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March 2022
March 31, 2022 | Issue #143
Adaptogens - What Are They and Who Can Benefit
The Second of a Three-Part Series on Which to Consider and Which to Avoid

Rhodiola Rosea 

Rhodiola Rosea (Rhodiola R.) also known as golden or arctic root, is an herb native to the cold mountainous regions of Europe, China and other parts of the world. Traditionally, this adaptogen was taken to improve a wide range of benefits including longevity, fertility, anxiety, fatigue, depression and stress. It was only recently that Rhodiola made it into the mainstream herbal supplement spotlight and that clients started asking us whether or not they should consider taking it. 

The root of Rhodiola is known to have more than 140 active ingredients, the most potent of which is salidroside. Salidroside stimulates the production of neuropeptide Y, (neuropeptides are chemical messengers that send signals from neuron to neuron in the brain). These neuropeptides act as stress modulators due to their neuroprotective and stress relieving properties. This combination of brain protection and stress reduction can be a powerful one two punch for overworked and stressed out individuals. 

Rhodiola Rosea- Mood and Cognition
Neuropeptide Y acts as a “relaxing” chemical. It contains vasodilating properties -meaning it helps with widening of our blood vessels, which can help decrease blood pressure and create a relaxing effect on the Hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis, just like its Adaptogen family member Ashwagandha! (*If you missed last month's newsletter check here) Rhodiola can also stimulate the production of tryptophan, which is a precursor for serotonin (a “”feel good” chemical), which can lead to decreased symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Rhodiola also appears to be effective in reducing fatigue by lowering the production rate of cortisol, which can alleviate mental exhaustion. Rhodiola Rosea seems to be a good option for those who are dealing with the effects of acute and/or chronic stress and fatigue. 

Rhodiola Rosea - Sports Performance 
Rhodiola has been shown to reduce physical fatigue as well, and may even increase aerobic exercise capacity, as evidenced by several small, preliminary studies. These benefits may be attributed to both flavonoids and salidrosides present in this adaptogenic herb which help our bodies increase nitric oxide secretion. Due to the same vasodilation properties mentioned above, there is an increase in blood flow to the muscles providing them with more oxygen. These properties of Rhodiola could potentially be beneficial for both anaerobic and aerobic athletes looking for an edge.

Traveling Athletes who are visiting high altitude regions for training and/or competition, may benefit from Rhodiola as it is shown to assist the body with acclimatization to higher altitudes. This occurs through the stimulation of erythropoietin production to increase the amount of red blood cells flowing through our body. More studies are needed to understand the effects of chronic use of Rhodiola within a larger sample size. 

Rhodiola Rosea - Dosing

Multiple studies show that the efficacious dose of Rhodiola for both sports performance, mood and cognition should be 150 mg 2 times daily before meals for 300 mg daily.  

Rhodiola Rosea - Other Considerations 
  • Due to effects on blood pressure and serotonin, those taking medications for hypertension, diabetes, anxiety, depression should contact their health provider prior to use. 
  • Pregnant women should avoid taking Rhodiola due to the lack of studies including pregnant women. 
  • Although generally minor, these are good to know facts before you start. There has been documented minor side effects may include dizziness, occasional headaches and either dry or excessive saliva production.
  • Cycling on and off Rhodiola is not necessary as the body does not develop a tolerance to this adaptogen supplement. 
  • More studies on Rhodiola R.’s interactions with other drugs and supplements are needed. 

Final Takeaway for Rhodiola Rosea
Looking through the history of the use of Rhodiola for centuries to combat stress, fatigue, anxiety and depression, recent research seems to support these claims and evidence for use. The bottom line is that this adaptogen may be a good one to consider for those looking to lower their daily stress and fatigue as well as individuals looking to increase their athletic performance. 

Next month, we will continue with our 3 part series on adaptogens with an evaluation of the herbal supplement Peruvian Ginseng, also known as Maca. 
Instagram Live with Lauren and Human Kinetics
Have questions about nutritional needs for athletes? Join Human Kinetics when they host Lauren Antonucci on an Instagram Live to discuss her book High-Performance Nutrition for Masters Athletes and delve deeper into athletic nutrition.

Follow Human Kinetics HERE
Follow Lauren @NutritionEnergy HERE

Have you yet to buy Lauren's book? You can treat yourself by purchasing it HERE
Top 10 Nutrition Changes We’ve Seen Over The Past 20 Years as Dietitians!
March is National Nutrition Month.
In honor of this annual nutrition celebration, we thought it would be fun to do a top 10 on past trends in nutrition to highlight just how far nutrition has come since we started Nutrition Energy.
1.     Gone are the days when nutrition messaging included the mantra that eggs are bad for us because they contain cholesterol. Science has shown and The American Heart Association agrees that dietary cholesterol is not a nutrient of concern and we recommend whole eggs (rather than egg whites) for most, as the yolks contain half of the protein of the egg along with much needed vitamin D, the antioxidant lutein and all nine essential amino acids.
2.     Each of us can and should include foods from our unique cultural background and traditions, despite our health, medical or performance needs. In 2017 the self reported ethnic composition of nutrition and dietetics professionals was reported to be 85% white, 5% Hispanic, 5% Asian, 3% black and 2% other, while 94% identified as female. That said, we are excited to report that there has been a slow and steady rise among Dietitians who are men and of different cultural backgrounds, and are exited to watch our profession continue to diversify and meet the needs of all!
3.    On the topic of fueling athletes, we are excited by the shift from the Female Athlete Triad, (which defined and explained the interconnection between disordered eating, amenorrhea and osteoporosis), to the more inclusive, RED-S, (Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport). RED-S addresses the fact that not only females, but also males and all gender athletes can fall into low energy availability and also expands the definition to include all bodily systems adversely affected by under-fueling, including bone health, slowed metabolism, decreased immune function, poor recovery, impaired muscle protein synthesis, mood disturbance (anxiety/depression) as well as endocrine and cardiac disturbances.
4.    Reject the Diet Mentality! It has now been proven time and time again that dieting and a diet mentality does more harm than good. Consistent dieting increases the risk of developing unhealthy eating patterns and disordered eating and is associated with worse overall health outcomes. Focusing on healthy behaviors and patterns is the best and only way towards true health - both physically and mentally.
5.    Say goodbye to fat-free foods! Fat-free foods were mistakenly marketed as healthier choices than their full-fat counterparts in terms of weight loss and reducing heart disease risk. Thankfully, we have research to prove that low-fat diets may only serve to increase rates of Obesity, CVD, and TG as well as other lipid biomarkers, and that including 25-35% of our daily intake from fats is a good thing!
6.    Carbs are our friend! After screaming it from the rooftops for years, we are thrilled that more people are realizing and understanding that carbohydrates provide us with necessary fuel for our muscles and brain to function, both for everyday functioning and to fuel exercise performance. If you, or anyone you know are still struggling to embrace the necessity of carbs in your life please reach out and we’d happy to explain more and help you realize the beauty of increased energy, mood and performance.
7.     Sugar-free is not all is was cracked up to be. Most individuals, including those with diabetes, do not need to choose sugar free foods. We like to teach that overall nutritional balance is much more important in terms of blood sugar control and overall health. Choosing complex carbs + proteins + fat + fiber at all meals leads to better blood glucose control and better tasting meals too.
8.     Vegetarians and vegans CAN obtain adequate protein -even as athletes. It certainly takes some planning, but including a variety of beans, lentils, nuts, seeds and whole grains with most meals will help you to reap the benefits of consuming a more plant based diet (healthier and more diverse gut microbiome, lower cholesterol and better blood sugar) no matter what your other nutrition and performance goals might include.
9.     "Clean eating” should not be a term! This type of all of nothing thinking literally feeds back into diet mentality and increased guilt about eating and risk of falling into disordered eating patterns including orthorexia. Reject this mentality and learn to eat freely in moderation with no barriers to fuel your body for a healthy lifestyle!
10. Cleanses are not necessary. While cleanses may be heavily marketed and promise everything from weight loss to mental clarity, there is no need for us humans to cleanse and no reason to believe these claims. Furthermore, most cleanses fall far short of meeting your total protein and fat needs required for optimal health and actually serve only to cause muscle breakdown and loss of lean body mass. Skip the cleanses and save your money; and instead focus on eating a wide variety of foods including whole grains, fruits, veggies, beans, lentils nuts, seeds and lean proteins.

The bottom line is that Nutrition is a Science, not an opinion, and while the field of nutrition is constantly evolving, some aspects remain constant. Variety and diversity (among both foods and dietetics professionals) will always be a good idea, as is including all food groups as well as a wide variety of plant foods and avoiding diets and nutrition fads of all kinds. As always, we at Nutrition Energy are here to help you sift through all the BS and focus on what is actually true and practice and that which will help you lead your best life.
A Note From Lauren
The season for new beginnings is upon us. The air is light, flowers are blooming, and we can enjoy the beauty coming alive in the city. Once the variety of colors appear in Central Park, so do the runners, picnic-goers, and cyclists. How can you NOT take advantage of the wonderful weather before the hot, sticky summer descends.

Have you thought about training for any of the upcoming events this year? Make sure to check out the Team in Training and New York Road Runner groups. These two teams provide the support and coaching, as well as the community, wanted and/or needed for any athlete, both beginner and experienced. Make sure to also contact the dietitians here at Nutrition Energy to help you determine your body's fueling needs and plan out your training nutrition!

What are your spring plans? Are you back to traveling? Where are your destinations and what activities are you looking forward to doing? Feel free to reach out to us at our office, or on Twitter @NutritionEnergy, Instagram @NutritionEnergy and @NutritionEnergy_Fuels, or Facebook!

Lauren Antonucci
Nutrition Energy