Love them or hate them, mushrooms offer a lot of evidence they boost your immunity. They are full of essential nutrients your body needs, like selenium, potassium, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin D, and fiber. Plus, they are a great alternative source of protein in a healthy diet.
Don’t let their tiny stature fool you; these superfoods can slay everything from stress to cancer cells. They are downright magical, but in the good-for-you medicinal way!
The nutraceutical properties in mushrooms can also provide physiological benefits to your mood and your mind. And there are numerous studies on their use in the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases, including hypertension, strokes, cancer and forms of dementia like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
So let’s take a closer look at how adding a few fungi to daily life will not only add some variety to your plate but give your health some extra support.
Mushrooms Can Do More Than Boost Immunity
First, I want to say that in addition to knowing mushrooms boost immunity, I think they could actually save the planet too.
Mycologist and enthusiastic fungus entrepreneur Paul Stamets has spent years studying the untold uses for mushrooms to solve large-scale ecological and man-made problems. We can learn a lot from the interconnectedness of the fungi kingdom that has traditionally been relegated to supplements and “Campbell soup cans”.
Stamets believes mushrooms are “game changers in fields as disparate as medicine, forestry, pesticides and pollution control,” and he lays out the 6 ways we could utilize this natural resource to heal our planet and our bodies. Be sure to watch his Ted Talk here. It’s amazing stuff!
Also, if you get a chance, I highly recommend this film, Fantastic Fungi. Directed by Louie Schwartzberg and narrated by Captain Marvel herself, Brie Larson, this documentary follows the the mycelium network through its natural beauty, intelligence and potential solutions to big issues. You can pre-order it now on AppleTV, and trust me, it’s totally worth it.
Now, let’s start mushroom-hunting with my Top 4 immunity-boosting mushrooms you can begin eating today!
Reishi has been around so long that it has developed quite a reputation for being the chillest ‘shroom around. As an adaptogen, its benefits include stress relief and a promising reduction in anxiety and depression.
This rusty-red fungus grows on the side of trees in Asia, and it has long been a staple of traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. Also known as lingzhi, it represents success, well-being, spiritual power, and longevity. In fact, it is even sometimes depicted in art as a “bridge between Earth and Heaven” and a source of immortality. Now that’s some high praise!
In the U.S., its popularity has grown thanks to anti-cancer properties. The molecules in the mushroom can “increase the activity of a type of white blood cell called natural killer cells” that fight infection and disease in the body.
Since it aids in restful sleep, try reishi as a nightcap with a little cacao to curb its bitterness. Four Sigmatic makes amazing coffee and elixirs with all 4 of the mushrooms mentioned in this article, so be sure to check them out.
Lion’s Mane lives up to its moniker, though in full bloom, it also looks a little like a mop, with its fluffy, white strings hanging down. Others have also compared it to a hedgehog or something more likely to be found on the ocean’s bottom than a forest floor.
Regardless of what shape you see, this mushroom is versatile! You can saute it, drink it, dry it or just eat it raw. And it is a favorite among culinary geniuses worldwide because when cooked, it is reminiscent of crab or lobster meat. Buddhist monks use it to concentrate during long meditations, and that is because Lion’s Mane is considered a serious brain booster.
Studies indicate two of its unique compounds – hericenones and erinacines – can stimulate the growth of brain cells, opening the door for possible treatments for diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. And their polysaccharide components play a role in stimulation of the immune system, reducing inflammation and helping to repair nerve damage.
While the previous two mushrooms are quite visually appealing, chaga resembles discarded charcoal. But don’t let its tough exterior fool you. Chaga is full of antioxidant power and beta-glucans, a type of fiber linked to lower cholesterol levels and a healthy heart.
During WWII, chaga was used as a coffee substitute in Finland because of its java-like flavor and color, so this is another mushroom that’s perfect to enjoy in brewed form. It can also be ground up and mixed into a green smoothie, a bowl of yogurt or even your morning latte. Moon Juice carries a very popular powder version, if you’d rather sprinkle it than sip. 😉
The outlier on our list is cordyceps. Why? Because it’s actually an endoparasitoids, which is a parasite that lives inside its host. It sounds like a horror movie, but it’s just a miniature version. Cordyceps don’t grow on trees or in the ground, but on the larvae of caterpillars.
Don’t worry though, most supplements of this fungus are created in a lab (which is good for us because natural cordyceps are very expensive). It is so treasured in traditional Chinese medicine that only the emperor’s family in ancient China used to have access to it.
This is a great mushroom to boost immunity as it aids kidney and lung function and is known to boost energy and endurance. Plus, it is also known to increase the libido by stimulating blood flow and stamina. Now, who says mushrooms aren’t sexy?
Are you already taking mushrooms for immune support? Which on this list will you give a try first? Let me know in The Badass Beauty Club on Facebook.
LOVE + happy foraging!