Support your immune health with these 4 popular, tasty & health-boosting mushrooms…
As we move into cold and flu season, it is more important than ever to take steps to support your body’s natural immunity. You may already be taking Vitamin C and Vitamin D, but what else can you do? Try mushrooms! That’s right, many common mushrooms provide amazing support for the immune system – and you don’t have to look far to find them…
Mushrooms have been enjoyed by humans for thousands of years. Just about every human culture on Earth has consumed mushrooms, and with good reason. Early Greek, Roman, and Chinese healers used mushrooms for their medicinal properties as well as their ability to support overall and immune health – while being delicious at the same time!
One very unique feature of medicinal mushrooms is that they may function as modulators. This means that they may work differently in each person’s body, depending on where your systems are out of balance.
There are millions of different species of mushrooms on our planet, but humans only use a tiny fraction of these (about 400) for their edible and medicinal properties. Here are 4 delicious mushrooms you can enjoy which improve immune health and help keep your bodily systems strong and healthy. They’re also relatively easy to find – some you may even be able to find in the grocery store, but you can also check your local health food store or online sources.
Shiitake mushrooms are not only delicious when sautéed in garlic (along with your dark leafy vegetable of choice), they are now proven to possess serious antiviral and antibacterial properties. Shiitakes are rich in polysaccharides that contain a compound known as lentinan, which helps to fortify your immune system. They also contain a number of beta-glucans that are shown to boost the production of white blood cells, strengthening your body’s resistance to harmful germs and toxins in your environment.
These beta-glucans also have beneficial anti-inflammatory effects, particularly on the digestive system – which is where much of your immune system lives. One of these beta-glucans known as eritadenine is also shown to reduce cholesterol and promote heart health.
Stack on the number of B-vitamins, amino acids, and fiber that shiitake contains and you’ve got yourself quite a mushroom!
Among all the mushrooms in Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Reishi is perhaps the most cherished. Thought of as the “king of herbs” (even though it’s not a plant), Reishi belongs to a special class of herbs and fungi known as adaptogens. The dictionary definition of an adaptogen is – a natural substance considered to help the body adapt to stress and to exert a normalizing effect upon bodily processes. A well-known example is ginseng.
Not only is Reishi able to modulate (or rebalance) your immune system for optimal health, it is also used to bring your emotions and overall psyche into balance as well…
From an immunity perspective, the triterpenes found in Reishi boost the production of your immune system’s natural killer cells, which are able to detect and destroy cancer cells and viruses. Reishi is also a great source of biologically active polysaccharides, which possess a host of health benefits, including lowering blood sugar, reducing inflammation, and regulating the immune system.
3. Lion’s Mane
If you come across a Lion’s Mane mushroom in the woods, its otherworldly appearance is enough to stop you in your tracks. This mushroom looks like a cross between an albino sea anemone and a wild pom-pom. Often growing on the remains of fallen logs, Lion’s Mane is not only extremely good for you – but it’s also a prized edible with a flavor and a texture that will blow you away.
This mushroom has most recently been hailed as a remarkable brain booster because it contains a plethora of compounds that are highly beneficial for cognitive function and the health of your nervous system. The hericenones and erinacines found in Lion’s Mane are shown to stimulate the growth of new brain cells. Kind of a big deal…
But yet another accolade that Lion’s Mane has is its immune-enhancing effect. Lion’s Mane has been shown to stimulate the beneficial bacteria in your mouth and gut, which make up a large portion of your immune defense. These bacteria help to neutralize the harmful germs and chemicals that often enter your body through the mouth or nose, as you breathe in.
A favorite Chinese edible, the Maitake has a peppery flavor that is a wonderful addition to any stir fry. This mushroom also goes by the nickname “hen of the woods” because some feel it resembles a hen sitting on her nest.
Maitake’s special power is helping to ease physical and mental stress, while also fortifying your immune system with its host of vitamins, nutrients, beta-glucans, and polysaccharides. Maitake is also being studied in Asia for its anticancer effects – particularly its ability to stimulate the production of your immune system’s natural killer cells (which go after cancer cells), as well as T cells.