Medicinal mushrooms have been around since forever and have been used by cultures around the world as a nutrient-dense food and as a traditional medicine for maintaining and/or boosting immune, brain and metabolic health.
There are your common varieties such as the white button mushrooms, flat mushrooms, Swiss brown mushrooms, oyster mushrooms and Portabella mushrooms. But it is increasingly common to find speciality varieties such as shiitake, enoki, and King oyster.
In addition to edible mushrooms, medicinal mushrooms have also gained a lot of attention. The top medicinal mushrooms include reishi, shiitake, maitake, cordyceps, chaga, lion’s mane, and turkey tail.
Common edible mushrooms medicinal mushrooms and their supercharged supplemental forms have benefits when it comes to health including immunity.
Mushrooms in your daily life
As with any food, when consumed in its whole form, all the nutritional and medicinal properties work synergistically to transfer health benefits over to you.
Edible mushrooms included in a varied diet is just one way to work towards better health. It is best to cook your mushrooms as the cooking process helps inactivate naturally present toxins is some varieties and, more importantly, unlocks all the beneficial properties for us to make the most of.
Mushrooms can be sauteed (taste great with some garlic and parsley), chopped and added to frittatas, scrambled eggs or bolognaise, roasted on a tray with root vegetables or added to stews or casseroles. Dried mushrooms such as shiitake can be used to make broth for a soup.
Medicinal mushrooms and their benefits
Nutritionally, mushrooms are a good source of B vitamins, copper, and zinc. Oyster mushrooms are one of the best varieties for glutathione– a valuable compound known for its antioxidant activity and ability to support immune cell activity. Mushrooms can also be a source of vitamin D but since most commercial mushrooms are grown indoors it is suggested to put your mushrooms out in the sun for 15-20 minutes (between 10am and 3pm preferably) to boost their vitamin D content.
Medicinal mushrooms also contain bioactive compounds. And it is these bioactive compounds that research has explored to determine their medicinal value including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-tumour, cholesterol-lowering, immune-modulating and gut microbiome-modulating activity.
How do medicinal mushrooms work?
Medicinal mushrooms have the power to stimulate and balance immune responses which is where they can be very useful in supporting kids with chronic immune challenges.
They help activate important pathogen-fighting immune cells to go out and gobble up or destroy infection-causing viruses and bacteria. They also have powerful anti-inflammatory effects that help in resolving an infection appropriately.
It has actually been suggested that to benefit most from medicinal mushroom supplements you should include the edible forms in your diet.
What is a healthy immune response?
A healthy immune response is one that deals with the invaders that give us tummy bugs, colds and flu.
This immune response needs to be strong enough to fight off the invader to both reduce the severity of the infection and promote optimal recovery.
We don’t want our kids struggling to bounce back after a cold with symptoms lingering weeks on end. Nor do we want a common virus worsening and causing a nastier illness such as bronchiolitis or pneumonia.
The immune response also needs to know when to back down and not cause unnecessary inflammation that can damage the delicate tissue in our airways and gut.
Best medicinal mushroom supplements
Like many products quality is important. With the popularity in medicinal mushrooms, inferior products will present themselves on shelves at a fraction of the price of quality products.
Inferior products will not be tested for their efficacy so they will not contain the same level of bioactive compounds as quality products. Inferior products also tend to contain very minimal amounts of the claimed medicinal compounds. Then there is the obvious question of where and how they are grown in order to keep costs down.
Take home message
Experiment with mushrooms in your child’s diet as an extra boost for a healthy immune system.
Winter is on its way and now is a good time to think about how you can support your child’s immunity.
And if you have a child who seems to get hit hard with what ever is going around, get in touch today to see how we can help.