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Why Adaptogens Are Worth the Health Hype

What are Adaptogens?

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It sounds like magic: Natural substances figure out what your body needs most and then presto, deliver it. But adaptogens—compounds in certain plants—have been shown to do just that. "More specifically, they regulate your adrenal system, which manages your body's hormonal response to stress," says Frank Lipman, M.D., the founder of Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in New York City. Incorporating foods or supplements with these compounds into your routine can help you fight fatigue, improve your focus, and reduce anxiety, adds Christopher D'Adamo, Ph.D., the director of research at the University of Maryland's Center for Integrative Medicine. And if you're looking to loosen up, they can be calming, but when you require an extra push, they can be energizing. (Psst..Here are some other nutrient-boosting foods for all day energy.)

So for health's sake, why haven't you heard of these botanical superheroes?! While herbalists have used adaptogens for thousands of years, research is just now proving their potency. To try them for yourself, look for these four science-backed stars.

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A type of mushroom, cordyceps is a favorite with athletes. It can help you use oxygen more efficiently, which means that your muscles are able to work harder for longer. When people consumed four grams of a cordyceps blend every day for three weeks, it helped them increase the duration of their exercise session and improved their peak power—a combination of strength and speed— according to a recent study in the Journal of Dietary Supplements.

FIND IT IN health powders, coffees, and supplements.

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Taking 300 milligrams of this super-root twice a day for two months significantly lowered levels of the stress hormone cortisol, a study in the Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine found. Research shows it helps people shed pounds, which is likely because elevated levels of cortisol have been linked to belly fat.

FIND IT IN health powders, juices, supplements, and smoothies.

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This compound can help you stay strong. When marathoners took 300 milligrams of rhodiola twice daily before race day, it helped their bodies mount a defense against viruses, new research in Frontiers in Nutrition revealed. (That's important for endurance athletes, who are more susceptible to getting sick.) And thanks to its anti-inflammatory effects, it can help you recover faster after a tough workout, says study author Maryam Ahmed, Ph.D. (Up Next: How to Use Post-Workout Inflammation to Your Advantage)

FIND IT IN health powders and supplements.

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This berry is a powerhouse—research shows that it can do everything from increase exercise endurance to improve concentration. Women with chronic stress performed better and faster on mental tests when they took a combo that included schisandra and rhodiola than those who didn't consume it, a study in the journal Phytomedicine found. That could translate to acing your next big project at work, says lead researcher Alexander Panossian, Ph.D.

FIND IT IN health powders and supplements.

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How to Get Your Fix

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You can buy adaptogen supplements or try one of these new teas, juices, or coffees sold online or in natural food markets.

Sun Potion powders ($39.99-$55,

Try these powders that come in ashwagandha, rhodiola, and cordyceps to get your adaptogen fix.

Four Sigmatic coffee, elixir, and hot cacao ($14.99-$37.99,

You can get your daily intake of cordyceps (mushrooms) in a coffee, elixir, and hot cacao—and they taste delicious.

Moon Juice dusts and powders ($30,

Add these powders and dusts to your favorite beverages—whether it's coffee, tea, or smoothies—for all sorts of benefits.

Here are other ways you can incorporate adaptogens into your diet.


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