Superfood series - M A C A
Maca root is one of those ancient mystical superfoods used by Inca tribes of Peru for strength and stamina much like the Amazonians used Acai Berries and the Mayans Chia seeds. Maca's use goes back to around 3800 B.C., when Peruvian Indians cultivated and ate it for both its medicinal and nutritional value.
I never really thought much of Maca until recently, I had no idea how nutrient dense it was. It kept popping up in healthy recipes and smoothie recipes I was reading. I once tried to make a Maca dairy free ice-cream with banana's, but I didn't really like it that much. I think I enjoy Maca when its taste is disguised amongst other nicer things, like in my smoothie, as it's quite rich. It has an almost vanilla flavour, but not as smooth as vanilla, a little more pungent. Nonetheless i've felt its energising and revitalising effects so decided to take a closer look at it. And I was really surprised to find out how nutrient dense it really is.
A significant amounts of Amino acids
Amino Acids are the building blocks to protein in the body. "A large proportion of our cells, muscles and tissue are made up of amino acids, meaning they carry out many important bodily functions, such as giving cells their structure. They also play a key role in the transport and the storage of nutrients. Amino acids have an influence on the function of organs, glands, tendons and arteries. They are furthermore essential for healing wounds and repairing tissue, especially in the muscles, bones, skin and hair as well as for the removal of all kinds of waste deposits produced in connection with the metabolism." -aminoacid-studies.com
Essential for bone health, regulating muscle functioning, such as contraction and relaxation, regulating heart functioning, transmission of nervous system messages and enzyme function
Important to the formation of bones and teeth, also kidney function, muscle contractions, normal heartbeat and nerve signalling
Found in every tissue in the body, essential for healthy hair, skin and nails, supports a healthy reproductive system in both men and women, boosts immune function, antioxidant - protects against cell damage, promotes brain health, improves sleep, cognition and energy levels, alleviates mood.
Assists the body in forming connective tissue, bones, blood clots and sex hormones. It aids in metabolism, calcium absorption, and normal brain and nerve function. Manganese is also found in an antioxidant enzyme that balances free radicals in the body
Health benefits include proper growth of the body, efficient utilization of iron, proper enzymatic reactions, as well as improved health of connective tissues, hair, and eyes. Copper is also integral for preventing premature aging and increasing energy production, regulating heart rhythm, quick wound healing and increased red blood cell formation
Oxygenates the blood and carries it around the body, great for brain & muscle health
Vitamins B2, B3, B6
Essential for converting our food into fuel
Great for a healthy immune system, fighting colds & flu and elastin production in our skin
Antioxidant - protects against cell damage, great for our skin and eyes
Good energy source
Because of Macas rich mineral content it remineralizes the body, making up for the lack of minerals in the modern diet and conventionally grown fruit and vegetables from nutrient depleted soils. In fact Indigenous maca growers leave the soil fallow for 5 years after each maca crop so that the soils regenerate completely with minerals.
Along with its rich nutrient profile another crucial element to Maca and the reason it is most widely used is in the way it promotes optimal functioning of the hypothalamus and pituitary master glands. Maca contains unique alkaloids that stimulate the master glands, which in turn improves the overall functioning of the endocrine system.
"As a nutritional supplement, Peruvian Maca has generalized tonic effects on the biochemical functioning of the human body. Chief among these effects is the enhancement of endocrine function. The endocrine system includes all of the glands, and the hormones they secrete, that exist in the body and that control such conditions as fertility, sexual function, digestion, brain and nervous system physiology, and energy levels. Hormonal regulation is responsible for all of the physiological attributes that enable us to enjoy the myriad sensations of being vibrantly alive, including those related to sexual arousal, physical activity and mental-emotional states of being. Maca root has also been called an adaptogen, which means that it increases the body's ability to defend itself against both physical and mental weakening, hence potential illness. It is believed it achieves this by supporting adrenal and pituitary gland health, both of which underlie proper endocrine function." - realrawfood.com
Traditionally, native medicine practitioners and herbalists have recommended maca for...
- Treating menopausal symptoms ie. hot flashes, depression etc as an alternative to hormone replacement therapy [HRT]
- Stimulating and regulating the endocrine system
- Regulating and normalising menstrual cycles
- Supports PMS
- Stimulating fertility in both men and women
- Supporting the immune system
- Increasing energy, stamina and endurance
- Reducing chronic fatigue
- Enhancing libido
- Treating impotence
- Revitalising seniors, mentally and physically
- Improves memory
- Strengthens bones
- Supports healthy blood pressure
- Reduces depression & anxiety
- Helps with mood swings
I use Maca regularly and I don't have any reactions or negative side effects to it. As well as it's nutrient dense, energising effects it's actually balanced out my hormones which was an unexpected yet positive side effect that has saved me more doctors visits, scans and worry. I wasn't expecting that at all!.