If a person eats a healthy, balanced diet they obtain their key vitamins and minerals from it. In reality, however, research reveals that many peoples’ food choices are far from perfect. Added to that are folk with allergies (eg to wheat, gluten, or dairy) or specific diets (eg vegetarian or vegan). As a result, many people require something extra to boost their diets.
These days, lots of people are talking about healthy foods and natural supplements. This is because they want to consume nutrients, minerals, and vitamins that come from natural sources. One such item of interest is called Guayusa. It’s also been referred to as a super-plant and an alternative to coffee or yerba mate. Let’s find out why it has gained so much popularity, and whether it could be a good choice for you.
A Source Of Caffeine
Caffeine has received a lot of bad press over the years. This has been largely based on people drinking too much coffee, and becoming pumped on adrenaline! As regards caffeine consumption, science has confirmed that having up to three cups of coffee a day has many different health benefits.
Guayusa leaves are as highly caffeinated as coffee grains. They are sometimes referred to as athlete’s brew because they can provide energy for long-distance athletes. Whilst they help create periods of alertness like coffee drinks, the effect is more prolonged. There is no sudden energy spike or crash when the leaves wear off. Tests involving Guayusa drinkers have shown they have six times less of an adrenaline response than coffee drinkers.
It’s this steady release of caffeine that has earned Guayusa the name of ‘night watchman’ by the Amazonian tribes. As with coffee drinks, it’s not wise to drink them in the evenings if you want a good night’s sleep. It’s also important for people to know their own tolerance levels when it comes to stimulants.
You’ll need to head to the Amazonian rain forests to find these. Guayusa is being widely cultivated in Ecuador. Guayusa trees grow to heights of between six and thirty meters. Their leaves are bright green in color, and oblong shaped. Some indigenous Ecuadorians called Kichwa have used the leaves for two thousand years. They utilized them to clean their teeth and as a mouthwash. Interestingly, Guayusa tea doesn’t stain a person’s teeth like coffee.
Once the leaves have been picked and dried, they are used as a herbal tea drink (although Guayusa is not technically tea). It’s naturally caffeinated and strong in flavor. Some people describe it as having a clean, silky flavor with a sweet aftertaste. People are able to buy Guayusa as a powder or an extract, and it is widely used in both Europe and North America.
How To Drink It
Guayusa is a great alternative beverage to coffee. It’s safe to drink and easy to make. People can either enjoy it hot or as an iced drink.
As with any caffeine drink such as coffee, it’s advisable to consume it in moderation. If too much is ingested, a person could feel anxious, restless, or be unable to sleep. Guayusa also has a tannin content like tea (but without the bitter element). This will present no problems unless it is drunk to excess, and especially on an empty stomach. In the latter scenario, it could impair a person’s iron absorption or make them feel sick.
Weight Loss Benefits
Tests on mice have revealed that Guayusa is able to promote weight loss and suppress appetite. If a person has a high metabolism it means their body is quick to burn up calories right away. Being a stimulant containing caffeine, Guayusa can help boost a person’s metabolic rate. The benefits may be short-lived, but additional research is needed in this area.
The Impact On Mood
We mentioned long distance athletes earlier, and they will certainly be interested in this aspect: Guayusa leaves can boost a person’s state of mind, keeping them focused, alert and in a sustained state of concentration. Amino acids are found in the leaves that help produce dopamine – a ‘happy hormone’ in our bodies. Anyone who requires a healthy oxygen intake and improved cognitive function will certainly benefit from Guayusa. Claims have also been made that Guayusa can help people who pursue lucid dreaming. The leaves are claimed to help reduce the instance of bad dreams during such occasions.
Anyone who researches health supplements will be familiar with these. What antioxidants do is fight free radicals, which are rogue (unstable) body molecules. This natural process helps reduce the risk of a person developing chronic diseases and promotes healthy aging. People may choose to swap their green tea drinks for Guayusa, because it contains a significantly higher number of antioxidants.
The leaves contain many different types of antioxidants, as well as an abundance of vitamins and amino acids. It’s the polyphenol antioxidants called ‘catechins’ that may protect people from such conditions as cancer, Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, or inflammation.
Vitamins And Minerals
It’s well worth researching the benefits of the following properties found in Guayusa: vitamins C and D, calcium, and chromium. There’s also potassium, zinc, and magnesium present in the leaves.
Other Health Claims
In tests on animals, Guayusa leaves were found to reduce cholesterol levels. Research using mice has confirmed its power to lower blood pressure too.
More research is needed on Guayusa, but it could also serve to detoxify blood (by removing impurities), balance blood sugar levels (e.g. for Diabetes sufferers) and stabilize pH levels. There may also be benefits for a person’s urinary system, digestion (eg by providing relief from bloating, constipation, or an upset stomach), and immune system. It may also boost kidney function, strengthen the lungs and enhance a person’s general health.
It’s encouraging to find a drink that is both tasty and nutritious. As we have seen, it may contain additional health benefits too. Its slow-release caffeine gives it an edge over coffee, and its history is fascinating to discover.