Stress less foods: adaptogens
Many of us will turn to highly processed foods or alcohol when we’re stressed, but what if we told you there were plant foods that actually helped your body deal with stress? Adaptogens are an active ingredient found in some plants and mushrooms which have the ability to impact how the body responds to stress, anxiety and fatigue.
How do they work?
As the name suggests, adaptogens work to “adapt” your body back to homeostasis, when a hormone or chemical is imbalanced.
For example: cortisol, the body’s stress hormone, is at high levels when we’re stressed, and low levels when we’re chronically fatigued. Adaptogens work to bring these levels back into balance, helping to reduce stress in real-time, but also helping our stress response long term.
The more we use adaptogens, the easier it is for our body to deal with stress. There is also evidence that adaptogens have the ability to increase the body's resistance to physical loads as well as chemical stressors.
So where can we find these magic compounds?
As well as being anti-inflammatory, ashwagandha positively affects our endocrine, nervous and cardiovascular systems, helping to regulate our metabolism and calm us down in times of stress. It also helps the body relax, preparing us for sleep.
Found in: Rest
Rhodiola Rosea has a long history in traditional medicine and it's not hard to see why. It has incredible adaptogenic effects at reducing not only fatigue, but also potentially the effects of depression and anxiety. Recent studies have demonstrated this wonder plant to have anti-ageing, anti-cancer and DNA repairing properties.
Found in: Mind
Lion's Mane and Reishi mushrooms
Mushrooms, such as the Reishi and Lion's mane mushrooms, used medicinally for thousands of years, also have powerful adaptogenic effects. The reishi is renowned for its benefits to our overall health, boosting our immune system and regulating cholesterol. Lion’s Mane is all about the brain, it has been shown to enhance cognitive abilities, memory, focus and even protective effects against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimers and Dementia. The adaptogens in these fantastic fungi promote relaxation and restful sleep, and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.