Mushrooms- Deliciously beneficial!
If you are aware of the trendy (yet beneficial) "Functional Foods," or if you want to get positive health benefits while also devouring your favorite foods, this article is just for you!
As the name suggests, Functional Foods do not only excite your taste buds but also help your body function in a positive manner by giving you the right amount of nutrients that prevent your body from diseases and weaknesses. One such very common (not to mention, yummy) kitchen ingredient is the "Mushrooms." In addition, the fungi that are very fondly consumed along with steaks in many Italian dishes and as sauces to add that extra oomph to our meals also hold many medicinal benefits. Therefore, it's safe to say that this kitchen ingredient gives you the best of both worlds.
When consumed the right kind, they can prove to be one of the richest sources of anti-cancer antiviral, antidiabetic, and immunomodulation agents. Moreover, as per functional food science, mushrooms are a good source of vitamins such as thiamine, riboflavin, ascorbic acid, niacin, and biotin.
Although, as per studies, only 10% of mushrooms have been discovered so far, and out of which, not all are edible. We would like to mention some of the top medicinal mushrooms.
1. Anti-Cancer properties:
A wide range of purified biochemicals is obtained from mushrooms and used to combat diseases as well as improve the overall health of the body. The Reishi mushroom or the "Ganoderma Lucidum" grows in hot and humid habitats of Asia and has been very frequently used in Eastern Medicine.
This type of mushroom gives a boost to white blood cells, resulting in increasing immunity of the body-the first and foremost requirement for the body to shield itself from all kinds of external virus attacks and fatal diseases.
The *natural killer cells* boosted by the use of Reishi mushrooms can help fight against cancer and other infections in the human body. Although the most effective use of these mushrooms is supported by the already-infected bodies or in cancer patients, studies show that they can benefit healthy bodies too.
While it is a magnificent and effective way of dealing with diseases, researchers recommend its use along with other medicines targeted for the disease instead of substituting them with this mushroom.
Some studies also show that reishi mushrooms can help decrease anxiety and depression, control blood sugar level and heart health as well. However, more authentic research is being carried out to back this fact.
2. Anti-Diabetic properties:
Dietary Fiber is a prominent source of controlling blood sugar levels in the body. Since mushrooms constitute a great percentage of dietary fiber, they help reduce the risk of diabetes as well prove to be effective in controlling blood sugar levels in already diabetic patients. Reishi mushroom alone has more than 400 nutrients and is a rich source of fiber. Blood Sugar Control is one of the major reason mushrooms were used in ancient medicine and are still widely used and cultivated all over the world for their tremendous health benefits.
Antioxidants present in natural food are a sought-after ingredient in preventive medicine. In general, antioxidants help neutralize the free radicals in the body- the molecules produced after your exposure to some sort of radiation, smoking, or just by the mere breakdown of food. These substances can potentially harm your body by developing cancer cells, heart problems, and a wide range of diseases. Mushrooms are a good source of antioxidants and hence help you maintain the Antioxidants-Free Radical order in the body.
It is essential for our body to balance the number of free radicals with antioxidants. If the count of our antioxidants is outnumbered, it results in oxidative stress, which leads to DNA destruction and eventually cell’s death.
4. Energy Boost and improvement of Bodily Functions:
Some species of mushrooms are a very good nutritional source, providing selenium, potassium, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin D, proteins, and fiber while being low-fat, low-cal, and low in carbohydrates. These outstanding health benefits rank them as an overall healthy food staple, apart from being a culinary food attraction.
Like the Reishi Mushrooms in Eastern medicine, Cordyceps Sinensis has been used in Chinese and Tibetan medicine. It is an exquisite hybrid composed of a caterpillar and fungus found in Sikkim at altitudes above 3,800 m. According to the Locals, it is believed to cure all known diseases by improving routine body functions such as sleeping patterns, endurance, and appetite. It’s also believed to provide an energy boost to the consumers. These mushrooms cater to a plethora of diseases, from cough to bronchitis to heart and liver problems, cholesterol to hepatitis, and fatigue to weakness-it has got you covered on almost all fronts.
5. Immunomodulatory agents
As the current ongoing pandemic has schooled us all about the benefits of having a good immune system, it’s about time we start consuming organic substances that act as immunomodulatory agents and aid us in fighting a number of diseases, infections, and viruses. Mushrooms are one of the highly recommended food items proven to prepare a strong defence system for the body. A wide variety of fungi fall in the “mushrooms as medicine” category. Chaga, Reishi, Cordyceps, turkey tail, shiitake, lion’s mane, and maitake are all antioxidants and immunomodulatory agents.
6. Source of Beta-D Glucan:
If you are wondering why mushroom has been used in medicines for centuries, it is primarily because of its one very special component (among countless others) -Beta D Glucan. It is formed in the cell wall of mushrooms and has proven to be a strong agent against suppressing tumors in the body. The Mushroom Beta Glucans- MBGS, are also effective to be used for cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy. Many kinds of research proved Beta Glucan to effectively activate the immune response in order to defend the body from bacterial, viral, parasitic, and fungal infections.
In simple terms, tumors spread further in the body by affecting surrounding tissues and hence forming secondary tumors in other parts of the body apart from the area where it originated. Beta-D Glucan prevents the cells from further harm by modifying the body's biological response and hence modulating the host immune system.
Beta D Glucans are also widely used for treating heart diseases and high cholesterol levels in the body.
7. Anti-Inflammatory Agents:
Is there anything that mushrooms can’t bring to the table? No, we don’t think so!
They also act as inflammatory agents for chronic inflammation, with the help of their constituents such as selenium, vitamin D, potassium and beta glucans. Most health experts advise to consume mushrooms alongside other medicines for achieving overall well-being of the body or just improve health conditions. Combating inflammation results in avoiding the risk of getting cancer, Parkinson's disease, and dementia.
8. Remedy for Cough and Cold:
Since mushrooms are widely used as medicines due to their antiviral properties, they happen to combat cough, common flu and cold. A cup of warm Mushroom tea can prove to be a quick remedy when you have attacked by the most common yet the most annoying virus, influenza or commonly known as “flu”.
Mushrooms usually grow in the wild and while doing so, incorporate in them a number of compounds that can help them fight against the environmental bacteria and viruses. This property makes them an excellent immune-boosting food that is delicious yet effective against potential diseases.
8. Your guide to good skin:
Mushrooms, as per studies, also help reduce acne and eczema due to their anti-inflammatory properties. Particularly, Reishi mushroom, helps cure acne alongside reducing stress, insomnia and fatigue. Due to its wide spectrum of health benefits, its medicinal benefits have been used since ancient times. Today, modern medicine considers mushrooms a staple when it comes to functional foods.
Several varieties of mushrooms are used in anti-aging creams, face masks and other skin care products as they help minimize pores, hydrates the skin, exfoliates the skin, reduces blemishes and boosts vitamins giving you facial glow.
9. Stops hair loss:
Stops hair loss: Mushrooms are high in iron and can meet your daily iron needs, preventing anemia and other health problems. A mushroom-rich diet can help prevent hair loss and promote the growth of new hair. Mushrooms are also known for their high copper content, which helps to slow down greying.
Reishi mushrooms, which have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries, can help to prevent balding and premature hair loss.
Anti-inflammatory chemicals found in reishi mushrooms helps to protect damaged hair. They also increase hair growth by improving blood circulation in the scalp.
There are numerous methods to include mushroom medicine into your daily routine. Mushrooms are considered advantageous as a preventive treatment to promote immuno-stimulation against infections, as well as for their many other health benefits.