by Lindsay Fuce
When I was younger, I didn’t understand how dangerous stress could be to the human body. Stress has always taken a toll on my health, manifesting itself through illness. I was under the false impression that this was the standard everyone lived with: you get stressed, you fail to properly manage it, and in turn, your body shuts down.
Stress affects everyone differently. Some thrive off of it and use it as motivation to work harder. Others may recognize the dangers of stress but are able to work through it in balanced ways. Then, of course, there are those like me, who might not be able to manage it effectively.
But what do we do when stress takes over our lives in the form of sickness?
If you are invested in the ‘wellness scene,’ then chances are you’ve heard the word ‘adaptogen’ thrown around quite a bit. Adaptogens help the body resist stress, and even though they have been used for hundreds of years, only now are they getting the good press they deserve.
What are adaptogens and how do they work?
Adaptogens are non-toxic herbs and mushrooms that help the body fight stress and prevent potential damage. In Latin, adaptaremeans ‘to adjust,’ which is what adaptogens assist your body in doing--adjusting to the stressors in your life.
We all have different variables that affect our stress levels, but, personally, mine include lack of sleep, an overload of work, a mindset too focused on the future, a busy social calendar, etc. Supplementing with adaptogens helps reduce the impact stress has on my health while also improving my body’s ability to manage fatigue.
What adaptogens help with stress management?
While there are a variety of different foods with adaptogenic activity available, it isn’t necessary to experiment with all of them. When I first started supplementing with adaptogens, I tried four different types. What I found was that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all for adaptogens. Everyone is different, so it’s imperative that you find what works best for you.
After trying out four different types, I settled with two main adaptogens that I add to my coffee every single morning: maca and reishi.
If I could pair reishi with a symbol it would be a scale because it helps my body stay balanced. Reishi is a medicinal mushroom that not only supports the immune system and is anti-inflammatory, it also aids in cardiovascular and nervous system support.
Maca has also had a tremendous positive effect on my health. Maca helps to naturally balance out hormone levels, boost energy, and can even assist in a healthy libido level.
In sum, both of these foods have helped me learn to respond to stress in a healthy way. Instead of shutting down and getting sick, I now experience stress without getting chronically-ill.
How soon will I see results?
Growing up we didn’t call adaptogens, adaptogens in my home. My dad just referred to them as mushrooms and concocted his own adaptogenic blends.
I always thought the various blends smelled weird, so I stayed far away. It wasn’t until a health scare landed me in the hospital, that I considered the power of this natural form of healing.
When I first started taking adaptogens, I didn’t expect to feel better immediately. In fact, I thought it would take months to spot a difference in my immune system. I was pleasantly surprised, though, when I started to notice a difference a few weeks in.
It began with my energy levels. Instead of waking up lethargic, I felt more refreshed in the morning. I was also pleased to notice that I was bypassing the usual afternoon slump. Looking back, I wish I could have convinced myself to use adaptogens earlier because it might have saved me years of battling lethargy.
One thing I learned the hard way when buying maca and reishi the first time around is that the quality of your products matters greatly. While it is great that supplements like maca and reishi are becoming more mainstream, there is also a danger in buying bad quality products.
Whenever I buy maca or reishi, I look for products that are wild-harvested from a clean, pristine environment, and make sure that it has the full spectrum of micronutrients that are found in the mycelium of the mushroom. AKA the good stuff that keeps your body going!
How do I take them?
Each morning when I wake up, I make a morning superfood latte. This is honestly part of what gets me up and excited for the day because it tastes so good. I add both reishi powder and maca powder to my latte, blending all the ingredients together to create foamy and creamy home-made goodness.
Superfood Latte Recipe
1 cup organic coffee (made with my pour-over)
¼ cup almond milk
1 tsp organic reishi powder
1 tsp organic maca powder
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
Honey (if I am feeling sweet)
Adding reishi and maca to my latte every morning sets my day off on the right start from the moment I wake up. Instead of drinking a sugary saturated, fat-filled coffee drink like I might have in the past, I fuel my body with a drink that works to not only balance out the stressors within, but also to increase my endurance. When incorporating adaptogens regularly, be sure to make sure that they are in whole-food form as extracts and tinctures are not traditionally suggested for daily use.
Adaptogens have changed my life and they could do the same for you. Are you going to try incorporating reishi and maca into your daily diet?