We’ll start with adaptogens. These are definitely a hot topic/trend in the nutrition/health space recently and for a good reason. I’m sure most of you have never even heard of adaptogens, which is completely normal, I am pretty new to them too! Even though they have been around forever, they are starting to become more of a craze, which makes sense seeing how stress prevails now more than ever and is exactly what adaptogens help reduce/regulate.
SO, what are Adaptogens? They are natural substances (herbs/plants) that help the body adapt (mostly to stress).
I’m sure you’ve heard of cortisol before (the stress hormone). Our bodies are built to release cortisol to respond to stress (this is a good thing) but when cortisol is elevated over time, it can cause a whole slew of health issues. The reason for this being that overproduction of cortisol leads to under production of other hormones your body needs to function properly. The most common targets you see related to stress are:
Thyroid function (thyroid stores hormones that influence function of every organ in our bodies – also regulates metabolic rate).
Adrenal glands (produce hormones that helps body react to stressors like illness or injury).
Digestion (vital in nutrient absorption & excretion).
So, if you have a lot of stress in your life, this could be why you:
Have trouble sleeping
Experience mid day fatigue
Have increased cravings for carbs & sugar
Experience anxiousness / nervousness
Get sick often
Cannot lose weight even with eating properly
Gain weight in the stomach area
Lose sex drive
Have poor digestion / irregular bowel movements
To name a few!
Now, like I’m always going to preach, whole food nutrition is always #1. So if you’re living a super high stress life but also not taking the time to eat properly, hydrate and exercise, start there. That alone can help your body restore itself and get things working the way you’d like. However, assuming you are:
Eating a balanced diet of mostly wholesome foods
Drinking enough water
Taking a high quality multi vitamin & fish oil (these both play a HUGE role in hormone health)
Eating enough to fuel your body
OR staying in a calorie deficit if you’re trying to lose weight
Getting adequate movement/ exercise
…..but STILL experiencing the effects of stress I listed above, insert ADAPTOGENS.
Adaptogens essentially help balance, restore and protect the body when cortisol has been overloaded.
What’s interesting about adaptogens is they can either stimulate or sedate, depending on the needs of the body. They basically find out what’s causing imbalances and works to even them out.
Another neat fact: Adaptogens are mostly plants that have adapted to growing in stressful environments/conditions. When consumed, they give that strength & adaptability to us!!
These are NOT a magic cure however. If something is off, YOU still need to make changes to reduce whatever stress you are enduring as well. i.e. sleep more, meditate, take days off, increase mindfulness in all areas of your life. I also recommend visiting your doctor for some blood work to see right away if you have any issues that need to be medically addressed. The problem here however, is that things like thyroid function can be reduced for years before clinical tests report a diagnosable issue! The ranges of ‘normal’ are also SUPER wide, so you can be on the low end but still considered ‘healthy’.
This is why it’s super important to take control of your health and do everything you can on your own to optimize your hormonal health before worse issues arise. That being said, I always like to emphasize that I am on the preventative, NOT treatment side of health & wellness. It is not within my scope of practice to treat or diagnose any type of medical issue. Which is why I like to educate others on ways they can avoid deeper issues down the road. If you think you have a diagnosable problem, go see a doctor! There’s a difference between balancing your hormones for optimal health and having an actual hormonal disorder/disease that needs medical attention.
Back to adaptogens : ) Long story short, they protect the body from the toxic effects of stress. They specifically support the adrenal glands, which manage your hormonal response to stress and help you cope with anxiety & fatigue.
So what are some common adaptogens that you can look further into on the ol google machine?
How/where do you get them?
-You can buy the herb directly in powders or capsules (I buy maca powder on amazon for example)
-Buy supplements that have adaptogens in them. 1st Phorm actually has quite a few supplements with adaptogens:
Core-21 (sleep aid/cortisol reducer – sleep better & deeper/reduce anxiety & stress)
Adrenal Restore (adrenal optimization – restore your natural energy)
Masterbrain PM (sleep aid / cognitive support -sleep better/clearer mind)
-Buy adaptogenic coffee & tea! Four Sigmatic is the brand I get my Adaptogenic Coffee from. It only has 50mg caffeine and is super high quality. Prior to this I avoided caffeine because of the negative impact it had on my anxiety. This has been fine for me!