Saturday, May 26, 2012

Healthy Living: Nature's Natural Energy Booster

I don't know about you but sometimes I feel like there just aren't enough hours in the day for me to get everything done. I get up early and then spend the rest of the day rushing to meet commitments and obligations. Awhile back there were days when I would feel utterly drained and it's all I could do to keep my weary head up and eyes open!

Being so busy, my diet consisted of little more than sugary snacks, processed foods and energy drinks.

Thankfully, I discovered a way to maximize my energy levels naturally and now I feel I can cope with just about anything. I'm happier, feel more confident and have so much energy my friends often ask me "just what are you on!?" as I storm through my day being more productive than ever before.

The answer to THAT particular question is quite surprising...

Need more energy? Caffeine is not the answer!

If stress is leaving you sleep-deprived and lacking energy, you probably kick start your day with a big jolt of coffee and keep on downing more caffeine throughout the day just so you can keep going.

The problem is, the more you rely on caffeine to prop up your dwindling energy levels, the more immune you become to its effect and the more you'll need. Before you know it, that one cup of coffee three times a day becomes six double espressos and you STILL feel tired.

Needless to say, so much caffeine can have an adverse affect on many aspects of your health including driving your blood pressure up to stratospheric levels.

It's not that I'm anti-caffeine by the way, simply that I have found that there is such a thing as too much of a good thing and an over reliance on caffeine means you are simply putting off an inevitable crash.

Thankfully for us health-conscious go-getters there is an alternative to coffee and caffeine for raising your energy levels - a super food called maca.

What is maca?

When I first came across maca, it was as an ingredient in a facial moisturizer. Needless to say I was more than a little surprised to later discover that maca is also a genuine superfood!

Maca, or maca root as it is sometimes known, is a Peruvian plant indigenous to the Andes which grows at heights of around 10,000 feet above sea level. It has been used for centuries in Peru as a herbal cure-all used to treat everything from colds to impotence!

Maca is very nutrient dense and contains large amounts of essential vitamins and minerals, amino acids and fiber and is especially rich in iron and calcium but it's greatest benefit is as an energizer.

Maca - the energizer

Where coffee boosts your energy by speeding up your metabolism and acting as a stimulant, maca works though an entirely different mechanism. Described as an adaptogen, maca is said to help balance your hormone levels so your body is better able to produce energy and deal with the daily stresses that life throws at you.

Hormones are chemical messengers that tell the organs of your body how to function. Some hormones are catabolic and are responsible for breaking your body down while others are anabolic which are responsible for building your body back up.

Too much stress, a poor diet and too much exposure to environmental pollutants can lead to a hormonal imbalance - normally in favor of the catabolic hormones. This means your body is constantly being broken down as opposed to being built back up. No wonder many of us feel tired and "beaten up" all the time!

Maca, because of its hormone balancing ability, puts the breaks on breakdown and tilts your hormonal balance back towards anabolism and recovery. This means your body is much more fatigue resistant and better able to cope with the stresses of modern daily life. In short, your energy levels increase because life is less likely to get you down.

Maca - an alternative to hormone replacement?

Unlike traditional medical hormone replacement therapies, maca does not work on individual organs but instead affects the whole organism - in other words, YOU! And because maca merely balances your natural hormone levels, there is little or no chance of any kind of unpleasant side affect which is not always the case with medical hormone replacement therapy.

In addition to balancing hormones and providing a healthy hit of vitamins and minerals, maca is also a powerful antioxidant which can literally help to reverse some of the signs of aging. It's no accident that Peruvian natives, who consume maca on a regular basis, live long and healthy lives and are active right up to the end.

Forms of Maca

Maca is available in a number of forms so you can choose how you want to take this miracle super food...

• Capsules are convenient but may prove expensive if you need to take a larger quantity of maca.

• Powder is another option as it can easily be mixed with water, a smoothie or juice but some people find the taste a little off-putting at first.

• Pressed maca tablets offer the convenience of capsules combined with the purity and concentration of loose powder.

• Maca liquid, extracted directly from the maca root, provides a very concentrated hit of maca goodness and is another option worth considering.

Whichever form of maca you decide on, it is important to buy organic maca preparations that originate from Peru.

Is Maca safe for everyone?

Peruvians have been using maca for over 3,000 years so it's safe to assume that in general, maca is suitable for most people. If you are using maca to treat a specific disease such as hypothyroidism or diabetes, I strongly suggest you discuss your intention with your doctor.

It's never a good idea to self-prescribe even the safest herb or superfood to treat medical conditions (it better to find the cause and not just treat the effect) so make sure you explain what you are taking and why with your doctor. This goes double if you are pregnant or breast feeding.

As maca is a 100% natural substance and is in fact a form of food rather than medication, there is no real reason why you shouldn't take maca but because it can have such a profound effect on hormone levels, it is always better to be safe than sorry.

Now that you understand how maca is a powerful energy booster. But what drains your energy in the first place? The answer is stress and poor sleep!