If you’re on any kind of social media, you’ve likely heard of adaptogens. But do you actually know what they are? And do you need them in your diet?
Adaptogens are said to have many health benefits, particularly fighting stress. Generally, they are a mix of herbs or mushrooms that have been shown to balance your stress levels and adrenal function – and this isn’t a new thing.
How do they work?
Your adrenals are part of your endocrine system. It’s a gland that regulates and produces a variety of hormones (their function can be reduced by stress, lack of sleep or caffeine intake - resulting in adrenal fatigue).
Our bodies were built with a “fight or flight” response to stress, which can do a number on our internal systems like: shut down digestion, release toxins, raise blood pressure and reduce immune system function. We’ll go into more detail on curbing your stress in another post!
With most Canadians under constant stress (even if you don’t know it!), our bodies have difficulty turning off that fight or flight response. Cue: adaptogens.
Adaptogens have been used for years in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Ayurvedic methods, and are said the increase our ability to adapt to different stressors – including work stress, physical stress like trauma or high-intensity exercise, family stress and illness.
Are there different types?
There are quite a few adaptogens available to consumers. One thing to remember, these are most effective when you remember to use them regularly – as is with any supplement! We’ll give you a short list of some of the most popular:
Maca root: We prefer it gelatanized (to help digestion) and in capsules, or a very flavourful smoothie (it’s a bit of an acquired taste). It’s said to help regulate hormone levels (including those associated with the adrenals). Start small (1/2 tsp. to start) and work your way up to no more than 2 tsps.
Red Reishi: While there is a hint of mushroom flavour, many people have started drinking these as teas (either pre-blended with stevia and other herbs) or incorporating them into smoothies.
Ashwagandha: Its said to help with issues from anxiety and fatigue as well as stress-related insomnia. *Consult a health care professional if you have thyroid issues.
Ginseng: Alongside assisting with balancing adrenal fatigue, by possibly preventing stress and anxiety while increasing energy, it also has been said to be beneficial to lung function.
This is only a (very) short list of adaptogens available out there and the benefits you may get.
Of course, the benefits are even more effective when you also make lifestyle changes that can support this – particularly stress-reducing exercises like yoga. Or for those that have a bit more stress to unleash, short HIIT session lead by a knowledgeable personal trainer.
Get started on your road to stress release and hormone balancing with a free 7-day pass to one of our clubs!