You’re grocery shopping – you pass the produce, pick up some snacks and meal prep items, and maybe some desserts to treat yourself to, and you stumble upon the health supplement aisle. In the midst of a sea of daily multivitamins, alongside the fiber therapy and biotin pills, is a protein powder that touts an adaptogen-filled vegetable blend. It promises reduced stress and a plethora of other health benefits, but you’re skeptical. What are adaptogens? And how do adaptogens work?
Whether you’re shopping in-person or are browsing all of the health supplements the internet has to offer, you should be able to shop with confidence and have a strong understanding of the ingredients going into your body each day. With this in-depth guide on what exactly adaptogens are and how they work, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a health supplement pro. Here are just a few things that we’ll be covering in this article:
Adaptogens are most well-known for their stress-reducing properties, and they have a long history of being used in Eastern Asian medicine practices as far back as 3000 BCE. They come in the form of herbs, roots, and certain fungi like mushrooms that can be added to meals or consumed as a health supplement.
Adaptogens can only be labeled as such if they are nontoxic at normal doses, can help to support the body’s ability to cope with stress, and return the body to a stable state. While adaptogens aren’t necessarily going to help the body do all of these things right after you take your first dose, it should help to meet these standards with consistent use.
Getting into the nitty gritty of how adaptogens were discovered, the term ‘adaptogen’ was coined in the mid-20th century in the Soviet Union by a toxicologist named Lazarev. The goal of the toxicologist’s research was to find an “alternative to stimulants used by the German and U.K. army to increase the attention and endurance of pilots,” thus providing the Soviet Union’s soldiers with an effective natural stimulant.
While adaptogens were originally discovered and tested for these reasons, their popularity has grown in recent years due to the substance’s ability to help its users cope with stress and gain an overall feeling of relaxation. The preliminary studies completed by Soviet Union toxicologists were, well, preliminary and research continues to be conducted on the exact benefits of taking adaptogens.
Adaptogens can be consumed in the form of health supplements, including pills, gummies, and powders, as well as in their natural forms like adding adaptogenic herbs and spices to a meal or a tea. If you’re looking for an amazing greens powder to try that has a solid greens foundation with a high volume of adaptogens, try out the Healthy Skoop Sweet Greens Daily Greens with Adaptogens. This powder pairs perfectly with a nutrient-packed smoothie, fruit juices, teas, or whatever beverage floats your boat.
If you’re more of an on-the-go adaptogen fanatic, choosing a multivitamin that contains adaptogen as an ingredient or opting for an daily adaptogen pill are great options. These items can be found in a local grocery store, health supplement shop, or online store depending on what exactly you’re looking for.
Adding an adaptogen-rich powder to a daily smoothie or health shake is a tasty way of getting an extra boost of your daily vitamins and minerals. And the best part is that it’s completely customizable to your tastes – add whatever fruits and vegetables feel right to you and blend it with your favorite liquid!
You should consult your doctor or a healthcare professional before adding adaptogens to your diet. If you experience any major changes or health issues at the onset of the addition of adaptogens, then immediately discontinue use and consult a medical professional.
So how exactly do adaptogens work? What’s the science behind them and how exactly are they able to target stress and return your body to a stable state?
Adaptogens are effective stress-relieving agents because of their chemical compounds that target parts of the brain that regulate stress responses. The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is the interaction between the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and adrenal glands, which are parts of the brain that regulate the production of hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine.
These hormones send signals to the brain when you begin to experience stress, but when adaptogens target the HPA axis, these signals from the stress hormones regain balance.
Adaptogens are touted as a means of reducing stress by increasing adaptability and resilience in the face of stressors, which over time can help to lead to an overall sense of balance. Adding adaptogens to your daily mix can be a helpful and effective way of combating “chronic fatigue, memory impairment, depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance, diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure, chronic inflammation and autoimmune disease, cold and flu, infections, skin diseases, liver diseases, and cancer.”
While adaptogens can be effective at reducing symptoms associated with these conditions, the ingredient is not a cure-all supplement. Maintaining a healthy and balanced lifestyle requires active effort by its users. For more ideas on how you can incorporate adaptogens and healthy habits into your lifestyle, check out this post from Healthy Skoop.
As mentioned before, adaptogens are not going to cure all problems and stress you’ve ever experienced overnight. In fact, it won’t solve any problems in your life. It’s up to you to make an active effort towards improving your mental health and solving any life issues you’re facing. That being said, adding adaptogens into your diet to help with reducing stress levels and supporting your health is a way to boost the effort you’re already putting forth to improve your life.
Everyone experiences stress – it’s a way that your body helps you to prepare for a situation where you might need to be more alert. There’s a threshold of healthy and normal stress but when stress begins to negatively impact your wellbeing, it might be time to implement some measures to improve your life.
You know your body best – and you also know what helps you relax the most. However, if you’re looking for some activities that can be easily incorporated into your daily life to reduce your stress levels, you’re in the right place. Here are just a few examples of activities you can do to lower your stress and improve your days.
Meditating can rapidly reduce stress at its onset. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, taking a few minutes to take some deep breaths, stretch out your body, and clear your mind of the things that are troubling you is a great way of healthily coping with anxiety.
Meditation can look many different ways depending on your needs – while some prefer to sit in a calm and quiet place and remove every thought from their mind, others prefer walking around, taking in their environment, and decompressing by putting their problems into perspective. There’s no wrong way to meditate as long as you find peace in your relaxation, so consider trying it if you feel the stressors coming on.
For a more long-term health improvement option, adjusting your diet can help to drastically reduce stress. While making healthy diet decisions seems like a simple option to improve your health on the surface, it’s important to realize the difference between adjusting your diet and going on a diet. Going on a trendy diet can be harmful in the long run and ineffective in the short run. If you go from poor eating habits to immediately vegetable-packed and low-calorie meals, then you might fall into the trap of abandoning the diet altogether shortly after you start it.
Instead of completely switching your eating habits, gradually integrate healthier options in place of some not-so-healthy ones. By bringing balance into your meals, and adding vegetables and nutrients into your daily routine, you’ll be setting yourself up for success in the future. Having a well-rounded diet can help to reduce stress by giving you the energy you need to tackle each day and can lead to fewer mood swings.
A healthy diet goes hand-in-hand with a consistent exercise routine. You might even be sick of hearing about how exercise can reduce your stress levels and improve your overall health. That being said, it’s a tried and true way to increase the release of endorphins into your system, which is a “feel-good neurotransmitter” that can take your mind off your issues and help you achieve a runner’s high.
Exercise can mean a variety of things – it doesn’t just have to be lifting weights at the gym or jogging on the treadmill. Working out can involve anything that gets your body moving, including fun activities like swimming, biking, playing tennis with friends, or hiking with a canine companion. The sky’s the limit when it comes to exercise, so find a type of workout you enjoy the most and release those endorphins!
Following a regular sleep routine and getting the right amount of sleep each night – when paired with the lifestyle choices mentioned above – can be a vital step to managing stress. Giving your body between six and ten hours of sleep each night to restore your body can help to “improve concentration, regulate mood, and sharpen judgment and decision-making.” These can lead to a higher quality of life and restored health, especially when practiced alongside the other points on this list.
If you’re struggling to manage your stress on your own with some of the tips mentioned above, consider consulting a counselor or a therapist to address what’s making you feel anxious. Tackling your stress with a professional, whether you are experiencing a mental health crisis or not, is always a healthy means of coping with the things that are bothering you. Additionally, talking through any issues you’re experiencing with a professional can help to improve other areas of your life, like your relationships and self-confidence.
You have the power to take control over your stress and change your life for the better. By following some of the suggestions above, you’ll be well on your way to improving your wellness. For more tips and tricks on how to manage stress, check out this guide from Healthy Skoop.
Adaptogens won’t solve all your problems overnight. But they can help to add some stability and calmness to your daily routine. So the next time you’re strolling around your grocery store or browsing online, consider adding adaptogens to your cart and let the relaxation begin.