The following is a guest post written by Kiki Athanas, the In-House Wellness Expert at Calii Love & Founder of Mindfully Exponential.
Whether you need to rev up your energy levels or are just desperate to CHILL out – there’s a group of plants – or rather, superherbs – that you should definitely incorporate into your daily regime.
The magical ingredients that I’m referring to are none other than adaptogens, which are non-toxic plants that protect the body from the impact of stressors – physical, chemical, and biological. They work by supporting the adrenal glands, which regulate hormonal responses to stress, and they’re important because they support and help bring the body back to a state of equilibrium.
While the word “wellness” is hard to define and measure, many of us would agree that the ultimate state of wellness is when our bodies (& minds) are in perfect balance – they are aligned and operating exactly as they should. That, my friends, is “optimal health”.
Needless to say, food and supplements can help get you there, and in particular, opting for high-quality adaptogens specifically chosen to suit your goals can get you there a whole lot faster and easier.
While I’ll dive deeper into specific ingredients and blends shortly, let’s first make sure we all understand what crucial elements make up what it means to be an “adaptogen”. In fact, there’s a handy 3-part test – stating that all of the following elements must be met:
- Non-toxic to the body’s physiological functions.
- Offer comprehensive support.
- Bring the body back to balance.
Think of it like the smartest thing you have the honour of consuming – pleasure of consuming if it’s blended into an already delicious superfood smoothie!
So what are some adaptogens worth getting to know?
Here are a few of my favourites that I encourage you get on your radar…
- Ashwaghanda: Also known as Indian ginseng, and cited as the most important herb in ayurvedic medicine, proven to restore energy, improve workout performance, and even found to increase the myocardial energy substrate (i.e. an energy boost to the heart!).
- Camu Camu: A vitamin C rich, organic Brazilian Superfruit, helps to boost energy production and is extremely beneficial in reducing tiredness and fatigue.
- Schisandra Berry: A little red berry grown in northern China and widely used in traditional Chinese medicine. It provides focused, calm energy – improving concentration, coordination, endurance, and aids mental fatigue.
All of the above will work with your own body’s stressors to help restore homeostasis, which means you function in balance, and as argued earlier: balance = health.
Actually, the 3 high-performance ingredients outlined above work synergistically with one another to rev up your whole body – from your heart to immune system – for sustained & focused alertness and energy levels throughout the day. It’s a powerful mix to add to a morning smoothie or pre-workout shake.
While sourcing and customizing your own organic blends of adaptogens can be a wonderful way to help address your own unique concerns and health challenges, it’s best to work with an expert in the field like a holistic nutritionist, naturopathic doctor, or herbalist, to ensure you’re choosing ingredients that are safe, effective, and work well together (& are safe to consume daily).
Alternatively, you can opt for easy-to-use pre-made mixes, adding them as a boost to smoothie bowls, sprinkling them over avocado toast, or even including them as the “secret ingredient” in homemade energy balls.
If you do opt for a ready-made blend, just be sure that all of the ingredients are indeed organic (often times adaptogenic herbs are grown in heavily pesticide conditions!) and that no artificial sweeteners or other ingredients are added – which will counteract the therapeutic value of the healing plant medicine. In particular, stay away from non nutritive sweeteners that can wreak havoc on your digestion (maltitol and other sugar alcohols are the greatest offenders in this regard!). An expensive but worthy zero-carb sweetener that deserves attention, and is a great way to make your mix more palatable, is monk fruit – which is made from extract derived from the dried fruit. The extract is 150-250 times sweeter than table sugar, has zero calories and carbs, and does not raise blood glucose levels – the best part being that it has no known side effects!
So next time you crave some super smart “health” food that truly meets the definition – go for an adaptogenic blend that will give your body exactly what it needs!