Health & Habits
What are Adaptogens?
Posted July 9, 2021
Whether we’re familiar with adaptogens or not, their popularity and availability seem to be growing every day. Adaptogens are a class of plants that are intended to boost our resistance to and tolerance of both emotional and physical stress. As the name suggests, this group of more than 70 plants adapt to meet our needs, and bring us balance the way a thermostat controls temperature: they turn up our energy when we’re fatigued and help us relax when we’re restless. They're also purported to address issues as disparate as trouble focusing, headaches, dry eye, high blood pressure and even cancer.
Praised in Ayurveda (a medical system based on principles of natural healing that originated in India more than 3,000 years ago), adaptogenic plants are proving invaluable in battling the modern problem of chronic stress. For those of us who experience persistent daily stress in our lives, this makes adaptogens incredibly valuable. When we consider that stress is behind nearly every known disease state, it takes on a whole new level of significance.
But these stress benefits also have powerful implications for athletic performance as well. Exercise is, after all, a form of physical stress, which is why we feel tired and sore afterwards. Increasing our resilience to this stress can help us extend our energy reserves, reduce muscle damage, and shorten our recovery times - adding up to faster gains in our athletic endeavors.
All we need to do is to introduce adaptogens into our diet. Below are a handful of the most common and beneficial adaptogens available today:
Ashwagandha has been the subject of considerable research, with studies showing it can help reduce stress, improve fertility, and stimulate an underactive thyroid. A 2015 study showed that supplementing with ashwagandha root extract can significantly increase muscle mass and strength gains from resistance training. Additionally, ashwagandha has been shown to not only improve cardiorespiratory endurance in elite cyclists, but also support a healthy inflammatory response - both of which are very important for athletes.
Many people don’t realize turmeric is an adaptogen with high levels of antioxidants. It’s typical in the diets of many people with (and even without) autoimmune issues, and is a healing food known for its anti-inflammatory properties. This makes it perfect for combatting post-workout soreness, and it’s also been found to help lessen the effects of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).
Rhodiola rosea is fast becoming a popular alternative supplement in sports and exercise recovery, driven by a growing body of promising research. A 2016 study found that rhodiola significantly improved both reaction and response times in healthy males. Another study showed that rhodiola reduced lactate levels and skeletal muscle damage following exhaustive exercise.
Reishi mushroom’s potential benefits can aid in muscle recovery and body composition change by helping us outside our workouts. This adaptogen has been known for its ability to improve sleep and support a healthy immune system - both of which are vital for a healthy, strong body. Reishi mushroom is also thought to be especially beneficial for endurance athletes, offering protective effects against overtraining and physical stress.
Luckily, finding organic-certified adaptogens that help our athletic performance has never been easier. Offering a plethora of benefits in endurance, energy, and overall wellness, Turmeric+ and Creatine+ from Vedge help us increase our training capacity and improve our recovery. Creatine+ is blended with PeakO2® - an organic-certified combination of six adaptogenic mushrooms grown in the U.S. It allows us to “adapt” to and overcome physical and mental stress while increasing our power and stamina. Turmeric+ not only includes the health benefits of turmeric, but also offers ashwagandha root and rhodiola rosea to create a perfect 3-in-1 adaptogenic formula.
When taken consistently, adaptogens will do more than just enhance an athlete’s performance in the gym or a sport. They offer long-term health benefits without the side effects that come with most exercise supplements, such as sleep disruption and irritability. Unlike other supplements that can cause our bodies to develop a tolerance towards, adaptogen benefits increase with usage. The more we use them, the more we enjoy their stress-reducing qualities.
TRY IT FOR YOURSELF!
Wankhede S, Langade D, Joshi K, Sinha SR, Bhattacharyya S. Examining the effect of Withania somnifera supplementation on muscle strength and recovery: a randomized controlled trial. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2015 Nov 25;12:43. doi: 10.1186/s12970-015-0104-9. PMID: 26609282; PMCID: PMC4658772.
Ewa Jówko, Jerzy Sadowski, Barbara Długołęcka, Dariusz Gierczuk, Benedykt Opaszowski, Igor Cieśliński, Effects of Rhodiola rosea supplementation on mental performance, physical capacity, and oxidative stress biomarkers in healthy men, Journal of Sport and Health Science, Volume 7, Issue 4, 2018, Pages 473-480
Parisi, A; Tranchita, E; Duranti, G; Ciminelli, E; Quaranta, F, Effects of chronic rhodiola rosea supplementation on sport performance and antioxidant capacity in trained male: preliminary results, Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness; Turin Vol. 50, Iss. 1, (Mar 2010): 57-63.
By Vedge Nutrition
Commonly used by gym rats and fitness fanatics, creatine is undoubtedly the king of all nutritional supplements, and for the right reasons. It’s well-researched to support the body’s energy needs safely and effectively and has an extraordinary ability to help us exercise longer and harder while increasing our muscle gains. Additionally, as scientists continue to expand the research horizons, another noticeable effect of creatine has recently surfaced: cognitive support. As we add this to the list of benefits creatine provides, it can be very helpful to understand its precise effects on the brain.
The point of deliberate exercise is to induce a workload on our bodies so that we adapt to similar stresses in the future. After we break down the body, it immediately works to repair itself. An important distinction with any type of training is that we never grow while we work out; only when we rest and recover. The right supplements and nutrition like calcium, magnesium, vitamin C and vitamin E are just a few highlights that help repair the body for the next stress load.
Macronutrients are the nutrients we need in larger quantities to provide us with energy, and are categorized as fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Micronutrients, conversely, are mostly vitamins and minerals, and are equally important, but consumed in smaller amounts. Thankfully, eating a wide variety of foods on a regular basis allows us to hit both our daily macronutrient and micronutrient needs.
As Memorial Day and July 4th are now behind us, we’ve officially stepped into the full swing of summer. It’s finally that time of the year when the days are longer, the weather is warmer and the vibes are positive. As soon as summer arrives, however, many of our disciplined routines can sometimes fall by the wayside as we find ourselves dedicating much more time to leisure. While the hot temperatures may have a big impact on that, it doesn’t mean that we can’t take advantage of the season and continue to build healthy habits.