I love podcasts. I love being able to absorb personal stories, health and society information, or to get lost in a true crime series while on the go. One of my favorite podcasts is the Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast. Ben is a celebrity trainer turned bio-hacker, who delves into nutrition, supplementation and “behavioral hacks” in order to achieve optimal human performance. His podcast speaks to elite athletes and mere mortals alike. His goal is to optimize health for the long run. On his podcast, he often interviews first-class athletes, doctors, and scientists on the cutting edge of their professions, who are really passionate about health, performance, and longevity. It is a really motivating and empowering podcast. So, while you may not necessarily be training for optimal performance, I think it is important to pay attention to the benefits of the these “hacks,” because they can help us get or remain healthy for our own performance challenges and longevity.
This week, I listened to Ben Greenfield’s interview with Dean Karnazes.
Dean Karnazes is arguably superhuman. He has run and raced hundreds of thousands of miles across the U.S. and abroad. His accomplishments include running multiple ultramarathons, 350 miles in a little over 80 hours without sleep, 50 consecutive marathons in all 50 states and much, much more. The most interesting thing about Dean, in my opinion, is his lack of burnout, even after all of those miles and all of those races. He just keeps going with unequaled passion and drive. It is remarkable.
Most recently, Dean completed The Road to Sparta race (which he has also written a book about), where he ran the epic 153-mile run that inspired the world’s greatest footrace, known today as the marathon. During this long and difficult race, Dean retraced the storied steps of Pheidippides, (530 BC–490 BC). Pheidippides is said to have run from Marathon to Athens to deliver news of a military victory against the Persians at the Battle of Marathon. Not only did Dean run the storied path of Pheidippides, but her also went a step further by eating only nutrients that were available to people during the time of the original race. He turned to all natural and available items like figs, dates, nuts, and cured meats. He abstained completely from any sports nutrition or supplements, including electrolyte replacing fluids, like Gatorade. In doing so, he learned quite a bit about his body. Not being able to rely on sports nutrition forced him to really choose foods based on their potential energy output for his body and to rely on some ancient herbs and remedies to get through the miles without breaking down.
Anyway, the whole reason I am even writing about this today on my “mold Blog,” is because on the podcast, Dean was sharing some of his daily performance “hacks,” and one really spoke to me: Dean brews his coffee every morning with rosemary. He literally brews the rosemary sprigs right into his coffee. He swears by this elixir, because, not only does it take the acidity away from the coffee, but it also cleanses and energizes his body. Coffee contains very large amounts of antioxidants, including polyphenols and hydrocinnamic acids. These antioxidants may improve health and help reduce the risk of several diseases.
With Dean consistently training at 150 miles per week and sleeping an average of 5 hours per night, he also believes that his rosemary coffee keeps him free from sickness and optimally charged without the aftereffects of blood sugar spikes and adrenal fatigue that coffee is sometimes criticized for. Now, I know a thing or two about rosemary and its natural antifungal, antibacterial, antiseptic and antiparasitic properties, so I was intrigued.
(On a side note, the coffee space has become particularly interesting for the health and mold sensitive, due to the success of Dave Asprey’s famous Bulletproof Coffee. This coffee has become a favorite for the casual coffee drinker to the consciously healthy, ketogenic and paleo diet-seekers alike. Asprey’s recipe of blending grass-fed, unsalted butter, and/or MCT oil into his special mold-free coffee gives the coffee its “bulletproof” status, because the added fats energize the mind and body for hours . More relevant for the mold-sensitive is the fact that the proprietary Bulletproof Process optimizes every step of coffee production by minimizing the opportunity for performance-robbing mold toxins to taint the beans. The coffee beans are grown at high altitudes where mold does not survive. If you are a coffee drinker, mold-free Bulletproof Coffee and my recipe that follows both limit the unhealthy aspects of coffee drinking and provide important health benefits.)
As a matter of fact, one of the things I struggled with the most when I had to modify my diet to eliminate all of the fungus/yeast in my gut, post-mold exposure was giving up my morning coffee. I love coffee, but until the yeast was gone, regular coffee just was not doing my digestive system any favors. Also, no caffeine is allowed on the Candida Diet, because it can undermine your adrenals and weaken your immune system, making your Candida worse. So, even though Dean’s tip to add the rosemary to the ground coffee during brewing was genius, and just what I needed to get this morning ritual to be beneficial to my body on the antifungal front, without real coffee, how was I to add rosemary coffee to my life? I mean, if this physically amazing man uses this simple recipe to up his game for a 135 mile run, then it is worth a shot, right? I thought so, and I’m so happy I did. With a few little antifungal tweaks, I’m drinking my morning brew this way every morning.
Before I go into my special, Candida-friendly, adapted recipe, we need to talk rosemary and its health properties:
Rosemary is a hearty, fragrant herb, originally from the Mediterranean that is commonly used in cooking. Its medicinal properties have been lauded since ancient times. Tinctures, oils and teas containing rosemary were used to disinfect and treat wounds, help with circulation, treat asthma, prevent hair loss, stabilize and extend the shelf life of homemade creams and cosmetics, and even to treat and manage diabetes. Rosemary is also a rich source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, which are thought to help boost the immune system and improve blood circulation. Potential health benefits of Rosemary include improved concentration, digestion, and slowed brain aging. Most recently coming to light about rosemary, though, is proof of its amazing ability to help with fungal conditions. There was even a recent study done by the International Center for Science, High Technology and Environmental Sciences that looked specifically at the antifungal power of the oils extracted from the rosemary plant on a strain of Aspergillus flavus. The study concluded that rosemary is a potent antifungal, and should be further explored for its potential ability to protect food and crops as a natural fungicide during farming and storing. Medicinally, rosemary can be used to calm digestive distress and indigestion, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Also, rosemary is approved by the German Commission as a safe and effective herbal treatment for dyspepsia (indigestion or impaired digestion). I really have only scratched the surface here on the health benefits of rosemary, but you get the gist.
Now that you are sold on using rosemary in your coffee, let’s address the coffee issue for those folks, like me, who should not be drinking it.
To make my own version of rosemary coffee, I needed to come up with a way to first make myself “coffee” without violating any of the antifungal diet best practices. High-quality organic decaf coffee is permitted on an antifungal diet, but only in VERY small amounts. Since decaf coffee and most teas do contain trace amounts of caffeine, I really didn’t want to use either for fear that I might regress and bring some of the yeast back. So, what was left?
Allow me to introduce you to chicory root coffee. It is a tasty, nutrition-packed, coffee substitute that is caffeine and gluten free with a smooth, creamy mouth feel that reminds me of Dave Asprey’s Bulletproof Butter Coffee. (HERE is a link to my post on Dave Asprey, if you want to learn more.)
Chicory root contains prebiotic fiber (inulin). Prebiotic fiber cannot be fully digested by the body, but can be used as food by the good bacteria in your gut. Feeding the good gut bacteria helps it flourish and eliminate the Candida or yeast. Thus, chicory root is an advantageous choice for those of us on an antifungal diet. Other benefits of chicory include decreased inflammation from its abundance of plant polyphenols, improved liver condition from its ability to scavenge free radicals from the body, less constipation from its high-fiber content (which is why it should be used in moderation), better-regulated blood glucose levels (some naturopaths prescribe it to help with diabetes), less joint pain, and better gut health (because it is wonderful food for that good gut bacteria). Convinced to try it yet?
So now you are wondering, how in the world do I brew “coffee” from chicory root? Well, fear not! Ground, roasted chicory root is actually available in stores (online or at Whole Foods) and can be used in your drip coffee maker, or French press exactly as you would use coffee. The ratio of ground chicory to water to brew the coffee is even the exact same as regular coffee. Thus, making the switch is quite easy.
Now that I have dangled the bait, I’m going to go ahead and reel you in with my delicious recipe for Rosemary “Coffee.”
Candida Diet-Friendly, Caffeine-Free, Antifungal Rosemary Coffee
- Ground, Roasted Chicory Root (I used Teeccino Chicory Herbal Coffee in the Hazelnut variety, available online or at Whole Foods. They also offer unflavored and Dark Roast, but I couldn’t resist the temptation of Rosemary-Hazelnut “coffee.” Community Coffee also makes a ground chicory that works well for this recipe.)
- French Press, or a regular drip Coffeemaker
- 1 sprig of fresh rosemary per 2 tablespoons of ground chicory (This ingredient amount is wholly dependent upon how many cups of coffee you are making. For example, if you are brewing 4 cups, you will need 2 sprigs.)
- Coffee accompaniments (Pick your poison here. I use unsweetened coconut or almond creamer and organic Stevia in my coffee, but fix yours however you usually take it. If you are on a strict antifungal diet, do not use real sugar or dairy, though. This makes a great smoky, robust black “coffee,” so you might want to try it that way first.)
Place 2 tablespoons of ground chicory per cup of coffee in your French press or coffeemaker. Take one sprig of rosemary at a time, and run your fingers along the stalk to make the needles come loose. Add all of the needles however many rosemary sprigs you are using to the ground chicory in either your coffeemaker or your French press.
If you are using a French press, boil filtered water in a kettle. If you are using a coffeemaker, fill your machine with filtered water for however many cups you are making, and brew your “coffee” per machine specifications. For the French press, once your water boils, remove it from the stove and pour it into your French press. Allow the ground chicory and rosemary to steep for at least 3 minutes. If you desire stronger “coffee,” you can let it steep longer.
After 3 minutes, press your “coffee.”
For a regular coffeemaker, you can just pour yourself a cup when the brewing is complete.
Prepare your “coffee” however you normally take it. Kick your feet up and enjoy the taste and aroma. You can even add a sprig of rosemary to your cup as a stirrer/garnish, if you are feeling fancy.
Please let me know if you try this. I want to hear what you think. Does it taste like coffee to you? Did it make you feel better? Are you able to run around the globe now just like Dean Karnazes?