The association of Mushrooms with drugs and hallucinations, or with strange-looking fungus growing in unwanted places, means we haven’t been making the most of mushrooms in every-day life for the past few decades. But thats all about to change….
Thankfully, as we’re ‘rediscovering’ the benefits of natural superfoods and adaptogens, these nutrient-dense foods and elixirs are becoming more widely available.
Four Sigmatic are currently the leading innovators in making mushrooms more accessible, and with their dedication to research and purity, they’re a company who can really be trusted in terms of legitimate ingredients and transparency.
Adaptogens: The Uncommon Superfoods of 2017
So why mushrooms? They don’t look particularly glamorous, and the recipes they invade are usually in the ‘love it or hate it’ category. Well, it turns out that mushrooms are actually notably high in antioxidants (with Portabello mushrooms having about the same amount of absorbable antioxidants – ORACs – as red peppers), selenium, and vitamin D.
Certain mushrooms (like oyster mushrooms) are also high in iron, and others have potent immune-boosting properties and B vitamins.
Some mushrooms are especially talented adaptogens, meaning they literally help the body adapt to stress. (Other adaptogens include ashwaganda, ginseng, licorice root, holy basil and rhodiola). Adaptogens are particularly important and relevant right now in the modern-day world, as stress is more prevalent and affecting more and more of us than ever.
The latest estimates from the LFS in 2016 shows that the total number of work-related illnesses due to stress, anxiety and depression was 488,000, meaning more than 40% of days taken off work was due to stress. 44% of Americans feel more stressed than they did five years ago , and mental health issues related to stress in the UK is growing rapidly.
Superfoods Are Growing Up
Because of the seriousness of the illnesses and stresses we’re generally feeling in modern life, it seems that while 2016 was all about kale, green smoothies and Yoga selfies, we’re actually realising that what we need is to bring ourselves back into balance, and adapt to potential stress.
OK, so we know mushrooms are god for us, and we know they could provide a whole host of benefits, but exactly which types of mushrooms are worth purchasing? Are those small button mushrooms that no one likes on their pizza going to help us? Well, actually yes they could be a great place to start, as they provide powerful immune-boosting benefits and plenty of vitamin C.
Tip: Just like our own bodies, mushrooms absorb vitamin D from the sun. Before eating, leave your mushrooms out in the sunlight for a couple of hours between 10am and 3pm to obtain 100x more vitamin D from them!
If we really want to feel the effects of Medicinal Mushrooms however, it’s time to become familiar with the unfamiliar, namely: Chaga, Cordyceps, Reishi and Lions Mane.
Chaga: Particularly good for immune health, Chaga mushrooms also contain Polysaccharides, which provide energy, and help improve and maintain cardiovascular, liver and intestine health. They’re high in antioxidants – even more than green tea and moringa! Chaga mushrooms help to balance the nervous system, and aid in adapting to physical or mental stress.
Cordyceps: If you’re looking for a boost of energy without the coffee comedown, this is it! Personally, I’ve added cordyceps to smoothies before heading out for a long day of teaching, exercising myself, or when I have a big piece of writing to focus on, and it’s definitely worked magic. These mushrooms can help improve respiratory health and oxygen uptake, improve hearth health, and have a ‘detoxing’ effect. Cordyceps can also prevent some types of cancer, whilst giving the body a boost of energy and is often beneficial for those who take part in strength training.
Reishi: Again, like so many others, this mushroom has powerful anti-cancer properties,
can improve liver function and detoxification, and aids in relieving allergies and asthma. reishi mushrooms are wonderful adaptogens for the hormonal system, and they’re useful for helping with anxiety and stress. Traditionally, Chinese and Japanese herbalists have used Reishi mushrooms to treat insomnia, so this is the mushroom to take before bed.
Lion’s Mane: The only mushroom containing two nerve-growth factors, showing potential benefits for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. It’s also been tested to be helpful for leg cramps, multiple sclerosis, and anxiety, and while the others can
help boost immunity, power, strength, stamina, concentration and aid in sleep, Lion’s Mane has been dubbed the ‘Smart Mushroom’, as it’s been seen to support memory, concentration, attention, and creativity.
In one of the few human studies to date, older adults with mild cognitive impairment were given 250 mg powdered lion’s mane three times a day for 16 weeks and compared to another group receiving a placebo. The lion’s mane group scored significantly higher on the cognitive function scale compared with placebo, with no adverse effects. This study should prompt scientists to investigate the therapeutic efficacy of these fungi for dementia patients. – Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial.
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