"Let food be thy medicine......" It's The Food Athlete mantra. Why did I choose this phrase? Well, I have first-hand experience of the healing powers of food. I believe in the effects of becoming what you eat. It's incredible how what we ingest can either create sickness or promote health. Have you ever thought of it that way? It's one or the other, not any in between. We consume poison on a daily basis. These little devils show up everywhere, sometimes hidden, sometimes not. They are in processed foods, artificial additives, excess sugar, actual toxins in the form of pesticides that are used to grow some of our seemingly "healthy organic" plants. Can indeed wreak havoc on our system. Does that sound dramatic? It should as well as looking scary. Energetically when we pour harmful ingredients into our body, they can and will feast on our protective cells and cause our insides to go berserk. In basic terms, berserk = stress. Stress in the form of oxidation which we then try to battle by nourishing ourselves with more antioxidant rich food. Or stress by way of anxiety. Messages sent to our brain to signal that "fight or flight" response. That then triggers our need for more meditation, more exercise, more endorphins, to attempt o balance back to normal. It's sorta like yo-yo dieting when your thinking that you are going to lose a few pounds by eliminating bread from your life and this is the answer to all your prayers. Pray on this for a moment, natural herbs that are specifically used to rebalance your adrenals helping your body to be in a more even-keeled happy place. Some of our common herbs we don't even know are contributing to fight stress, prevent diseases and reduce inflammation. Adaptogens work therapeutically like a thermostat to aid in adrenal stabilization. Similar to how our appestat works in our brain to regulate feelings of hunger.
How about a little Adaptogyn 101? Let's take a closer look at this word ADAPTogyns. To adapt: "become adjusted to new conditions." Well, this makes sense now, doesn't it? Adaptogenic Herbs aka Superior Herbs, are plants that used in our system to bring back balance during times when our body is going through chaos. But don't just go plucking bouquets of leaves off the trees and eating them. These particular therapeutic herbs have to measure up. 1: They must be non-toxic. 2: They prove to have a "normalizing effect on body functions..." 3. They have an action wherein their properties improve our bodies resistance to stress. So as you can see these specific herbs are indeed medicinal and require criteria to confirm they will do what they say they will. They are magical don't get me wrong but with anything that is going into your digestive and nervous system you want to be smart and make educated choices.
The Food Athlete is all about understanding how what we eat is creating who we are. I help clients learn. With that knowledge comes the tools to design. With the tools their optimal body is possible. The body you visualize and create gives you freedom from hoping and wishing. The results of your deliberate efforts allow you to live your best self as you see and have designed your best self.
If you hear something that resinates with you and you think that adaptogens may serve you in some way, first, always consult a doctor. Don't just go all out mad scientist and start throwing herbs into all your Epicurious adventures. Maybe focus on just one to begin. Here are some of my faves. But there are much more to explore.
No 1. Ginseng: East Coast, West Coast. Many varieties to swoon over. I do want to responsibly mention that the jury is still out on some of the benefits of the "healer," so I still suggest to work with your herbalist to find your perfect fit. Herbs can work harmoniously, but you don't want to guess when it comes to your body and what you put in it. It does have some proven properties which qualify it as one the most popular adaptogens. Boosting the immune system supports brain health, prevents cancer, anti-inflammatory and of course, reduces stress.
No 2. Rosemary: has been used for centuries medicinally, for asthma and treatment of arthritis pain. But this aromatic plant is also a stress de-fuser. I find it growing everywhere, and I often pick some and display them in bouquet form around my home. Besides the fresh scent, they make a beautiful Fall display. Dried, oil, fresh. I just bought some for a friend who was suffering from allergies and she keeps the oil in her purse at all times now. A few drops on a kleenex to inhale can calm your sneezes and awaken a sense of peace.
No 3. Holy Basil: There are dozens of basil variety. Tulsi basil (it's holy name) is explicitly used for healing. Versus the basil, you would most commonly find in your pasta dish. What you probably won't find in your spaghetti and meatballs is a hormone regulator. One of those cheeky monsters Cortisol has a way of making itself know, to us girls mostly in our belly. One day we wake up and see that little extra ab that we didn't get from our favorite pilates class. It's, unfortunately, a result of being a woman. However, this holiest of basil has a way of taming this serum. When we stress less, we produce less cortisol. Sounds good, right?
No 4. Ashwagandha: I was first introduced to this herb when I was battling thyroid disease. I had both hyper and hypo situations many years ago that as you could imagine messed with not just my mind but played a role is excessive weight gain and loss. It was still in the experimental stages then, so I was not as open-minded as I am today. I'm also much more informed so that combined with a positive attitude can influence the productivity of a medicinal herb. Chronic stress is something that can affect someone who also over trains. I speak to clients often about getting rest days, letting your body recover from tough workouts. On a glycemic level if you are watching sugar content this antioxidant is perfection, also helps lower cholesterol. Because of its hormonal benefits, it is superior in its emotional effects. Here's yet another superfood that blends well in a smoothie or tea.
No 5. Maca: I store powdered form to add when I bake. It's another perfect one to sneak into smoothies. I don't have any issue with how it tastes so if your buds are sensitive it may take you a minute to adapt. It's more earthy than bitter. Maca drenched in minerals, vitamins, amino acids and fatty acids that are considered healthy. It's a favorite natural energy booster and metabolizer. Food as fuel, this is one of my themes, and I talk about it almost every chance I get. When you create a metabolism for YOUR body that is balanced and consistent, it works in a functional way that converts and absorbs nutrients that compliment you.
So, I'd say we ALL agree that less stress and more positivity is a goal. Balance rather than struggle. In my next life, I think I'd like to come back as a fairy living in the Adaptogen Forest. Yes, I just made that up, I don't know if there's an actual forest but being surrounded by nature that makes the feeling of stress a non-issue sounds magical. There are people everywhere who want to help us be healthier, more joyful and live longer. Some good humans are like-minded as I am, on a mission, along with the passion for teaching about health. I can't speak for anyone but myself, but I want to help wellness become attainable for anyone. We can all have it all; my question to you is, how bad do you want it?
As always I'd love to hear from you. If you're interested in learning how to bring awareness to your home and life, please don't hesitate to reach out here.
Be Happy, Be Healthy, Love Your Body,
xo Jessi (Your Food Athlete) xo