I dove into the superfood world about six years ago. With countless different superfoods being discussed in the health world, I was fascinated by, and completely obsessed with, learning everything there was to know about as many superfoods as I could! And thanks to Amazon Prime for making it all-too-easy to order things with a click of a button, I started ordering and testing out many of the superfoods I was reading about.
After taking a few years to try out different superfoods and different brands of the same superfood, I finally determined which ones made me feel my best. Once I nailed them down, I strictly used them for about four years straight. At this time of my life, my job required me to travel all over the world. I was exploring new cities during the day and working all night, constantly on the go. But no matter where I was or what I was doing, nothing stopped me from using these superfoods every day. And to be honest with you, I felt unstoppable. I had so much energy, seriously, some days it just seemed to never run out. I also never got sick once while taking these superfoods every day—not even a cold!
After four years of taking these superfoods every day, I completely stopped. I started a new job, my routines changed and for some reason my daily superfoods got pushed to the side. I began feeling sluggish, lacking energy all the time, I wasn’t seeing great results from my workouts and I was getting sick practically every month. I was still eating a healthy diet for the most part (with indulgences, of course), so I was confused as to why I was feeling this way.
After about a year, I started going through my mind to determine what I did differently when I was feeling my absolute best so I could replicate that energy. Finally, it clicked: I had stopped taking my superfoods every day!
I am back to taking my favorite superfoods every day, and I feel a drastic difference. As awful as I felt when I stopped taking them, I am thankful I did because it proved to me just how important they are for optimal health.
So what are these superfoods that I keep referring to? Here are three of my top picks!
Superfood #1: Spirulina
Spirulina is a blue-green algae that’s considered to be the most nutrient-dense food on the planet. Not only is it 60% to 70% protein, containing all amino acids, but it also contains 26 times more calcium than milk and is a great source of iron, omega-3s, B vitamins and antioxidants. I like to think of spirulina as nature’s multivitamin!
Besides being known as the most nutrient-dense food on the plant, spirulina is known for its ability to detoxify the body from heavy metals and other pollutants you are exposed to on a daily basis. From the body, hair and makeup products you apply to the household cleaners you use to the processed foods you consume—and the list goes on and on—these toxins continue to build up inside your body. These built-up toxins can cause serious negative health issues, and spirulina can help rid them from your body. Plus, this superfood fights off viruses, working wonders for your immune system. When I am sick, I definitely up my intake!
Believe it or not, this superfood has even more amazing benefits that I am completely obsessed with. Spirulina is especially beneficial for women because it can help reduce PMS symptoms such as bloating, fatigue, cramps and mood swings. And because of the high amounts of vitamins and minerals it contains, I notice a drastic difference in my hair and nails. My hair is shinier, my nails are stronger and both grow so much faster!
When I take this superfood every day, I feel all-over healthier. I personally believe the one word that truly describes the effects of spirulina is vitality. Vitality is defined as the state of being strong and active, and that is exactly how I feel when I use it every day. I feel more alive and more vibrant, which is exactly how you should feel in your life!
I’ll admit, spirulina powder has a distinct taste, although when mixed with flavored protein powder, it’s greatly muted. After regular use, you’ll soon grow accustomed to the taste and it will go unnoticed. I began by adding ½ teaspoon of spirulina powder to my daily protein smoothie and once I grew accustomed to the taste, I increased my intake. I now use 1 to 2 teaspoons a day, although I suggest working with your doctor to determine first if spirulina is right for you and, if so, how much you should use. Spirulina also comes in a capsule form, which many people prefer to use instead. I personally prefer spirulina powder because it’s closer to its natural state and doesn’t contain any preservatives or other additives that the capsules do.
Superfood #2: Ashwagandha Root
I am an extremely active person. I love high-intensity workouts, bike riding, yoga, hiking—basically anything that gets me moving or gets me outside. Being as active as I am, it’s important for me to respect my body and give it the proper care it deserves. When you are overly active, or if you regularly over-exercise, you actually do more harm than good to your body. It can cause heightened cortisol levels, which can in turn cause adrenal fatigue, decreased gut health, heightened appetite and cravings, fat storage and so much more.
So to help keep my cortisol levels balanced, I find supplementing with ashwagandha root to be extremely beneficial. Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb and a type of medicinal mushroom. Adaptogens are herbs that have been around for centuries, used in both Chinese and ayurvedic medicine, and are now a trending health topic. Adaptogens work to help your body fight off stress, both physical and mental, and hold endless health benefits outside of keeping cortisol levels in check.
Another big reason many people use ashwagandha every day: the amazing effects it has on thyroid health. Did you know 20 million Americans suffer from hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid, with women being primarily at risk? Your thyroid is linked to your metabolism, ability to lose weight, digestion, mood and so much more—so the ability for your thyroid to function optimally is essential! Ashwagandha has been shown to be a key player in supporting your thyroid health.
There are more amazing benefits! Ashwagandha is also a natural mood booster. According to well-known functional medicine doctor Josh Axe, studies have shown that ashwagandha can be used as a mood stabilizer in clinical conditions of depression, as well as anxiety and chronic stress. Many articles also claim that ashwagandha can help improve your body composition and muscle strength, but I will leave that up to you to decide after you start using this superfood every day, too! The added benefits of ashwagandha root that I personally love are its ability to boost my immunity, balance my blood sugar, increase my energy levels and improve my concentration.
I love to toss some ashwagandha root powder into a plant-based latte or an AfterBurn protein smoothie daily to reap the amazing health benefits. I also use at least 1 teaspoon a day, but on the days when I feel like I am dragging, I’ll up my intake to 2 or 3 teaspoons. To learn about other adaptogen mushroom powders, check out this post.
Superfood #3: Psyllium Husk
I love psyllium husk because it’s a great source of prebiotics, which are essential for a well-functioning gut. Why is a well-functioning gut important? More and more doctors are making the connection between poor gut health and other health issues, realizing that most diseases and ailments stem from the gut.
What makes your gut unhealthy? For starters, your gut hosts both good and bad bacteria, and the one that is predominant determines not only the state of your gut health but also the state of your overall health. If the bad bugs takeover, they control your overall health. To regain control, you have to work on repopulating your gut with the good bugs, as well as providing them with an environment where they can thrive. Introducing prebiotics and probiotics into your diet is a great place to start. Probiotics are the actual bacteria in your gut, and prebiotics are what the probiotics—or gut bacteria—live on. A simple way to look at the two is by imagining probiotics as seeds and prebiotics as soil.
Most people know the benefits of probiotics and include them in their everyday supplementation. On the other hand, prebiotics haven’t gained the same popularity, although herbalist and wellness practitioner Rachelle Robinett says, “You can make the case that prebiotics are more important because if you take probiotics but there is nothing in your gut microbiome to sustain their well-being, they will die very quickly.” Ultimately, consuming probiotics without prebiotics is like planting a seed in dried-up soil.
Prebiotics are found in fibrous foods. Therefore, more fiber in your diet equals more prebiotics. The best way to ensure you are consuming enough prebiotics daily is by tracking your fiber intake, just as you might track your carbohydrate, protein or fat intake. If you consume at least 30 grams of fiber a day, more likely than not, you will be eating enough prebiotics to feed the good bacteria in your gut.
This is why I love psyllium husk fiber. The brand I use gives me 7 grams of fiber with only 30 calories per serving. With only one serving, I have already gotten a quarter of my daily fiber intake. So simple!
I’m going to get personal here–the symptoms I experience from my poor gut health include bloating and constipation, and using this superfood daily has been a real game-changer. If you happen to struggle with gas, psyllium husk powder has been shown to help with this symptom as well.
Another plus for this superfood is the ability it has to keep me satiated! I don’t know about you, but I struggle with constantly feeling hungry with the level of activity I do each day. Adding one to two tablespoons into my green Afterburn protein smoothie each morning, I feel full all the way up until lunch time, with no need for a mid-morning snack.
This superfood has an extremely neutral taste, which makes it easy to add to anything. Before adding it to your food, keep in mind it is a thickening agent and will thicken the texture. I find it to be a perfect addition to my morning smoothies, but I also love adding it to soups and oatmeal!
With psyllium husk being a thickening agent, it is essential to be properly hydrated before consuming. Be sure to drink at least eight ounces of water with each serving and check the label for warning signs. If you want to read more about my favorite superfoods, check out this post!
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