Maca, especially in the black variant, can be an aid to counteract inflammation and free radicals caused by physical activity and to improve muscle strength and endurance. These results emerge from research published in the scientific journal Nutrients by a Korean team (Lee et al, Nutrients, March 2023).
The properties of maca
Maca, scientific name Lepidium meyenii, is a plant that grows at more than 4000 m in the Peruvian Andes. The part of the maca used to make remedies and supplements is the tuber that grows under the ground and looks like a turnip. Maca is rich in fiber, provides amino acids, fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamin C, copper, iron and calcium. There are several varieties of maca that are distinguished by color, namely black, yellow and red. In general, black maca has the highest antioxidant power. Previous studies had already had the opportunity to show that taking maca can bring benefits in athletes and in those who practice some form of physical activity in general, improving performance. It is believed that maca acts at the level of the mitochondria, which are the cellular organelles responsible for producing energy for the cell, hence the benefits found. The study we are talking about today has explored this very interesting topic, evaluating the action of black maca in the event of intense physical activity both in terms of inflammation and free radicals circulating following physical exercise and in terms of muscle function. In fact, physical activity, however beneficial it is for the body and mind, always increases inflammation and free radicals due to muscle damage. This takes a few days to recover and let the muscles regenerate. Clearly the aim is to reduce as much as possible the damage to the muscles and the inflammatory response, which, it must be said, is observed, albeit to a lesser extent, even in the case of well-trained athletes. In fact, regular physical exercise stimulates the ability to adapt of the body, resulting in the reduction, but not elimination, of inflammation and free radicals. Faster recovery reduces the risk of injury.
Maca strengthens muscles and fights inflammation, the study
Scientists recruited 44 athletes from various disciplines, including tennis and swimming. The volunteers were asked to take a 2500 mg capsule of black maca twice a day for 2 months. Before and at the end of the experiment, the volunteers underwent blood tests and tests to evaluate muscle function. What emerged is that black maca actually reduced the values of circulating pro-inflammatory substances. Not only that, maca also significantly improved muscular endurance, muscle strength, agility and flexibility.
Based on the study we discussed today, maca appears to be a valid supplement for protecting muscles and their functionality and for counteracting the effects of physical activity such as inflammation and free radicals. It should be emphasized once again that physical exercise is beneficial but both in the case of intense and non-intense training, in untrained and also trained people, physical activity causes muscle damage with an increase in inflammation and free radicals. This is a physiological response but it should be reduced as much as possible to avoid overtraining and the risk of trauma and injury. Maca helps by reducing free radicals and inflammation, while increasing muscle strength and endurance. Not only that, maca also improves agility, thus reducing the risk of falls.
Therefore, it is clear that maca can help everyone. The study was limited to analyzing the effects of maca on athletes but, given that this remedy improves recovery capacity after a session of physical exercise, agility and flexibility, maca can also bring benefits to those who practice physical activity only at an amateur level and for their own health.
Maca, how to take it and warnings
The black maca is found in herbalist's and chemist's shops, in the form of powder or capsules. For intake, follow the instructions on the package. Maca can rarely cause mild side effects, such as headaches and gastrointestinal symptoms. Avoid maca during pregnancy and breastfeeding, ask your doctor for advice if you are taking medicines and in any case do not take it for more than 2-3 months.