From supporting immune function, energy and mood to helping your skin glow – why it’s time to make some shroom for improvement. Dr. Naomi Newman-Beinart (PhD) explains five good reasons why medicinal mushrooms can empower your health…
Mushrooms may not seem the obvious choice for keeping your immunity strong, skin glowing and blood sugar balanced, but numerous clinical studies have proved mushrooms can have great benefit when it comes to keeping our health in tiptop condition. Everything from supporting immune health to keeping your blood sugar balanced; you can be supercharged with these fabulously good fungi.
1. They keep your immunity strong and support natural defences
Mushrooms are high in beta glucans – natural substances that have been found to help ‘prime’ our immune system, making sure it’s ready for action to fight off bugs and germs. Certain types of mushrooms such as reishi, shiitake and maitake are especially rich in the most powerful beta glucans. So, getting a daily dose of these mushrooms could be beneficial at times when we need extra support, such as over the cold and flu season. A recent study found that maitake mushrooms have a protective effect against the flu virus and reduced cold symptoms, so it’s worth adding a dose of maitake to your health regime.
2. They boost energy and help you cope with stress
Certain mushrooms are traditionally used in many parts of Asia on a daily basis as a mood tonic or ‘adaptogen’. Adaptogens are natural substances that are said to help the body adapt to stress and protect against some of its negative effects, such as fatigue and poor sleep. The bonus: more energy! Maitake and reishi are among the mushrooms said to have adaptogenic qualities.
3. Keep blood sugar balanced
When blood sugar levels get out of control, this can affect everyday energy as well as increasing the risk of other problems such as type 2 diabetes and weight gain. The Maitake mushroom has been found in studies to help bring blood sugar down by improving sensitivity to insulin – the hormone that triggers cells to take glucose out of the blood.
4. Keep joints healthy
Missing out on your morning run due to aching joints can set you back, but inflammation around the joints can be a major concern for many people, especially those with arthritis or joint damage. Mushrooms are said to be anti-inflammatory, so could help to ease pain and discomfort. Reishi and shiitake mushrooms in particular could be helpful – a randomised, placebo controlled double-blind study, the best type of study we could ask for, found that reishi mushrooms helped to ease pain in people with rheumatoid arthritis over a period of 24 weeks. So, mushrooms could help keep you moving and doing the activities you love!
5. Look after your natural glow
Lastly, and certainly not least of all, studies have found that mushrooms such as shiitake and reishi are rich in youth-boosting antioxidants. These include polyphenols, like those found in fruits and vegetables. But mushrooms actually go one better than most vegetables – in fact, two better! Firstly, their powerful beta glucans – which we saw can be helpful for immunity – can also have an antioxidant effect. And, scientific reviews have found that mushrooms are also a great source of the minerals copper and zinc, which are used by our body to make its own powerful antioxidants. All this supports the idea that they may contribute to anti-ageing and have a protective activity for our skin.
How to get yourself some shroom power?
You may have seen shiitake mushrooms in your local supermarket, but maitake and reishi are not as readily available in food form. For a convenient and effective way to get all the benefits of these three powerful mushrooms, try a good-quality organic nutritional supplement combining all three. Try taking a daily dose of Pukka Mushroom Gold, a vegan and organic Soil Association certified blend of full-spectrum reishi, shiitake and maitake mushrooms.
Dr Naomi Newman-Beinart PhD is a Nutritionist (BSc) and Specialist in Health Psychology (PhD)
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