Mushrooms to boost your immune system
Did you know mushrooms were once prized above gold and silver?
In Ancient Egypt they were associated with immortality and in China royalty used mushrooms to ‘extend life’ and maintain health. Cordyceps were even banned from being eaten or used by the general public, they was strictly reserved for royalty.
Thank fully today we all have access to this highly available, affordable superfood.
So what’s so great about mushrooms?
Mushrooms are packed with compounds that balance the immune system, boost gut health (they contain prebiotics) and delay ageing according to research. I tell all my clients to eat mushrooms as often as they can – add them to spaghetti, pizza, stir-fries or soup for an easy nutritional upgrade.
Not only do mushrooms provide broad-spectrum immune support, but they can also:
Aid weight-loss, through stabilising blood sugar
Provide vitamin D3
Support the liver and kidneys
Reduce the risk of cancer
Reduce the signs of ageing
And you don’t have to spend a fortune on exotic mushrooms to reap the rewards.
Women who eat just half a button mushroom a day lower their risk of breast cancer by 65 per cent, according to a study of 2,000 Chinese women published in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Cancer in 2009.
Why are mushrooms so beneficial?
All mushrooms contain beta-glucans, which stimulate our immune system to detect and destroy pathogens. They also boost levels of natural killer cells vital for our immune system. If you don’t like the flavour of mushrooms you can try a protein powder containing mushroom extracts in your smoothie – I like Supernova and FourSigma – I promise you won’t be able to taste it!
Below you’ll find a little about the benefits of different types.
Shiitake: You’ll get a nice boost of vitamin D3 and a dose of a powerful anticancer compound called AHCC (active hexose correlated compound).
What to do with them: Buy a packet of dried shiitake mushrooms, soak them for twenty minutes in warm water and add them to stir-fries, miso soup or sauté them with some coconut aminos or tamari sauce and serve with a grass-fed steak.
The Research: Shiitake mushrooms have been shown to help people with liver cancer live longer and now new research shows they may also help prevent cervical cancer and keep it from coming back. Shiitake mushrooms can also stop you from snacking thanks to the satisfying umami flavour according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Cordyceps: Try Coffee with Cordyceps! It has many benefits and is known as the ‘Viagra of the Himalayas’
Maitake: This mushroom can help with weight loss. In one Japanese study the fluffy, fan shaped mushroom – with a chicken like flavour- helped 30 overweight patients lose a significant amount over two months (between 11-26 pounds).
Reishi: Referred to as the ‘mushroom of immortality’ the ancient Chinese used Reishi to sharpen memory, improve mood and to boost longevity and youthfulness. This may be due to the fact that reishi mushroom can reduce inflammatory markers, which have been closely linked to shorter life spans.
What to do with them: Try Organic Reishi Mushroom Spore Powder. Take this one in powder or supplement form; the tough woody texture means Reishi mushrooms aren’t ideal for eating.
Reishi spore powder is highly concentrated so if you are dealing with a serious immune challenge, this is the kind of potent supplement you want to add to your healing arsenal.
The Research on Reishi
There are plethora of studies attesting to the benefits of Reishi spores for cancer in particular as well as for kidney health and herpes – here are a few references.
Liver and Bone Cancer: A 2002 study from China found that a form of Reishi spores inhibited tumours by 80-90%.
Breast Cancer: In a 2012 study Reishi Triterpene crystals were found to inhibit cell proliferation in human breast cancer cells.
Chaga: Add this ‘king of the mushrooms’ to your morning smoothie to boost physical and mental endurance. Researcher suggests that Chaga leads to less fatigue and sustained energy hanks to the polysaccharides they contain. Try Supernova protein powder or FourSigma in your morning shake.
Best all-rounder mushroom supplement: MycoPhyto Complex from EcoNugenics with 6 medicinal mushrooms including Reishi and Cordyceps.
Laura Bond is a journalist, author and health coach. She specialises in helping clients beat stress, reduce their toxic load and prepare their bodies for babies. To find out more, click here.