Adaptogens aren’t anything new; natural medicine has been touting their benefits for years, but science is slowly starting to catch up. Studies are starting to show that they can be effective and natural ways to treat the various mental and physical effects of stress. Adaptogens are actually plants, herbs, and fungi that grow naturally and can be used as supplements, brewed into teas, or even cooked into your food for a fit boost. You can find them at most health food stores, pharmacies, and even in your grocery store. Keep reading to find out the most common and most-used adaptogens and exactly how they can benefit you. Of course, make sure you check with your doctor first before introducing anything new into your regimen!
You’ve definitely heard of ginseng, and probably already use it for an energy boost from time to time. Panax ginseng (found in Asia) is also very well known as an adaptogen thanks to its myriad of potential benefits found by using its root. In humans, studies have shown that Panax ginseng can improve overall calmness, while also working to improve the working memory performance of adults. Other studies in animals have shown that Panax ginseng could potentially help with other stress response systems and with treating stress disorders.
Add ginseng to smoothies for a delicious and easy way to boost your intake!
Holy basil is a plant found in India that has been a huge part of Ayurvedic medicine, and it’s not hard to see why. Aside from having a pretty compelling name, holy basil has been a go-to for everything from the common cold to skin infections. The research is still minimal, but preliminary studies have shown holy basil to have stress-fighting abilities thanks to three phytochemical compounds that combat physical stress. The leaves, stems, and seeds are used to create various medicines, but you can also add it to stir-fry dishes and soups thanks to its peppery taste.
Ashwagandha is also known as Indian ginseng, and this adaptogen has long been thought to lessen the effect of stress on the body in various ways. A recent double blind study, however, has actually proven ashwaganda to be an effective and safe way to improve adults’ resistance towards stress, and therefore to have a better quality of life. The root and berry of this plant are used for their adaptogen properties, but beware: the root has a strong aroma that might be off-putting at first.
If you love your mushrooms, you’re going to love these adaptogens. Cordyceps is a type of rare fungus grown in the high mountain regions of China that has been shown to reduce cortisol levels, which become elevated when we’re stressed and can cause weight gain. It may also help with athletic performance, by protecting the body from chronic stress.
Including adaptogens into a healthy diet can be a great way to help your body manage stress, but they can only do so much. Living well starts with exercise, adequate sleep and a balanced diet packed with nutritious food. A meal plan (like our NEW meal plan) can help you achieve that. Not only will our nutrition guide teach you the right foods to eat to achieve your goals, but a meal plan will show you exactly how to make those foods work for you, day in and day out with great recipes and healthy tips.
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