Featurettes

4 Mushrooms to Improve Your Life

Become a fungi (or gal) with our quick guide to the latest superfood trend.

Mushrooms are the latest trend in the world of superfoods, and have made their their way into everything from smoothies to coffee. Many natural- and health-food stores carry superfood mushroom products in their supplement/protein powder aisle—where you’ll likely find them in powdered form—and some raw chocolate companies such as Yes CaCao and Addictive Wellness are now selling super mushroom chocolate. In fact, there are dozens of companies offering hundreds of products with one (or a combination) of these mushrooms in their products, but there is still much research to be done on the exact health benefits of these fungi. However, if there’s a possibility that we can prevent cancer, increase energy levels, and elevate our moods by simply enjoying a piece of chocolate, it’s certainly worth a try! Are you game? If so, then add these four types of mushrooms to your daily routine.
 
1. Chaga
Known for its immunity-enhancing natural powers, chaga is heralded as a powerful antioxidant that works to fight against bacteria, viruses, and inflammatory disease. Chaga is unique in that it acts as an immune-system regulator, so it not only stimulates an immune response against pathogens but can also combat an overactive immune response—which is the cause of many autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. This characteristic has enticed some doctors and scientists to utilize chaga as a complementary treatment for patients undergoing chemotherapy in order to lessen the negative side effects. Further, the specific antioxidant properties of chaga have been shown to support the regulation of cholesterol and blood pressure. So, the next time you feel a cold coming on, try swapping your açaí powder for a green juice with chaga.
 
2. Cordyceps
Need an energy boost? Forgo your usual espresso for some cordyceps-spiked coffee, as cordyceps are rumored to naturally increase energy levels (and have also been linked to increased athletic and sexual performance). Proponents of this mushroom also cite its immunity-boosting powers, and its ability to increase lung capacity by enhancing oxygen uptake and slow the onset of exercise-induced fatigue. If you are feeling a bit sluggish before heading out for your morning bike ride, sprinkle some cordyceps powder in your water bottle, and crush that workout!
 
3. Lion’s mane
For those of us who need a little help with our memories, lion’s mane might help. Studies have shown that this mushroom improves cognitive ability through its neuroregenerative functions. The subjects in these studies suffering from various forms of mild cognitive impairment were able to function on a higher level after 30 days of ingesting lion’s mane. In essence, the ‘shroom not only prevents mental deterioration but also has the potential to restore cognitive capacity. As an added bonus, research suggests that this mushroom can also elevate mood and serve as an antidepressant.
 
4. Reishi
If your goal is to live to 100, you might want to consider adding some reishi to your diet. This species of mushroom is known for increasing longevity due to its immune-system boosting and anti-cancer properties. In fact, the Chinese name translates to “mushroom of immortality.” Similar to chaga, reishi also helps to regulate the immune system and lowers blood pressure, making it another hopeful candidate in the fight against cancer. For those of us with shorter-term goals such as getting a good night’s sleep, reishi can also help, as research has suggested that it regulates the hormonal system and lowers cortisol levels, which leads to deeper, higher quality sleep. After a long, stressful day at work, reach for a mug of warm reishi cocoa, and allow yourself to drift off into a blissful snooze.
 
Tanya Flink is an Orange County-based vegan, foodie, and certified Master Personal Trainer.

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