Boost your immunity with superfood mushrooms!
As we begin to enter the Yin phase of the year (winter) once more, it’s time we started to rug up, keep warm, and be more generous with our hugs! It's winter time, and it’s the perfect opportunity to slow down and recharge our batteries. Winter can be a very powerful time for restoration and healing. It's not the time to be falling ill and taking sickies, but we all know how that feels! So how can we avoid that?
Our bodies are designed for health and healing, not sickness!
Winter is that time of year when the elements of nature can put extra stress on our systems, so it’s important that we take extra care of ourselves, eat immune boosting foods to prevent burn out and avoid catching that dreaded cold that "always seems" to be going around. We want to be happy, healthy, and thriving during this time of year the same as any other time, so how can we go about achieving all our goals without falling sick or burning out? It’s completely possible to thrive during winter with maximum energy, strength, mental power, and live with extraordinary levels of health!
Strengthen your immunity, duh!
There’s no question that strengthening our immune system during this time of year is key to sustaining our health, energy and vibrancy. That’s why some of the most important foods that can radically improve the health of your immunity and prevent sickness are the superfood mushrooms. These mushrooms have been traditionally used for thousands of years as food and medicine. They have the power to significantly enhance the function of the immune system, increase our protection against viral, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic infections, plus a whole host of other extraordinary health benefits.
Why are mushrooms so good for us?
Humans are more closely related to mushrooms than any other kingdom. Mushrooms have to fight off the same pathogens, bacteria and viruses that we encounter in life. They have developed a strong defence system in nature against invading bacterias which have shown to be very effective for us humans. Good for us! Even more fascinating is that there is evidence to show that humans may have been developing (or evolving) alongside the fungi kingdom all along. There are specific immune cell receptor sites in the body that are designed to only receive the unique polysaccharide compounds contained in fungi. How cool is that! There are many compounds and nutrients in mushrooms that benefit human health but the polysaccharides (long-chain sugars) and triterpenes are the most well studied. They are the main dominating forces behind mushroom nutrition. Human-based studies have shown that they can strongly stimulate and enhance our immune system.
What is your immune system made of?
Your immune system is made up of many types of cells including, Lymphocytes, Macrophages, T-Cells, Natural Killer Cells (NK), Neutrophils, and Cytokines. These immune supporting cells are found throughout the body and span the boundaries of all your vital systems, protecting and warding off any kind of invading pathogens, viruses and bacteria. This support and protective clearing of harmful invasions helps your body to operate at its full potential and allows you to perform at your best. Our mushroom allies work to increase T-Cell, NK Cell, Macrophage, and Neutrophil activity. They are an essential food in keeping our immune cells healthy and operating efficiently.
5 Powerful immune boosting mushrooms for you!
According to the great mycologist Paul Stamets, there is around 140,000 known species of mushroom-forming fungi, which science is only familiar with about 10 percent. Of those, there is only around 100 species that are currently being studied for their health-promoting potential. Clearly, there is much more work to be done, and the possibilities and anticipation of further great health discoveries in mushrooms is very exciting!
But until then...
Here are our top 5 mushrooms to boost your immunity!
#1. Chaga Mushroom
Chaga mushroom is a “complex living pharmacy” rich in nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Through considerable scientific research, this disease-fighting powerhouse has shown to have powerful immune-modulating, antiparasitic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer properties. It's most important and active components are derived from the bark of the birch tree on which wild Chaga grows. The betulinic acid derivatives and melano-glucan complexes show wide ranging anti-cancer and anti-microbial activity. Lab studies published to date show obvious anti-tumour activity and the ability to increase the destruction of cancer cells.
Chaga’s benefits on the immune system are profound. It is a powerful "adaptogen" that works to balance and normalise immune function. This means, that for those suffering under-active immune conditions, Chaga will ramp up the body’s immunity to normal optimal levels, and individuals with an over-active immune system, as in the case of auto-immune conditions, Chaga will actually suppress the immune system and bring it back into balance that way. Its benefits are dual-directional.
Chaga contains high levels of polysaccharides, specifically beta 1,3 glucans which is known as one of the most potent types of polysaccharides. Polysaccharides offer powerful benefits in activating our immune system. They work by locking on to specific receptor sites (immune cells) that depend on the polysaccharides physical structure, activate them, and thereby increase the immune response. The beta-glucans in Chaga support the immune cells by stimulating interleukins (cytokines), interferon, NK cells and macrophages help fight harmful bacterial, viral, and fungal infections.
Chaga is also one of the highest sources of antioxidants on the planet! It also contains the highest source of melanin of any food known. Melanin helps the body produce more superoxide dismutase (SOD), an important enzyme that functions as a powerful antioxidant. SOD helps by neutralising oxygen free radicals in the body, preventing oxidative stress and damage to the cells and tissues. I think it’s about time we all started adding Chaga into our diet. Don’t you? It is the superfood of the superfoods!
Note: Chaga needs to be wild-harvested from its preferred birch tree host if it is to contain the full spectrum of active compounds. Traditionally, extracts were based on hot-water methods of extraction, but it is now known that the triterpenoid betulinic acid derivatives are more soluble in alcohol. For this reason, to receive the full spectrum of the Chaga's compounds it must be dual-extracted using water and alcohol. Alcohol is used to extract the adaptogenic terpenes, while the hot water extracts the immune-modulating polysaccharides.
#2. Reishi Mushroom
Reishi mushroom is one of the most widely studied herbs in the world. It’s shown immense power in being one of the most effective herbs for boosting the immune system, fighting cancer, preventing heart disease, and strengthening the nervous system. Yes, it does all of that and more!
Reishi helps to fortify the body’s defence system, maintaining optimal balance in the body to prevent threats of any serious illness or disease pervading. Reishi is a great flu-fighting herb. It can also be taken to reduce the chances of passing on a cold from you, a loved one, or someone else. Reishi contains beta-1,3-D-glucan, a type of polysaccharide that strongly stimulates immune cells. Research has shown that the polysaccharide content in Reishi mushroom helps boosts the immune system by increasing the amount of macrophages and T-Cells. This can help to prevent and treat serious immune system disorders like AIDS and certain cancers. Canthaxanthin is another compound in Reishi that has also shown to slow down the growth of tumours. Reishi is even officially recognised by the Japanese government as a proper treatment for cancer!
Additionally, Reishi benefits cardiovascular disease, reduces cholesterol and blood pressure, shows significant anti-inflammatory and anti-allergenic effects, protects the liver, and inhibits bacteria and viruses. Let's not forget, it's also the ultimate anti-stress herb! It's an all round health promoting mushroom. Clearly, we all need to be taking Reishi!
#3. Cordyceps Mushroom
Cordyceps mushroom has a long history of use as a longevity food. It is one of the most revered herbal substances in the East and is known as a superb athlete's tonic for building physical power, increasing sexual vigour, vitality, and mental energy.
Cordyceps has strong immune regulating and stimulating properties, and has demonstrated powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-tumour activity. It is high in polysaccharides and beta-glucans that help our body resist a wide range of pathogenic bacteria, fungi and viruses. Cordyceps is a potent antioxidant that has shown to increase the production of Glutathione and SOD in the body. These natural antioxidants protect our cells from free radical damage and oxidation. DNA damage caused by free radicals is thought to be a primary factor in the ageing process. Cordyceps contains a nucleoside analogue that resembles adenosine, an important amino acid, that is used in the replication of DNA and RNA. This molecule has the power to induce apoptosis (normal cell death) and stop the replication of damaged cells. Cordyceps supports the immune cells by improving phagocytes, macrophage and NK function. This increases the immune response against tumour cells and viral cells and demonstrates Cordyceps’ strong anti-tumour activity.
Major hospitals are beginning to recognise the anti-cancer properties of Cordyceps. Research has shown that Cordyceps has the capacity to destroy cancer cells, restore white blood cell counts to normal levels, and inhibit metastasis and the spread of some cancers. Cordyceps may offer great hope for prolonging the life of cancer patients. Overall, Cordyceps is an extremely effective and powerful life-enhancing agent that we should all be adding into our diet.
#4. Lion's Mane Mushroom
Lion’s Mane mushroom has been called the “smart mushroom.” It is easily recognisable with its cascading teeth-like spines that differ from the more common stem and cap appearance of most mushrooms. Lion’s Mane's superb immune boosting strengths are just one of its extraordinary benefits. Its super powers lie in its ability to promote healthy brain function, improve cognition, memory, and its great potential for reducing anxiety and depression by calming the nervous system. Some people have even noticed after one week of taking Lion’s Mane that their memory has improved significantly! It is said to give one “nerves of steel and the memory of a lion."
Lion’s Mane is loaded with antioxidants, beta-glucans (polysaccharides), fatty acids and polypeptides. These valuable components are powerful immune modulators that help support and significantly enhance the immune system. Lion’s Mane also contains oleanolic acids and adenosine which helps stimulate the modulation of the immune system and increase interferon production. These processes have exhibited anti-inflammatory activity and boosts white blood cells, aiding many of the healing processes in the body.
One of the most significant effects of Lion’s Mane is its ability to stimulate Nerve Growth Factor (NGF). Lion’s Mane contains two unique diterpenes (not triterpenes) compounds, erinacines and hericenones, which show strong anti-bacterial activity and help stimulate the generation of Nerve Growth Factor. Nerve Growth Factor is very important for maintaining healthy neurological functioning. As we age, it declines, and a lack of Nerve Growth Factor contributes to such conditions as Alzheimer’s disease. Lion’s Mane helps replenish Nerve Growth Factor, which boosts brain functioning and has shown to have positive effects on dementia.
It’s obvious that the benefits of Lion’s Mane are many. It's another important superfood mushroom we can use to enhance our immunological and brain functioning. Include it in your diet today and increase your “smarts!"
#5. Maitake Mushroom
Maitake mushroom is a powerful adaptogen and premier culinary mushroom. In ancient times, if you came across Maitake mushroom in the wild it would make you want to dance! Its name in Japanese literally means, “dancing mushroom.” Get on down!
Extensive scientific research is proving that Maitake may be the most effective immune-boosting mushroom of all! It is one of nature’s richest sources of polysaccharides, containing unique fractions, including D-fraction and MD-fraction. These complex natural sugars are among some of the most potent and natural immune forces ever discovered. They essentially lock on to specific receptor sites in the immune system, activate their healing power, and thereby increase the immune response. Impressive results have been reported in significantly improving the health of cancer and diabetic patients using Maitake polysaccharide extracts. Maitake has shown to stimulate macrophage, NK Cell, T-Cell, and interleukin-1 activity. It’s also demonstrated powerful anti-HIV activity in in vitro studies in the U.S. and Japan.
Like Reishi mushroom, Maitake contains beta-1,3-D-glucan, a type of polysaccharide that strongly stimulates the immune cells and is essential for boosting the immune system to fight the flu. With Maitake mushroom, it is possible to dramatically improve one’s immune health, cut sick days, and reduce risk for disease. It can contribute to reduced incidence of colds, flu, and enhanced resistance to other bacterial and viral diseases. No more sickies with Maitake! Try it today!
Mushrooms are truly remarkable immune foods.
The astounding benefits of these 5 mushrooms show great promise for us to lead long and healthy lives. They are life long superfoods that we can consume to strengthen our body’s defence system and ensure that when, and if any harmful invasions attack, we will have a strong and healthy body to resist and overcome any health issue. Mushrooms can provide a lot of powerful benefits that goes beyond the scope of our immune system. They nourish our body at a fundamental level, increase energy, reduce stress, boost cognition and mental power, improve libido and elevate mood. All the wonderful things that we desire to be happy and healthy in the world!
As it is known, mushrooms target different areas of your body’s immune system. Therefore, it may be even more beneficial to consume a variety of different mushroom species to elicit a more intelligent and broad-based immune response. Much like it is ideal for us to eat a diet consisting of a variety of different foods within each food group, this gives our body the fuel that it needs to function optimally. Mushrooms comply to the same rule. The more, the better, the smarter we become!
I highly encourage you to begin including these powerful immune-boosting foods into your diet. Teelixir carries a wide range of high quality, wild and organic superfood mushroom extracts, and blends. Check it out! Stay warm, healthy and protected this winter.