Mushrooms to Help Keep Your Immunity In Check
Winter is a fun and magical season – but not for your immune system. After all, your immune system is what bears the brunt of winter’s wet and frigid weather, diminished daylight, and overexposure to stuffy indoor air. It works extra-hard this time of year to help protect you from infection while faced with tremendous environmental, physical, and mental stressors that can make you prone to infection and fatigue.
Instead of putting your immune system into overdrive and becoming worn out this season, look to your diet for added support. At Whole Earth & Sea®, we know firsthand that raw, whole food nutrition is the best supportive therapy for maintaining a strong immune system – and mushrooms are one of the biggest food-based contributors to immunity!
Mushrooms are recognised for many medicinal functions, including immune-enhancing and antioxidant properties.1 The popularity of mushrooms is growing amongst scientists and health enthusiasts as research continues to unveil their numerous bioactive compounds. Here are six of the top mushrooms to support your immune system.
The “mushroom of immortality”, most commonly known as reishi (Ganoderma lucidum), has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years to improve health and longevity.1 It is one of the most studied and widely used of all the medicinal mushrooms and a popular remedy for chronic illness in Asia. Over 30 years of clinical research has confirmed that reishi both activates and modulates the immune system. It also works with the body’s immune system cells to protect against oxidative damage.1,2
Maitake (Grifolia frondosa) means “dancing mushroom” in Japanese. As an adaptogen, maitake increases the body’s resistance to stress. It is known to modulate the immune system and increase the activity of immune system cells, such as neutrophils and natural killer cells.1,2
Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) is one of the most popular edible mushrooms with big health benefits. It has been used for hundreds of years to relieve symptoms of the common cold and has both antioxidant and antimicrobial activities. Current research is focused on shiitake’s benefits for suppressed immune function and recurrent colds and flu.
The “caterpillar fungus” called cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis) is found at high altitudes in the Himalayan mountains. Traditional healers use this unique fungus for its adaptogenic properties and to support a healthy stress response.3,4
Beta glucans – the secret behind mushrooms’ benefits
One of the biggest reasons for mushrooms’ immune-enhancing properties is a group of compounds called beta glucans. These are the main type of polysaccharide (long chain carbohydrates) found in mushrooms, making up half the mass in their cell walls.1
Beta glucans are not made by our bodies, but they are able to trigger both our innate and adaptive immune responses.1 They do this by binding to and activating the receptors found on white blood cells, including macrophages, neutrophils, natural killer cells, and cytotoxic T-cells, which help the body respond to infection.5
Making the most of mushrooms’ benefits
Many edible mushrooms have outstanding nutritional profiles and immune-supportive properties. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and not sure how to begin incorporating mushrooms into your diet, there’s a simple solution. 7 Mushroom Super Blend from Whole Earth & Sea® contains a blend of organic mushrooms, Wellmune® beta glucan, and our nutrient-dense Farm Fresh Factors™ to create a vital bioenergetic immune and energy support formula. Its synergistic combination of maitake, shiitake, reishi, cordyceps, silver ear, zhuling and wolfiporia mushrooms provides a well-rounded profile of mycelia and fungal polysaccharides used in herbal medicine to support immune function, support general health and wellbeing, and resistance to stress.
Wellmune® is a beta 1,3/1,6 glucan sourced from a highly purified strain of baker’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae). Just like the beta glucans found in mushrooms, Wellmune can bind to the body’s immune cell receptors.12
A long history of immune support
When it comes to immune support, mushrooms have stood the test of time. They gave strength to Ancient Greek warriors and are treasured as an “elixir of life” in traditional Chinese culture.1 Whether you are seeking support for stress, or are looking to strengthen your immunity and be supported through the cold and flu season mushrooms have a lot to offer – both as a food and a natural health product.
*References available on request