If you are like me, you see mushrooms and the first thing you think about is “fungi“. To be honest, I’m not really a fan of the taste of mushrooms. But, I don’t use this excuse to shy my way out of getting it into my diet somehow. Mushrooms have been used for centuries to help aid in enhancing the immune system and giving your body extraordinary antioxidants. There are three mushrooms in particular that stand out to me – chaga, reishi, and shiitake. Ready to upgrade your health? Read on.
Grown on birch trees, this mushroom is known for it’s medicinal properties by lowering cholesterol, balancing blood sugar, stimulating the immune system, fighting cancer, and being full of antioxidants. Don’t be fooled by the way chaga looks (since it has a charcoal look to it), but be amazed by the health properties it gives. Chaga’s antioxidant properties have been studied by a journal called BioFactors from Oxford, England that showed the protection of cells under oxidative stress. Cells treated with chaga extract showed a 40% reduction in DNA fragmentation. Getting extra cellular protection? Check! Another study also showed that it protected the cells from oxidative stress specifically from chronic digestive disorders like Crohn’s and IBS. A study also showed that the plant constituent, inotodiol, proved to be antimutagenic. Another plant constituent, betulin, plays a roll in inducing cell apoptosis (cell death) playing a huge roll in being anti-tumor and also being therapeutic in helping metabolic diseases like diabetes.
Shiitake mushrooms have similar plant constituents like chaga mushroom, which produce similar health effects. In Asia, shiitake mushrooms are taken for almost every health ailment. No matter what you may be battling, shiitake mushrooms are always on the ‘medicine’ list. In shiitake (and the other mushrooms), there are naturally occurring polysaccharides called beta glucans. In this journal, beta glucans are studied to be healing and able to stimulate the immune system with the macrophages & natural killer cells. Don’t let those long words phase you…it’s just the cells that protect us from bacteria & viruses. This study truly explains how beta glucans can help protect against cancer – I’m going to paraphrase from the study, so you can understand under the fancy medical terminology…
“Beta glucans inhibit the formation of cancer because of the protective effect against carcinogens that are highly toxic against our genes and cause mutations. Due to the increased activation of macrophages and natural killer cells, beta glucans can inhibit tumor growth. In tumor cells, they have a lack of beta-glucan on the surface and the tumor cell can’t trigger the receptor to initiate the killing of the tumor. This mechanism can be induced in the presence of beta-glucans though.”
Another study that shows how shiitake can be anti-tumor and antimicrobial. These mushrooms are full of beta glucans, betulin, and more! Are you convinced enough yet to get these in your diet? Let’s talk about the last mushroom….reishi.
Reishi is found on hardwood stumps, like in beech, elm, oak trees and more. These kidney shaped mushrooms hold similar polysaccharides like the previous mushrooms we’ve talked about. Reishi is another mushroom that strengthens the immune system and also the adrenal system. Have you ever been so stressed and before you know it, you have an illness? Sometimes it’s more than just a cold, something chronically wrong begins to take root. It’s because stress lowers your immune system. If you are stressed all the time, guess what begins to falter? Your immune system. Reishi is an adaptogen that can help you internally balance and help you respond to stress in a healthy way. Like the other mushrooms, reishi has been studied to help inhibit tumor growth by blocking the signaling pathways and protein synthesis in the tumor. Mice that was injected with an aggressive form of breast cancer cells that was treated with reishi showed reduced tumor growth and weight by 50%! Amazing.
How To Get These Mushrooms Into Your Diet
I bet you are sitting at the edge of your seat…mind blown (I know I am)…and are wondering how to get them in your diet! Obviously, you can always eat them the way they are. If you aren’t a fan of the taste like I am, you can get them through a mushroom extract or powdered form in a pill. Mountain Rose Herbs are one of my favorite companies to get these unique foods and supplements organically. I truly trust and love Mountain Rose Herbs!
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