Lil Miss Fitness Freak

"And though she be but little, she is fierce"

Caffeine-Free Buzz…Fitness Friday 16

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My friends!

Welcome back to another round of Fitness Friday! Last week I had mentioned that we were going to discuss something erotic, but of the natural variety and, well, here she is. The star of the discussion today is…

Maca Powder.

This ain’t no one trick pony though, oh no! She doesn’t just help with sexual health, but she may help with a whole host of other things..

BUT before we get into those, lets first explain what the heck this powder is.

What is Maca exactly?

As taken from this book,  Maca is found in South America, Peru specifically, and is a root vegetable that comes from the same family as many coniferous veggies such as cauliflower, turnips, cabbage, and broccoli. It looks very much like a beet in shape (as you can see from the image above). It grows in extremely harsh conditions and apparently the volcanic soils in this environment are very mineral rich, which then lends itself to the superior ‘powers’ of this vegetable.

What was it used for?

Traditionally it was used by the Peruvians for food and medicinal purposes with one of the main uses being a fertility supplement for both men and women. As a food supplement, maca is rich in antioxidants, minerals (such as magnesium, phosphorous, iron, calcium) and fiber and it very easy for the body to digest. This last part made it great for helping to treat those who were malnourished, were elderly or very young (Source).

Random facts from the book once again for this nutrition powerhouse:

~Taking size into perspective, maca actually has more calcium than milk

~Due to the fiber, it helps to keep people regular

~It contains almost 60 different phytonutrients (compounds found in plants that promote good health)

What do we know about it now?

Maca has been found to have quite a number of important properties! Here are some of the major ones that have been identified and actually looked into:

Adaptogen

Very generally speaking, adaptogens are those that support your body’s ability to adapt to stress. A 2008 study by Brook’s and colleagues found that when post-menopausal women were supplemented with 3.5g of maca per day (that is less than a tsp), their psychological scores related to anxiety and depression were significantly lower then the placebo group.

Libido Enhancer 

Sexual desire has also been something that maca appears to enhance. In a study by Stone et al (2009), male athletes were supplemented with maca root or given a placebo and than assessed for changes in sexual desire. Following a 14 day period, those who were supplemented with the maca had significantly higher desire compared to their initial assessment while also being significantly higher then those given the placebo

Fertility 

The Peruvians noticed that not only did maca increase the number of offspring in their cattle, but the same boost in fertility also seemed to show in humans. Although most of more recent studies looking into such effect are in animals (for example here, showing higher sperm counts in male mice, here for increases in litter sizes in females mice), there are a few human studies that show positive effects of maca use in both females and males. A nice review was done of both animal and human studies here.

Other potential benefits?

Help with osteoporosis, used as a natural stimulant, contributes to balancing hormones, possible link to cancer fighting properties, and many more. See here

Of course, we must talk about fitness here, SO what about it’s properties in athletes?

Endurance

Maca has been found to increase stamina and endurance in human subjects. Looking back at the study on male athletes (they were cyclists) by Stone and colleagues, when supplemented with maca, the males significantly improved on their 40km time compared to their baseline testing.

So as you can see, maca has gotten quite a lot of attention for many potential benefits in humans. Although it’s still heavily in the research stage, anecdotal evidence suggests that it does promote well being in people who use it. Completely not necessary for good health, but perhaps something to try as a natural boost to stamina, attention and sexual health.

As to how you use it…

It is strong stuff guys. Most tend to throw it in a smoothie or something to that nature as it’s strong flavour and smell will be more manageable. Otherwise, if you’re willing to take a risk like me and just throw in a shot glass with your other morning concoction ingredients, be my guest. Just start in slow is all I can say.

So that’s that for this week friends. Have a great weekend!

Ever tried maca before?

How do you use it?

-Chelsea

 

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