By: Dr. Alexia Harris, ND
With our increasingly busy lives it is no surprise that our society has become dependent on stimulants to keep us going, and sleeping pills to shut off our busy minds at night. The human body is so brilliant that it was designed to adapt to short-term stress. However, the problem is that most of society is struggling to keep up with the high demands of these challenging times, which is putting the body in a state of chronic long-term stress. Chronic stress and lack of sleep plays havoc on the body in many ways, and on top of that we are constantly bombarded by toxins and environmental chemicals which causes one of the most damaging processes in the body known as oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress occurs when damaging molecules, known as free radicals or reactive oxygen species (ROS), are produced in the body as a result of both normal and pathological biochemical processes. Free radicals are unstable molecules that damage or “oxidize” cells in the body by reacting with them through a process known as oxidation. The body has natural defense mechanisms in place in order to reverse a lot of this damage by producing antioxidant molecules. However, excessive oxidation over time can overwhelm the body’s antioxidant systems, and as a result, cells and tissues begin to lose their function which has a detrimental affect on our health.
One of the most important ways to support the body’s natural antioxidant systems is to take an external source of antioxidants on a daily basis, whether from the diet or through supplementation. Eating a diet rich in vibrant colored fruits and vegetables, especially dark purple and red foods such as berries, is an excellent way to provide the body with a good dose of antioxidants. However, some of best sources of antioxidants come from a category of foods, known as “superfoods”, that have been shown to possess an incredible nutrient profile with extremely high levels of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants.
I have recently discovered the amazing antioxidant-rich maqui berry. This superfood is gaining more popularity amongst health enthusiast as it is considered to be one of the richest sources of antioxidants. It is well known for it’s vibrant purple pigment which comes from the anthocyanin, delphinidin, which has very potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. What I love about maqui berry powder is that it has a neutral taste and can be added to any food or drink, providing a stunning color and a mega dose of nutrients!
A great way to get antioxidants into your diet is by adding superfood powders to blended drinks, such as smoothies, shakes and hot drinks. There are tons of recipes and superfood powders available these days that are marketed as coffee boosters, or as healthy stimulants to get your day started with a kick! However, superfoods like maqui berry powder can also be used to calm and nourish the body at the end of the day. One thing I have been working on lately is creating recipes for nourishing, caffeine-free, superfood hot drinks to help with relaxation, sleep, anxiety, and insomnia.
When it comes to sleep problems, prescription or over-the-counter sleeping pills are not the only option! There are many herbal alternatives available to help promote deep restorative sleep without some of the side effects of pharmaceutical drugs. Two herbs that are commonly used for their gentle sedative and hypnotic actions to help improve sleep include passion flower and lavender.
Here is one of my recipes for a comforting sleepy time latte using passion flower, lavender, and the antioxidant rich maqui berry!
Sleepy Time Latte - Recipe
1 tsp passion flower
1 tsp lavender flowers
Steep in 1.5 cups boiling water for 15 minutes
Pour tea into blender and add:
1 cup almond milk
1 opened capsule of Super Maqui
¼ tsp lavender flowers
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp honey
Blend on high until warm and frothy. Garnish with a few dried lavender flowers and dust with a pinch of maqui berry powder!
Information can be empowering, but we all have unique health profiles and needs. The health-related information contained in this article is intended to be general in nature and should not be used as a substitute for a visit with a licensed naturopathic doctor. The advice in this article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
I'm Dr. Alexia Harris, welcome to my
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