Calling in the A Team: All about Adaptogens

Everyone loves a buzzword. One that has been cropping up a lot recently is ‘adaptogen‘.  What does it actually mean, how do adaptogens benefit us and why do we want them?!

Earlier this week we shared a snippet on the marvellous Maca root that you can find in the botanical base of both our PEACE and ENERGY blends. As an adaptogen, Maca helps our bodies resist the damaging effects of stress in addition to promoting and restoring normal physiological function.

In order to be classified as an adaptogen a natural substance must meet the following criteria:

  1. It is nontoxic to the consumer
  2. It influences a number of organs or body systems, increasing the consumer’s resistance to a wide range of adverse biological, chemical, and physical factors
  3. It helps modulate system function and maintains homeostasis

In layman’s terms, this generally means a lovely, natural plant extract that doesn’t create any bad waves, feelings or negative side effects and instead actively supports our adrenal systems. It also aids the energy making powerhouses of our cells (the mitochondria) to their jobs even better than before.

But that’s not where the story ends with these awe-inspiring little guys, oh no! Not only do they do all of those critical things but they also tend to have strong antioxidant properties which segues beautifully into the second half of our super squad for the day:

Right, on with antioxidants. Now these chaps have been batted around for awhile now; do they work? Do we need them? What’s the big deal anyway and what on Earth is a free radical?

Within our bodies thousands of chemical reactions are constantly occurring, all vital metabolic processes that keep us alive and bouncing. One of the main reactions is oxidation which produces free radicals as a by-product. Free radicals are electrically charged elements that are quite unhappy because they really don’t want to be electrically charged but instead would like to get rid of the extra onus by stealing or dumping the charged bit on another cell. Usually, our bodies have the resources to quell those grumpy cells before they cause any havoc. But, environmental pollutants, toxins, exercise, stress can also create free radicals and it’s cumulatively that we can start to run into problems. If our existing antioxidents are insufficient to keep those free radicals down, they can begin to damage tissues around them. This is where dietary antioxidents, those in the food we eat, come into play.

Historically the vitamin and mineral content of our foods was higher, but due to soil depletion, the increasing use of chemical pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers, our tendency towards more processed foods, our diets have become comparatively depleted in these integral components. When combined with the extra pressures of modern day life, our need for health-supporting antioxidants has only grown.

Regularly including antioxidant rich foods such as organic green leafy vegetables, dark berries, beetroot, ginger, garlic and turmeric in your diet helps to proactively guard against the damaging effects of free radicals which is why we have made sure to pack both MACACHA blends with a whole host of health optimising ingredients for you. Not only is Maca root in there fighting your corner like a multi-tasking tour de force, but there’s also good old ginger, fabulous flaxseed, champion cranberry, brilliant baobab and the seaweed superstar that is seagreens® Scottish kelp. For more information on each of these individually incredible ingredients sign up to our newsletter below and watch out for our weekly spotlights.

Written by Phoebe, Nutritional Therapist BSc DipNT mBANT mNNA mCNHC