When it comes to productivity, there aren’t many things we do today that we did 200 years ago. We send emails instead of post, drive cars instead of horse-drawn carriages, and look up stuff on our phones instead of traveling a hundred miles to the nearest library.
However, when it comes to our morning routines, 80 percent of the world consumes caffeine each day to wake them up and give them a boost for their daily tasks. Whether it’s black tea or coffee, most of us consume the same ingredients we consumed 200 years ago without realizing two important facts. First, coffee beans and tea leaves are not the only sources of energy that nature provides us. Second, productivity is more than just wakefulness. It’s energy, focus, creativity, decreased stress, and improved sleep, among other things.
James Beshara learned both these facts after his morning routine was turned upside down by a medical diagnosis. That led him on a journey of discovery that resulted in the creation of his new book, Beyond Coffee: A Sustainable Guide to Nootropics, Adaptogens, and Mushrooms. Backed by over 240 scientific studies and written with the help of a psychiatrist/neurologist and a medical researcher, James’ book explores which ingredients are scientifically proven to be effective and safe for optimal productivity? I recently sat down with James to learn what prompted him to write the book and his favorite idea that he shares in Beyond Coffee.
What happened that made you decide to write the book? What was the exact moment when you realized these ideas needed to get out there?
Six years ago, I received a diagnosis from my doctor that I have a heart condition, and that excessive caffeine consumption heavily contributed to that condition. My doctor told me I shouldn’t have more than one cup of coffee per day, so since that diagnosis, I’ve been trying to stretch out that one cup I’m allowed to drink. At the same time, I was running a company with 70 employees. Before my diagnosis, I was drinking six or seven cups of coffee a day. Now I had to go down to one cup, which seemed impossible. I needed an alternate source of energy.
Fast forward six years, I’ve spent over a thousand hours of research and close to $150,000 of my own money experimenting with different tactics, compounds from sleep doctors, and various supplements. About a year ago, a friend of mine emailed me asking what my morning routine was for productivity. Instead of sharing my routine one-on-one in an email, I decided to write a blog post. Well, that blog post became a really long post, so I decided it would be a five-part series. Once I’d written everything out, I decided, “You know what, I need to do this right.”
I recruited a couple of my friends — psychiatrist and neurologist Dan Engle, and medical researcher Katherine Haynes — to help me put together the book.
What’s your favorite specific, actionable idea in the book?
Instead of consuming that fourth cup of coffee for productivity, I recommend switching over to matcha green tea, and adding in omega 3s and tumeric in the morning. There is an immense amount of research that shows omega 3s are great for cognition. Matcha decreases the amount of caffeine you’re consuming and has natural L-Theanine and catechins that are great for focus. It’s why Buddhist monks in Japan have been consuming matcha for 800 years.
The third thing is, is tumeric, which has phenomenal anti-inflammatory effects when taken properly. As we age, the body wastes a lot of energy on inflammation, which has been linked to everything from a drain on our energy to a cause for depression in many individuals. Tumeric has now been clinically shown to be as effective as Prozac for anti-depression. When taken together, matcha tea, omega 3s, and turmeric are great for energy, cognition, and mood.
How have you applied this lesson in your own life? What has this lesson done for you?
It’s simple: I take those three things in the morning along with nine other supplements. Like many others who’ve made the switch, this morning routine improves my energy, mood, and focus. Also, matcha has about 130x the antioxidants that regular green tea has, so it’s a big improvement over green tea if you’re looking to add antioxidants in your life.
To learn more about new options for your morning productivity routine, you can find Beyond Coffee: A Sustainable Guide to Nootropics, Adaptogens, and Mushrooms on Amazon.