Mushrooms have been used for centuries, across many cultures as both food and medicine. A growing body of research now centers on the many benefits of mushrooms both on our physical and mental health. If you’ve only thought of mushrooms as a nice addition to a stir-fry, it’s time to learn more about these fascinating fungi, and their medicinal and adaptogenic varieties that are becoming mainstream superfood supplements!
Mushrooms are edible fungi, which might not sound too appetizing, but the contributions that fungi make to the planet and to our own health can’t be overlooked. Fungi help to regulate carbon dioxide and recycle nutrients in the soil, and they are an often-delicious secret weapon for improving overall health when part of a rounded diet.
Of course, some types of mushrooms aren’t edible at all, and a few are even deadly if eaten. Mycologists (people who study mushrooms) estimate that there are about 14,000 different species of mushrooms, with about 800 new species discovered annually! About 70-80 species are poisonous. Many poisonous mushrooms closely resemble edible mushrooms, so it’s important to educate yourself on different types if you gather wild mushrooms. The aptly named Death Cap mushroom is responsible for about 90% of mushroom fatalities, but overall, mushroom poisoning is relatively rare (an average of 2.9 cases each year in the U.S.).
Mushrooms are low in calories, with only about 20 calories per cup, but packed with nutrient density and goodness. One recent study found that adding one serving a day of mushrooms boosted intake of many essential nutrients, without any negative effects. Here are just a few of the ways mushrooms are a nutrient powerhouse:
Over the last decade, modern research has really begun to understand and harness the powerful benefits of functional mushrooms for human health. Certain varieties of mushrooms contain adaptogens, substances found in plants that help the body respond, manage and reduce the damaging effects of stress. Adaptogenic mushrooms include varieties like reishi, cordyceps, lion’s mane and chaga.
Although studies are still ongoing, results show positive effects on those who incorporate adaptogenic mushrooms in their diet.
Compounds from adaptogenic mushrooms can be taken in the form of capsules, teas, and tinctures. Always consult first with a healthcare practitioner before incorporating new supplements or herbs - some adaptogens can cause unwanted side effects in certain people.
The hallucinogenic qualities of so-called “magic mushrooms” have long been associated with recreational drug use, but exciting new research points to their meaningful psychological benefits. Microdosing, or consuming very small amounts of a hallucinogen, is gaining attention as a way to potentially experience the benefits of these mushrooms without the drawbacks. However, it’s important to note that this research is done under highly controlled conditions.
Because mushrooms have that umami flavor, they make excellent main dishes and easy meat substitutes.Try using them in place of ground meat in tacos, lasagna or stuffed peppers in your next “Meatless Monday” dish!
When shopping for mushrooms, look for firm, dry mushrooms that are free from mold. Most mushrooms can be refrigerated in a paper bag and last for about five days.
Wondering how mushrooms can help you manage stress, enhance immune function, improve brain health, let’s chat! We are always here to help you take your health to the next level. Give BioHeal Ottawa a call at 613-446-6060.
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