It seems we are all a bit more focused on maintaining optimal health and wellness these days. By making healthy choices and fine-tuning our lifestyle, we can strive to prevent many of the metabolic and inflammatory disorders that affect us as we age. We can also equip our bodies to mount a strong defense against infectious microorganisms like bacteria and viruses. These goals make the idea of food as medicine very appealing.
The diet can be a powerful component of a comprehensive lifestyle approach to prevention and good health. By making careful choices within our diet and supplementing for nutrients that may be lacking, we create a strong foundation for a body that works and ages well. When foods can provide both nutrients and additional benefits, they become an especially useful tool. Mushrooms are a food group that is rapidly gaining recognition for their health-supportive potential.
While mushrooms are certainly a food, several species also fit a special category of herbs and medicinal compounds called adaptogens. These are non-toxic plants or mushrooms that are believed to support the body in its response to stress. Reishi, shiitake, cordyceps, chaga, and maitake are species that provide special adaptogenic mushroom benefits that may add value to your health and wellness goals when incorporated into your diet.
Adaptogenic Mushroom Benefits Influence Multiple Body Systems
Almost everyone experiences stress in the course of an average day. It may tax us physically, mentally, and emotionally for short periods of time. When stress becomes overwhelming or persists for longer periods of time, it can take a toll on the body.
In order to function properly, our bodies exist in a state of homeostasis where all of its systems are balanced and working together. When stress pulls us in one direction, our body attempts to recover its equilibrium and return to the middle. This is where adaptogens come in.
As a functional food, adaptogenic mushrooms benefit the body by supporting its ability to handle stress and return itself to homeostatic balance.‡ These health-promoting foods may support the body in the following ways:
Maintaining a healthy weight means balancing caloric intake with energy output. When included with diet and physical activity, the regular consumption of edible and functional mushroom species provides synergistic support for healthy weight management.‡
Adaptogenic mushrooms may help the body maintain healthy blood pressure levels.‡ Several mechanisms may contribute to this benefit.
- Shiitake are a source of potassium, a mineral that helps to keep blood pressure in a healthy range.
- Angiotensin-I converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors are commonly used to treat hypertension. Shiitake contain one of the highest levels of ACE inhibitors among nine mushroom species tested.
- Chitin is prevalent in mushroom cell walls. Some research has shown it has anti-hypertensive properties.
A broth made with shiitake mushroom powder may provide adaptogenic benefits.‡
Maitake is an adaptogenic mushroom that benefits the body’s metabolic systems.‡ When your blood sugar is within healthy ranges, maitake may help you to keep it there. Maitake may promote blood sugar balance by virtue of compounds that act as alpha-glucosidase inhibitors. Researchers believe that these compounds compete for digestive enzymes with the carbohydrates in our diet. When fewer carbohydrates are digested and absorbed, there may be a beneficial effect on blood sugar.
Adaptogenic mushrooms may help your body balance the absorption of cholesterol consumed in your diet.‡ The beta-glucans polysaccharides from mushrooms provide both soluble and insoluble fiber. Research suggests that these interact with lipids (fats) and biliary salts in the intestines resulting in reduced cholesterol absorption. Animal research revealed that rats fed dried maitake powder had lower serum cholesterol and greater excretion of cholesterol which resulted in decreased accumulation of fats in their bodies.
Our immune defenses are provided by a very complex web of interconnected systems that include our skin, circulatory, and gastrointestinal systems. An appropriate immune response should protect us from invading microorganisms, but stop short of causing damaging inflammation. A mushroom blend that contains adaptogens such as reishi or maitake may provide immunomodulating capacity that supports the body’s appropriate response.‡
Adaptogenic mushroom benefits extend to brain health as well. The strong antioxidant capacity of these mushroom species helps to protect against oxidative damage.‡ In addition, polysaccharides from reishi mushrooms supported neurogenesis and improved cognitive function in a research study conducted with laboratory mice.
Adaptogenic mushrooms may help balance the body’s response to exercise. The use of cordyceps has been shown to help the body balance oxygen use and recover from the stress of exercise in randomized, controlled research studies‡
Reishi has long been used in traditional Eastern medicine to calm stress and promote restful sleep. An animal research study noted increased total sleep time in rats given an extract from reishi fruit bodies for three consecutive days. A cup of warm reishi tea at bedtime may help you to get a restful and restorative night of sleep.‡
The efficient operation of our GI tract depends on a healthy microbiome. This requires the presence of beneficial bacteria in balance with pathogenic (disease-causing) species. When this balance is disturbed, the result may be infection or inflammation. The prebiotic fiber found in functional mushroom powders supports a healthy gut flora.‡
Many skin conditions that present as redness and irritation are the result of inflammation in the body. Chaga contains strong anti-inflammatory compounds that may benefit the condition of your skin.‡ Though it is possible to buy skincare products that contain functional mushrooms, you can support your skin from the inside out by drinking mild, pleasant-tasting chaga tea.
Adaptogenic Mushrooms Support Homeostatic Balance
Adaptogens promote resilience and help your body to quickly rebound from stress. Adding the power of adaptogens to your diet offers support for several body systems.‡ Quality mushroom powder supplements provide easy access to a range of adaptogenic mushroom benefits in a convenient format. Tapping the adaptogenic capacity of reishi, shiitake, cordyceps, chaga, and maitake mushrooms supports a proactive approach to health and wellness by promoting the body’s natural balance.
Om Mushrooms provides high-quality, organic mushroom powders including individual adaptogenic species and multi-mushroom blends. Harness their power to support homeostatic balance by including versatile bulk powders or convenient mushroom powder capsules in your routine.
Om Mushrooms provides high-quality, organic mushroom powders including individual adaptogenic species and multi-mushroom blends. Harness their power to support homeostatic balance by including versatile bulk powders or convenient mushroom powder capsules in your routine.SHOP OUR PRODUCTS
‡These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Functional mushroom products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.