Use mushrooms to keep your immune system healthy and strong

The best, most logical and realistic way to prevent disease is to keep your immune system strong. While continued physical distancing and strict hygiene practices are no doubt needed right now, your true defense lies within your immune system.

How can you strengthen your immune system? Nature has some distinct helpers in that regard.

Keeping in mind that your immunity is your best defense, think of your immune cells as your ‘soldiers’ who are deployed in response to an attack of the enemy: pathogens. And like actual soldiers, your immune cells carry weapons to help combat disease.

One specific weapon you can harness to ‘arm’ your immune cells is a nutrient called beta-glucan. Think of it like a rocket launcher for your immune cells to use when combating viruses and bacteria. Beta-glucans are an underrated but well-studied nutrient known to greatly improve our immune cells in response to disease.

So how exactly can you get more beta-glucans? Mushrooms. 

Top Benefits of Nature’s Immunity Boosting Secret Ingredient

mushrooms

Mushrooms have the highest beta-glucan content of any food source making them an excellent addition into your arsenal of immune-boosting nutrients.

While there are hundreds of varieties of mushrooms, here are a few well known mushrooms to give you a glimpse into just how well these guys can benefit your immunity:

  • Shiitake: Not just famous in the culinary world, Shiitake mushrooms are also famous in the medical world. They’re most known for their anti-cancer properties, thanks to their high antioxidant content and anti-inflammatory benefits that protect you from bacteria, fungus and viruses. 
  • Maitake: Considered an adaptogenic mushroom, Maitake mushrooms boost the immune system by helping your body adapt to stress while giving you a healthy dose of antioxidants. Both these benefits help reduce inflammation, which is so often connected to disease. 
  • Chaga: Known as the ‘King of Medicinal Mushrooms,’ this adaptogenic mushroom balances your immune system – meaning it gives it a boost when needed or helps to bring it back to balance when it is being too active. For example, inflammation is a necessary response in healing, but TOO MUCH creates imbalance and disease. Getting into balance, or homeostasis, allows your body to fight pathogens and remain healthy.
  • Reishi: Known as the ‘Queen of Medicinal Mushrooms,’ Reishi is a calming mushroom with potent restorative benefits. Among its many healing properties, reishi helps to balance out adrenals, which is especially important for keeping immune-dampening cortisol at bay. 
  • Cordyceps: When you need an energy boost without worrying about any jitters or energy crashes, cordyceps have the ability to increase your strength and energy by helping to increase your body’s oxygen intake and use. 
  • Lion’s Mane: This mushroom is well loved for its ability to enhance cognitive function. Think mental clarity and alertness. Immune dampening mental disorders such as depression and anxiety can be improved as well with this mushroom.
  • Turkey Tail: Like its other medicinal mushroom comrades, Turkey Tail mushrooms are high in antioxidants. Studies show that these mushrooms promote gut health, acting as a prebiotic and feeding immune-boosting healthy gut bacteria. 

How You Can Get The Most Out Of Mushrooms

chopping shitake mushrooms

If you want to make the most of the health benefits of mushrooms, here are a couple tips:

  • Combination: Where mushrooms and immunity are concerned, more is better. These lovely fungi play well together. When combined together they work synergistically and enhance the health benefits offered to your body.
  • Fermentation: Fermenting mushrooms increases their nutritional benefits. As you probably know, fermenting foods breaks them down in order to make nutrients more bioavailable. Mushrooms are no exception. This is particularly beneficial if you don’t have access to a lot of mushrooms, or are on a budget. You get more with “less” by fermenting them.

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