The 21st century seems to be moving faster than ever and stress is on the rise. It seems everybody is suffering from some negative stress.
What surprised me was this...
When you're stressed, your body sends out a chemical response that makes your skin more sensitive and reactive.
Ever noticed you break out way easier when you're stressed?
That's because your body starts producing cortisol - which tells glands in your skin to make more oil. Oily skin is more prone to acne and other skin problems, says WebMd.
That's just the tip of the iceberg. Stress can also:
- Aggravate psoriasis, rosacea, and eczema
- Cause hives and other types of skin rashes
- Trigger flare-ups
Two types of stress
We've got two buckets of stress. Emotional (inside) stress, and environmental (outside) stress.
Recently, we‘ve made a new discovery. The total outside exposures you receive in a lifetime have a big effect on your health.
Scientists call this “The Exposome”. It's the measure of all the exposures you receive in a lifetime, and how these exposures relate to your health.
The implications of this is worth considering, with studies estimating that 90 percent of diseases are influenced, if not caused, by environmental sources.
Adapting to the environment
While we cannot avoid all negative exposures throughout our day, we can look to the parts we can control. While the obvious changes such as quitting smoking will reduce negative exposures, subtle changes, such as eating less processed food, will also improve your exposome.
The biggest help is to understand what negative exposures you face.
Chemicals play a big role in building up the negative exposures. We have cleaning products, washing powder, air freshers, and skin care products. If you make a change to non-chemical substitutes, you improve your exposome.
Again, exposome quickly become an abstract word with no meaning. Imagine instead that every chemical you expose yourself to, never leaves your body. It's trapped and you have no way of letting it out.
The solution? Limit outside chemicals. Eat healthy foods.
I remember a few years back before I switched to plant-based eating, drinking a tall glass of cow milk would make my stomach turn and feel uneasy. For others, it’s eating gluten that makes them bloating and tired.
These signs show that something is off and a sign to alter the diet.
For example, a balanced diet which contains a variety of fresh foods will have a positive effect on everyone, no matter what environment they live and work in. However, a rich diet in antioxidants (such as vitamins A, C, and E) and essential fatty acids (polyunsaturated fats high in EPA and DHA) but low in sugar is what you should aim for.
Less Stress With Adaptogens
We are all familiar with the constant bombardment of new impulses. We're checking our phones every 5 minutes, we're skipping sleep, we have an endless to-do list.
When these stressors build up, they will take a toll on your mental, physical, and emotional health.
But even with the negative influences out of the way, we may still need something else to deal with the busy lifestyle.
That’s where Adaptogens come in.
“Adaptogens” is the name given to particular herbs and medicinal mushrooms which have unique properties that could help your body adapt to stress. They help bring your body back into balance.
They can be a great ally against chronic stress, making them a perfect tool for our modern always-on-the-go lifestyle.
Adaptogens have a broad, non-specific effect, meaning that they work both to increase what is low and decrease what is high to restore balance inside your body.
How can they help?
Whilst our bodies do a good job to meet the demands of periods of stress, there is an epidemic of chronic stress in our modern life. When left undressed, chronic stress depletes your body of vital resources and reduces its capability to bounce back.
This is where Adaptogens can help you adjust and recalibrate.
Adaptogens have been used for thousands of years in traditional medicine such as Ayurveda and Chinese Herbal Medicine.
Here are some examples of the potential benefits of Adaptogens:
- Helping the body adapt to stress
- Reducing the negative effects of stress on the mind and body
- Balancing hormones
- Supporting the immune system
- Increasing mental and physical stamina
- Stabilising mood
- Reducing anxiety and depression
- Supporting quality sleep
- Reducing inflammation
Who can take them?
Adaptogens are a great tool if you’re struggling to deal with a busy lifestyle. Or if you feel the benefits are something you’d like to experience more of in your life. They're are safe to use for most people.
Examples of Adaptogens:
Ashwagandha is a hardy shrub grown in parts of India. The berries, leaves and roots are all traditionally used for medicinal purposes. We extract the active compounds from the roots. Ayurvedic medicine has a long history using this plant for increasing resilience against stress, rebuilding strength, supporting cognition, nourishing the nervous and reproductive systems and more…
Superpowers: Good for improving resistance towards stress, reducing the stress hormone cortisol, decreasing anxiety, reducing high blood sugar and high cholesterol.
Part of the cruciferous vegetable family, this turnip like root originates from the Andes Mountains in Peru and can be white, yellow, purple or black. Peruvian culture has traditionally used this root for enhancing libido and fertility.
Superpowers: Good for hormone balancing, improving energy levels, improving physical stamina, increasing libido, improving fertility.
This plant grows in the cold, mountainous regions of Northern Europe and parts of Asia. Rhodiola has traditionally been used for its wide-ranging benefits such as fighting fatigue, enhancing physical strength and stamina, improving fertility and easing symptoms of depression.
Superpowers: Increasing energy, improving endurance and stamina, protecting brain health, enhancing mental acuity.
Other noteworthy Adaptogens are Schisandra, Tulsi, and Reishi mushrooms.
Adaptogens are mostly taken as :
- or in smoothies
Adaptogens are not a “cure-all” or the only solution against the effects of stress and other ailments. However, they have been proven to be an effective, positive tool in the battle against an unbalance lifestyle.
Let me know in the comments. If you'd like to try adaptogens, what are you looking to get out of them?