If it seems like mushrooms are turning up in more recipes and products than ever before—you aren’t imagining things. Increasingly health-conscious consumers are becoming aware of the incredible health benefits that mushrooms offer. The fungi’s umami flavor profile and meaty texture make it a favorite of many home chefs looking for vegetarian replacements for animal proteins in their dishes. Mushrooms offer quite a bit more in the way of health benefits than a delicious meat alternative.
Eastern cultures have long understood the medicinal benefits of mushrooms and relied on them for centuries to support detoxification and increase longevity and qi. Western medicine lagged but has made great strides with approximately 40% of Western medicines using functional mushrooms in medicines such as penicillin, statin drug therapy, and anti-cancer treatments.
The Healing Power of Mushrooms
If you are asking, “Are mushrooms good for healing?” The answer is a definite yes. All mushrooms have unique properties that support overall health and wellness.
One theory behind the healing power of mushrooms is that mushroom DNA is more like mammal and human DNA than it is like plants. With a digestive system that mirrors that of humans, mushrooms can absorb and remove cell waste. This assists them in their roles as adaptogens, supporting the immune system and functioning as a prebiotic to support gut health.
Mushrooms contain beta-glucans, which boost your immune system. Polysaccharides such as lentinan offer potent anti-tumor properties present in functional mushrooms. They are also super immunity boosters and help support rejuvenated cell production. Anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, and anti-bacterial, fungi are the best source of vitamin D for anyone following a vegan diet.
What Are Functional Mushrooms?
There are approximately 2,000 species of medicinal or edible mushrooms. Of these, there are 15 species considered functional. These mushrooms have benefits that go beyond nutrition, offering comprehensive health support and promoting general wellbeing. Adding functional mushrooms for wellness can strengthen the functioning of your immune system, aid in digestion, help balance your energy levels, keep stress in check, improve mental clarity, and improve skin health.
There is also a considerable amount of research regarding the cancer-fighting abilities of many functional mushrooms. When shitakes are used to support chemotherapy in cancer, the survival rate increases notably.
Functional mushrooms are available in tinctures, capsules, and powdered forms that make them easy to incorporate into smoothies, meal toppings, and the increasingly popular mushroom latté. You can find snacks such as Shrooms Mushroom Jerky made with shitake and portabella mushrooms that are not just delicious, but nutritious. Additionally, you can find several medicinal mushrooms available fresh from your grocer, including shiitakes, portabellas, oyster mushrooms, and maitakes, among others.
Although all edible mushrooms provide a great way to boost your intake of important vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and prebiotics to support your health, there are a few functional mushrooms that are especially potent for wellness.
Mushrooms for Wellness
Research into the use of mushrooms as medicine has only begun to scratch the surface. As more trials use these natural antioxidant powerhouses to support cancer treatments and overall wellness, the list of functional mushrooms will likely grow. The current selection includes exotic mushrooms like reishi, cordyceps, and chaga, as well as more familiar species such as maitake, turkey tail, lion’s mane, and shitake mushrooms.
Each of these fungi is high in antioxidants, vitamins like B and D that provide immunity support and hormone balancing, and fibrous material that supports gastro health. They each offer unique benefits that can support a healthy lifestyle and increase your longevity.
What are Mushrooms Good for Healthwise?
Mushrooms offer a wide array of health benefits in a small package. They are readily available and can easily be added into your daily meals or used in supplement form. The following are just a few of the benefits mushrooms offer for overall wellness.
For your body to function at its optimal level, you need to have a strong immune system able to combat the daily stressors that result in inflammation and chronic disease. Which mushroom is best for inflammation? There are quite a few.
Chaga mushrooms are one of the most sought-after mushrooms due to their high levels of natural antioxidants. Beta-glucans and triterpenes help fight inflammation, lower bad cholesterol, fight aging, and reduce inflammation.
Turkey tail mushrooms also contain high levels of beta-glucans. They can aid in fighting viral infections such as the flu. Their ability to support the body’s immune response has made them useful in supporting cancer treatments.
Shiitake mushrooms have unique properties that combat inflammation and support liver function. This functional mushroom also supports a healthy heart and circulatory system by lowering blood pressure and reducing bad cholesterol. Studies have found that shitake mushrooms can help prevent tumors and reduce cancer growth.
Mental Clarity & Energy Boost
If you are looking for increased mental clarity and a reduction in brain fog, look no further than lion’s mane mushrooms. These mushrooms provide support for your brain’s cells and nervous system by encouraging new cell growth to protect and support the myelin sheath that surrounds your nerves. Studies show that if this sheath is weak or damaged, there is a greater risk for brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s or dementia.
If an energy boost is what you’re after, then cordyceps mushrooms are the ones for you. Cordyceps are adaptogens, making them powerful aids in the body’s ability to combat environmental stressors by activating cell level energy production.
These special fungi are not only known for their ability to increase energy levels but are also an athletic performance and libido enhancer. This may be due to the benefits it provides to the respiratory and circulatory systems. Adding this mushroom to your post-workout smoothie can help in muscle recovery time and reduce fatigue.
Energy Balance and Sleep Support
Reishi mushrooms are nature’s own antidepressant medicine. If you are in search of a natural way to calm your mind, relax, and get a great night’s sleep, then look for a powdered form of this mushroom to add to your evening tea. Reishi mushrooms help the body balance hormone levels and aid in the reduction of cortisol. This, in turn, supports the body’s ability to recover from daily stress and can increase longevity.
Healthy Skin and Gastro Health
If you are interested in maintaining that youthful glow, add an extra handful of shiitakes to your next pasta dish, or better yet, grab a bag of mushroom snacks for movie night. Shiitakes are used in traditional eastern medicine to heal the skin and provide support for qi. They also are strong allies in combating inflammation from stressors that can damage your skin.
Chaga mushrooms have properties that help neutralize the impact of damage done to cells by free radicals. This can reduce the effects of aging on the body, especially the skin. They also are useful in supporting gastro health, in part due to their prebiotic properties. Maitake mushrooms are an important aid to gastro health. They not only aid in digestion, but they can also help improve insulin production and glucose levels.
As you can see, mushrooms offer a world of health benefits and are a delicious way to add vital nutrients to your menu. At South Mills Champs, we offer a wide variety of ways to get your daily mushroom health boost. Try them all.