By virtue of arriving on this blog post, there’s a good chance you’re a health and wellness seeker. As someone who’s invested in learning more about the latest and greatest in holistic practices, you’ve also probably heard a thing or two about adaptogens.
While “adaptogens” may sound like a big scary science word, they’re actually very easy to understand and 100% all-natural. To put it simply, adaptogens are non-toxic plants, such as herbs and roots, that can help your body respond more effectively to the physical and mental stressors of everyday life.
If that sounds good to you (and it should!), then read on, fellow wellness warrior. We’ve covered everything there is to know about adaptogens, so you can start incorporating them into your healthy lifestyle.
The benefits of adaptogens:
The benefits of adaptogens have been sought after for centuries––dating back to ancient Chinese and Ayreuvedic healing practices. To this day, they continue to provide a wide-ranging list of health-forward advantages, including:
1. Combating the stress of everyday life
According to Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Kelsey Lorencz, chronic stress is a common state of living in today's world, and adaptogens can go a long way in fighting it.
“High stress increases cortisol in the body, fuels inflammation, and makes us more susceptible to illness and other chronic diseases,” writes Lorencz. “Adapogens can help to modulate the stress response by providing important antioxidants.”
2. Keeping your immune system in tip top shape
There’s no way around it. Stress, whether external or internal, has a way of making us sick. A sudden change in weather, a tough week at work, or an intense period of travel can severely compromise your immune system. By calming your fight or flight response, adaptogens better equip your mind and body to fight off stress-induced illness.
3. Mitigating inflammation
Chronic inflammation is your body’s reaction to unwanted intruders, such as food sensitivities or pollutants. Since adaptogens work by calming your body’s response to these kinds of stressors, they can play a unique role in helping your body ward off inflammation.
4. Getting you a good night’s sleep
When the body feels stressed, it releases a hormone (you’ve probably heard of) called cortisol. If everything were to go accordingly to plan, your body would release cortisol in the morning to get you through the day, and it would gradually calm itself by sleep time. Of course, our modern world has disrupted this process with artificial lighting and unnatural work schedules, which means, we’re often getting a big boost of cortisol just a few hours before we’re supposed to get to bed. By balancing the body’s release of cortisol, adaptogens help you return to a more natural state of calm before hitting your pillows, so you can sleep more restfully.
5. Boosting your focus and fire
The next time you need a jolt of energy, you might want to rethink that cup of Joe. While coffee does have its own set of nutritional benefits, it also has the not-so beneficial effect of releasing stress-inducing cortisol into the body. Adaptogens do the opposite, providing a source of focus, stamina, and energy without the added nervousness, jitters, and consequent crash.
6 adaptogens your mind and body will thank you for:
Some of the most highly sought after adaptogens by wellness seekers include turmeric, lion’s mane mushroom, cordyceps, astragalus, goji berry, and rhodiola. Here’s a quick rundown of their primary benefits:
According to Lorencz, turmeric has been found to cross the blood-brain barrier, meaning it has potential for benefiting brain health and mood disorders. Consistent turmeric consumption has been found to be helpful in place of (and in conjunction with) medications, such as Prozac, in treating depression.
Pro-tip from Lorencz: “Curcumin––the active ingredient in turmeric––is not very easily absorbed by your body, but taking or eating it with black pepper will increase its absorption by up to 2,000%.”
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2. Lion’s mane mushroom
Lion’s mane mushroom is a culinary and medicinal mushroom that traces its roots back to China, Japan, Korea, and India. It’s very adaptable and can be cooked into food, consumed in a cold press juice shot, or seeped into a tea. It’s most sought after for its memory-boosting properties.
“Lion's mane is a mushroom historically used for medicinal purposes and for good reason,” adds Lorencz. “In studies, consuming lion's mane had a nero-protective effect, increasing focus, and decreasing the build up of Alzheimer and Dementia-causing amyloid beta.”
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Cordyceps, from the medicinal mushroom family, have been shown to benefit exercise performance, inflammation, heart health, energy levels, and sex drive. They’re most sought after for their immunity-boosting properties and are even being considered as a potential treatment for asthma.
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Studies have found that the root of the astragalus plant may provide some benefit in increasing immune-boosting white blood cell production and warding off illness-inducing bacteria and viruses. Astragalus is known to fight off viral infections, such as the common cold, as well as keep allergies at bay.
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5. Goji Berry
This tiny, ruby red fruit contains powerful antioxidants that provide a wide range of wellness benefits, including (but not limited to) anti-aging, skin and eye health, immune system support, and better mood and sleep.
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Rhodiola is known as an “arctic root” because it’s grown exclusively in cold environments, such as the mountainous regions of Europe and Asia. Health seekers in Scandinavia and Russia have a long history of relying on this root for its mental health benefits. With 140 active ingredients, rhodiola has been shown to fight mental fatigue, prevent burnout, and improve work performance by up to 20%. In a study by the Volgograd Medical Academy in Russia, students who were given a rhodiola supplement scored 8% higher on a test than those who were given a placebo.
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How to make the most of adaptogens
“The trick with adaptogens is that they work best when taken on a consistent basis,” says Lorencz. “That means that enjoying a turmeric latte once in a while isn't going to provide many benefits.”
Lorencz recommends creating a routine like taking a daily cold pressed juice shot, enjoying an evening cup of golden turmeric milk or including powdered ashwagandha in an energy ball recipe and eating a few each day. Using these items in everyday cooking on a routine basis, such as seasoning your food with turmeric and black pepper or astragalus root in soups, can be helpful as well.
“Get the most out of your adaptogens by seeking out the most reputable brands,” says Nutritionist Lisa Richards. “These brands will be higher in bioavailability, meaning you are absorbing the greatest amount of the nutrient to get the best results.
Richards advises that you should always consult your doctor before embarking on a new health practice. “Some adaptogens interfere with other medications, so making sure you are pairing them safely is important.”
Adaptogens assist in a wide variety of functions by warding off stress, but are only a piece in the overarching wellness puzzle
Adaptogens are commonly recommended to those who are looking to reduce the amount of stress in their life and reduce their body’s stress response. Since it is common knowledge that when you eat healthy, you feel better, the same general concept is thought to apply to adaptogens, as well.
“While each adaptogen is meant to do something different in terms of fighting off stress, in simpler terms, each one does essentially the same thing. They are meant to help ground you and keep you healthy,” says Dr. Candice Seti, Psy.D., CPT, CNC
Adaptogens are an excellent addition to your healthy lifestyle, but they are by no means a cure all. They work best in conjunction with a holistically-driven lifestyle that is overseen by a medical professional.
Looking to add high quality adaptogens into your daily routine? Our Vitality, Focus Fuel, Immune+, and Restore provide turmeric, lion’s mane mushroom, cordyceps, astragalus, goji berry, and rhodiola in convenient cold press shots that will take up no more than a minute of your day. Fuel up with adaptogen-rich KOR shots.