Looking for a healthy way improve how you handle stress? Add adaptogens to your diet! These powerful herbs can be a real life-changer as they help balance out your body and manage stress.
We've talked adaptogens on this blog before. The last post was about how pro athletes use them to boost their power
, speed, and endurance. But you don't have to be an athlete to benefit from adaptogens. They're great for anyone who wants to get healthy and manage stress, which I'm pretty sure is all of us. Keep reading to learn how adaptogens can make a difference in your life.
Let's start with pinning down what we mean by “adaptogen.” While adaptogens have been in use for a long time, they were first given a scientific definition by Dr. Israel Brekhman
in the 1960s. He said adaptogens were natural, plant-based substances that:
- Are nontoxic at normal doses for just about everyone
- Produce a response in the body that helps it handle physical, emotional, or environmental stress.
- Have a normalizing effect on the body; balancing out processes like the immune system, hormones, etc.
Here's How They Work
That definition tells you a little about what adaptogens do, but let's get more specific. Adaptogens affect two of the body's control systems: the hypothalamic/pituitary/adrenal axis, (HPA controls endocrine function, the nervous system, and some immune function) and the sympatho-adrenal system (SAS controls fight or flight response). Recent research has also found that they block the stress hormone cortisol from damaging your cells.
In non-technical terms, adaptogens regulate your body sort of like a thermostat regulates temperature. They'll help your body adapt and find balance when facing any type of stress. When you're using adaptogens, you'll feel calm and focused while also getting an energy boost. All adaptogens do that, and the different types of adaptogens have unique properties that can provide additional benefits as well.
There isn't an “official” list of all the herbs that qualify as adaptogens. But there are several that are well-researched and offer some great benefits. Here are just a few of them:
- Astragalus – this herb is a powerful immune booster and stress reducer. It's one of the adaptogens in Crucial Four's mBreakfast blend.
- Ginseng – probably the best-known adaptogen, ginseng has been used for thousands of years to improve mood, energy, cognitive functions, and immunity. The American variety is widely considered your best option for stress relief.
- Gynostemma – this adaptogen helps you lose weight, live longer, and have a healthier heart. It's also immunity boosting.
- Holy Basil – like other adaptogens, this herb helps you combat stress. Holy basil also improves cognitive functions, is anti-aging, and stabilizes blood sugar levels.
- Maca – this is a more stimulating adaptogen. It'll boost sex drive and fertility for both men and women and helps regulate sex hormones. Maca also increases focus and energy.
Adaptogens aren't a substitute for other healthy choices, but they will give you the boost you need to bounce-back from everyday stress. When incorporated into an overall healthy lifestyle, adaptogens are just the tool your body needs to fight stress and stay in balance.