5 Superfood Powders Everyone Should Know About + Postpartum Healing

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Thanks to the Internet, we live in a day where we have access to a host of amazing superfoods and herbs from around the world. We are seriously so blessed to be able to reap the benefits of such supplements in our daily lives. There are six special powders I want to talk about today. I've done a bunch of research and I'm excited to share my findings with you all! I hope you learn something new!

Anyways, a bit of background. I've had a long road to health, post-baby number two. I had an inflamed uterus, a couple of minor stitches, a haemorrhoid and a seriously sore body! After having a baby, it's a massive hormonal rollercoaster. Progesterone decreases, inflammation increases (from the trauma of giving birth), stress can kick in (you have another life completely dependent upon you) and the amount of restorative sleep you get seriously decreases (especially with a 3-year-old around). I'm not trying to paint a negative picture of motherhood, just trying to be real with you all.  Everyone will have a different experience, but as any mother would know its no walk in the park. Actually, there has been very little walking at all as I was on bed rest for the first two to three weeks, patiently waiting for my body to heal. As part of my healing process, I've been taking these kick-ass powders. Together they offer hormonal support, reduce inflammation, provide a rich concoction of vitamins and minerals, offer immune support, reduce stress and promote quality of sleep and the list goes on! 

To explain a little further about my healing journey, my uterus had an infection - but my super-charged body got rid of the infection on its own. I had a number of blood tests and swabs which showed my body was fighting the infection itself and I didn't need antibiotics (which was a relief to hear!). I'm not going to attribute this to any specific superfood, but I will say I did as much as I could to let my immune system heal my body by eating nourishing plant-foods, taking supportive supplements, getting plenty of rest and water, and listening to my body (I literally laid in bed for two weeks!). 

 

Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is a powerful multipurpose herb with adaptogenic properties - an adaptogen is a natural substance which helps the body adapt to stress. It works on several systems in the body at once including the immune, endocrine, neurologic and reproductive.  It's been used in India, Middle East and some parts of North Africa for more than two millennia. In Ayurveda, the traditional system of medicine practised in India, Ashwagandha is recognized as one of the most powerful herbs. I found it hilarious that the name can be directly translated to mean “the smell of a horse.” Apparently, the root itself actually smells like horse. Luckily, the one I bought from iHerb doesn't have any smell at all. Another way of looking at it is that upon consuming it, you’ll have “the vigour and strength of a stallion.” This is also a reference to its use as an aphrodisiac, supporting healthy sexual function for both men and women.

Ashwagandha's health benefits:

1. It's an immune boosting herb 

2. Rich in minerals such as zinc, calcium, iron, and copper

3. Improves brain function 

4. Supports healthy thyroid function which can increase endurance, energy, and help promote a balanced sleep cycle. 

5. Significantly reduces stress and lowers cortisol levels

Ashwagandha is a well-studied herb that is extremely effective especially at balancing hormones. When you think of the many ways that stress affects every system in your body, it’s easy to see how Ashwagandha can influence the rest of the body as well.

As I'm just starting my breastfeeding journey with my second child, I did a lot of research on whether Ashwagandha is safe for breastfeeding mothers. I found it was recommended by Alicia C. Simpson, MS, RD, IBCLC, LD in her book Boost Your Breastmilk: An All-In-One Guide for Nursing Mothers to Build a Healthy Milk Supply. In the book, Alicia says:

Though it hasn’t been shown to have any specific lac­togenic properties, it’s a godsend to breastfeeding mothers who are experiencing stress. In clini­cal studies, 300 mg (twice a day of ashwagandha extract significantly reduced stress in study partici­pants. Not only did the participants who received ashwagandha feel a greater relief of their overall stress and an increase in their quality of life, but their cortisol levels were significantly lower.

Here is a link to the one I have purchased.

 

Mushrooms 

Mushrooms are magical and medicinal!

I've only just started learning about mushrooms and I'm amazed at how few people know how good they are for you! I've just ordered a whole heap of books on mushrooms at my local library - and I can't wait to learn and share more soon. But for now, I'll jot down what I have learned so far! I highly recommend listening to Rich Roll's Podcast on mushrooms. You can listen to it here. 

We tend to think of mushrooms as a pizza topping. Something we toss in a salad. Or a psychedelic to alter consciousness. But that’s pretty much where the inquiry ends.
However, mushrooms are so much more. In fact, they comprise an entire kingdom. Invisibly surrounding us, they underpin the very foundation of our ecology, impacting us in ways far beyond our appreciation.
It may surprise you to learn that mushrooms account for an astonishing 25% of the Earth’s total biomass. 92% of all plants are dependent upon mushrooms for their survival. 40% of all pharmaceuticals contain some form of mushroom. And, quite incredibly, 85% of human RNA and 50% of human DNA is shared with fungi.
Mushrooms are also woefully under-appreciated when it comes to promoting health, fighting illness, buttressing longevity, enhancing memory and even boosting libido. Indeed, when properly understood and utilized, mushrooms hold the capacity to change your life in an immediate, powerful, and exponentially beneficial manner. - Rich Roll Podcast.

One of particular interest is the Reishi mushroom - it's one of the most studied medicinal mushrooms. Some of its active ingredients produce the following effects on the body: 

1. Regulatory effect on the immune system, raising immune function

2. Stress-relieving and calming - also supports good sleep

2. Liver protective 

3. Improves circulation

4. Protective against free radicals, anti-inflammatory, anti-stress, anti-fatigue

5. Mineral-rich - packed with phosphorus, silica, sulfur, potassium, calcium, and magnesium

Now, again with the whole breastfeeding thing, I have done my research and found there are not many clinical studies to show the effects Reishi has on breastmilk. In Alicia's book Boost Your Breastmilk: An All-In-One Guide for Nursing Mothers to Build a Healthy Milk Supply she says mushrooms aren't typically regarded as lactogenic foods, however, they are a good source of polysaccharide beta-glucan - which have been found to help boost healthy milk. She recommends eating the following certain types of mushrooms if you are breastfeeding: Reishi, shiitake, maitake, shimeji and oyster mushrooms. 

I am currently adding Reishi mushroom powder into my morning smoothie and am looking forward to exploring the use of other medicinal mushrooms into my superfood arsenal in the future.

 

Maca Powder

Maca root powder is also an adaptogen (a natural substance that helps the body adapt to stresses) like mushrooms and ashwagandha. Maca is actually a member of the cruciferous family, like broccoli and cabbage, but it's considered a superfood due to its extra special properties. Some of these properties include supporting your endocrine system with research showing it increases fertility in both men and women. Along with helping to balance your hormones, maca boosts your immune system, increases energy, as well as also containing a good amount of absorbable nutrients. It's traditionally been used to enhance fertility and sex drive. 

  • Very good source of vitamin C, iron and copper and a good source of vitamin B6, potassium and manganese
  • It also contains many bioactive plant compounds, including glucosinolates and polyphenols

I take a small amount of maca every day to help support my hormones. Here's a link to the one I've purchased. 

 

Hawaiian Spirulina

My absolute favourite powder of them all: Hawaiian Spirulina! I've already raved about how amazing this superfood is in my What Supplements I'm taking during my Vegan Pregnancy blog post. Just in case you missed it, I have included a bit of a recap and some additional facts about it.

Spirulina is a spiral-shaped, blue-green microalgae. Unlike seaweed, spirulina is actually one-celled organisms that grow naturally in the wild in freshwater lakes, natural springs, and saltwater. 

Spirulina has been referred to as a "superfood" for many years because it's packed with nutrients, delivering a variety of vitamins, minerals, calcium, iron and protein in just one teaspoon. It's also high in antioxidants, which are nutrients that support longevity and a healthy immune system. 

For centuries, civilisations around the world have cultivated and cherished spirulina for its health-improving benefits. The Aztecs harvested the microalgae from Lake Texcoco in Mexico. The native people in Chad, Africa, harvested the microalgae as a staple of their daily diet because of its concentrated nutritional value and prolific growth in the pure saltwater lakes of the region. 

"As a show me the science doctor, I was extremely pleased to find out that there are hundreds of medical research studies showing a wide range of health benefits from Hawaiian Spirulina - from supporting cardiovascular health to simply boosting people's everyday energy levels". - William Sears, M.D. 
  • Spirulina is very high in bioavailable iron, making it beneficial to those with anaemia or pregnancy, with reduced risk of constipation
  • Gram for gram it has 280% more antioxidants than blueberries, 600% more protein than tofu and 3900% more iron than spinach
  • Spirulina is a good source of vitamins B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (nicotinamide), B6 (pyridoxine), B9 (folic acid), B12 (cobalamin), vitamin E, and vitamin K1 and K2
  • It is also a source of potassium, chromium, copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, and zinc

Spirulina also: 

  • Detoxes Heavy metals out of your body 
  • Helps prevent cancer 
  • Boosts energy 
  • Alleviates sinus issues 

If you are interested in trying out spirulina as part of your diet, I highly recommend buying the Hawaiian Spirulina - I purchase mine from here

 

Barley Grass Juice Powder

The king of green powders, barley grass juice powder is one of the best natural nutritional supplements. It's made from the juice extracted from barley grass and even though it's not a pill, it can be considered a multivitamin. The juice powder is a 100% naturally occurring source of healthful phytonutrients including Superoxide Dismutase (SOD), hundreds of live bioactive enzymes and chlorophyll. It's packed with vitamins, minerals and amino acids that will help boost your immune system. 

  • High vitamin K for healthy teeth and bones 
  • Twenty amino acids, making it a complete source of highly-absorbable plant-based protein
  • Highly alkalising - helps buffer acids and alkalise the body 
  • Helps regulate the bowels
  • According to The Synergy Company, barley grass juice powder contains SOD, which is a "super" hero when it comes to protecting cells from free radical damage
  • It also contains another rare natural enzyme is P4D1, a potent enzyme for healthy cell repair

Here is a link to the one I have purchased.

 

how to add superfoods to your day 

You may be wondering how I consume all these powders on a daily basis. I actually add all of them, if not most of them to my morning smoothie as they are all in powder form. If you aren't a fan of some of these powdered products there are capsulated versions you can purchase on iHerb for each superfood. Even though they are more expensive, capsules provide an easy, fast way of taking a supplement without the need of adding it to a smoothie or a meal. 

Here is a rough recipe of my morning superfood smoothie:

 

Black Elixir Superfood Smoothie

1/2 cup frozen wild blueberries
4 frozen (ripe spotted) bananas
Handful of greens (spinach, kale or silverbeet from my garden)
5 pitted dates
2 tablespoons of chia seeds or flaxseeds
1-2 teaspoons Hawaiian Spirulina
1/2 teaspoon Maca Root Powder
1 teaspoon Reishi mushroom powder
1 1/2 Barley Grass Juice Powder
1/8 teaspoon Ashwagandha Root Powder
Filtered water - as much as you need

Blend all ingredients in a high-speed blender.

Get a discount off of your iHerb order by using my Rewards Code BND662 or by shopping from my links below.

Products mentioned:

  • Organic Ashwagandha Root Powder
  • Reishi, Mushroom Powder
  • Raw Organic Maca Powder
  • Hawaiian Spirulina Pacifica, Nature’s Multi-Vitamin, Powder
  • Barley Grass Juice Powder

This blog post is sponsored by iHerb - the online store where I buy supplements, superfood and some grocery items. Thanks iHerb!

 

Resources: 

Ashwagandha:
Ashwagandha Ancient History

Mushrooms: 
Rich Roll Podcast - Tero Isokauppila - The magical, mysterious, health-promoting properties of fungi
Reishi Mushrooms for cancer treatment  
Reishi as a medicinal Mushroom

Spirulina: 
Hawaiian Spirulina by Gerald R. Cysewski, Ph.D. 
Dr. Sears on Spirulina
Dr. Axe on Spirulina benefits

Barley Grass Juice Powder: 
The Synergy Company - Barley Grass Juice Powder

Maca: 
Glucosinolates: bioavailability and importance to health.
Glucosinolate contents in Maca