Mushrooms are more closely related to humans than plants sharing the same evolutionary lineage. That’s why these spore-bearing fungi that are edible support the body’s defense mechanism to promote health and well-being. Mushrooms have been significant eatables for centuries. Romans saw it as the food for God and the Egyptians as the plants for immortality. For thousands of years, Asians have also used mushrooms for medicinal purposes. But with all unusual explanations, mushrooms have always found a way to the table.
At present, scientists are discovering the therapeutic benefit of these prolific fungi. Researchers are studying hundreds of edible mushrooms, all containing a varying degree of protein, fiber, antioxidants, and other nutrients, for potential health benefits. Laden with high nutritional values, mushrooms fall in the category of superfood. Therefore, the global market value of mushrooms is said to increase by USD 50 billion in the next six years.
About 300 varieties of mushroom species are edible, and 10 out of them are commercially grown. The most common species available are the Button, Oyster, and Shiitake, contributing to 70 percent of the mushroom production. But other varieties, including Chaga, Reishi, Turkey Tail, also gather the medicinal benefits in their fruiting bodies. This article covers a few such mushrooms’ medical benefits that will encourage you to add a generous portion of it on your plate every day.
1. Boost Immunity
When it comes to building the immune system, there’s no easier way to add mushrooms in your diet. Clinical studies have found that taking Shiitake mushrooms can see a better functioning of gamma delta T cells that is a primary component of the immune system. T cells destroy the infected cells, produce cytokines, activate and regulate immune cells. Moreover, mushrooms can reduce inflammation that is often associated with immune response. The presence of polysaccharides beta-glucan in all mushrooms is also responsible for immunomodulating effects. The Turkey Tail that contains the highest amount of this compound is a potent source to strengthen the immune system. Also, mushrooms like Chaga and Reishi can increase the bone marrow’s white blood cells and destroy infected cells.
2. Increase Antioxidant Actions
All edible mushrooms have antioxidant properties due to bioactive compounds like polysaccharides, vitamins, minerals, polyphenols, and others. Antioxidants protect the cells from free radicals and prevent oxidative stress that plays a role in the aging process and increases chronic diseases like cancer. Studies reveal mushrooms like Turkey Tail, Shiitake, Maitake, and Reishi can boost immunity and stop or slow down cancer cells’ spread. These fungi help counter chemotherapy and radiation therapy’s side-effects like nausea, anemia, bone marrow suppression, and low resistance.
3. Reduce Cognitive Impairment
While age is the primary reason, many other risk factors also contribute to cognitive impairment. Chronic conditions like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and diabetes are some of them. Research shows that eating mushrooms can cut the risk of mild cognitive decline by 50 percent in seniors and increases the health benefits. Cognitive decline is the characteristic of Alzheimer’s and dementia. The antioxidants present in mushrooms may hinder the accumulation of beta-amyloid and tau protein indicators of Alzheimer’s.
A John Hopkins study further shows psychoactive compound Psilocybin present in Magic Mushrooms can treat anxiety and depression. Various anecdotal references also support the fact that psychedelics can treat chronic mental illnesses like Alzheimer’s and its symptoms. Taking a small dose of this compound can improve focus, mood, increased anxiety, and other physiological discomforts. Shroom tea is one of the delicious sources of micro-dosing psilocybin to promote healthy brain functioning.
4. Strengthen Bones
Mushrooms have a promising effect on osteoporosis. According to various researches, extracts of many culinary-medicinal mushrooms like Oyster, Shiitake. Maitake and Turkey Tail can reduce bone loss and aids in the formation of bones. Mushrooms are a good source of vitamin D, and routine consumption can increase and maintain this nutrient level in the body. Researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine found that eating mushrooms containing Vitamin D2 can strengthen the bones, similar to taking vitamin D2 or D3 medicinal supplements.
5. Promotes Heart Health
The primary contributor to heart disease is the formation of fatty deposits in the arteries. Mushrooms, especially the Button, can reduce inflammation in the arterial cells, repair the vascular injury, and prevent the blockages. Shiitakes that are rich in chemical compounds Eritadenine also prevents the constriction of the blood vessels. Cholesterol-free, low in sodium, and high in potassium, mushrooms help to regulate the blood pressure.The presence of Vitamin B in mushrooms helps in the formation of red blood cells and maintains the heart’s proper functioning and increases the wellness in your diet.. High in Selenium mushrooms can also reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
Mushrooms possess exceptional nutrient density. It balances a healthy diet to prevent, alleviate, and heal multiple diseases. If you want to take your medicine as food, nothing could be better than these fungi. Healthy and versatile mushrooms are a delectable addition to your palate. You may grill, saute, cook, or even add mushrooms extracts in your daily routine as supplements. Either in your coffee, salads, or smoothies, these are odorless and blend well with almost any food or beverages. A unique combination of savory and health-enhancing nutrients, look beyond your pizza and start adding this superfood as a daily dose of wellness in your diet!