Adaptogens: The Secret Weapon for Athletes
Considered safe for teenagers and up Chaga grows on wild birch trees in the extremely cold, inhospitable environments of Siberia, Canada and parts of northern America. The incredible compounds of Chaga are mostly due to the nutrients of the wild birch trees that are transferred to the mushroom. Chaga contains a multitude of minerals and is one of the highest sources of superoxide dismutase (SOD) known, responsible for blocking the toxicity of free radicals. In one study, the researchers concluded that Chaga mushroom extracts might represent a valuable source of biologically active compounds with potential for protecting cellular DNA from oxidative damage in vitro. This is important for those undergoing heavy endurance training and oxidative damage.
If there was something that I thought every athlete should add to their arsenal, it would be mushroom and herbal adaptogens. Put aside creatine, BCAA supplementation, glutamine and any other ergogenic aid. These only address the physical demand (with debatable results), while neglecting the psychological and emotional needs of an athlete, and the biological and chemical stressors that deplete strength and endurance. What many people don’t think about when it comes to power, speed and endurance is that there is more to it than the physical output. Talent will only take you so far without drive, and the strength of your body is only as strong as the strength of your mind, emotions and immune system. What really makes people stand out in sports is a superior work ethic and drive, consistent performance, health, focus and composure under stressful conditions. Just like you can’t teach someone will, physical ergogenic aids will not produce all of the other attributes that make a champion. But what if there was something that could increase your drive, stabilize your emotions and increase physical output? There is, and they are in the elite group called adaptogens.
What are Adaptogens?
Adaptogens increase the body’s resistance to physical (heat, cold and exertion), chemical (toxins and heavy metals) and biological (bacteria and viruses) stressors. What makes them special is that they help modulate the body’s stress response so that it does not overreact to extreme physical, mental, emotional or chemical stress which depletes cells of vital energy. When hormones like cortisol are secreted in excess, they can do quite a bit of damage on your body leading to total exhaustion. Adaptogens help resist and adapt to the stress, restoring balance in the cardiovascular, immune and neuroendocrine system while causing minimal (if any) physiological disturbance, side effects or toxicity. Maintaining high testosterone levels are crucial for muscle mass, recovery, confidence, and determination, while high physical and mental stress can squander the hormone and the results from it. Adaptogens can help protect testosterone by helping the body adapt to stressful conditions. Adaptogens have been a subject of Soviet research for quite some time, and studies revealed that they increased swimming times in the Porsolt test, AKA forced swimming test. This would evolve into rigorous studies that researched how they helped the body adapt to all unfavorable conditions from Olympic competition, combat, space travel, and everyday stress. The ability of the adaptogens to help boost energy while burning energy allows you to stay at the top of your game until the end.
How Adaptogens Work
The mechanisms behind this action include increasing levels of ATP (energy) and creatine phosphate (power). They contain powerful antioxidants and protect the mitochondria cell membranes and DNA while increasing cardiovascular function and oxygen efficiency. Adaptogens also increase the manufacture of proteins and other substances for the repair of damages. This combination makes adaptogens the ideal accessory to an optimal diet for power, speed, and endurance. Adaptogens tend to work best as a synergistic combination and work differently than a stimulant like caffeine. What you notice may appear subtle because your body will be functioning at its optimal level. In other words, it will appear that it’s coming from you, not a supplement. It’s when you stop taking it that you notice a difference. It shows up as mental toughness and stamina, emotional stability, and an inherent drive to want to work out, compete and push yourself. One of the best indicators of your body’s adaptation process is the want and need to mentally and physically work your body. If you are dreading going to the gym or practice, or you mentally want to check out, then adaptogens will help you break out of this cycle.
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* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.