Move over kale, the humble mushroom might be the next big superfood on everyone’s shopping list. More than a great side to your avo on toast, we caught up with Nutritionist Amelia Phillips to get the lowdown on the ‘shroom boom’ and why you’ll be adding mushrooms to your diet – like, right now.
Mushrooms have been used in Chinese and Eastern medicine for thousands of years, but we’re only just starting to discover the science behind these unassuming creatures. As a result there is a ‘Shroom Boom’ happening right now.
Mushrooms belong to the fungi kingdom and are actually more closely related to animals than they are to plants (due to their complex cell structure and ability to create large underground networks).
Because they live in hostile environments on the forest floor, mushrooms have developed powerful antiviral and antibacterial properties. Using a combination of chemicals they’re able to do an array of things – from boosting our health (edible and medicinal mushrooms) to actually poisoning us.
What are the health benefits?
Mushrooms pack a powerful punch when it comes to health benefits. They contain antioxidants, amino acids, proteins, digestive enzymes, prebiotics, and a powerful enzyme called beta-glucan. Beta-glucan helps to balance blood sugar and cholesterol, boost the immune system and protect against obesity.
A recent review highlighted the significant findings that prebiotics in mushrooms have been shown to also help fight disease, prevent cell damage and contain some very unique amino acids.
What does this mean for our overall health? A diet rich in mushrooms or mushroom blends will;
- help fight against disease-causing inflammation,
- boost your immune system,
- help protect against sickness,
- improve skin health,
- boost energy and aid digestion.
Do different mushrooms have different benefits?
Different varieties of mushrooms have varying benefits. For example;
- The Mushroom of life (Agaricus Blazei) is used for anti-ageing, immunity, and reducing blood sugar levels.
- Shitake mushrooms are adaptogenic (naturally occurring substances, that protect your body from stress) and have been used in Traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic Medicine for thousands of years.
- The Turkey Tail mushroom* (Trametes Versicolor), is one of the most researched medicinal mushrooms in the world. They’re ideal for improving gut health, boosting nutrient absorption, aiding digestion and reducing inflammation.
*Recent research on Turkey Tail mushrooms has shown that it’s also an effective buffer for Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals, which can cause endocrine disorders such as hypothyroidism or endometriosis.
How can I maximise the benefits?
The challenge with fresh mushrooms is finding different varieties of good quality organic mushrooms.
Mushrooms are natures filter, so it’s important to source them from organic farms with minimal heavy metals in the soil. Where possible, buy fresh mushrooms from local farmers or your local organic co-op.
Alternatively, try a mushroom blend which are organic fermented mushrooms, that have been dried and milled in a manner preserving their nutrient benefits (such as EMPOWdER,). Mushroom blends are designed to help us maximise the health benefits of mushrooms by making them more readily available. (Here are three delicious recipes using mushroom blends.)
Ready to start chomping on your new fave superfood? Try our…
Amelia Phillips is a nutritionist, exercise scientist, online health coach, and the consulting nutritionist to Set The Bar, who has helped thousands live a healthier life through optimised nutrition and targeted supplementation.