This Hot Chocolate can help you Survive the Holidays…and possibly improve your performance.
Doesn’t it seem like the holiday season begins earlier and earlier each year? As stores fill their shelves with festive gear months in advance, I find my stress levels rise. In October, yes – October, I start asking myself questions like – “Oh my, am I ready for the season yet? Who do I have to buy for? Do I have enough snowsuits, mitts and hats for everyone in the family? What are we going to eat? Oh, the eating. Read on for one of my favourite health tips to help you Survive the Season.
CHAGA HOT CHOCOLATE and CORDYCEP TEA.
I have a sweet tooth. Instead of completely denying myself, I will swap out a regular sugar-laden hot chocolate with an immune-boosting Chaga Hot Chocolate. Single-use sachets or powdered form can be found at specialty tea shops. Four Sigmatic Mushroom Hot Cacao mix is just one company that offers this delicious option. They even have Ginger and Cordyceps Tea combinations to help settle your tummy.
What’s so great about Chaga and Cordyceps?
- Stress and Immune:
Both Chaga and Cordyceps are adaptogenic mushrooms that can help an immune system adapt to the onslaught of activities and feasting during the holidays. The primary mechanism of an adaptogen is to aid in the modulation of stress. Cortisol is not always the bad guy. It is what drives busy people and athletes to success. It is when the chronic release of cortisol becomes fatiguing that leads to stress. The management of stress allows athletes to remain healthy and to sustain a high level of training[i].
This fungus can also help elevate your mood with its antidepressant-like activity[ii]. This attribute is particularly helpful during our long, dark winter months where many Canadians suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder or SADS causing a lowering of mood from November to March.
- Respiratory Illnesses and Energy:
Cordyceps has been known to treat respiratory illness and fatigue. This may partially be due to the extracts ability to increase ATP ratios in the liver (seen in mice)[iii]. It is an excellent source of bioactive metabolites with more than 21 clinically approved benefits on human health including blood sugar and anti-aging support[iv].
How do mushrooms like Chaga and Cordyceps relate to my performance?
Cordyceps hit the headlines in 1993 when runners from China blew up world records in track. According to their coach, Ma Junren, the secret to their remarkable athletic performance was caterpillar fungi (and yes, this is where Cordyceps is from)! Although the coach was later found to be giving these athletes illegal performance-enhancing drugs, the fungus itself is quite real[v].
Interesting fact – Tibetan Sherpas make tea from this caterpillar fungus and claim it allows them to climb Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen. Because the mushroom only grows at high altitudes, researchers theorize Cordyceps Sinensis has unique blood-oxygenating properties[vi] and can enhance aerobic performance[vii]. This quest leads to research that has shown Cordyceps extracts to have the capacity to increase motor coordination via increased muscle endurance or anti-fatigue like activity[viii]. Researchers conclude that improving lactate clearance allows athletes greater anaerobic performance[ix].
Who is Chaga and Cordyceps not for?
Chaga comes with a caution in those with kidney stones, gout and fibromyalgia as its high anti-oxidant counts also come with high oxylates.
Cordyceps can increase your risk of bleeding so it is important to avoid this pre and post surgery[x].
As you may have heard me say before, my goal is to help my patients become STONGER INSIDE. Optimal functioning organ systems leave us feeling healthy and strong. If you have questions about Adaptogenic Herbs or would like to embark on the adventure of becoming STRONGER INSIDE, I invite you to book a Complimentary 15 minute Meet and Greet appointment to see if we are the right fit!
Dr. Jennifer Tanner, has a broad, evidence-based practice with a focus on sports and performance-based medicine. Being a marathon runner and having been a competitive equestrian, an active lifestyle is important. Dr. Tanner uses a variety of tools including Acupuncture and Clinical Nutrition, putting an emphasis on “food as medicine” and addressing the root causes of inflammation. In conjunction with the Integrative Health team, Dr. Tanner is thrilled to help people achieve an optimal state of health and pursue their performance based health goals!
As with any recommendation, this information is intended as educational and does not replace medical advice. It is important to discuss any changes with your primary health care provider.
[iii] Noboru Manabe et. Al.; Effects of the Mycelial Extract of Cultured Cordyceps Sinensis on In Vivo Hepatic Energy Metabolism in the Mouse. Japanese Journal of Pharmacology 70, 85-88 (1996).
[iv] Medicinal uses of the mushroom Cordyceps militaris: current state and prospects. Das SK, Masuda M, Sakurai A, Sakakibara M
Fitoterapia. 2010 Dec; 81(8):961-8.
[ix] Burke, Edmund R. Herbs Enhance Lactate Metabolism. Nutrition Science News, V.3; N.9 P. 458 (1998)