Maca: what is and why should you care?
Feeling sluggish? Instead of reaching for another cup of coffee, why not turn to Maca, Peru’s version of ginseng, for a natural lift.
What is Maca?
Maca is a little-known but highly effective energy booster that provides essential nutrients for physical and mental performance, something your cup of joy (AKA coffee) won’t do.
Maca, Lepidium meyenii, is an herbaceous biennial plant of the cruciferous family native to the high Andes of Peru. Maca root, is the root of the maca plant and is used as food and supplement.
- It tastes slightly pungent similar to a radish, which it is a cousin of and it comes in a variety of colors, such as yellow/cream, red, purple, black. The darker the color the higher the nutritional value.
- Black maca root appears to be high in iodine (in fact the darker the color the higher the iodine content), which is desired to balance the glucosinolaetes goitrogenic effects. Glucosinolates are sulfur containing compounds found naturally in pungent plants such as mustard, cabbage, maca and horseradish. Those compounds most likely contribute to a plant’s defense against pests and diseases. Consumed in small amounts they are safe and enjoyed by humans and are responsible for the health benefits of cruciferous vegetables.
- This super food is loaded with vitamins such as Vitamin A, B, C, D, and E.
- Maca naturally contains zinc, glucosinolates and plant sterols, which are potent immune enhancers to help keep you healthy and energized during cold and flu season.
When Maca comes in handy?
One of the reasons why many of us feel run down is chronic stress that has led to adrenal fatigue. Our adrenal glands, which are walnut-sized organs located above our kidneys, dictate our response to stress by producing powerful hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. That’s the normal and desired response to stress from our body. However, when we’re under prolonged, chronic stress, which most of us are today, these small glands bottom out and fail to produce more hormones in response to a new stressor.
Without a rise in natural stress hormones that signal increased metabolism and revved up immunity, we feel like we just can’t muster up the energy to finish that last assignment or make dinner for the family. Small things become huge obstacles because of adrenal fatigue. Maca is here to help.
The secret to maca’s ability to increase energy lies in the fact that it supports our body’s over-worked adrenal glands instead of adding more stress by increasing toxins or depleting nutrients. Like ginseng, maca is an adaptogen which means it improves the balance of our health by enabling the body to heal itself with just the right amount of support.
It is rare for a person to misuse maca by overdosing on it. In fact, results are often enhanced by increasing maca consumption. After a short period of maca use, many people also report a noticeable improvement in their cognitive ability, “feeling like a fog has been lifted.” In a world where most of us could use a mental pick-me-up instead of a physical boost, it’s is great to know that consuming a natural superfood will perk us up without any negative side effects.
- Maca is loaded with energy-producing, protein-building amino acids that fuel the body and assist with recovery after a strenuous workout. With its incredible nutrient profile, supplement savvy athletes use maca to improve their energy level without over-stimulating their body.
- Research evaluating the energy-enhancing effects of maca showed a “significant improvement in physical-energetic performance within individuals supplementing with Maca compared to the placebo group.” In particular, athletes enjoyed an increase in distance range as a result of greater stamina due to maca supplementation.
Combined with immune enhancement and increased mental acuity, maca has the ability to super-charge your body to give you a more energized life!
My personal take on maca, all the other superfoods and supplements that we think are “miracles”. Eating processed foods, overindulging in alcohol, smoking not being engaged in physical activity and being sleep deprived will not be offset by taking Maca.
Maca is the cherry on the pie.
When you transform your whole life-style, eat whole foods-not too much and not too little, sleep enough-not too much, not too little, move your body, get out in sun and nature, then adding Maca brings your health to another dimension.
Note to all of my GAPS friends: Maca is not a GAPS approved food:( Do not be sad, follow the GAPS Nutritional Protocol and before you know your gut will be healed and strong enough to effectively digest and absorb maca.
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The Power of Maca: Peruvian Superfood by Lorrie Ingram.