Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Shakeology, What is it?


Hello everyone, today I am trying something new and writing a different kind of post. I haven't done any product reviews or endorsements yet but I came across a product that has such incredible nutritional benefits that I felt I had to spread the word and write about it. This is not a paid endorsement. I really believe that Shakeology is a revolutionary product, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking to improve their health or lose weight, and reading about its nutritional benefits should be very informative for anyone who takes the time.



Shakeology, What is it?


So, you may have heard the term before, you may know someone who's tried it, you may have even tried it yourself but do you really know what Shakeology is? Well, after reading this post you will! I will be going through the ingredients one by one and talking about the many health benefits of each but before that I want to talk a little about whole foods, digestion, and nutrition. This will help to explain the superior quality of Shakeology versus other similar products.

Whole Foods

What does this term mean and why does it matter? Whole foods are food products that have not been overly processed to remove certain parts of the plant. This means that they are not extracted, isolated, synthesized or otherwise processed to remove nutritional benefits. They are also free from artificial additives. Whole foods are natural and complete and are more nutrient dense than processed foods and are digested very differently than their individual components would be alone. Studies have shown that the body absorbs more nutrients from whole foods as the complex combination of compounds present work together to increase nutritional uptake. What this means is that all those supplements that are singular extracts are very inefficiently absorbed by the body and the majority of the nutritional benefit is lost. Same thing with most multi-vitamins. The actual amount of vitamins and minerals absorbed by the body is usually very low. 

This is why Shakeology is an infinitely more valuable daily dose of nutrition than a multi-vitamin or supplement regime. It not only contains similar amounts of vitamins and minerals but those nutrients are presented in whole food form and are much more efficiently absorbed. On top of that, there are all of the micro-nutrients present in whole foods that have a wide variety of health benefits, many of which are still being discovered. Shakeology is packed with compounds such as antioxidants and adaptogens that are known to have many health benefits, such as preventing cancer and helping with stress, energy and mood regulation.




Ingredients


In their description of the product, they break down the ingredients into categories but for my analysis I will be going through the ingredient list in order of appearance. Bear with me here because this is going to be a long list with a lot of information:
  • Whey protein- This first ingredient is technically an isolated mix of proteins and would not qualify as a "whole food" however, whey protein contains a great assortment of essential amino acids and is around 90% protein meaning it comes with very few extra calories. It is also one of the best sources of protein for encouraging muscle growth do to its high levels of leucine, an amino acid that stimulates muscle protein synthesis, and the increase anabolic hormones that stimulate muscle growth.
  • Pea protein- This complements the whey as another great source of protein with the added benefit of being the most hypoallergenic of the common protein powders. Pea protein contains an almost complete set of amino acids and is probably the best plant-based protein source.
  • Chia seeds- Chia seeds are a whole-grain food that can be absorbed by the body as seeds (unlike other seeds that need to be ground). These seeds are an excellent source of dietary fiber, omega-3 fats, protein, vitamins and minerals. In addition, chia seeds have the highest antioxidant activity of any whole food! Chia seeds are so packed with fiber that one serving can provide the recommended fiber intake for the day.
  • Flax seeds- Flax seeds are highly nutritious seeds that have been a part of the human diet for thousands of years and may have been the world's first cultivated superfood. They are the richest source of plant-based omega-3 fats in the world and also the highest source of lignans in human diets, containing about 7 times as many as the runner-up, sesame seeds. Lignans are a unique antioxidant that also support probiotic growth in the gut and have anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. This suggests that a diet rich in flax may reduce the number or severity of illnesses such as colds and flus. It is one of the most nutrient dense foods and is also high in fiber and protein.
  • Quinoa- Quinoa is an ancient grain and is one of the few natural sources that contains all nine essential amino acids. Once again, it is also high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Specifically, it is a great source of magnesium, a mineral that most people are deficient in resulting in leg cramps, muscle pain, insomnia and anxiety.
  • Sacha Inchi- This seed looks like a nut and is the best plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids and might even be a better source of these incredibly beneficial fats than salmon. These seeds are loaded with protein and fiber much like the others above and has significant anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Chlorella- Chlorella is a blue-green algae and is one of the most nutrient dense foods with similar but higher nutritional content to leafy greens like kale and spinach. It is incredibly high in vitamin A, iron, and zinc and also contains a good amount of B vitamins and other minerals. One of its best qualities is its ability to detoxify the body from things like heavy metals and radiation. Regular consumption of chlorella can actually prevent heavy metals from accumulating in the bodies' tissues and it has been shown to protect the body against radiation treatments while removing radioactive particles from the body. 
  • Chicory root- The root of this plant contains fiber as well as small amounts of nearly every vitamin making it a great addition to any diet but its real strength comes from its pre and probiotic properties. It contains a rare prebiotic vital to the immune system that stimulates the growth and activity of probiotics which improve digestive health by working to balance digestive flora. This in turn helps the body digest and absorb all other nutrients more efficiently.
  • Rose hips- This is the fruit of the rose plant and is full of a variety of antioxidants providing numerous health benefits. Benefits such as preventing cancer and heart disease. They also contain high amounts of vitamin C which boosts the immune system. This gives rose hips the ability to help prevent a wide variety of diseases.
  • Yacon root- This tuber is similar to potatoes but is mostly composed of an indigestible form of fructose and water resulting in very low caloric content. This unique property provides anti-hyperglycemic effects. Meaning instead of the body absorbing its simple sugars it actually lowers the level of glucose production in the liver and lowers fasting glucose rates. An important benefit for people with diabetes. It also contains prebiotic materials which help to regulate digestive health.
  • Acerola cherry/camu camu- These are two different but similar Amazonian berries that are very low in calories and incredibly high in vitamin C. These berries possess the highest vitamin C content for any fruit/berry. They also contain a variety of other anti-oxidant compounds in significantly high levels.
  • Astragalus root- This root has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years and is a powerful immune system booster. It falls into the class of adaptogens which are compounds that are active in the brain to help reduce stress. This is accomplished by reducing inflammation, reducing blood pressure, and maintaining the cardiovascular system through specific antioxidant properties. It has also been shown to aid in repair of damaged tissues, reducing scarring and promoting healing in wounds.
  • Bilberry/blueberries- These berries are related and widely known for their health benefits. These benefits stem from super-high antioxidant content that helps with the treatment of diabetes and preventing heart disease. Bilberries in particular are greatly beneficial to eye health and have been shown to improve night vision, help heal damage to the retina, and protect against macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataracts.
  • Cordyceps- This is a type of mushroom that has long been known to have powerful health benefits. It increases immune function and can help fight cancer and immunological disorders. It also falls in the adaptogen category and helps fight fatigue, muscle aches and weakness by improving blood flow and reducing inflammation. This has been shown to improve physical and sexual endurance as well as helping to alleviate symptoms of respiratory illnesses such as asthma.
  • Lycium/Goji berry- These berries are considered one of the most nutritional foods in existence and are also packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. These may also benefit eye health especially helping to prevent diabetic retinopathy. It also helps with weight management and energy regulation by increasing metabolic rates.
  • Chaga- This fungus doesn't look like other mushrooms but it packs a powerful beneficial punch. People who incorporate chaga into their diets have been shown to have significantly greater life spans and extremely low rates of cancer. This is due to its potent cocktail of antioxidants and other therapeutic compounds. It has the unique property of being able to stimulate immune response while simultaneously reducing inflammation unlike most medications. Chaga contains multiple anti-cancer compounds and has been proven to help prevent and treat a wide variety of cancers. It is also an adaptogen and helps with stress management.
  • Ashwagandha root- This plant is another adaptogen that also helps regulate blood sugar levels in both healthy people and those with diabetes and has shown to be as effective in lowering fasting blood sugar levels as some oral diabetes medications. It may also have anti-cancer effects by promoting the death of tumor cells and preventing the spread of cancer to other organs.
  • Maitake/reishi mushrooms- These mushrooms contain high amounts of vitamin D and have known cancer fighting properties. They may also help prevent neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's by stimulating cognitive activity and nerve growth as well as reducing inflammation and improving blood flow in the brain.
  • Bacillus coagulans- This is a beneficial type of bacteria that acts as a probiotic. It helps with digestive issues such as IBS/IBD and other disorders by promoting the growth of healthy bacteria in the digestive system.
  • Maca root- This is another adaptogen that helps the body maintain hormonal balance which improves mood and energy levels. It is also very high in calcium, even more than milk. Maca is especially beneficial for women as it helps regulate estrogen levels which improves the symptoms of PMS, menopause and polycystic ovary syndrome. It also has been shown to improve mood and increase sexual libido in women possibly through its effects on balancing adrenal and thyroid hormone production. For men, it may help to improve prostate health, sperm production, mobility and volume which can significantly improve fertility.
  • Schisandra berry- Another superfood/adaptogen berry, schisandra has a high concentration of antioxidant compounds. It contains unique cancer preventing lignans and other compounds that reduce inflammation, balance hormones and encourage cardiovascular health. It has extensive benefits for liver health and can even help to reverse damage and disease by cleansing the liver and helps liver transplant patients' bodies by helping them accept the new liver and decreasing side effects.
  • Luo han guo- This is a fruit that has long been used as a natural sweetener and sugar substitute. It is similar to stevia extract in that it has virtually no calories, doesn't affect blood sugar, and does not feed pathogens like candida.
  • Moringa oleifera- The leaves of this tree are used which contain a variety of vitamins and minerals and minor amounts of protein. It is rich in a variety of antioxidants, helps lower blood sugar, reduces inflammation, lowers cholesterol and may protect against arsenic toxicity.
And to be honest, there are a couple more ingredients that are much more common, don't have significant health effects, or are specific flavorings (cocoa powder, stevia, Himalayan pink salt, etc.) and I didn't include them in this list but, as you can see, there is a lot going on in this product. I applaud you for getting through that long list of uncommon but highly nutritious ingredients. Keep in mind that I did not even come close to listing all of the possible benefits of even one of these ingredients. Much more research needs to be done to identify and study the numerous beneficial compounds in every single one of these. 



So, what is Shakeology?


Shakeology is a powdered combination of all of those amazing superfoods sourced from all over the world in convenient and delicious ready to use form. It is all minimally processed and they tell you exactly what part of each plant they used on the label, the seed, root, fruit, leaf, etc. It provides you with an otherwise impossible mix of superfoods from around the globe that help prevent or treat nearly every ailment that exists. Each ingredient has unique compounds that provide numerous health benefits both known and unknown. Most have a long history of use and mountains of historical and research data to support their benefits. 

While doing my research for this article I read through those mountains of information and certain patterns emerged. One very noticeable one was the longevity and lack of cancer among the local populations that have incorporated one or several of these superfoods into their diets. Combining all of these rare and amazing foods can only have a similar, if not superior, effect and I believe the creators had this in mind when they put together this complex and wonderful product. 

One of my smoothies. I like to
add peanut butter and banana to the chocolate flavor.


My Experience


I've personally been using Shakeology, chocolate flavor, for the last month and plan on continuing. I was extremely skeptical of the product at first and had pretty much dismissed it entirely until my girlfriend, Heather, decided to become a Beachbody coach and she tried it. I am obviously very interested in health and nutrition, so when her first bag came in, I had to check it out. I got lost in that label and my subsequent research for quite some time, and was so impressed that, within a couple of weeks, I ordered some for myself. I am a very healthy and active person, I eat a very nutritious diet, and don't have any chronic ailments, thankfully, but I have still noticed some improvements in my health. I used to have chronic heartburn and, years ago, I made improvements to my diet and have managed to reduce it to only rare occasions, like when I eat pizza, but not since I have been using Shakeology. No matter what I eat or drink. I also have noticeably less cravings for junk food and sweets and feel much more satisfied throughout the day. 


Well, that's my take on Shakeology. If you are interested in trying it out, or want even more information, you can email us at chefingaroundblog@gmail.com and we can help you with that!

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