Surprising ways mushrooms can benefit your health and wellness

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Surprising ways mushrooms can benefit your health and wellness

You’ve likely seen mushrooms popping up all over the culinary world recently. They’re making appearances in coffee, chocolate, protein bars and being ground into health powders to add to your smoothie. Experts in the nutrition world are putting them at the top of their superfood lists. And while mushrooms have served important roles in ancient wellness rituals and protocols dating back thousands of years, they’re coming back under the scientific spotlight, being newly researched and appreciated for the profound body benefits they seem to deliver. And there are a lot. To name a few: enhanced immunity, improved gut health, protection against cancer, and cellular activity that keeps you feeling and looking younger. One meta-analysis published in Advances in Nutrition confirmed that higher mushroom consumption is associated with a lower risk of cancer. Another new study out of Penn State University found that large amounts of two antioxidants, ergothioneine and glutathione, give mushrooms the power to fight the free radicals that cause age-related diseases. And yet more research published in PubMed Central, discovered that a component in mushrooms called terpenes stimulates the activity of immune cells—meaning they bolster your natural ability to fight viruses. What’s going on behind the scenes to induce these health benefits is complicated, multifaceted, and not entirely understood yet, but broadly speaking, we can thank the plant chemicals and compounds, namely polyphenols, polysaccharides, indoles, carotenoids, and a unique type of fiber called beta-glucans, for executing anti-oxidant, anti-cancer, and anti-inflammatory effects, according to research published in Molecules, and Biomedical Journal. And then there’s gut health, which is proving to be the infrastructure for all health. Consuming mushrooms may help populate your GI tract with the right balance of bacteria to keep it healthy and strengthen your immune system, states a review in International Journal of Molecular Sciences. Polysaccharides, an abundant carbohydrate in fungi, not only spur the growth of healthy bacteria but also manage to survive traveling through stomach acid (when other foods break down) to reach the colon and go to work there where they’re needed. While scientific evidence shows that fungi go a long way in improving your overall health, experts are discovering that mushrooms optimize some more surprising specific areas of your life. The best mushroom for every wellness needMushrooms, and there are over a million different types, fall under the category of adaptogens, each offering something a little special and unique, explains Tero Isokauppila, a chemist with a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from Cornell University, who was raised growing and foraging mushrooms on his 13th-generation family’s farm in Finland. Isokauppila so believes in the power of mushrooms to improve wellbeing that he’s devoted his life to the fungi, creating Four Sigmatic, a brand of mushroom adaptogenic coffees and other products to upgrade the routines of anyone and everyone. “Adaptogens protect your body from stress by stabilizing and optimizing a host of physiological functions,” he said. This causes a domino effect that leads to better physical vigor, improved brain functioning, and an uptick in mental health. According to Isokauppila, who has twice been named one of the world’s Top 50 Food Activists by the Academy of Culinary Nutrition, we can actually target areas of our wellbeing by consuming certain types of functional mushrooms. Such as:Focus, creativity and a big mood boost“Lion’s Mane is a type of functional mushroom that specifically supports creativity, productivity, and focus,” says Isokauppila. “We like to call this mushroom your brain’s best friend. The results are seen with continued, long-term use, which is why adding it (powdered) to daily staples like coffee and chocolate is a good plan.” To break it down: certain compounds in Lion’s Mane may stimulate the production of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF), finds science, which regenerates and protects the neurons in our brain tissue — material that starts to decay with age. According to a multitude of studies, NGF has been shown to increase cognitive function, leading to sharper focus, memory, intelligence, and awareness.And when it comes to improving mood, Penn State researchers found that in a sample of almost 25,000 people, those who regularly ate mushrooms (a variety of types) had a lower risk for depression and anxiety. The authors believe it may be the work of the antioxidant ergothioneine. More energy“The cordyceps mushroom has been linked to improved athletic performance, energy, stamina, and higher immune function,” says Isokauppila. “Cordyceps is great to take first thing in the morning as a supplement or before your workout to help you get fired up.” Pharmacological research shows these fungi can increase production of ATP, the compounds that gives cells energy, and two studies found they improved exercise performance in healthy older adults. Which explains why they’re the new secret weapon for athletes. What’s more, the mushroom helps oxygenate blood cells, improving metabolic rates and helping muscles recover, especially after an intense workout. Another trial found that cordyceps acted like a hormone balancer, increasing levels of endurance and energy in those struggling with fatigue. Smooth, glowy skin“Adaptogenic mushrooms nourish the body from the inside out. Amazingly, humans share roughly 85% of our RNA and 50% of our DNA with mushrooms — that’s right, you and I are part mushroom! So naturally, they play a role in total body beauty and wellness,” says Isokauppila. “The diverse range of phytochemicals and ample amounts of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and other key nutrients, make mushrooms a valuable resources for truly glowing from the inside out.” But, he warns, topical products rarely have enough potency, so these are shrooms you want to consume. Three types that stand out as the greatest workhorses: Tremella, Chaga, and Shitake. Tremella behaves like hyaluronic acid by drawing and locking in moisture — it can hold an amazing 500 times its weight in water — to the skin, making it smooth and supple. Chaga is full of antioxidants that protect skin against the oxidative stress responsible for signs of aging, like wrinkles. Add to that, the ability to control inflammation, their anti-microbial properties, and an extremely high level of melanin, and they’re natural skin protectants. Shitakes are known to decrease activity of what’s called elastase, basically the enemy of elastin, a protein that helps your skin stay plump and bouncy. They don’t stop there. The shrooms have properties that accelerate cell renewal, plus they’re full of an amino acid that reduces damage from UV light.

You’ve likely seen mushrooms popping up all over the culinary world recently. They’re making appearances in coffee, chocolate, protein bars and being ground into health powders to add to your smoothie.

Experts in the nutrition world are putting them at the top of their superfood lists. And while mushrooms have served important roles in ancient wellness rituals and protocols dating back thousands of years, they’re coming back under the scientific spotlight, being newly researched and appreciated for the profound body benefits they seem to deliver. And there are a lot.

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To name a few: enhanced immunity, improved gut health, protection against cancer, and cellular activity that keeps you feeling and looking younger.

One meta-analysis published in Advances in Nutrition confirmed that higher mushroom consumption is associated with a lower risk of cancer.

Another new study out of Penn State University found that large amounts of two antioxidants, ergothioneine and glutathione, give mushrooms the power to fight the free radicals that cause age-related diseases. And yet more research published in PubMed Central, discovered that a component in mushrooms called terpenes stimulates the activity of immune cells—meaning they bolster your natural ability to fight viruses.

What’s going on behind the scenes to induce these health benefits is complicated, multifaceted, and not entirely understood yet, but broadly speaking, we can thank the plant chemicals and compounds, namely polyphenols, polysaccharides, indoles, carotenoids, and a unique type of fiber called beta-glucans, for executing anti-oxidant, anti-cancer, and anti-inflammatory effects, according to research published in Molecules, and Biomedical Journal.

And then there’s gut health, which is proving to be the infrastructure for all health. Consuming mushrooms may help populate your GI tract with the right balance of bacteria to keep it healthy and strengthen your immune system, states a review in International Journal of Molecular Sciences. Polysaccharides, an abundant carbohydrate in fungi, not only spur the growth of healthy bacteria but also manage to survive traveling through stomach acid (when other foods break down) to reach the colon and go to work there where they’re needed.

While scientific evidence shows that fungi go a long way in improving your overall health, experts are discovering that mushrooms optimize some more surprising specific areas of your life.

The best mushroom for every wellness need

Mushrooms, and there are over a million different types, fall under the category of adaptogens, each offering something a little special and unique, explains Tero Isokauppila, a chemist with a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from Cornell University, who was raised growing and foraging mushrooms on his 13th-generation family’s farm in Finland.

Isokauppila so believes in the power of mushrooms to improve wellbeing that he’s devoted his life to the fungi, creating Four Sigmatic, a brand of mushroom adaptogenic coffees and other products to upgrade the routines of anyone and everyone.

“Adaptogens protect your body from stress by stabilizing and optimizing a host of physiological functions,” he said.

This causes a domino effect that leads to better physical vigor, improved brain functioning, and an uptick in mental health. According to Isokauppila, who has twice been named one of the world’s Top 50 Food Activists by the Academy of Culinary Nutrition, we can actually target areas of our wellbeing by consuming certain types of functional mushrooms. Such as:

Focus, creativity and a big mood boost

Lion’s Mane is a type of functional mushroom that specifically supports creativity, productivity, and focus,” says Isokauppila. “We like to call this mushroom your brain’s best friend. The results are seen with continued, long-term use, which is why adding it (powdered) to daily staples like coffee and chocolate is a good plan.”

To break it down: certain compounds in Lion’s Mane may stimulate the production of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF), finds science, which regenerates and protects the neurons in our brain tissue — material that starts to decay with age. According to a multitude of studies, NGF has been shown to increase cognitive function, leading to sharper focus, memory, intelligence, and awareness.

And when it comes to improving mood, Penn State researchers found that in a sample of almost 25,000 people, those who regularly ate mushrooms (a variety of types) had a lower risk for depression and anxiety. The authors believe it may be the work of the antioxidant ergothioneine.

More energy

“The cordyceps mushroom has been linked to improved athletic performance, energy, stamina, and higher immune function,” says Isokauppila. “Cordyceps is great to take first thing in the morning as a supplement or before your workout to help you get fired up.”

Pharmacological research shows these fungi can increase production of ATP, the compounds that gives cells energy, and two studies found they improved exercise performance in healthy older adults. Which explains why they’re the new secret weapon for athletes.

What’s more, the mushroom helps oxygenate blood cells, improving metabolic rates and helping muscles recover, especially after an intense workout. Another trial found that cordyceps acted like a hormone balancer, increasing levels of endurance and energy in those struggling with fatigue.

Smooth, glowy skin

“Adaptogenic mushrooms nourish the body from the inside out. Amazingly, humans share roughly 85% of our RNA and 50% of our DNA with mushrooms — that’s right, you and I are part mushroom! So naturally, they play a role in total body beauty and wellness,” says Isokauppila. “The diverse range of phytochemicals and ample amounts of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and other key nutrients, make mushrooms a valuable resources for truly glowing from the inside out.”

But, he warns, topical products rarely have enough potency, so these are shrooms you want to consume. Three types that stand out as the greatest workhorses: Tremella, Chaga, and Shitake.

Tremella behaves like hyaluronic acid by drawing and locking in moisture — it can hold an amazing 500 times its weight in water — to the skin, making it smooth and supple. Chaga is full of antioxidants that protect skin against the oxidative stress responsible for signs of aging, like wrinkles. Add to that, the ability to control inflammation, their anti-microbial properties, and an extremely high level of melanin, and they’re natural skin protectants.

Shitakes are known to decrease activity of what’s called elastase, basically the enemy of elastin, a protein that helps your skin stay plump and bouncy. They don’t stop there. The shrooms have properties that accelerate cell renewal, plus they’re full of an amino acid that reduces damage from UV light.

Contributed by local news sources

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