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Independent health store advice on caffeine alternatives

Looking for advice on natural health and wellbeing? Your local independent health store can offer a wealth of knowledge and expertise. This month we speak to Carol Hill, co-owner of Healthy Stuff in Marlow, Buckinghamshire

There has been a growing interest in caffeine alternatives among our customers and we have noted increasing sales, year on year, of these products. I think this is because people are trying out different diets to suit them and generally caffeine is one of the first things to go. Also, the pace of life is quite fierce these days and many people are suffering with high stress levels. Caffeine can exacerbate stress and anxiety, which is why a lot of people are experimenting with reducing or eliminating their intake.

Functional drinks

We stock a range of herbal teas which are very popular. Our customers are particularly interested in ‘functional teas’ which contain blends of herbs to promote sleep, aid with a detox or soothe the digestion. Caffeine-free drinks that can be enjoyed at night, just before bed, are very popular.

We have a complementary health centre above the shop and one of our practitioners is a herbalist who has developed her own range of teas which are very popular. They have all been formulated for specific purposes, such as promoting sleep or soothing allergies. They are available in loose leaf varieties, which a lot of people are initially unsure about as they are used to teabags, but when they try them they tend to become converted as you get a much stronger flavour with loose leaves.

Matcha green tea is extremely popular. Although it contains caffeine, it also contains high levels of theanine which counteracts the jittery effects you can get with caffeine. Theanine helps to stimulate the production of alpha brain waves, which help us to focus and think clearly and calmly. Matcha green tea also helps to burn fat and increase energy levels, which is why it is favoured by a lot of our customers.

Coffee alternatives

In terms of coffee substitutes, we stock a range of drinks made from roasted barley, rye and chicory. There are also varieties made from dandelion. There are so many different options available now as caffeine alternatives are a growing trend. If people want to swap from their usual coffee I recommend they do so gradually as they will probably miss the caffeine hit and some people can experience headaches if they used to drink a lot of coffee and then suddenly stop.

We have also noticed that our customers are increasingly interested in dairy and sugar alternatives, to go with their caffeine-free cuppas. We have a full range of alternative milks from coconut to hemp, quinoa, almond, rice and hazelnut. In terms of the sugars, popular varieties include coconut palm sugar, xylitol and erythritol.

I think people are getting more inventive when it comes to hot drinks. If they are still drinking coffee they will add things like coconut oil to it instead of milk to make a rich latte or flavour it with rice malt syrup or molasses instead of sugar. We are very lucky here in Marlow because we have a lot of very educated customers who enjoy looking after their health and reading up on natural ways to look after their bodies. Our customer are very well read and well informed, to the point where we often learn as much from them as they learn from us!

Healthy Stuff

Healthy Stuff is based at 11 Liston Court, High Street, Marlow, SL7 1ER. You can contact the store by calling 01628 473 684 or visiting their website:

The store has been in business for 15 years and is an established part of the town. Carol says: “We have several independent shops in Marlow and we are a tight knit bunch.” The store specialises in vitamins, minerals and supplements, but also stocks a range of health foods, sports nutrition products and natural bodycare brands. All staff members are qualified either in nutrition or complementary therapies such as homeopathy or kinesiology.

“We give a lot of advice,” says Carol. “We are known for being able to help people and put them on the right road to good health and we get a lot of pleasure from it.”

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