Prepare to be Shocked: Tim Ferriss' Favourite Brain Enhancer is Tea
Nootropics are everywhere. Amongst entrepreneurs in the United States they’re near-ubiquitous, and hundreds of successful people have espoused the benefits they feel from various brain enhancing substances. Tim Ferriss is one of these people, shedding light on his most-used brain boosters in a YouTube video. However, contrary to what you might expect from a self-described ‘human guinea pig’, Ferriss prefers a milder method of cognitive enhancement. Indeed, one of his favourite ways to help his mental performance is by drinking a very particular tea of South American origin. We’ll break down what it is and why it’s so helpful to Tim in the following few paragraphs!
Pictured is a ‘gourd’ of yerba mate, complete with bombilla drinking straw. Mate is Ferriss' brain-boosting tea - it's been consumed by South American peoples for hundreds of years, long before the arrival of Europeans to the continent. It’s been used for medicinal purposes throughout South American history, and has been the subject of numerous studies in contemporary times.
These studies were often undertaken to verify the medicinal potential of mate, and have frequently come back positive. The tea has been found to contain a high amount of antioxidants, as well as substances like pantothenic acid and theophylline which have beneficial effects for the human body.
Mate has plenty of good effects on both body and mind. There is some evidence that mate might have antidepressant qualities, but this is largely speculative at the moment. More definitely, mate contains caffeine and choline, also present in BrainZyme supplements. These are two potent nootropics - caffeine, as you probably know, promotes alertness and helps to increase energy levels. Choline, on the other hand, is the precursor to acetylcholine, a vital neurotransmitter. Amongst regular consumers of ‘smart drugs’, a source of choline is frequently included alongside pharmaceutical nootropics, as many of these drugs rely on acetylcholine to produce their effects.
Furthermore, the polyphenols present in yerba mate are believed to help protect neurons following seizures. These neuroprotective effects might be another of the factors behind mate being perceived as an effective cognitive enhancer, and its legacy as a medicinal tea in South America.
But, there have been mixed reports over the efficacy of yerba mate as a way to increase mental performance. Some studies have found that there’s no discernible effect from consuming small amounts of mate, though many of the substances and compounds found in mate are acknowledged as having positive effects.
It might be that mate helps Tim Ferriss in a less obvious way than its chemical composition. Ferriss clearly associates it with his past spent in Argentina, meaning that the tea may have some sentimental association in his mind that could help him relax. Furthermore, he describes in his video the importance of the method of consuming mate, detailing his method of steeping the leaves for a few minutes before drinking more, and repeating this while working.
This process might allow for Ferriss to take breaks, to de-pressure his mind while writing as he moves away from his computer to make a new cup of tea. It may be that the ritualisation and calmness associated with the tea-making process is supplementing the benefits he feels from the tea itself. Taking short breaks while working can ‘vastly improve focus’, meaning that a few minutes spent making a new cup of mate might be the key to the tea’s effectiveness.
We also found Ferriss’ choice of brain enhancers very interesting. While there’s a perception that successful people like him might tend more towards a more intense, pharmaceutical cognitive enhancer, Ferriss bucks this idea. He acknowledges that there are short term benefits associated with these pharmaceuticals, but also long-term side effects, and has decided that they’re simply not worth the trouble. As a result, he’s moved to lower-impact cognitive enhancers. Perhaps the most unnatural item in his regime is ubiquinol, a reduced form of co-enzyme Q10 that’s found in many foods such as beef.
This aligns closely with our philosophy behind making BrainZyme: Using foods to produce more natural cognitive enhancers based in nutrition. BrainZyme’s ingredients are all foodstuffs, vitamins and minerals, containing superfoods such as matcha and guarana. This enhancer might not have the ‘in-your-face’ effects of a pharmaceutical product, but they certainly help people to be more productive and get more done. Furthermore, as Ferriss suggests, this kind of approach to cognitive enhancement minimises the risk of side effects that might harm productivity in the long-term. Smart food supplements like BrainZyme are thus a highly effective alternative for those who want a way to boost their cognition without any negative long-term effects.