If you’re like the vast majority of Americans, you’ve probably consumed caffeine almost every day of your adult life.
The question is: are you doing it because you love it or because you need it?
In a March 2022 survey conducted by the International Food Information Council (IFIC), respondents over the age of 65 generally said they drank caffeinated beverages because they like the flavor, while under 45 were more likely to report taking caffeine only for good. -benefits known as a stimulant.
But those benefits are part of a trade-off that might not be worth it if you don’t really care about taste — or maybe even if you do.
Reasons to avoid caffeine
While caffeine can certainly boost your energy levels and improve your physical and mental performance, it can also make you jittery and – once the famous “caffeine crash” kicks in – seriously tired.
Insomnia, high blood pressure, heart palpitations, headaches, dizziness, gastrointestinal upset, and anxiety are among the most common side effects of caffeine, and daily use also has the risk of developing a tolerance (so you need more and more to feel the same). energizing effect) or becoming addicted, which can also mean suffering withdrawal symptoms.
Luckily, there are some fantastic, all-natural caffeine alternatives on the market today that can provide you with a similar energy and performance boost, but in a much healthier way – so no jitters, no crashes and no of dependency.
Here are three of the best, with a look at the science behind them:
Developed by the Spanish nutraceutical company Nektium and launched commercially in 2018, Zynamite is a patented extract of Mangifera indica (mango tree) which wowed the judges at the 2018 NutraIngredients Awards, where it won Ingredient of the Year in the Sports Nutrition category – with its “scientifically proven ability to replace caffeine without any of the typical side effects” .
Unlike other mango leaf extracts, Zynamite is standardized to contain at least 60% mangiferin, which is able to cross the blood-brain barrier and upregulate dopamine in a manner similar to caffeine, but achieves without blocking adenosine receptors. — the mechanism responsible for both the benefits and side effects of caffeine.
Instead, mangiferin inhibits the catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) enzyme that breaks down dopamine in the prefrontal cortex, thereby increasing dopamine levels without causing the adenosine buildup that usually results in a caffeine crash.
A 2020 study led by Professor David Kennedy, Director of the Brain, Performance & Nutrition Center at Northumbria University in the UK, found that a single dose of Zynamite in healthy adults led to significant improvements in a wide range of brain functions for up to 6 years. hours – the cognitive benefits the study authors noted were “broader and longer lasting than would be expected after caffeine.”
Previous clinical studies have also shown that single doses of Zynamite in combination with the common plant flavonoids quercetin or luteolin can improve athletic performance by increasing muscle oxygen extraction and cerebral oxygenation.[7,8] and accelerate muscle recovery during exercise.
Another award-winning caffeine substitute is EnXtra, an exclusive extract of Alpinia galanga (galangal – a herb in the ginger family) developed by Mumbai-based ENovate Biolife, which won Ingredient of the Year trophies in the Sports Nutrition and Cognitive Function categories at the 2019 NutraIngredients Awards and NutraIngredients-USA Awards 2021, respectively.
EnXtra works in much the same way as caffeine, suppressing adenosine receptors and inhibiting dopamine reuptake, but with one crucial difference: while caffeine is a vasoconstrictor that increases blood pressure and reduces cerebral blood flow – the primary cause of caffeine’s unpleasant cardiovascular side effects, colloquially known as jitters – EnXtra has no adverse effects on blood flow or heart rate.
In fact, even in the areas where caffeine excels as a stimulant – boosting mental alertness, energy, focus and focus – EnXtra outperforms its rival, with the Alpinia galanga the extract contains no less than eight known dopaminergic biocompounds working together in synergy to deliver superior and longer lasting neurostimulatory benefits.
Recent studies have shown that EnXtra consistently improves alertness and focused attention over five hours, while caffeine temporarily boosted scores in these areas before crashing towards the three-hour mark.
Unlike caffeine, which typically exhibits a “ceiling effect”, in which a tolerance is quickly established and the chemical ceases to provide other benefits even after a short period of consistent use (i.e. daily ) mild to moderate, EnXtra “showed an acute effect and consistent improvement in alertness and did not decrease throughout 180 days of use,” according to a long-term safety and efficacy study conducted in 2019.
The results of the safety study also showed that there are no withdrawal symptoms associated with abstinence from EnXtra after a long period of twice-daily consumption – again, unlike caffeine. .
Marketed as “a patented compound that provides energy, mental clarity, and improved motivation and mood”, TeaCrine was developed by California-based nutraceutical company Compound Solutions and made its commercial debut in 2015.
TeaCrine is structurally analogous to caffeine, and therefore acts via the same dopaminergic and adenosinergic pathways, but has a half-life of around 20 hours – much longer than caffeine’s approximate five-hour half-life – and therefore remains active in the bloodstream for much longer.
The adenosinergic activity of TeaCrine compared to caffeine is also slightly different; while caffeine completely blocks adenosine receptors – leading to a buildup of sleep chemical signals that eventually overwhelm the brain, causing the familiar crash effect of caffeine – TeaCrine is much less antagonistic, thus preventing a sudden crash.
An early pilot study found that TeaCrine significantly reduced fatigue and anxiety while significantly increasing energy, motivation, libido and focus, within six hours of a single dose, thus demonstrating that the effects are much longer lasting than those of caffeine.
A subsequent safety study also found that TeaCrine has no observable impact on heart rate or blood pressure, can actually lower cholesterol levels, and – importantly, unlike caffeine – is entirely non-addictive.
Many people love caffeinated beverages, but if you’re one of the growing number of people who only consume them for your health and performance, the side effects of caffeine probably aren’t worth it.
Even if you like caffeinated beverages like coffee or energy drinks, you might want to find a less addictive alternative that doesn’t put your health at risk in the long run.
Fortunately, the market for caffeine substitutes is exploding right now, and nutraceuticals like Zynamite, EnXtra, and TeaCrine have some real science to back up their claims of effectiveness.
With these products’ clinically proven ability to boost energy and focus – just like caffeine, and in many cases even better than caffeine – without causing jitters, crashes, tolerance or dependence, the stimulant the most popular in the world could soon be a thing of the past?
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