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Meet our General Manager: Darren Mahaffy

By Darren Mahaffy

Mushrooms are amazing, and I had no idea.

Every day I learn more about their functional benefits, their long-term potential for human development, even their potential ability to communicate with each other. But, until finding Optimi a year ago, I didn’t realize that I was missing this important supplement in my health journey.

I’ve had the benefit of working for some interesting companies over the last 25 years and they have all contributed to a great knowledge base to appreciate what mushrooms offer. I've had the privilege of working on some famous brands, like Gillette and Pantene, and some lesser-known assignments, like Metamucil, Nature’s Path, and Silver Hills Bakery. A common thread across nearly all my roles has been some aspect of “health” as a benefit of the product – even if that benefit was healthy looking hair. :)

One of the most important intersections for me, though, has been the meeting of health and food. Literally everything you put into your body impacts your health, both in the short-term and the long-term. What our bodies really want is to get the nutrients they need from sources as close to the original plant as possible. And our bodies don’t want too much of anything – good or bad.

And the way food is grown and processed is as important to your health as the food itself. Research from the Rodale Institute shows that when plants are grown using organic approaches, we often get food that is higher in vital nutrients.

Organic farming methods also regenerate the soil, which gives our planet the best chance to continue to support our growing need for nutrition. Organic farming methods also lessen the impact to climate change in measurable ways.

Over time, these things have become increasingly important to me.

I won’t say that I have always been the best at taking care of my body. If I’m honest with myself, I took my health for granted for too long. However, working in an industry with folks who know how food can be a long-term benefit to health has helped me make better choices as I’ve gotten older.

Because when I don’t fuel my body properly, I know it. The adage that breakfast is the most important meal of the day is certainly true for me, and I feel the difference when I fuel my body well before getting to work. I am mentally more present and able to push hard to get past the latest challenge that the business presents.

But life goes on after work hours. During the winter, I officiate youth hockey. Being at peak mental acuity is important so I can limit the risk of missed calls or misapplied rules and give the players my best on the ice. It’s not always easy, particularly in the evening after a long day of work.

Being present, mentally aware, and in the flow when 10 teenage boys or girls are battling hard not only makes the work easier, but it makes it more fun. Also, when I’m mentally sharp, I am more likely to be able to respond with a witty comeback to the coach who questions my sight and lineage!

Which leads me back to Optimi, and how mushrooms support my health goals. I like to start my day consistently with exercise, which usually includes a 6-8km run or walk. I follow that an Optimi Plant Protein + Mushrooms shake.

Darren's preferred morning shake recipe:

  • 250ml skim milk (substitute your favourite dairy or non-dairy beverage)
  • 250ml plain Greek yogurt
  • 4-5 ice cubes
  • 1 banana
  • handful of Blueberries
  • 1 serving Optimi Plant Protein + Mushrooms

I just toss in all the blender for a few minutes. When I have this amazing concoction, I know I will feel full and powered-up until I can get a quick break for lunch. Working in an environment like Optimi, our hours can be erratic and sometimes I just don’t know when the next meal is going to happen.

As a bonus, I know that I’m getting the immunity- and energy-boosting benefits from the 5-mushroom stack in the formula. If the last two years have taught us anything, it’s how important it is to keep the immune system as tuned up as possible!

I have also discovered the mental benefits of lion’s mane mushroom and take the Mindful supplement every day. It’s easy to see how improved focus could be relevant for work: We’re making decisions daily that require the team to keep multiple threads straight. But I’ve also noticed the benefits in my extra-curricular activities as well.

As nutritional supplements, Optimi ticks all the boxes for me. The mushrooms we sell are organically grown, helping to minimize our impact on the planet. We use the whole fruiting body of the mushrooms to get all the benefits. We also use a hot-water process to maximize the bioavailability of the valuable beta-glucans in our mushrooms without sacrificing the other important nutrients.

Eating the right things, in the right quantities and at the right time, leads to feeling better, stronger, happier, and healthier. For me, that includes taking Optimi mushrooms daily.