Ever since the Long Beach Conference, I've been back on my super food kick. And I feel great!
It’s rare that I believe a food is worthy of it’s own post, but maca is deserving. In fact, if kale and maca ever got into a fight, I'm afraid to say maca would win. If you’ve never heard of this amazing super food, (one of the top 10 in the world!!) fasten your seat-belt and get ready to have your mind blown. Yes, maca is THAT exciting. If you struggle with fertility, low energy, low libido or any hormonal issues, this post is for you.
This amazing root vegetable grows in South America. It's cultivated in one of the harshest most difficult farmlands in the world. Basically, no other crops can grow there. This gorgeous relative of the yam contains extremely high levels of trace minerals; thirty-one to be exact! Native Peruvians have used Maca since before the Incas.
Maca became well known by word of mouth. Generation after generation told the story of it’s ability to increase fertility, relieve anxiety and cure impotence. It regulates menopausal symptoms and PMS. It is also proven to be useful for memory loss, arthritis, respiratory ailments and diabetes. Let’s break these benefits down. Shall we?
The whole reason maca was respected so much among the ancient Peruvians was due to it's ability to raise fertility in livestock and humans. Maca contains glucosinolates, which directly affect fertility. Study after study has been done to support this fact. I find it fascinating that maca was used centuries ago to relieve stress and increase fertility. Men and women in Peru who struggled to conceive a child would eat maca until the woman became pregnant. We’ve lost the natural healing in our culture and I’m so thrilled it’s making a comeback.
Maca is best known for being an adaptogen. An adaptogen is a food or herb which brings the body to a heightened state of resistance to disease through physiological and emotional health. Basically, maca can normalize functions within the body even in disease-ridden states. Pretty remarkable.
Maca’s reputation as an adaptogen goes hand in hand with it’s ability to increase libido. Basically, it’s nature’s Viagra. Sex hormones are a delicate balancing act and any stress can really mess up these hormones. Maca helps restore the adrenal glands to normal, thus balancing energy, libido, sexual function, immune system and overall sense of well being. In men, maca is great for prostate health and helps to increase sperm count.
Now we’re getting down to the nitty-gritty of why maca rocks the world we live in. Maca has a huge impact on our hypothalamus, which regulates our adrenals. (Millions of Americans suffer from adrenal burnout. If you crave caffeine or are on thyroid medication, I’m talking to you.) The hypothalamus also influences the production of sex hormones and is considered the brain’s sex center. It’s all connected folks.
We live in a thin-obsessed society where anti-aging is on the front of everyone’s mind. What many people don’t realize is that youth and health revolve around optimal and balanced hormones. Maca is a rejuvenator for the entire endocrine system, therefor it helps the body makes it’s own natural hormones- and correctly. No trips to the doctor to determine your dose. I encourage you to consider maca therapy :) Hormone replacement therapy (as it is done in the doctor’s office) actually ages the body by diminishing the hormone-producing capability of the glands. Basically, if an unnatural hormone is introduced into the body, the body gets lazy and stops it’s own production. Maca is great because it gets to the root of the problem instead of masking the symptoms like HRT.
PMS? Menopausal? Maca can help. Because of maca’s ability to regulate hormones, women who use maca experience less mood swings, cramps, hot flashes and menstrual irregularity. (Why do I have a feeling that all the men out there are going to get their wives a big bag of maca for Christmas this year?) During these times, estrogen is dominant in woman’s body. Maca can correct this. Many women who have used everything from HRT to phyto-estrogens have reported that maca has given them their lives back.
Depression and Anxiety
According to master herbalist Carmen Mattes, “Maca is excellent for depression and that ‘out of control’ feeling common to many men and women.....Sometimes within days, but usually 2-3 weeks, people report feeling a sense of well-being, increased energy and reduced menopausal symptoms for women. Maca presents us with an excellent choice to nourish and balance the endocrine system.”
Lower Stress, Blood Pressure and Cholesterol
One of maca’s most dramatic and noticeable benefits is its ability to reduce stress. Because it’s an adaptogen, it can lower high blood pressure and raise low pressure. Maca is one smart cookie!!Because it is nature’s balancing plant, it has a positive influence on anything on the body that is out of balance. Maca is also ultra rich in sterols, which reduce cholesterol! It’s ability to do this is often overlooked by doctors who choose to match the pill to the ill.
Who doesn’t want to up their energy? Maca rebuilds exhausted adrenal glands and therefor takes charge of exhaustion. The positive effects can actually be seen in the blood within a few days!
How To Use Maca
Today, the most popular way to consume maca is in a dried and powdered form. I put a few teaspoons of maca in my smoothies every morning! I find that it goes really well with raw cacao. Amazing Grass has maca in their shakes and I just add extra. I’m hardcore like that. I use Navita’s Naturals maca powder. I feel like it’s affordable and great quality.
You can also buy it in capsules or make tea with crushed maca and some goji berries. As a traditional remedy, use 2-10 grams (2,000-10,000 mgs)
Don’t be mislead. Make sure to buy only organic maca root. That root is the only part with medicinal properties. Make sure it is 100% maca root. No cheap fillers!
I first learned about maca during my training at Institute For Integrative Nutrition and it has been a wonderful addition to my diet ever sense. I feed it to my kids in their smoothies as well. Have you ever tried maca? What are some of your favorite ways to use this super food?
If you’ve ever dabbled in the raw food world, you know David Wolfe. Author of several books, including Eating For Beauty and Superfoods, he is arguably one of the most knowledgable and passionate people on the topic of raw foods. You can’t help but get excited when he goes off about changa mushrooms, goji berries and raw chocolate! He’s literally high on life and super foods. Not even joking. The simplicity of his theory; to eat uncooked food, with the highest nutritional density, as close to their natural state as possible, holds ancient wisdom we are finally reconnecting with again. Science is finally acknowledging the fact that food is power, energy and a magnificent life force that fuels all aspects of who we are.
When he took the stage, I swear the whole vibration of the room shifted. My jaw hurt from smiling (and laughing) throughout his presentation. My only complaint is that he was only given 40 minutes. Perhaps a whole day of David Wolfe next time? A David Wolfe conference even? OK, I have to stop. I’m starting to sound like a groupie.
David’s focus during this lecture was on the the healing power of super foods. I’m not talking blueberries and salmon here either folks. Waaay more powerful. He took the most highly regarded super food from each of the ancient cultures to create a list of the top ten super foods. Each one contains powerful healing properties that not even kale could rival. (I can’t believe I just said that. Sorry kale!) By combining them, you’re giving your body an optimal chance at health. Each one is raw, allowing you to receive the most nutrients possible. While he wasn’t able to cover the benefits of each one during the lecture, you all lucked out when I decided to write this blog. As a long time groupie...I mean fan of David’s, I’ve been dying to share this info for a while now.
Here you go! The top ten super foods and their healing properties:
Ohhh Maca! How I love thee. Because of my love affair with kale, I often forget about the beautiful root vegetable Maca. This energy booster supports and balances your hormones, heals depression, increases libido, supports the endocrine system, and provides thyroid support. The Inca tribe used to take maca before entering into battle because of it’s ability to boost endurance. In men, Maca has proven to heal many issues involving the prostate. Mix some in with your favorite smoothie today. Why wouldn’t you?
Chocolate in it’s purest form is a superfood!? Yes please!! The Mayans actually traded with cacao instead of gold. As a superfood, it is nature’s number one weight loss/energy boosting tool. It has the highest concentration of anti-oxidants in the world! It’s also loaded with vitamin c, zinc, copper and the number one source of magnesium in the world! (Just a quick reminder that we cannot digest calcuium without magnesium and magnesium is super lacking in our current diets.)
Raw Honey and Bee Pollen
Notice the word “raw” in raw honey. Raw local honey is even better! You know the bees are respected and you’re getting a high dose of allergy fighting goodness. This product is extremely high in protein, regulates nerve fibers, B-Vitamins, and treats hormonal imbalances. Bee Pollen is also highly alkaline, neutralizes free radicals, increases hormone levels, increases strength and also increases muscle definition. Raw honey is an antibiotic too!
This superfood contains the highest concentration of any protein on the planet. It's also one of the best sources of Iron and great for anemics. This super food contains all eight essential amino acids, rich in vitamins and minerals, chlorophyll (which is 40 times more nutrient dense than wheatgrass), an anti-inflammatory, balances brain chemistry, a blood builder, immune booster, high in antioxidants, and contains Gamma-Linolenic Acid, which gives us soft silky skin and healthy hair.
A complete protein source that contain 19 different amino acids, and 21 trace minerals, goji berries are extremely high in iron and one of the highest antioxidant foods in the world! They make blueberries look like chopped liver. They are known for their ability to increase longevity. My oldest eats them like candy. I like to make goji berry tea and always toss them in with my superfood shakes. (Don’t worry. I’ll get going on some recipes for you)
AFA Super Blue-Green Algae
Another great green, this algae improves digestion, is a great blood builder, has over 40 trace minerals, is an excellent source of B-Vitamins, a complete protein source, inhibits the growth of cancer cells, reduces inflammation, and protects against free radical damage. It also contains Phenylethylamine, which is known as the "love chemical" It increases our feelings of joy.
One word here. POWERFUL! Marine Phytoplankton contains every single nutrient needed for the creation and maintenance of new cells. That’s right folks, phytoplankton is 100 percent bio available to the human body which means that when you eat it, not a single part of it is wasted. Energy, immune support, weight loss, improved memory and stamina, better sleep and digestion, inflammation reduction and better sex are well-documented side effects!
It’s safe to say that Gatorade is terrible for you. Loaded with fake sugars and food coloring. WTH right? The only thing Gatorade is good at is advertising. Don’t worry. I have good news too. Coconuts are nature’s Gatorade and quite the hangover cure! Coconuts improve digestion, aid in fighting off viruses, help with symptoms of hypoglycemia, regulate hormone production, support the thyroid, increase metabolism, support healthy cholesterol, alleviate kidney stones, aid in urinary tract infections and are a great source of raw saturated fat. (Yes we NEED good saturated fats to function, but that’s a whole other post.) Coconut water, coconut oil and coconut meat are all excellent choices.
Aloe Vera is one powerful plant. It reduces inflammation, reduces cancer tumors, normalizes blood sugar, produces white blood cells, promotes healthy kidneys and increases the elasticity of our skin. Make sure you aren’t fooled by cheap impostors. Real aloe is 100% aloe, with no additives. I like George’s brand since it’s not bitter at all. You can drink it!! A shot a day :)
Poor hemp gets such a bad rap, but it’s actually one of nature's richest sources of complete protein, only exceeded by Spirulina and Blue-Green Algae. Hemp Seeds are extremely high in Omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids, are a great source of fiber, an anti-inflammatory, have high mineral content and contain 18 amino acids. This is a wonderful source of vegan protein and more nutrient rich than it’s animal product competitors.
Don’t feel like you have to go buy every super food on this list. Super foods should not be intimidating or scary. They should make your heart explode with excitement and joy! In fact, sometimes adding one at a time can actually be a better way to go. This way you really get the opportunity to feel the impact each one has on you.
To conclude, I wanted to point out that David is the first to admit that a 100% raw food diet is not suitable for everyone. While adding in raw foods and super foods can only bring positive results, some people lack the digest enzymes to break down a raw foods only diet; especially those who are older or live in colder climates. Once again we go back to the concept of bio-individuality. We all have very different nutritional needs.
David ended his time with this super food smoothie recipe! I’d love for you to experiment and let me know how it goes.