Kicking off the New year with a scratchy throat and runny nose is definitely not the way we imagine our new wellness plans to go! If anything in life is consistent it’s the post-Christmas flu that kicks us on our butt right when we least need it to.
If you’re a fellow Canadian, you know our winters are long and hard. Because of the extended duration of dropping degrees, there is never a shortage of opportunities to get sick. Not only do flu viruses thrive in the cold but our immune systems suppress as a result of the dropped temperature also. The result of these two occurrences is a well-designed recipe to keep you lethargic like the weather outside. But, who said you couldn’t fight it?
The immune system plays a vital role in keeping us healthy and functioning at our best. Being the body’s defense against infection, maintaining a strong immune system is key to being protected from unwanted illnesses as they come. Although it is believed that genetics play a big role in a strong or weak immune system, the body’s ability to fend off germs can most definitely be strengthened by how we treat it.
A powerful immune system begins when we feed it what it needs, and in this case, we can look to nature for just that. In conjunction with a healthy lifestyle, functional mushrooms are antioxidant powerhouses chalk-full of immune-boosting properties the body needs to thrive. The immune system is highly influenced by what we consume, which is why mushrooms are a valuable plant to include in your daily routine for a plethora of health reasons. Let’s get to know some of the world’s most effective functional mushrooms to assist you in your immune strengthening journey!
1. Turkey Tail
The Turkey Tail mushroom is not only beautiful to look at but beautiful to consume, given all the healing properties it has to offer. This mesmerizing fungus can be found on trees and logs around the world. It carries a long history in Chinese medicine for its range of health benefits including anti-tumor properties and immune support. With modern research confirming Turkey Tail as an immune system stimulant, germ-resistance can be kicked into high gear with the help of this medicinal fungus.
Ganoderma Lingzhi, most commonly known as Reishi, has also coined the praiseful name of “Mushroom of Immortality,” thanks to its stellar medicinal properties. Of all the functional mushrooms we speak of, Reishi has undergone the most study and research– giving it extra reputability in its immune-boosting powers. Used for hundreds of years in mostly Asian countries to improve overall health, Reishi has been analyzed under several contexts, including in the treatment of cancer and various pulmonary diseases. The adaptogenic properties of this mushroom are also said to combat fatigue and decrease stress, making it a great supplement for before, during and after a sickness strikes. When it comes to strengthening the immune system, Reishi definitely has a knack for improving overall health.
3. Lion’s Mane
A fan favorite for a variety of reasons, is the faithful Lion’s Mane. The special fungus native to North America, Europe and Asia, has been long used in Chinese Medicine to fight fatigue. Whereas in modern times, Lion’s Mane has also been praised for its ability to boost brain function, improve mood, and enhance the immune system. Increasing activity of the intestinal immune system by stimulating healthy gut bacteria, the fungus may help protect against those unwanted viruses. Given its potential stress and anxiety reducing qualities, Lion’s mane is a nutritious functional plant-food perfect for any supplement routine.
Growing on the larvae of insects, and marketed in China as the “herbal viagra” is a true force of nature, known as Cordyceps. Cordyceps are thought to be beneficial in carrying energy to the muscles, potentially improving exercise performance and improving the way our bodies utilize oxygen. Outside of the gym, Cordyceps carry adaptogenic properties that help to boost vitality, decrease fatigue, and of course, whip the immune system into shape. Although research on the Cordyceps’ immune abilities remains preliminary, the fungus is believed to have a protective effect on the body’s organs, used in history to boost cellular immunity.
So what is it about mushrooms that makes them such a viable option for boosting immunity? One of the major reasons is a name you may have heard before if you’ve ever looked into immune health yourself… Beta-glucans.
Forming inside the cell walls of functional mushrooms are beta-glucans, a sugar compound found in fungi, bacteria and types of yeast. Beta-glucans are known to be an immunomodulating agent, aiding in the activation of immune cells to help fight off disease. Consuming beta-glucan on a common basis can be seen as an effective way to boost immune health and protect the body, giving functional mushrooms yet another reason to shine as an integral piece in anyone’s winter wellness regime.
Mushrooms also carry essential nutrients such as B vitamins, selenium, potassium and more – vitamins the body can only produce through consumption. Each vitamin that mushrooms carry can make a direct impact on the body’s immune system. Sometimes, due to lack of time or energy we struggle to include all of our essential vitamins through our diet alone, which is why supplements can be so important in maintaining proper bodily function.
Functional mushrooms don’t only offer an array of immune boosting benefits, but they also carry other unique properties that help aid in a variety of different health needs including mental health.
With functional shrooms becoming more and more popular in modern times for their range of positive effects, you don’t want to miss out on the all-natural capabilities of plant-based health healers.