All You Need To Know: Adaptogens

When it comes to discussing food, it can sometimes sound like we’re speaking a foreign language. Recently after a discussion about our new sweet treats, which went something along the lines of ‘we use maca, lucuma, and ashwagandha in that one, and acai and acerola in the beauty bar - the latter of which has the 2nd highest amount of vitamin C, second only to camu camu’, it hit us that to someone not too adept with the world of superfoods, that probably wouldn’t make much sense. And as much as we like to think we’re pretty clued up on all things superfood, we sometimes still find it difficult to keep up. What’s good for what? What actually tastes nice? Should I add this to my smoothie and what's better in my face mask? Is it best to take this before or after a meal? Whilst we’ve mastered how to pronounce them (with much help from online tutorials), we still find it hard remembering why exactly they're all so great. 

Luckily for us, our naturopath Anastasia is basically a walking dictionary of all things superfood and is always on hand to tell us what we need to take and when. And because knowledge as good as hers should be shared, we asked for the lowdown on the latest cool kid on the scene: Adaptogens. 


WHAT ARE ADAPTOGENS? 

Adaptogens are substances (a combination of amino acids, vitamins and herbs) that are used to improve the health of your adrenal system, the part in charge of managing your body’s hormonal response to stress. They enhance the body’s ability to cope with external stresses such as toxins in the environment and internal stresses such as anxiety and insomnia. 

The name ‘adaptogen’ comes from their ability to ‘adapt’ their function according to your body’s specific needs, and they work together with your body to bring you back into balance. Think of them as a thermostat: when the temperature is too high, it brings it down; when the temperature is too low, it brings it up (just in the context of either calming you down, or boosting your energy). They enable the body’s cells to access more energy; help cells eliminate toxic byproducts of the metabolic process and help the body to utilise oxygen more efficiently. Though the effects may initially be subtle and take a while to build up, they clearly have undeniable benefits.  


BUT WHAT ACTUALLY ARE THEY? 

Adaptogens have been around for centuries, and were traditionally used in Chinese and Indian Ayurvedic medicine for boosting energy levels and combatting stress (and modern research has recently found evidence to support this too). Many different ingredients fit the title of ‘adaptogen’, filtered into different categories based on their properties:

Asian Ginseng, Rhodiola Rosea and Maca - known for their stimulating properties including enhanced mental clarity, boosted libido and enhanced psychical stamina. 

Ashwagadha, Reishi and Holy Basil - known for their calming properties, which help to soothe the adrenal when stressed. 

Astagalus - know for it’s immune boosting qualities


HOW SHOULD YOU USE THEM? 

Dependent on the type, they can be found as a powder, liquid, pill or in natural form - and as long as they’re from a high quality source, there’s no one option that’s better than the next. 

We opt for the fresh or powdered form dependent on the type, then blend them into our recipes. They’re also easy to throw into a smoothie this way, but using a high quality supplement offers an easier option. If you opt for powders, they’re generally quite a strong flavour so you don’t need a lot - and obviously it depends which once you choose to use too (maca isn’t as strong a flavour as ashwagandha for instance). In terms of flavours to mix with, opt for anything relatively ‘neutral’ - vanilla, creamy flavours, cacao. We recommend avoiding fruity flavours or distinct flavours such as matcha or citrus. 


DO I NEED TO TAKE THEM? 

If you’re anything like us, after reading this article you’re already planning on ordering a bunch on amazon prime tonight - with a set of health benefits that lucrative, it’s hard not to want in on the action. But generally, if you’re feeling stressed, your libido is down, you’re not sleeping well or your energy levels are lacking (so basically the majority of the population) then adaptogens could definitely benefit your overall health and mood. 


Wanting a quick fix? If you pick up either our mojo bar or balance box then you’ll be getting a good dose of ashwagandha in both, with the extra addition of holy basil in the balance box. Order here or find your nearest stockist here, or try making our adaptogen latte at home! 

ADAPTOGEN LATTE 

Gluten free | Wheat free | Dairy free | Refined sugar free | Vegan 

Serves 2

METHOD
1. Add the oat milk and coconut milk to a pan over a medium heat, and simmer until hot
2. Add all the ingredients to a high speed blender
3. Blitz until fully combined and frothy
4. Serve

INGREDIENTS
- 2 cups oat milk
- 1 cup full fat coconut milk
- 4 dates
- 1 tsp maca powder
- 1 tsp ashwagandha powder
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 

recipespollen + grace