Whilst coffee may be the world’s most antioxidant-rich superfood–and Bulletproof Coffee the ultimate energiser–we have a simple upgrade that will let you crank up your performance without straining your body in the process.
Chaga mushrooms are a powerful food and medicine that really give you that bang for your buck when it comes to super hacking your health. It is a fungi that grows wild on birch trees and is the richest naturally occurring source of antioxidants found anywhere! That's right, its ORAC is higher than blueberries, acai, and even cacao! This is evidenced in the rich orange color of its interior flesh – more on colours and their properties in foods in a later post.
Chaga are extremely rich in the long-chain beta glucan sugars that have long been known to powerfully modulate the human immune system. While it has been used in many cultures, it is most well known for its value to the Siberians who have been the keepers of wisdom with regard to its immune enhancing and anti-cancer properties.
It is also one of the Earth's greatest tonic adaptogens. Basically meaning it can be taken daily without concerns of overuse. It is completely nontoxic and increases our bodies ability to cope with a multitude of stressors. Not just mental stress, but physical, emotional, and even those things that challenge us spiritually.
In basic herbalism, any stimulant is always counteracted with an anti-stimulant. Any drug that takes you too high is always countered with drugs such as alcohol to allow a counter response. It works the same way with coffee. In Taoist Herbalism or in the Amazonas systems, all formulas have a number of ingredients that play their own individual roles to deliver the medicine and health in an effective way.
A drink with coffee alone is just too stimulating on the adrenals – it becomes too ‘top heavy.’ Adding quality fats or butter helps smooth out the space in the drink, so it is not too hollow. It adds a heavy bottom layer. Now the caffeine or herb can enter the system much more slowly without overtaxing the body.
However, for medicine that's delivering a stimulant, it must have an anti-stimulant in there somewhere. Any herbalist going back 10,000 years automatically knows that! It’s intuitive. But because in today's civilisation most of us have become separated from growing food as medicine, we no longer have that automatic knowledge.
Let's not forget that things like coffee, cacao and vanilla are herbs! We all know those post-coffee jitters – whether it's mycotoxin free or not. Potent herbs like coffee have a strong effect on our bodies. So in the central Americas for example, stimulating herbs were balanced with anti-stimulants. Any brew containing chocolate (a stimulant) was always served with mucuna – an anti-stimulant that even predates vanilla’s use with cacao.
That’s where Chaga upgrades your Bulletproof Coffee. A potent anti-stimulant, it bridges the gap in the ‘middle’ of the fats and the coffee at the top so you can have more cups without overtaxing your system. It delivers 100% nutrition along with the energy from your coffee and with matching aromatic compounds that share a particular complementary synergy with coffee, it also does more to enhance the flavour of your drink.
Put all the ingredients together and blend:
To brew the chaga: Add 2 litres of water and ¼ cup of dried chaga chunks to a large pot. Simmer over medium-low heat for 30 minutes to 2 hours. When time is up, strain out the chaga chunks and store the liquid in large jars. Save the chaga chunks – they can be frozen and re-used for brewing later. Chaga helps with dopamine release; so we can be alert and focused pre-workout. It also provides relentless adrenal support – that is imperative if your training is 100% every time.
Alternately, you can use the Four Sigmatic Chaga Mushroom Elixir in this recipe. According to Four Sigmatic, this mushroom is dual-extracted, which is a process of making the water and fat-soluble contents bioavailable with boiling water and alcohol–then removing the alcohol and spray-drying it into powder. 
Interesting fact: did you know that wild mushrooms were used by the Viking Berserkers tribe? These were fearless Icelandic warriors who took elixirs containing mushrooms before battle – an energy we can bring to our own pre-workout regimen!
Helps with both the adrenal and brain gateway in providing support pre-workout.
More than just energy, fats provide cholesterol - an essential precursor for hormones like testosterone. Fats also coat our nerves to protect from short circuits in our CNS. A strong nervous system is what we want for exercise and movement practice.
Using grass-fed ghee is another option too. Ghee is pure butter fat made at a low temperature and is a great alternative for those sensitive to the dairy proteins and sugars which have been removed (casein and lactose).
A considerable source of chromium that helps balance insulin levels and insulin sensitivity. An essential pre-workout ingredient.
By using vanilla powder in bulk – like the Bulletproof Vanilla Max – we are able to use this as a herb to invigorate muscles and brain and not just as a flavour enhancer. It has a particular synergy in this elixir due to the presence of natural vanillic acid and vanillin in chaga which brings out a lot of floral aromas for a beautiful taste. Chaga generally has a beautiful affinity with herbs with earthy smoky and floral aromas.
Present throughout any civilisation, a pinch of salt brings out the sweetness in drink concoctions and elixirs.
For a tasty, nutritionally dense snack to go with your pre-workout elixir, check out our recipe video for Vegan Paleo Lemon Bliss Balls.
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This article was written by Renu Wasal and Amit Joshi