Bieber, Gaga, and Eastwood
science

Breakfast

I’m a huge fan of consuming shakes for breakfast. Shakes are an ideal breakfast medium because they are quick to prepare, fast to consume and digest, easily portable, taste great, and can be packed with amazingly powerful substances.1 One of my favorite shake recipes2 consists of the following:

  • Whey Protein: 1 scoop
  • ½ Roasted Beet
  • ½ Avocado
  • Spinach: ½ cup
  • Blueberries: ½ cup
  • Coconut Milk: 1 cup
  • Cinnamon: 2 tsp
  • Maca Powder: 2 tbsp
  • Cold Green Tea: 1 cup
  • Ginger root: 1 inch cube
  • Honey or other sweetener: to taste

In addition to tasting great, this shake has some interesting compounds inside it. Since this post is part of my what’s inside series, here is a closer look at three interesting compounds in this shake:

(—)-Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (ECGC)

ECGC is the Justin Bieber of chemical compounds—everywhere you look EVERYONE is talking about ECGC. However, in this case the attention is warranted. ECGC is an amazing catechin found in green tea. ECGC can block viral infections, suppress fat cell differentiation, and provides cancer-preventative effects. How does ECGC achieve all this awesomeness? At this point it's still unclear—the mechanism of ECGC action appears really complex. However, ECGC ability to quench free radicals and chelate metal ions appears to be partly responsible for these effects.

Anthocyanin

Anthocyanins are a broad class of bioactive flavonoids found in particular abundance in blueberries. These things are the Lady Gaga of the small molecule world. They're colorful, flashy, and you just never know what their going to do next. Anthocyanins are protective against diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. What makes them particularily awesome is that they've been shown to improve memory and cognitive function in several studies (see here, here, and here). Although their mechanisms of actions appears diverse, anthocyanins are thought to largely function by suppressing the bodies various inflammatory responses by inhibiting the production of signaling effectors like nitric oxide synthase, MAPK, and NFΚB.

Macaene and Macamide

Macaene and macamide are best described as the love children of Mariah Carey and Clint Eastwood. These compounds ooze manliness. Macaene and Macamide are secondary metabolites found in Maca, the only cruciferous vegetable found in the New World. Maca has been used by Andean people, and increasingly westerners, to boosts libido, increase fertility, and relieve the symptoms of menopause and PMS. Macaene and macamide are a class of polyunsaturated acids and their amides respectively, which seem to provide some of the pharmocological activity of maca. Maca's mechanism of action has remained puzzling. It appear to have no effect on serum reproductive hormone levels despite it's documented correlation with improved fertility.


  1. Without a doubt the greatest kitchen appliance of all time is the Vitamix. The Vitamix is rather expensive, but it's remarkable. It will last a life-time, perform better than a standard blender, and can be used for a variety of other kitchen tasks that require homogenization and/or pulverization. ↩

  2. This recipe is my own adaptation from information gathered over the years from John Berardi, Jonny Bowden, and Jason Ferruggia. ↩