3 Healthy Alternatives to Coffee for Busy Nurses

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Busy nurses and coffee go together like honey and tea. Or, more specifically, many nurses love their coffee. As a matter of fact, a 2021 sample study showed that caffeine intake (including energy drinks) by nurses was high, with 88% of nurses in the United States consuming at least one cup of a caffeinated beverage a day. Considering their workload, it makes sense that nurses will frequently reach for a cup of coffee for an energy boost. 

And while we believe caffeine has its advantages, it’s also been demonstrated that consuming too much caffeine can lead to higher stress, irritability, and even disruption of the gastrointestinal system. Therefore, if you are currently working as a nurse and have a hankering for your daily brew, we have an idea. Why not try incorporating a few healthy alternatives a week in exchange for coffee? Don’t worry; we are not suggesting you give up coffee for good. We know caffeine has its benefits and can actually reduce your risk of developing certain diseases. In addition, coffee may even help you live longer! Really, what we are suggesting, is that nurses limit their coffee, limiting caffeine intake to 400 milligrams a day and experimenting with some healthy beverage alternatives. 

With all of this in mind, keep reading for three coffee substitutes that will not only help you stay alert at work but will also keep you feelin’ great around the clock!

Yerba Mate

Yerba Mate - coffee alternative for nurses

So let’s ease into this reducing caffeine game, shall we? Enter, Yerba Mate. Yerba Mate is a naturally caffeinated tea made from the leaves of the Ilex paraguariensis plant, and it contains less caffeine than coffee. Yerba Mate has roughly 80mg of caffeine, whereas coffee can contain anywhere from 80 to 100mg per 8 fluid ounces. This zesty herbal tea, native to South America, has landed in the hands of many health food stores across the United States.

Consequently, people are reaching for yerba mate as a healthy alternative to coffee to improve mental focus and encourage weight loss. And while research shows that yerba mate can be beneficial for health and produces a natural energizing effect, yerba mate still contains caffeine. Therefore, consuming it in moderation is recommended. At the start of a nursing shift, however, yerba mate can be an excellent alternative to coffee and was even ranked as one of the top most delicious drinks in the world. Who knew tea could be so exciting?


Kombucha - coffee alternative for nurses

Kombucha has taken the world by storm because of its wonderfully bubbly and tangy flavor. Moreover, some studies show that kombucha provides a rich source of probiotics and promotes healthy bacteria in the gut. To boot, kombucha is simply delicious! In fact, as this fermented tea continues to be a wildly popular choice for the US population, companies have caught on and now offer a wide array of tasty flavors—even pumpkin spice! Furthermore, with a caffeine content of less than 15mg per serving, nurses who want to replace their coffee with kombucha can be assured that this bubbly beverage’s caffeine content is low. In other words, drinking kombucha is almost like drinking a cup of decaf coffee a day. That means even nurses who are sensitive to caffeine are not likely to have a stimulant reaction. All things considered, Kombucha’s great taste, gut benefits, and low caffeine make it one of the best alternatives to your daily cup of joe. 

Dandelion Tea

Dandelion Tea - coffee alternative for nurses

Dandelion Tea, also known as dandelion coffee, is an herbal tisane made from the roots of—you guessed it—dandelions. But before you go uprooting those pretty yellow flowers on your sunny lawn, you should know that harvesting dandelion roots is a bit of a process and requires a level of knowledge in horticulture. Additionally, if you are already working a busy schedule as a PRN nurse, you may not have the time to spend digging up dandelions. We suggest, therefore, leaving it up to experts and looking for a good dandelion root tea in a health store near you. From there, you can steep the tea yourself at home with boiling water and a teaspoon of honey. But what’s so special about dandelion tea anyways? Well, first of all, dandelion tea contains no caffeine; moreover, it is similar to coffee due to its rich and bitter taste. Even better is the fact that dandelion tea is packed with health benefits such as reducing inflammation in the body and helping with digestion. Furthermore, some research points to its potential to aid in detoxifying the liver. Dandelion tea is also rich in antioxidants and high in Vitamin C and A, which help the immune system thrive. As a result of dandelions’ impressive nutrient profile, we are certain it deserves a spot on our list as one of the best alternatives to caffeine. 

Nurses, Enjoy Your Espresso and Healthy Coffee Alternatives

We’re not suggesting nurses throw their espresso out the door. Instead, nurses should experiment with limiting their caffeine intake and replacing a few cups of java with a few healthy alternatives, like the ones listed above. And who knows? You may even start longing for a sweet cup of dandelion root, yerba mate, or an afternoon fizzy kombucha more than a cup of coffee. Ultimately, whatever drink you choose, a little cup of pep to boost your energy can be an effective way to get you through your next nursing shift.

Are you a nurse who loves their coffee? Or, do you have another favorite non-caffeinated drink that gets you going? We’d would love to hear about it; leave a comment in our community!

Written by Jenna Elizabeth

Jenna Hall is a freelance writer, yoga teacher, and travel fanatic with over ten years of experience in professional blogging. She graduated from California State University, Dominguez Hills, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. Shortly after graduation, Jenna headed to Latin America with a small leather journal, a disposable camera, and a pipe dream of being a travel writer on the go. After making a pit stop in Guatemala and receiving her 200-Hour Hatha Yoga Certification, Jenna was picked up by a Portland, Oregon-based active wear company to write for their blog on travel and wellness. She returned to the states, joined the corporate world for a stint, and then in 2014, Jenna permanently moved to South America to work at a local non-profit in Cochabamba, Bolivia to help with grant writing. She’s now published in several online publications and is known for gobbling up Bolivian street food until her tummy hurts, making sassy jokes in Spanish, and attempting to dance Salsa like a local. Clearly, Jenna has found her place in the world and continues to write and live a simple life in Bolivia with her husband and two kids.

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