Need more energy in the morning and throughout the day? Do you find your coffee habit is growing but your energy is only fading? Well, if a crisp organic apple doesn’t do the trick, try this Incan superfood that has been used in the indigenous Andean societies as a source of whole body health nourishment, energy supplement and healing agent: the Maca root.
Unlike coffee, tea, sodas and energy drinks made with taurine and sugar, the maca root is caffeine free, so it supports the body’s functioning and will not leave you crashing after a surge of artificial energy. Maca has a light, nutty flavor that can be added to smoothies, soups, yogurt, teas and salads. This Peruvian root is a tuber (like a potato) and when gelatinized (an extrusion process that removes starch from maca) it concentrates the active ingredients). Maca is a nutritionally dense super-food that contains high amounts of minerals, vitamins, enzymes and all of the essential fatty and amino acids. It is rich in B-vitamins, which are the energy vitamins, is a great vegetarian source of B-12 (for all those vegetarians and vegans). Maca also has high levels of bioavailable calcium and magnesium and is great for remineralization.
Just to give readers an idea of the respect the Incas had for this superfood, the maca root is usually dried and eaten with meals. Dried maca root can last for 7 years. Inca legend describes Inca warriors taking these plants before battles, which gave them enormous power but after winning the battle would not take it due to the strong effect on sex drive. This is another huge reason the maca root and powders have become so popular worldwide. It has a strong influence on hormones and has the potential to increase libido and fertility. So as well as a nutritional energy booster, it was and still is deemed an aphrodisiac.
With regards to hormones in women and men, the maca root helps balance hormones due to an overabundance of environmental estrogens; genetically modified seed, plants and foods are the greatest cause. For those concerned about the endocrine system functioning well, a good note with maca root is that it stimulates and nourishes the hypothalamus and pituitary glands which are the “master glands” of the body. These glands actually regulate the other glands, so when in balance they can bring balance to the adrenal, thyroid, pancreas, ovarian and testicular glands.
Another good note is that the maca root does not provide hormones to be used in the body. It actually works as an adaptogen (respond agent to the different needs of body system functioning). If you are producing too much of a particular hormone, for instance, the maca will regulate the production downward or upward accordingly. It also controls PMS symptoms, menopause and hot flashes in women. Hormones in the body play many roles in combating diseases, cancer and depression. They also regulate mood, growth, sexual development, and tissue function.
Natural News suggests different ways to consume and incorporate maca root/powder into your daily dietary routine: Stir a teaspoon of maca in a bowl of vegetable and lentil soup before serving; sea salt and maca root are a wonderful soup flavoring. Add a teaspoon to any herbal tea. Pour maca powder over organic, non-microwaved popcorn and flavor with coconut oil and sea salt. If you’re not watching your sugar intake, mix a bit of maca powder with enough grade B maple syrup or honey to produce a wet paste, and enjoy with a spoon. It’s a delicious dessert-like treat, and it’s great on bananas too. If you’re one who “needs” a sweet fix, this is delicious and healthy way to do it. The maca powder on the left is made by Navitas Naturals and is very high quality.
It’s recommended to start with a 1/2 teaspoon a day, and work up to a teaspoon or two a day over the course of a few weeks. If you’re taking it daily, it’s best to take a day off each week. Read below for additional consumption suggestions.
Though maca root is a fundamental food staple in Peru, there are people who report adverse effects to taking too much. Though there are no known effects of toxicity, people who take too much too soon have reported heightened levels of anxiety, headaches, insomnia and skin breakouts in the form of acne. Some herbalists argue that this is simply the body’s detoxification process and it is natural. The insomnia may be due to too much consumed so scale back. Another great suggestion is to take a few days off from eating maca every 5 or 6 days. People should never eat the same vitamins and supplements without taking a break. The body needs to cycle in and out of them, as to not build tolerance and dependency.
Sources: Natural News, Feel Good Time.net, Vega-licious.come, High on Health.org
Photo Credit: Natural Selements.com, Navitasnaturals.com, LittlebitBetter.org