The aroma of freshly brewed coffee signals the start of the day in many households. But too often, coffee consumption doesn't end with the cup in the morning. Drinking coffee--and all the caffeine it provides--is an American pastime and a popular social activity. Look around. Everywhere you see new coffee shops, specialty coffee drinks, and people meeting over. This high-energy drink has become a permanent fixture in our daily lives--and health.

You probably know the effects of caffeine on the human body. For most of us, more than 2 cups of the energy-boosting drink can lead to intense, jittery stress response; insomnia; acid reflux; high blood pressure; hot flashes in menopause; headaches; and irregular heartbeat. For some sensitive individuals, the effects of small amount of caffeine in morning coffee can last throughout the day.

Ready to give up the damage to your body and wellness? Here are several alternatives for those of us who enjoy our cup of coffee but not its negative side-effects.

1) Coffee Alternatives
Comprised of different combinations of grains, nuts, fruits, and herbs, a number of products have a coffee-like taste without the health risks associated with traditional coffee. Some products, such as Tecceeno, can be brewed like coffee and come in a variety of flavors. Others, such as Pero, and Cafix are instant varieties. An added benefit: These alternatives are organic and completely caffeine-free.

2) Green or white tea
The continued popularity of these teas, along with their health benefits, make them good choice for those individuals who still want the benefits of some caffeine (15-20 mg of caffeine as opposed to 125-180 mg in coffee). Providing health-boosting antioxidants from flavonoids, green tea can help the immune system protect against heart disease and cancer.

3) Decaffeinated coffee
This alternative is an obvious choice for someone who longs for the familiar taste and smell of coffee. But did you know that decaf coffee is not entirely caffeine-free? The small amount of caffeine that remains is a nasty surprise for individuals who are sensitive to it. In addition, there has been concern over the processes used to remove caffeine from coffee. Often, it is stripped away using toxic chemical additives. Yes, toxic! A chemical-free alternative, the Swiss Water method, is preferred. Read labels to see whether your coffee uses the safer method.

4) If you coffee
For some, living without "real" (read: caffeinated) coffee seems unthinkable. Familiar? Then I suggest you wean yourself off by mixing an alternative listed above with your regular coffee, gradually decreasing the amount of caffeine you consume. Also, reduce toxins by using only filtered water when you brew. Finally, purchase coffee with the Certified Organic and Fair Trade symbols.

- Organic products are less threatening to your health since they are grown without toxic synthetic pesticides and chemicals.
- Products with Fair Trade certification are beneficial to the whole world's health. They originate from farms that give their workers fair wages and safe conditions. In addition, Fair Trade growers must use methods that ensure environmental sustainability to be Fair Trade certified.

Caffeine dependence can be hard to break, but it isn't impossible. If you're one of the many hooked on this legal, mood-altering drug, it's well worth the effort to find alternatives. Commit today to shaking the habit, and jump-start your a more healthful way!

Author's Bio: 

Roberta Roberts Mittman, L.Ac., Dipl.Ac., M.S., is a nutritional and lifestyle consultant, holistic mindset mentor, and nationally board-certified acupuncturist. Using natural, drug-free techniques, Roberta opens the door to complete mind-body health. Roberta believes in empowering individuals to be their own best healers. Ready to take that step? Call 212-686-0939, or visit online at