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?