If you are a programmer then you know that there are those moments when you need more focus to get a task completed. Maybe it involves too many elements and putting them all together is leaving you in a fog. This happens to me all the time. This is usually when many of us head on over to the makeshift kitchen at our jobs and make yet another pot of coffee to push through the day.
And don't get me wrong folks. I love my cup of standard black coffee that tastes as bitter as the mood in the office on a Monday. I do. But eventually, this tends to leave you feeling crashed and you just end up drinking more and more without any actual effect.
If you are not familiar with mushrooms being used as cognitive enhancers, then let me break down the potential benefits that you could be missing out on by not dropping a small packet into your morning coffee.
We've seen them in video games probably and in fairy tales and probably not anywhere else. Maybe you've read and heard the stories that eating this tiny capped fellow will put you in the ER. But mushrooms have been used, not so much as a food, but as a medicinal plant for thousands of years all over the world.
Lion's mane (or Hericium erinaceus) in particular has been shown in labs to offer a slew of cognitive health benefits that can improve your mood, focus and concentration. And that's what I've been taking for years now.
Improves mood and focus
Sometimes the reason that we struggle to get our work done or to find a solution to a problem, is because frankly we don't feel so great. We might be anxious or depressed or a combination of other stress like emotions. And while the body is busy dealing with that response, it can't problem solve for you making you less effective overall.
A 4 week study looking into the mood altering affects of Lion's Mane had 30 woman split into 2 test groups. One group would supplement with a Lion's Mane cookie (awesome), while the other group settled for a placebo cookie (still awesome). After the 4 weeks were up, the group that had consumed the Lion's Mane cookies showed a reduction in the feelings of "anxious", "irritating" and "concentration" more significantly than the placebo group.
The anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties of the mushroom are a huge contributor to these positive mood altering affects, potentially also due to the increase in blood flow to the brain.
Improves brain health
Our brains, just like every other organ in our bodies, ages. But just like there are things we can do for our other organ friends such as proper diet, exercise and stress management, there are ways that we can improve our brain as well. Lion's mane has been shown to improve brain function be promoting the creating of 2 well-known compounds, NGF and BDNF.
NGF, or Nerve Growth Factor, you guessed it helps in the generation of new nerves in the brain. To quote the study in their own scientific words, (NGF) is essential for the maintenance of the basal forebrain cholinergic system.
BDNF, or brain-derived neurotrophic factor, is a protein that, as many scientists will put it, acts like fertilizer for the brain and was shown to promote survival of neurons. There are other ways in which the brain can do this also, such as through vigorous exercise. But we can't be exercising all the time, at some point, we are going to be sitting down and working.
Four Sigmatic Lion's Mane Coffee Amazon
If you're a programmer, there's a good a chance you enjoy a cup of coffee or three while looping through arrays. Coffee is one of the most widely consumed drinks globally, with online estimates putting it at either #1 or #2 next to water and tea. So there must be something to this drink besides or low-key addiction to it.
Just like lion's mane coffee may also come with its own set of brain enhancing benefits. A double-blind study of 95 healthy individuals in which they each received a random amount of coffee ranging from 0, 200, to 400 mg showed that the group that consumed 200mg tended to do better on memory related tasks as well showed an improvement in overall mood.
Harvard neuroscientist and sleep expert Charles Czeisler believes that coffee consumption is one of the biggest factors in contributing to our current rapidly developing world quoting the following:
"When the nature of work changed from a schedule built around the sun to an indoor job timed by a clock, humans had to adapt. The widespread use of caffeinated food and drink—in combination with the invention of electric light—allowed people to cope with a work schedule set by the clock, not by daylight or the natural sleep cycle."
While you could go out and forage for Lion's Mane mushrooms and dry/blend them into your favorite cup of organic coffee, there's a more efficient way. I'm a programmer, and I like my efficiency.
I personally take Four Sigmatic's Lion's Mane coffee packets, which you find here, a few times per week. There's a few reasons why I recommend that particular blend.
- They use organic coffee
- They use certified organic mushrooms/extracts
- They have single-serve packets
- Their blend actually tasks good
#3 is important. If you just take lion's mane by itself you will notice one thing immediately. It's as bitter as any medicine that your grandmother gave you. If you like bitter coffee, then you probably won't have an issue with the dried mushroom extracts themselves. But the packets are just more convenient when you need a quick pick me up and Four Sigmatic adds a few other ingredients into the mix giving a much more pleasant taste.
Again, you can find the mushroom coffee packets I take right over here but if you aren't a coffee drinker than I can highly recommend the Genius Brand's Mushroom blend which I personally can say has a noticeable effect whenever I take it on both my energy levels and concentration.
I have been an avid Lion's Mane drinker/consumer for years now, and while I can't attribute my entire software engineer career to it, I can attest that I do feel 'better' after a cup or two of this fungi beverage.
Walter Guevara is a software engineer, startup founder and currently teaches programming for a coding bootcamp. He is currently building things that don't yet exist.