Last November, I posted that I wasn’t a fan of probiotic supplements (S1E44: Probiotics…really?)
Actually, I’m not a fan of supplements, period. There is no meaningful oversight by the FDA, you’re not guaranteed that you are getting the ingredients you think you are getting, and the research trail is pretty spotty for most of them, if there is a research trail at all. In fact, the World Health Organization has concluded that vitamins and supplements should not be prescribed to treat cognitive decline or dementia. Finally, I hate to take pills. So there’s that.
There is one important exception to my recalcitrance. I think it’s ok to take supplements if lab tests indicate a meaningful deficiency. If a doctor orders them for you and can recommend a reputable manufacturer, well, then, I guess I have no qualms with that.
As I continue to monitor the brain health literature, though, I’m always on the lookout for anything beneficial that I might be able to fit into my diet. My niece, Kay, has been helpful in that effort. She is a consumer par excellence and does her own research before telling me about a food or a product that might be of interest. A little while back, she told me about Lion’s Mane mushrooms and just this past week she asked if I knew anything about matcha tea. So I followed-up with both.
From what I can tell, Lion’s Mane has a decent empirical track record. Studies have used a wide variety of dosage levels, though, and there is no recommended level of daily intake. You can eat them, use them in powdered form to make tea and smoothies, or take a pill.
I once ate them when I lived in Kennett Square (‘Mushroom Capital of the World’) where they were readily available…and I gagged on it. I’m sure I didn’t cook them correctly, but I’m not willing to give it another shot. And you already know how I feel about pills, so that left the powder form as my only viable option. Since I drink tea every morning, I decided to add ½ teaspoon (about 2 mg.) of the powder to my mug which is already laced with a ½ teaspoon mixture of turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, cumin and black pepper.
Matcha (which is sold in powder form) appears to be green tea on steroids. It has more of all the active ingredients of regular green tea and appears to give an additional boost above and beyond what you would otherwise get. Apparently, turning the entire leaf into a powder instead of steeping the leaves is what creates the potency. It is also cultivated a little differently from regular tea, adding to its mystique. There’s quite a ritual around serving it, as well, but the pageantry has no appeal for me.
The instructions on the label suggest adding ½ teaspoon of powder to 2 cups of hot—but not boiling—water and letting it steep. Looking for a boost, though, I upped that to 1 full teaspoon and, thankfully, it tasted just fine.
My morning tea, then, is brewed with: 1 teaspoon of matcha powder, ½ teaspoon of mixed spices, ½ teaspoon of Lion’s Mane powder and 2 cups of filtered water. (Yes…everything is organic.)
Now, if you had put all those powders into a pill and told me to take it every morning, I’d have told you to shove that pill where the sun don’t shine! But using the same powders to make tea seems perfectly acceptable to me. Why is that?
Maybe I’m just being a big old hypocrite, but I rationalize what I’m doing by saying that if I use it in cooking, then it’s not a supplement. And brewing tea is ‘cooking.’
So what do you think? Am I really taking a supplement? Do I need an intervention here to break through my denial?
Whatever it is I’m doing, I’m convinced that drinking 2 cups of this tea followed by my bowl of granola overflowing with a ton of fruit is about as brain-healthy a way to start each day as I can imagine!