NUTRITION

What’s an Adaptogen?

What these superfoods are and how you can use it in your diet.

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By Aimée Suen, NTP

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Health trends come and go all the time. While they can be fun, interesting, and delicious, they’re not always as impactful to your health and wellness goals as they could be. A more recent health trend, adaptogens, can help add an extra layer of health and wellness to your existing goals. As with all health trends, talk with your doctor or medical professional to see if jumping on the new health trend works best for you and your body.

So, What is an Adaptogen?

Adaptogen is a term created in 1947 by N. V. Lazarev, a pharmacologist, but they’ve been used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. As Western scientists are studying them more, we’re just starting to gain some insight into how they work. This is just the beginning of a lot more research and insight into a potentially powerful substances and how we can use them.

Adaptogens refer to substances that could increase the body’s resistance to physical, chemical or biological stressors and could help normalize the body. You can take an adaptogen in the form of a supplement, tea, drink, or have it added to your meal.

What’s the Benefit of Using an Adaptogen?

In addition to helping your body normalize from stressors, adaptogens can help with fighting off fatigue and overexposure to stress. They can also help boost immunity, which can be impaired by physical and biological stressors.

What are Sources of Adaptogens?

Adaptogens can be found in certain herbs, roots, and mushrooms. Consult with your healthcare professional to see which, if any, are appropriate for you to try, as well as what amount to use. Below is a list of the major adaptogenic sources:

Ashwagandha

Asian ginseng

Astragalus

Chaga mushrooms

Cordyceps mushrooms

Eleuthero

Holy Basil

Licorice Root

Maca

Reishi mushrooms

Rhodiola

Schisandra

How are Adaptogens Used?

Adaptogens come in powdered form, supplements,drink mixes, as well as teas and tinctures. Once you and your medical professional figure out which particular adaptogen would be good for you to try, there are multiple ways to use them.

In Drinks: The powdered or tea forms are easy to dissolve in hot or warm liquids. You can add them into your smoothies, make them into tea (if they’re not already in a tea bag), or even mix it in with your post-workout drink. You can also add a dose from a tincture into any drinks as well.

Straight: If the adaptogen you’re using is in tincture or supplement form, you can also just take it as is depending on your medical professional’s advice.

In Food: You can also easily add adaptogens, especially those in powdered form, to everyday recipes. They can work in baked goods, pancakes, waffles, or homemade energy bars.

However you decide to incorporate an adaptogen into your diet, give it time to build up in your system before you start evaluating whether it works for you or not. Also remember that taking adaptogens is also one part of your larger health and fitness goals and is not a silver bullet. If you’re working on improving your stress levels, taking an adaptogen ideally fits into the larger picture of prioritizing rest and recovery, adding in restorative yoga, meditation or walks into your daily routine, and eating healthful, nourishing food.

As more research is done on adaptogens, we can really understand the extent of how much they can aid in living a healthy life in addition to healthy eating and positive lifestyle choices.

Aimée Suen is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner who shares nourishing, gluten-free recipes and nutrition wisdom at Small Eats. She is driven to help others enjoy whole foods and empower them to find their own healthy in all aspects of life, one small step at a time. When she’s not in the kitchen, she’s practicing yoga, in the gym, or learning something new. You can find Aimée on InstagramTwitter and Pinterest.

Main Photo Credit & Third Photo Credit: Eskymaks/shutterstock.com; Second Photo Credit: leungchopan/shutterstock.com