Has anyone else noticed mushroom lattes, tea blends, supplements, elixirs, and tonics popping up all over social media and even served in our local coffee stores? This is because mushrooms, one of the most studied food families, have been shown to have incredible health benefits for your brain, hormones, immune system and mood!
Many medicinal mushrooms are referred to as adaptogens, a group of foods and herbs that have the ability to protect our bodies from the harmful effects of stress, whilst also supporting overall health, energy and mood. They quite literally help the body to ‘adapt’ itself depending on our emotional and physical needs. They are non-toxic, help your body to achieve balance and reduce your body’s stress response. For example, adaptogens can help bring clarity in times of confusion, bring peace to a racing mind and bring calm in times of stress.
If you need a bit of stress balancing TLC, then I have rounded up my top favourite adaptogenic mushrooms and where best to get them from!
Chaga is a mighty mushroom that can help reduce inflammation in the body and promote the formation of cytokines, proteins that regulate and enhance our immune system. This woody looking mushroom is also packed with antioxidants that can help mop up free radicals consumed through food or environment. Free radicals can impact fats, proteins and DNA in the body, and are best reduced when possible. If you're looking to fight off potential viruses or boost your immune system naturally, Chaga is the mushroom for you!
Four Sigmatic sells a wonderful mushroom coffee blend that contains Chaga and Cordyceps, which is available at Planet Organic.
Reishi mushrooms, also known as the “queen of mushrooms”, have a powerful effect on the mind and body, contributing to everything from weight loss, immunity, hormone balance and sleep. Reishi tea has been used for centuries to help boost the immune system, thanks to its high antioxidant concentration. It is also a popular anti-anxiety remedy, helping regulate cortisol (our stress hormone) levels and promoting calm and ease.
For those wanting to balance their blood sugar levels, studies have also shown that the polysaccharides and triterpenes in reishi extracts can decrease fat storage seen in people struggling with weight loss, and have also been shown to help lower blood sugars in diabetics.
Looking for a sweet treat without the blood sugar spike? Check out Pollen and Grace’s delicious Hazelnut Praline and Reishi Super Square.
Cordycep mushrooms are particularly valuable when it comes to energy production and balance. These tiny little string-like mushrooms help increase oxygen absorption at a cellular level, which is key for energy creation. In a double-bind placebo-controlled trial researchers found that cordyceps acted like an adaptogen, helping people struggling with fatigue increase their levels of energy and endurance.
For a pre-workout boost of energy, try Glow Bar’s Elixi Cordyceps powder whisked into your latte or blend into your morning smoothie.
Shiitake mushrooms are probably one of the only adaptogenic mushrooms that you can find in your local supermarket or grocers. Apart from the fact that they are a rich source of Vitamin D, Zinc and essential B vitamins, they have been shown to boost the immune system and promote cardiovascular health. One Japanese study showed that Eritadenine, found in shitake mushrooms, helped reduce serum cholesterol levels in patients with high cholesterol. Enjoy shitake mushrooms lightly steamed, in stews, soups or pan fried with tamari for a vitamin and immune boost.
You may find Shitake mushroom crisps in your local health food store. For a go-to brand, check out Other Foods Crunchy Shiitake Mushroom Chips available at Planet Organic.
Clarissa Lenherr is a London based, registered Nutritional Therapist who focuses on personalised, predictive, preventative and participatory nutrition so that you can reach the optimum YOU.