“I Started Using Adaptogens Every Day. Here’s What Happened,” from an RD
As an RD, Kim Rose is in the business of helping people eat and drink more nutritious foods and solve their issues related to stress, sleep, weight, and energy levels. She has found that people often use food and drink to destress. One crutch is alcohol, another is sugar, and a third is caffeine.
None of these are recommended as ways to unwind after a long day or boost focus in the morning since they all have unwanted side effects ranging from weight gain to addiction. Enter adaptogens. Adaptogens are natural plant-based compounds that help the body cope with stress without ill effects.
When she began using adaptogens, it became clear to Rose that she could help advise her clients and others that relying on alcohol, caffeine, and sugar could be more effectively and safely replaced with natural, beneficial plant-based herbs, spices, and roots that offer ways to fight stress and that don't carry unwanted side effects. That's why Rose now is telling people about the way that adaptogens, when used correctly for different states of mind such as to enhance calm or prompt sleepiness, can be a helpful ritual to add to your wellbeing lifestyle choices.
Adaptogens are plant-based natural herbs or spices or roots that when taken in drinks (such as Ashwagandha) or added to your diet (such as turmeric) can help the body deal with stressors of all kinds, from external stress to internal stress.
Whether you are seeking to sleep more soundly or boost your workout or simply calm down after work, there's an adaptogen for that, Rose explains. Here she tells us what happened when she began drinking adaptogenic drinks, which ones are her favorites, and how they help you achieve your specific goal to promote health. So whether you're looking to fall asleep earlier, boost your workout intensity, dial into a task and focus better, find calm at the end of a stressful day, or clear up persistent brain fog, adaptogens can help.
This Dietician Recommends Adaptogens
As a dietician, Kim Rose, RD, tells her clients in Florida how to navigate personal health issues related to nutrition, sleep, and stress. Rose shared that she began using adaptogens every day, and they are "near and dear to my heart," she says, for what they can do to help people cope with stress without the usual crutches of alcohol, added sugar, and over-eating.
First, what are adaptogens?
"A lot of people don't know exactly what an adaptogen is, even though they have heard about them. What are adaptogens? They are edible plants, roots, and fungi that do a number of things for the body. They have special compounds that help the body deal with everyday stress. Internal stress, external stress, so they help the body," explains Rose.
Ashwagandha for sleep
"Ashwagandha is a specific type of adaptogen that helps promote quality sleep so it helps recharge you for the day ahead. I can't live without ashwagandha, and I take it every single day," she adds. "Ashwagandha also can help you with brain cloudiness. It can help you feel sharper. Ashwagandha helps the body get into somnolence or that sleepy state."
Studies on animals and humans have shown that Ashwagandha helps you get to sleep faster, and people who took it were able to get into a deeper, more restorative sleep, Rose explains. "It helps the body unwind naturally – so you can feel recharged and rejuvenated in the morning." Her recommendation: Take Ashwagahnda two hours before bed for best results.
Unlike taking a sleeping pill, ashwagandha doesn't leave you feeling any ill effects in the morning, she says. "The reason for that is that it works with your body. A sleeping pill may give you that hangover feeling the next day but Ashwagandha is a natural plant-based compound that has no ill effect."
Rose adds that it's important to take the clinically effective form of Ashwagandha. She recommends the Elements brand.
Rhodiola for energy
When Rose heads to the gym or prepares for an intensive workout, first she sips a drink containing Rhodiola, a natural adaptogenic flowering herb that helps the body reduce stress and have more natural energy. For that reason, she believes that It helps with physical and mental performance. "I like to take Rhodiola right before my workout to get my max workout in. It helps me go to that intensity level and get the most out of my session," she says.
If your usual pre-workout drink is coffee, Rose says there are no negative ill effects of combining the two, but if you are trying to free yourself of a coffee habit, you can also try Rhodidola on its own to help your body boost mental performance naturally.
This is where adaptogens can help you change up your old habits, she adds: "You can substitute your second glass of wine with Ashwagandha, and a second cup of coffee with Rhodiola."
Turmeric for inflammation
Turmeric is a spice containing curcumin and an adaptogen since it is known to help decrease inflammation and help your immune system fight off infection. It has a long history of use in Ayurvedic medicine as a treatment for inflammatory conditions. New research has shown that turmeric can help combat a variety of conditions related to inflammation, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Turmeric has been found to help lower inflammation and is therapeutic against IBS and other inflammatory diseases, "Turmeric is found in curry, so if you don't love the taste you can always have a curry and get the same benefits," Rose points out. If you like the slightly tangy taste, you can also drink it in a beverage such as a turmeric tea.
Schisandra for Energy & Focus
This berry has been used in medicine since ancient Chinese practices first identified it as a potential helper to support liver function, unlock clarity and improve vitality. It has also been used to treat coughs, but human studies on its efficacy are inconclusive.
"I use it to help deepen my routine, and it does all this without the unwanted energy crash associated with caffeine or sugary sodas," Rose adds. She drinks Schisandra for "a sense of focus and energy so you can respond to daily stress and feel your best," she says.
Holy Basil for Calm
Another adaptogenic plant used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years, Holy Basic creates a foundation of calm and can help you to relax and unwind after a long day or stress. "A lot of people like to have alcohol to help them unwind," points out Rose. Holy Basil works.
Whenever you take an Adaptogen, Rose adds that it's important to choose a drink that has a clinical level of the plant compound, unlike some gummies or foods that might only have trace amounts. "I like Elements, which comes in an 11.5-ounce can and it's refreshing, with no added sugar. It contains monk fruit, a natural plant-based sugar alternative that does not spike blood sugar levels." With less than 20 calories, she adds that it is a healthier option than a glass of wine.
Ginger for Stomach Upsets
Another adaptogen that Rose believes in is ginger. Ginger goes a long way for helping calm upset stomachs or any type of GI issues, she says. "I worked in a hospital for over ten years and any time someone had any nausea or stomach upset, I would give them real ginger ale.
So if you have any type of nausea or vomiting, take actual ginger." And similar to turmeric, it helps to decrease inflammation in the body, she points out, so ginger helps prevent chronic illnesses that are associated with inflammation. Ginger has been studied for generations and is also believed to help regulate blood sugar, aid in weight loss, banish bad breath and help cure migraines, so ginger is one drink to keep on hand. Or you can make ginger tea.
Bottom Line: Adaptogens help regulate the natural stress in your body
Take adaptogens to help the body fight stress naturally. Use them in circumstances when stress would ordinarily drive you to eat or drink something that might derail your healthy lifestyle. These natural plant-based herbs, spices, and roots have few side effects and have been used for thousands of years to help people sleep, destress and feel energized, calm or focused. Check with your medical provider before starting any new herbal routine.