Welcome again to Superfood Evolution! A big thank you to all my Superfoods-for-Superhealthsite visitors for your attention and support! Here we go with my monthly newsletter #14. Many of you expressed great interest in learning more about superfoods, superhealth and achieving optimal states of aliveness! So, here it is by popular demand! It is my intent to
uplift and empower your true health potential to create the best life ever for you and your family. "You are what you eat" is the first rule of thumb here, the rest just falls into place!
What Are Adaptogens?
Many years ago during my herbal apprenticeship training I was educated on the amazing properties of certain Chinese and Ayurvedic tonic herbs and the restorative qualities they can have when brewed and taken on a regular basis. These herbs were my first introduction to the wonderful world of adaptogens!
The term "adaptogen" is defined as natural herbs, roots, mushrooms or fruits which increase the body's resistance to stress, trauma, anxiety and fatigue. They are also referred to as rejuvenating herbs, chi tonics, rasayanas, or restoratives.
Wikepedia defines adaptogens as "distinct from other substances in their ability to balance endocrine hormones and the immune system, and they help the body to maintain optimal homeostasis. Adaptogens are proposed to have a normalizing effect on the body and to be capable of either toning down the activity of hyperfunctioning systems or strengthening the activity of hypofunctioning systems. However, they are also proposed to be
functional at the level of allostasis, which is a more dynamic reaction to long term stress, lacking the fixed reference points of homeostasis."
Individual adaptogenic herbs are known for having actions that are rejuvenating (tonic) and they work to increase physical and mental stamina. Most of the herbs also are anti-inflammatory and support the immune system. Others protect the liver, heart and revitalize the nerves. In many studies adaptogens have shown to protect against cancer, reduce the side effects of chemotherapeutic drugs and increase resistance to the effects of radiation and chemical carcinogens.
Now, more than ever, we are seeing the side effects of environmental pollutants and our fast paced world on human health. Adaptogens should really be considered one of the "primary food groups" in my opinion. There is no substitute for the deep protection and nourishing properties they provide to take our health to new levels. It is well documented that ancient longevity masters consumed their daily brew of these strengthening herbs and foods.
Adaptogens are perfect for the winter months, which is considered a "building" time of year. But they can be used all year long, and when one makes a commitment to their medicine, they naturally become apart of the daily diet over a lifetime! If you seek a long, active life... these are the foods you WANT to become friends with!!
1) Medicinal mushrooms - like Reishi, Cordyceps, Lions Mane, Maitake, Coriolus, Chaga, etc. 2) Ayurvedic herbs - like Shilajit, Amla, Shatavari, Ashwaganda, Holy Basil (Tulsi), etc. 3) Chinese Tonic herbs like Ginseng, Fo-ti root, Maca root, Rhodiola and many more. 4) Fruits - like Jujubee dates, Goji berries, and Noni Fruit.
Begin introducing adaptogens to the body after a cleanse or when the body is free of disease or sickness.
Start out slow and gradually, over time, increase intake.
Incorporate your own tonic tea blends into foods and drinks whenever possible.
Read up on top adaptogens, experiment and create your own formulas.
See an Avurvedic or Chinese Herbalist to help you design the best herbal tonic program for your needs.
Medicinal mushrooms are quickly becoming one of the most dynamic foods of the modern age. It is my prediction that one day very soon we will ALL know about them and their rejuvenating qualities as one of the most powerful, superfood adaptogens ever!
Paul Stamets says, "The entire food web of nature is based on these fungal filaments, the mycleal network that infuses all land masses in the world is a supportive membrane upon which life proliferates and further diversifies."
Mushrooms are the earth's living internet and the foundation of the food cycle. The species of medicinal mushrooms, that are edible to humans, provide us with the same immune building properties that also protect and create the soil and earth itself.
Scientists have only recently confirmed what ancient cultures have known for centuries: mushrooms have within them some of the most potent medicines found in nature. It is now known that their cellular constituents can profoundly improve the quality of human health.
The results of a seven year study of Fungi Perfecti's Host Defense Turkey Tail (Coriolus) mushroom product were recently announced at the International Integrative Oncology Conference in 2010. The study revealed that freeze-dried Coriolus (Trametes versicolor) mushroom mycelium supports immune function when administered to women with stage I–III breast cancer. To read more on the results of this study go to Fungi Perfecti Home Page for link.
Different Ways TO Take Mushrooms
My favorite way to consume medicinal mushrooms is anyway that I can taste their nutty, rich and bittersweet flavor. Often times it is best to actually taste the mushrooms in your mouth. This also allows your saliva to mix in for greater assimilation. I often just open up the caps of powder and pour them into my herbal teas for a coffee-like drink (minus the coffee, but not the energizing effects). Also, as you may know from my website, I love to add the powdered extracts or teas straight into desserts and other recipes for that extra special boost.
There are primarily three different ways to consume edible mushroom medicines:
1) Mushroom extracts - These are hot water extracted which concentrates them and ensures bioavailablity to the body. The following brands have the best quality in my opinion.
2) Buying mushrooms in bulk - Medicinal mushrooms need to be heated to extract their potent qualities and polysaccharides. You can buy your own dried mushroom varieties and make delicious teas and brews that you can add to recipes. These are the best places to buy organic mushrooms by the pound.
Mountain Rose Herbs
Your local China Town
3) Eat Them Fresh - Some mushrooms like Lions Mane, Shiitake, Agaricus blazei, and Maitake can be sauteed lightly or steamed. You can wildcraft your own, but definitely follow the advice of a mushroom guide. Many wild mushrooms are poisonous and even deadly.
TRY TO GROW YOUR OWN
You can grow medicinal mushrooms with a little practice and experimentation. Spores are available in all varieties to be grown on wood logs or on grain substrate indoors.
Maca is one of those superfoods you usually love or hate. This is usually evident upon the first snift of this powdered radish-like root. For me, the smell of maca pulls me in and I tend to find ways to add it to many of my recipes as a result. It's smoky, rich flavor makes it great for desserts, smoothies and elixirs.
Some people, however, find it to be over-powering in taste and scent. I think it is good to use the senses to let the body tell you what it needs and what it doesn't. It is one of the great adaptogens and hormone balancers, but there are many other options if maca does not appeal to you personally.
One of the best things I love about maca is that you can eat it raw without having to heat it to get it's concentrated medicinal value. This makes it most convenient to use when your preparation time is limited.
Although maca is Not a stimulant like coffee or black tea, it does provide an energizing effect to most who consume it. Often referred to as the "Peruvian Ginseng", maca root nurtures and strengthens the nervous system as oppose to depleting it. It's magical qualities improve the overall adaptability of the whole body to diverse and challenging situations and stress.
If you have not yet tried this powerful superfood, one of the most cost effective ways to experiment is to go to your local health food store or Whole Foods Market. Usually a jar of bulk maca can be found. Open it up and give it a whiff, you will know immediately if you like it or dislike it. You can then buy a small amount to test it out in various recipes.
(see Raw Carmels Recipe below)
To find out more benefits of this top 10 superfood see our website and maca root page.
Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief
by David Winston and Steven Maimes
Well known herbalist, David Winston in collaboration with Steven Maimes, health researcher and philosopher, have written an excellent analysis on the subject of "adaptogens".
The book highlights many of the traditional tonic herbs used in Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda. It is written in a way that makes this topic easy to understand, yet is advanced enough for the professional herbalist. One section brings together the art of herbal formulation and the energetic subtleties of different roots and herbs when used in combination with each other.
Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief is a book that shows skillful research and shares that knowledge beautifully. I was excited to find this book and is one that I refer to often, each time it enriches my life in some new way. This is a book that will definetely help you to incorporate this powerful class of herbs into your life, strengthening your body at it's core!
A recommended and invaluable read for anyone wanting to expand their knowledge on adaptogens and some of the greatest herbal tonics known to man/woman.
Recipe of the Month:
Raw Carmels Recipe
I discovered this simple recipe one day when I wanted a little mid day sweet treat. The secret to this recipe is the shilajit and maca powder combination. This is what gives it a wonderful "carmel" flavor. I just love it and I think you will too!
The use of shilajit with other superfoods will actually boost the effects of the superfood it is coupled with. I usually make enough to last awhile in the fridge when I want something simple, sweet, tasty....and adaptogen packed!!
1/2C almond butter
1t maca root powder
1/4t vanilla powder
1/2t stevia power
lions mane mushroom powder (8 capsules)
sprinkle of cayenne pepper
1t raw honey
Mix the above ingredients together in a bowl. Place in the fridge for 1 hour.
There are two ways you can cut your carmels:
1) Smooth into a square pan or dish and cut into squares.
2) Roll into a squared log and cut off your carmel pieces.
Place in a sealed container or wrap them in wax paper. Store in the fridge.
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DVD of the Month:
Mushrooms as Planetary Healers: From Toxic Waste Sites to Old Growth Forests
by Paul Stamets
Not only can medicinal mushrooms be used as a superfood source, they also have been discovered to be a powerful toxic waste cleaner. This is one of those dvds that kind of slips through the cracks. I decided to revisit it because the information is so interesting and valuable, even though it was presented 10 years ago.
In Mushrooms as Planetary Healers: From Toxic Waste Sites to Old Growth Forests Paul Stamets, a pioneer of mushroom cultivation, presents a talk about bioremediation; the importance of the fungal genome, especially the old growth forests; the use of fungi in early Europe; and now the re-discovery of these fungi in helping preserve, repair, and balance ecosystems. Recorded at the 2000 MSSF Fungus Fair.
One of my favorite sections of this DVD is a research product conducted using oyster mushroom to detoxify and transform a diesel oil spill. The results are amazing with pictures and proof that IT WORKS.
I just can't personally get enough of Paul Stamets, he is beautifully scientific, yet understands the world of mushrooms in a delightful, ethereal and spiritual way.