“Can I have a pen?” I couldn’t let early onset Alzheimer’s stop me from learning how to boost brain performance.
I need to remember.
I was sitting with Tero Isokauppila. He spent his whole childhood foraging in the woods. Then he grew up and built a business out of it. It’s mushrooms meets peak performance.
“If I were you, I’d immediately sell the business,” I said. “Have you considered this?”
“I’m not interested at this point,” he said. Even though some of his employees are. Because he gave them all a part of the business. But it’s deeper than that for Tero.
“My mom took me and my brother out foraging as early as I can remember,” he said. “And then I went to a foraging school that my great-grandfather started.”
It’s in his blood. He’s one of the few humans out there who could survive if the power grid got attacked and we lost all electricity.
Because at some point, humans evolved to a point where we just didn’t need basic survual skills anymore.
Typing > Starting a Fire.
But Tero grew up in Finland. And he wasn’t held to the American standards I grew up with.
“We had to start recognizing plants in the wild from grade 2 onward,” he said. “Our summer assignment was to pick plants or different kinds of mushrooms. We would dry them. And learn their Latin names.”
“But how did you learn that?”
“The information just went from generation to generation,” he said.
Meaning, someone a long time ago tried a berry.
Then it happened with more berries and mushrooms and plants.
And each time, the tribe would learn. They learned what helped when your sick, tired, low energy, stressed, etc.
And somehow, through this school and his family, Tero learned the same do’s and don’ts early on.
And then in his twenties, he discovered mushrooms had all these medicinal properties.
“My personal passion was always on optimal human performance,” he said.
He was doing ultra marathons. So he had to find a way to increase his lungs ability to take in oxygen.
That’s when he realized mushrooms are like people.
We both breathe oxygen and expel CO2. And he said we have the same DNA as mushrooms (up to 50%).
That’s why all these healing properties exist in mushrooms. Because we’re similar.
I had some during the interview. Tero slipped it into my coffee.
I wrote everything down.
I wanted to know what Tero does on a daily basis. What does eat to stay healthy?
And by “healthy” I mean immune system health, brain boosting, gut health, stamina (because I can’t walk up the stairs without losing my breath). But it was hard to get one answer.
He wasn’t like the other “health experts” who say eat X and don’t eat Y.
He said, “What works for me might not work for you.”
“Wait, are you say you’re better than me?”
“No.” (He laughed). “Some themes are universal, but a lot of times it’s personal. When people ask me, ‘Tero, what do you eat?’ I don’t respond because they want a quick solution versus asking the right questions for themselves.’”
But I still wanted the quick fix. Tell me how to improve just 1% today!
And he did.
Here are 15 things I learned from Tero Isokauppila, CEO and founder of Four Sigmatic, about optimal human performance, superfoods, functional mushrooms, energy, longevity and more:
1. Don’t eat the same foods all year round. Tero said, “Understand there’s seasonality in the earth and seasonality in your body.”
2. Have an evening routine.
- Reishi (a type of mushroom) is great for when you want to reduce stress, calm down and have really deep, delta-level sleep.
3. Eat color.
4. Eat black foods (poppy seeds, charcoal, cacao, coffee, black olives, chaga, etc.). Tero says they have a lot of healing qualities.
“Black foods are particularly powerful for the heart,” he said.
5. Regular vitamin doses aren’t used to create optimal human ability.
- Tero said that people look at the “recommended daily amount of a vitamin.” But sometimes you need more. “What if you’re going to give a speech and you’re highly stressed or your traveling? Your body needs suddenly double or triple.”
6. Some multivitamins have been proven to actually hurt rather than help.
- “A lot of synthetic multivitamins or supplements don’t work,” Tero said. “Mostly because your body doesn’t recognize it.” So you can’t absorb it.
7. Monks used to take Lion’s Mane (a mushroom) to enhance cognitive function
8. Have a morning routine.
9. Vikings used to take Rhodiola before going to battle.
- He told me how to take it: “You can take it as a tea or a capsule. I actually slipped some into your drink.”
10. Physiology changes.
- “What worked for you when you’re 20 might not work for you when you’re 50,” Tero said. So pay attention to your energy levels, how healthy or sick you feel. And be willing to make cuts or new additions to your diet.
11. Eat chocolate with 80% cacao or higher.
12. “Never have mushrooms raw.”
- “Raw mushrooms have a structure called ketone and we don’t have an enzyme that can break this down (ketone is basically the same compound that creates the shell of a lobster). Saute your mushrooms in butter or put them in a soup.”
13. Shiitake mushrooms help the liver detox. And the liver impacts skin health.
14. Caffeine works!
- This is good news for me. But I asked Tero, “Why is caffeine so polarizing?” He said, “People try to apply these foods all day, everyday, all the time and that’s not how nature works.” And he also said that 20 million people have an adverse effect to coffee. So it goes back to his earlier points. It’s all personal.
15. Not all herbs are meant to be eaten everyday.
- “For example, garlic is an immunostimulant. It’s great if you’re sick, just eat raw garlic. But don’t do it everyday. It will get you sick.”
We spoke for more than an hour. And there are a lot more tricks in the podcast. If you write any down, let me know. I can add them to my list.
And my life.
Links & Resources:
- Read Tero’s book, “Healing Mushrooms: A Practical and Culinary Guide to Using Mushrooms for Whole Body Health”
- You can try any of the mushrooms Tero talks about at FourSigmatic.com
- Learn more about Tero at his website TeroIsokauppila.com
- Follow Tero and Four Sigmatic on Twitter and Instagram