I have a confession to make. I drink coffee. Lately with the introduction of Chinese origin Matcha teas, I drink more Matcha to get my caffeine than coffee. However, I still hate it when either gets a bad wrap.
As long as I can remember, coffee has been touted in the press as a guilty pleasure with negative side effects. Then in the last couple years things changed and coffee started to be seen as a healthy habit.
Why the apparent change in the thinking about coffee? Earlier studies did not take into account that known unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking, poor diet and physical inactivity, tended to be more common among those people who were heavy coffee drinkers at that time.
Now a new Mayo Clinic study (started 17 years ago) adds fuel to the fire for the old school suggesting that drinking more than four cups of coffee a day may be linked with higher risk for death for people under 55.
This study and all the hype around it may be entirely irrelevant and not conclusive of anything important since the study was only observational. Basically they kept a loose eye on under 44,000 people using "standardized" questionnaires. After about 17 years they came to the conclusion that the people under 55 who said they drank less coffee died less often. Shocking isn't it?
The study points to facts like: "In men, those who drank more than 28 cups of coffee weekly had a 21 percent higher risk of dying compared with their non coffee-consuming peers." Truth be told, these same men are more likely to smoke, exercise less and also lead higher stress lifestyles that can lead to increased cortisol levels and a quickening of neurodegenerative aging as well. Basically, regardless of their findings it is very likely that its not the coffee that is doing the killing here.
As far as coffee goes, I love it. I love the smell, the taste, and the aroma. I have read countless studies on the health benefits of coffee in particular against neurodegenerative aging.
In fact, according to Dr. Donald Hensrud, M.D. a Mayo Clinic preventive medicine specialist, "The health benefits outweigh the risks. Newer studies have also shown that coffee may have benefits, such as protecting against Parkinson's disease, Type 2 diabetes and liver cancer and it has a high content of antioxidants."
As the president of a brain health supplement company, I know all too well that coffee can do wonders for your brain and body, but it doesn't have a monopoly on improving mental performance. In fact coffee lacks one of my favorite amino acids: L-theanine.
L-theanine is an amino acid responsible for increasing alpha brain wave activity, which promotes relaxation. In synergy with caffeine, this allows tea to induce a feeling of increased concentration over a much longer period of time, compared to caffeine alone like that found in coffee. It may also be the L-theanine that gives you the calm focus when drinking tea and the the lack of it in coffee that causes jitters.
If you feel it's time to add another complementary tool to your box of brain hacks -- try rotating coffee days with green tea days in order to get your L-theanine kick.
I recommend a Matcha green tea from China (just to avoid any possible radiation from Japanese foods). The advantage to drinking Matcha tea is that you actually drink the finely powdered leaves in the water rather than just brewing it and throwing away the water. Many believe that this process can deliver far more nutrients than just brewing tea alone.
Recently, my company Accelerated Intelligence has started to produce a Chinese Matcha tea called MatchaDNA. If you may be looking for a great alternative and/or to compliment coffee, then perhaps consider reading up on Matcha and its benefits as well.