In the last few years, there has been increasing interest in functional mushrooms and how they may be beneficial to health. Packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, mushrooms can support your immunity, healthy sleep cycles, positive mood, energy levels, gut health and much more! In this blog, we take a closer look at this superfood and explore its ability to support the immune system.
History of functional mushroom use
The ancient Egyptians believed that eating mushrooms brought long life, and mushrooms have been used in cultures around the world for hundreds of years. Now, modern scientists around the world are currently studying over a hundred species of mushrooms for their potential health benefits and are discovering some fascinating properties!
All mushrooms contain beta glucans, which have been found to support the immune system, and a type of lectins (carbohydrate-binding proteins) that recognise certain abnormal human cells and support a healthy immune response.
The amazing health benefits of mushrooms
Mushrooms are full of compounds that support overall health. Plus, they produce a wide range of vitamins and minerals including vitamin B and vitamin D, which most plants lack!
Mushrooms contain both soluble and insoluble fibre, which is essential for supporting intestinal health. They are high in antioxidants, which help fight free radical damage in the body that can be caused by several things including UV sunlight, radiation and exposure to toxic chemicals. Antioxidants help combat the amount of oxidative stress in our bodies and damage done to our cells and DNA.
All mushrooms contain high amounts of beta glucans, which help stimulate the immune system; shiitake and maitake mushrooms are especially rich in beta glucan. Mushrooms are also full of a wide range of polysaccharides, which are long complex chains of molecules bonded together. Polysaccharides found specifically in mushrooms have been shown to have a wide variety of health benefits.
How do mushrooms support my immune system?
The various beneficial properties of mushrooms can support your body’s natural defences and overall wellness. They contain complex sugars and high amounts of polysaccharides that are essential tools for a healthy immune system.
High in antioxidants, mushrooms can help destroy harmful free radicals that may result in cell damage within your body as well as help regulate antibody production.
In traditional medicine, mushrooms have been used to support conditions that cause severe tiredness, inability to sleep and stress-induced tension – conditions that can also impact your immune system.
Seven of our favourite functional mushrooms
More than 2,000 species of edible mushrooms exist on Earth! However, even commonly consumed varieties like button mushrooms have health benefits and there are many ways to enjoy the benefits of mushrooms! Some of the more common functional mushrooms include:
- Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) – Chaga grows almost exclusively on birch trees and is often consumed as a tea or tonic; it offers antioxidant support and supports overall wellness.
- Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) – Revered in China for thousands of years, Reishi is considered a tonic for Qi, or vital energy. Reishi supports a health stress response, energy levels, and overall wellness.
- Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor, Coriolus versicolor) – The most widely researched mushroom, Turkey Tail has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Native American Herbalism to support immune health due to its production of beta-glucans.
- Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) – A popular edible mushroom, Shiitake’s are fragrant and delicious, and support both immune and cardiovascular health. Fun fact: Shiitake is now the second most popular cultivated mushroom in the world!
- Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus) – Now becoming more popular in the mainstream, Lion’s Mane has been traditionally taken for brain health and recall.
- Cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis) – Long used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Cordyceps are used to support healthy stamina and physical energy levels. Cordyceps also has adaptogenic properties, supports liver health, and overall well-being.
- Maitake (Grifola frondosa) – “Maitake” means dancing mushroom in Japanese. This mushroom, also referred to as “Hen of the Woods”, may have gotten its name after people danced with happiness upon finding its incredible immune health and adaptogenic properties.
If you are going to take a mushroom supplement, you want to look for a manufacturer that offers high quality, 100% wild-crafted or certified organic mushroom extracts and supplements that are grown, produced, stored, and packaged under strict guidelines to preserve their nutrient content and effectiveness.
At the end of the day, nurturing and maintaining a healthy immune system is largely about taking care of yourself, making healthy decisions, and nourishing your body with the right foods and nutritional supplements.
To view our full range of TheraStore immune products that include Functional Mushrooms, click here.