For most people, the first thing they drink when they wake up is a cup of coffee. After all, it tastes great and the caffeine provides a nice buzz to start the day. But coffee is also acidic and dehydrating—which is the complete opposite of what our bodies truly need first thing in the morning.
After sleeping for seven or eight hours, we're already in a dehydrated state from the lack of liquids. That's why what you drink first thing in the morning is so important and can indeed set the tone for how you feel the rest of your day.
What your body needs first thing in the morning is something cleansing, hydrating, and energizing. In other words: a health elixir.
Personally, I've never been a coffee drinker. Ever since I can remember I've always started my morning with a big, cold glass of water. But as I began my personal wellness journey, I decided to upgrade my good ol' morning glass of water to a supercharged health elixir.
At first, I started with a warm cup of lemon water, after I learned that warm lemon water can help aid digestion, cleanse the liver, and boost the immune system. I definitely noticed improved digestion after just one week. But I also wanted to experiment with different elixirs.
So I tried out various morning tonics while staying connected to my body and taking note of how each elixir affected my energy and digestion. In particular, I tested:
- Turmeric ginger herbal tea: I enjoyed the taste and appreciated the herbs' anti-inflammatory benefits.
- A shot of apple cider vinegar: ACV contains acetic acid (a natural antibiotic), potassium, and magnesium. It's used to help detox the liver and boost the immune system. But as a morning drink, I found it to be a bit harsh going down. And drinking too much on a regular basis can irritate your throat, harm tooth enamel, and even cause a stomach ulcer. To take the bite out of it, always mix ACV with a half cup of warm water.
- A shot of raw coconut vinegar: This is similar to apple cider vinegar, but it's made from fermented coconut sap, which contains more nutrients than apples. Still, I preferred the taste of ACV.
- A shot of freshly squeezed wheatgrass: I definitely felt energized after taking a freshly juiced wheatgrass shot in the morning. Unfortunately, after a few weeks of morning wheatgrass shots, I couldn't even smell wheatgrass without feeling a bit sick. I later learned this is not uncommon. The taste is very strong—similar to the smell of a freshly mowed lawn—and it's more time-consuming to make than the other drinks.
But there was one drink in my experiment that really stood out.
My morning elixir: coconut water with chlorella
While looking for an alternative to wheatgrass, I came across chlorella. Chlorella is a blue-green algae that's native to Japan. I choose it for my morning tonic because it's a nutritional powerhouse known to benefit the entire body. In fact, chlorella gram for gram is more nutrient dense than kale, spinach, and broccoli.
I started by drinking one teaspoon of chlorella in a half cup of room-temperature water. It was quick and easy to make, ideal for rushed mornings. The taste is much milder than wheatgrass although similar to the seaweed that's used to wrap sushi in.
But I found that mixing one teaspoon of chlorella in cool coconut water actually neutralizes the seaweedy taste. And coconut water is very hydrating and contains essential electrolytes. Overall, the drink is extremely energizing and refreshing. (But be sure to watch out for added sugar in some coconut waters.)
Currently, coconut water with one to two teaspoons of chlorella is my favorite morning health tonic because it's nutrient dense, quick, easy, hydrating, cleansing, energizing, and it tastes delicious. I recommend everyone give this morning health elixir a try.
Devin Burke is a passionate wellness educator, health and fitness coach on a mission to empower 1,000,000 lives by making living a healthy and fulfilling life simple. He’s the author of “Healthy Eating in the 21st Century” and creator of the Healthy Eating in the 21st Century Program.