Mushrooms and Fungi for a Stronger Immune System

June 27, 2019

The immune system is the first line of defense for many intricate systems and functions in the body. Without it, or even with just a weakened immune system, there could be serious health repercussions.

The immune system is an orchestra of cells, organs, and tissues that affect every aspect of our body. Often, even when we’re under the weather or struggling with cold symptoms, we don’t fully understand the barrage of other illnesses that our immune system has protected us from. Thankfully there are things that we can do to help boost our immune system defenses, and better protect our body. One little-known immune booster is mushrooms and fungi. 

3 Ways Your Immune Defenses Can Go Down 

There are many factors that cause your immune system to become vulnerable, but there are three in particular that have the biggest impact: lack of sleep, lack of exercise, and poor eating habits. Each plays a critical role in improving your overall health while supporting your immune system and vice versa, and neglecting and of them can result in poor immune function and poor health.

Lack of Sleep

Not getting enough sleep is something that most Americans have experience with at one time or another. The constant demands on our work lives, and personal lives seem to keep us from our beds more and more. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported that over 35% of Americans have admitted to not getting at least 7 hours of sleep each night. This is reflected in the American economy as the United States spends over $411 Billion each year to combat sleep deprivation. 

Lack of Exercise

Considering how much most of us work, it’s easy to see how exercise takes a backseat. A recent study shows that only 5% of adults exercise every day. This is one of the biggest ways that you can help boost your immune system. Exercise helps by promoting oxygen within your whole body as well as promoting blood circulation to muscles, organs, and tissues. Exercise is a key for mental health as well. While it may be hard to carve out time in your day, especially in the beginning, doctors encourage 30 minutes or more of exercise every day. This exercise can be as simple as walking around your neighborhood or riding a stationary bike while you watch TV. A small amount of exercise can have huge benefits for your overall body health, especially in helping your immune system fight off diseases and infections.

Poor Eating Habits

We often underestimate the power of food. Food is meant to be fuel for your body, which the body converts into energy to sustain and develop muscles and to protect the integrity of different organs and systems within your body. 

When we don’t eat food that’s nutritious, we end up not only suffering effects such as weight gain and fatigue, but we’re also preventing our bodies from functioning properly in regards to immunity. This is why one of the key things that you can do to prove your immune system is develop good eating habits. This can include making sure to eat at routine times, portion control, and resisting the urge to cycle between overeating and starving ourselves as part of our weight loss efforts. You need stability in your diet. Additionally, it’s important that you eat food that provides a healthy balance of nutrients, such as fruits and vegetables, good slow-burning carbs, and healthy fats. These things help your immune system and other systems within your body to function at their best. 

Mushrooms and Fungi for Immunity 

There are many different things that you can eat to provide your body with the nutrition that it needs, and numerous food choices that provide specific benefits for the body. For example, eating walnuts is good for brain cognition, while the vitamin C found an orange juice is good for boosting your immune system. There are lots of other foods that is key and boosting your immune system as well, but today we’re focusing on mushrooms and fungi, which often don’t get the attention they deserve as immune boosters.

Types of Mushrooms and Fungi

One of the most common mushrooms for boosting your immune system is the Turkey Tail Mushroom. This powerful mushroom provides your body with the nutrients needed to help fight illness while boosting your natural immune system. The Turkey Tail Mushroom does this through its bioactive components known as beta-glucans, which stimulate the immune system in two ways: first by improving the macrophage, and second, by aiding the killer cell function.

Another example of immune-boosting mushrooms is the Maitake Mushroom. This mushroom is similar to the Turkey Tail Mushroom as it houses the beta-glucan and supports the killer cells. Additionally, it also can support your body’s blood sugar as well.

A third option to consider is the Cordyceps Mushroom, which is known for its ability to improve athletes’ performance and endurance. At that same time, Cordycep Mushrooms also provides support to your immune system through their ability to decrease harmful bacteria in the digestive system. 

One of the most commonly known mushrooms is the Shiitake Mushroom. While this mushroom has a fun name, it also has some serious health benefits which is why it is such a staple in Asian cuisine. This mushroom has a very versatile flavor, that allows it to be cooked in a variety of different meals. The Shiitake Mushroom supports a healthy heart while aiding in fighting obesity. 

The Shiitake Mushroom also improves your immune system’s efficiency, while improving digestive health, and lowering inflammation in the body. Another important finding is that the Shiitake Mushroom appears to help prevent the growth of malignant tumors. The nutrients within the Shiitake Mushroom send signals to the tumor cells signaling them to explode rather than maintain their form and develop further. 

Mushrooms are also known for their antimicrobial properties, and Shiitake Mushrooms do not disappoint in this regard. Its antimicrobial properties work as a natural form of antibiotic and can kill disease-causing microbes, while disregarding the good bacteria in your system, unlike prescription antibiotics, which kill both good and bad bacteria indiscriminately.

How to Incorporate Mushrooms Into Your Meals

There are numerous ways that you can take advantage of all the benefits that mushrooms and fungi have to offer. Mushrooms make a great addition to traditional pasta dishes. You can cut up and cook the mushrooms in the sauce to use over quinoa or rice. Another option is to eat them raw within a wrap. Try including some of the above types of mushrooms along with other veggies inside of a cauliflower tortilla for a great immune boosting lunch.

Grilling mushrooms is also fun, and they make excellent additions to kabobs. Skewer the mushrooms with other vegetables such as squash and zucchini, then lightly grill them. One of the most popular ways to eat mushrooms is on a cauliflower crusted pizza. You can combine mushrooms with other vegetables as a healthy pizza topping. Adding freshly dried mushrooms to soup is another excellent option that is available year-round. Whatever you choose, just add them to your diet each day and reap the immune boosting benefits.

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