Adaptogens are non-toxic plants and herbs that have the medicinal action of being adrenal and nervous system tonics, meaning they help your body systems adapt to stress of all kinds (physical, chemical, or biological). This medicinal action on your adrenal glands is similar to what exercise does for your muscles – it enables more effective coping with stress.
Adaptogenic herbs have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic Medicine for centuries, and are wildly popular in today’s world of wellness. These plants, roots, and herbs can be taken in supplementary form, as powders, and in raw plant form in some cases! You can add adaptogens to just about anything: soups, salad dressings, smoothies, even your everyday coffee.
Among the adaptogen family are the medicinal mushrooms- my absolute favorite of the functional foods. As far as I am concerned, medicinal mushrooms have superpowers. Mushrooms contain potent antioxidant and neuroprotective properties, help the body to fight off viruses, and balance the immune system. Some mushrooms can calm the nervous system while other mushrooms can be used to give a boost in mental energy and increase cognitive function while simultaneously lessening the effects of stress on the body.
Medicinal mushrooms are among the easiest functional foods to work into your everyday routine, because it is as simple as adding them to your morning coffee! Mushrooms can be bought in various blends with other herbal adaptogens, as straight mushroom blends, or as single mushroom powders that would be added into the coffee just like (or instead of?) sugar. Mushrooms are also alkali-rich foods, meaning they make your coffee less acidic, and therefore easier on your digestive system. Do you normally get an upset stomach after a cup of coffee? Try mushroom coffee, and you might be pleasantly surprised.
Not a coffee drinker? Try adding the mushrooms into hot chocolate, or a smoothie! The mushrooms will change the flavor of your beverage slightly, but who ever said change was a bad thing? Some mushrooms, especially Chaga and Tremella, are well known for having pleasant flavors that are sought after for daily health tonics!
I know from personal experience, as well as from feedback from friends and clients that a daily dose of adaptogens in the form of a morning mushroom coffee is a game changer, and is an indispensable part of my daily routine. The effects of mushroom can be felt, and missed if you forget to add your mushies one day (hello caffeine jitters and afternoon crash!)
For extra brain power in your daily cup of joe, try adding Chaga, Lions Mane, Cordycepts, or all three! Looking for an evening elixir to help you sleep? Try a hot cacao with Reishi. Pre-mixed packets of instant mushroom coffee can be purchased from various grocery stores (such as Four Sigmatic). If choosing to buy a supplement form and create your own mushroom elixirs, remember that not all supplements are created equal and it is best to be referred to a professional grade product by a Practitioner.
Written by: Quinn Ponton, CNP
Whether you’re a training athlete, coming back from a joint replacement, love to workout, or just love to work in the garden – Pilates done on the Reformer will be amazing for your body. The Reformer is a beautiful machine that works for everybody, and is a great addition to your everyday exercise routine. The Reformer’s unique design gives you the perfect balance between different and easy – the exercise may look simple, but when you are given the cues on where to place your body that’s when the body talks back!
One of the beauties of the Reformer is that it can identify weak or imbalanced movement patterns across the whole body, in all different directions. The exercises and movements then performed on the Reformer helps to teach your body better ways to move.
Reformer classes max out at only five participants, giving plenty of opportunity for hands on assists from your instructor to give you the best experience and to help you learn where your body is in space. Your instructor will also be teaching you how to use the various props used in class, such as the strap and springs. Props, along with hands on assists from your instructor will give the feedback necessary to keep your alignment healthy and safe.
Your brain may hurt after your initial class from all of the thinking you’ll have to do, but that helps with the cognitive/sensory system! Another beautiful benefit on the Reformer, because we all know that we need to keep the brain as strong as our bodies. All of the exercises done on the Reformer work with mobility, stability, strength, and improving spinal alignment. All of these done together keep the body happy and healthy.
So, if you are someone who is finding that your body is having any pain, lack of strength and/or lack of mobility, give Reformer Pilates a try! You’ll notice after the first class how much your body will love it, and you!
Written by: Haley Bucknall
Strengthening the immune system is not just something that should be focused on during cold and flu season. A healthy immune system relies just as much on physical health as it does on mental health, and can be strengthened in a variety of different ways!
For a healthy immune system, it is important to be focusing not only the foods you are consuming, but also regular movement in whatever form best suits you. Quality sleep is also imperative to a strong and healthy immune system, as is good mental health practices.
Below are my top tips for the foundation of a healthy immune system:
Probiotic bacteria are AMAZING! 70% of our immune system lives in our gut. The little microbes that reside here affects everything from digestion of food, absorption of nutrients, and mood regulation! Supplementing a probiotic is an excellent way to ensure we are encouraging a healthy balance of bacteria, as is eating fermented foods (naturally high in probiotic bacteria) such as kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, miso, and kefir.
Vitamin D deficiency is associated with a compromised immune system. Make sure that you’re getting sufficient sunlight and fresh air (when accessible) and supplementing with a good quality vitamin D through the winter months, and into summertime if you’re not outside daily! When choosing a vitamin D supplement, ensure that it is oil based (vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, so it must be attached to be absorbed), and avoid the little white tablet type as these are hard for the human body to absorb.
Eat the rainbow! Nature has given us so many nutrient rich, colorful whole foods. Focus on consuming antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables, dark leafy greens, other colorful vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds. These whole foods are rich in live, bioavailable nutrients that will be readily absorbed and go to work in creating your strong, healthy immune system!
I cannot overstate the importance of getting adequate rest and high-quality sleep! Sleep not only restocks our immune system, but also improves our ability to learn, make logical decisions, and keeps our memory sharp! Sleep is also crucial to healthy mood balance, and helps our bodies and our minds cope with stress.
Written by: Quinn Ponton, CNP