reasons to Give Up Coffee
1. Sleep Better
Even when consumed in the morning, caffeine can disrupt sleep patterns.
2. Decrease Anxiety
Many people respond to stimulants such as caffeine with an increase in anxiety.
3. Lose Weight
Caffeine can decrease insulin sensitivity, leading to weight gain.
4. Save Caffeine for Medicinal Purposes
When not used on a daily basis, caffeine can restrict blood vessels and relieve a headache.
5. Avoid Heartburn and Acid Reflux or GERD
Caffeine aggravates heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).
There is one exception when I do use caffeine (not coffee though). When I have a headache I use it medicinally in the form of green tea. Green tea is a fantastic “medication” for me as it contains both small amounts of caffeine (a vaso-constrictor which can be instrumental in the relief of headaches) as well as an amino acid called L-Theanine, which I find makes me quite relaxed. Together this minute amount of caffeine combined with L-Theanine provides optimal headache relief. According to Wikipedia, l-Theanine, “has been studied for its potential ability to reduce mental and physical stress, improve cognition, and boost mood and cognitive performance.” Sounds good to me. And my doctors love this amino acid!
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I have replaced my coffee habit with Dandelion Root Coffee which has many amazing attributes. Although it doesn’t taste as good as the real thing, it is fabulous in other ways. First, it has no caffeine, a huge win. Additionally, like coffee, it’s a hot beverage, making it easier to assimilate than cold drinks. Next, like regular coffee, Dandelion Root Coffee’s primary flavor is bitter, which is highly underrated. In Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine the bitter flavor is incredibly important for constitutional balance. We don’t get enough of it in our culture, one that is obsessed with the sweet and salty flavors. Finally, dandelion root is a liver cleanser. For me, giving up caffeine and getting healthy, liver cleansing dandelion root into my body every day is a win-win!
Finally, I’m often asked about Dandy Blend and other such coffee substitutes. Because most of them contain barley in their ingredients, I do not consume them. Instead I make my own Dandelion Root Coffee out of dandelion root and chicory.
Yes I had to give up my one cup of coffee a day celiac gluten acid reflux and gastritis made me sick every morning until I figured it out on my own through research. Now I make ginger and oreagana tea and drink it and my stomach feels good. Thank you
Ruth Cannon says
I need to try this if no acid in it.
So glad that this works for you . I think that is the thing we need to remember about ourselves . ..we are through and through an individual with varying needs. What works for you may not work for me and visa versa . Our illnesses are custom made as well which is why one med works for some and not others. Coffee doesn’t wake me up, just a tasty habit . I have reduced what I drink and feel better for it. I also e joy dandelion tea. We each can decide for ourselves , the stats may not apply to us. Listening to your body can be the best medicine .
Today is my first time trying the dandelion coffee. It was surprisingly better tasting than I thought. Thank you for sharing with us. I got all the ingredients from Frontier just the same from your recipe. I was wondering how I can safety store the ingredients. Do I need to refrigerate the ingredients? I was also wondering if a sweetener would destroy the health benefits of dandelion coffee. I was thinking of coconut sugar or maple sugar or honey.
Thanks again Elana for all that you do. I live in Eagle and I’ve been following you for about five years and you are someone that I look up to as my mom. I have gluten sensitivity and sugar sensitivity and I struggle with cravings of foods that I use to love growing up. I’m trying to get my energy back and to feel better again.
Hi Cynthia, greetings from Boulder, Colorado to you in Eagle. I store my ground dandelion root (and other herbs) in air tight mason jars in my pantry and they keep quite well. For sweetener for this dandelion coffee, I use vanilla or chocolate flavored stevia. Sometimes I also add coconut milk or heavy cream. I avoid sweeteners (other than stevia), because even natural ones seem to cause inflammation in my body and make me sluggish. I hope this info is helpful and hope to meet you next time I do a book signing in Vail!
Elana: Please, please, please, please do an article on your natural skincare routine and products.
Your reasoning to give up coffee for ‘health benefits’ is very weak! Love your recipes though!! :)))
In a study funded by the National Institutes of Health and published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, researchers explored the relationship between coffee drinking and the risk of dying. The study included more than 229,000 men and over 173,000 women who ranged in age from 50 to 71 years at the start of the study.5 The researchers followed the subjects for up to 13 years—or 5.15 million person-years!—making this one of the most powerful studies of its kind.
The researchers found that the risk of dying was significantly reduced in those who drank coffee (all levels of consumption) compared to those who did not.5 Compared to those who drank no coffee, the risk for men of dying from any cause was reduced 6% among those who drank1 cup/day, 10% for 2-3 cups, 12% for 4-5 cups, and10% for 6 or more cups/day. For women, the risk reduction was 5, 13, 16, and 15%, respectively.
Compared to subjects who drank no coffee at all, the researchers found a 15% cardiovascular disease risk reduction among those who drank an average of 3.5 cups/day, and 11% for those who had an average of 1.5 cups/day. This was an important study since it showed some level of protection for all amounts of coffee consumption.
Other studies have shown similar effects, with heavy coffee drinkers being more protected from metabolic syndrome components like elevated triglycerides; one study showed that drinking 1.5 to nearly 3 cups/day offered a 49% reduction in the risk of having high blood sugar.13
Coffee’s impact on fat accumulation is also favorable. Both light (1-3 cups/day) and moderate (4 or more cups/day) coffee consumption was shown to reduce abdominal fat collections in a group of middle-aged men. Moderate coffee consumption was also associated with higher blood levels of the beneficial hormone adiponectin, which helps regulate metabolic processes, further evidence of reduced deleterious activity of fat tissue.14,44
A large multi-ethnic study of more than 75,000 men and women showed that drinking 3 or more cups/day of regular coffee reduced risk of developing type II diabetes 35% in women, and 14% in men; this study did not find significant risk reduction with decaffeinated coffee.50
People with mild cognitive impairment (MCI, the precursor to Alzheimer’s) who have higher blood caffeine levels are significantly less likely to progress to full-blown dementia, and rates of cognitive decline are slower in people with higher caffeine intake.60,61 Coffee drinkers who consume 3 cups/day are 28% less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease.62
Caffeine is also associated with a decreased risk of depression, as shown by studies documenting up to a 43% risk reduction in people with the highest versus the lowest caffeine consumption.65,66 Consumption of coffee itself provides a 39 to 77% reduction in risk of depression.66,67
Coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world; it contains more than 1,000 different compounds.
Once thought likely to be harmful, coffee is now recognized as an excellent source of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory molecules.
Very large and powerful epidemiological studies show that coffee consumption is associated with longer lifespans and with reduced risks of dying from a host of common, age-related conditions.
Coffee reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, and liver and kidney cancers.
Great coffee article, but I have friends like Elana who simply cannot drink coffee, their systems are just not wired for it and might do more harm than good.
Remember, every body is different so it’s wonderful to have different approaches to health and people like Elana who share their info.
Here’s a little more comprehensive analysis: If you think chicory “coffee” is a “healthy” substitute for the “real thing,” think about this: chicory can contain as much as 3 grams of inulin per cup. Inulin has about 2% short-chain FOS (fructo-oligosaccharides), so it can present a problem to diabetics, people with candida, bowel dysbiosis, IBD and IBS. FOS encourages the growth of Klebsiella, a bacteria implicated in Ankylosing Spondylitis and in increased intestinal permeability (leaky gut). Those prone to developing gallstones need to be extra cautious about consuming chicory, as it can stimulate the production of bile. Finally, pregnant women should steer clear of chicory, as it can contribute to miscarriage…
Chickory is NOT a healthy substitute for coffee if you are pregnant (can contribute to miscarriage), if you are allergic to ragweed and related plants, or if you are prone to developing gallstones. Always do your research before making substitutions. Personally, I am a coffee lover, but I drink it organic, cold-brewed, and only one cup on weekend mornings. I add a touch of true cinnamon, cacao powder and grade B maple syrup–all organic, of course. It’s a treat for me, but if you are sensitive to caffeine, you should look elsewhere.
Thanks for your input on Chicory I had no idea of miscarriages and all. That’s terrible!
This coffee recipe looks fabulous. I’m always craving coffee so I need a healthier alternative. Thanks for the share!
Of course you have a dandelion thing! I LOVE dandelions and toute their amazing properties every spring. I use the flowers to make a honey flavored syrup, the kids and I love eating the stems and leaves while lounging outside. I bought the root but it’s not roasted or ground so I have not used it much beyond a medicinal tea. This post reminded me I need to buckle down and get these. Chicory is something my grandpa loved, and chicory coffee.
Coconut oil and coffee are amazing, but my inflammation is way lower without caffeine. And my mood and energy are WAY better without coffee in my diet. With 6 kids 8 1/2- 4 months, definitely in survive mode and need to transition to thrive mode!
Becky Gormley says
Me neither. I drink one large cup every morning and have none of the issues listed. I sleep like a baby and am quite healthy at 67.