What are Functional Foods?

  • by Michele Scarce

FUNCTIONAL FOODS – MEDICINAL MUSHROOMS

Talk is increasing about Functional Foods. But what are they? 🤷‍♀️ "Functional foods are foods that may have a positive effect on health beyond basic nutrition." The key word here being 'beyond' basic nutrition.

Mushrooms are a prime example of a functional food, as they go well beyond simply providing incredible nutrition but they also help fight disease and bring the body back to homeostasis. In other words, these botanical treasures are commonly known to be medicinal in their qualities.
Functional Mushrooms

 

Mushrooms have become attractive as a functional food for millennia and they are trending now more than ever. This is due to their antioxidant, antitumor and antimicrobial properties, but besides their pharmacological features, mushrooms are becoming more important in our diet due to their nutritional value, high protein and low fat / energy properties.

They have a large number of bioactive compounds, such as polysaccharide rich Beta Glucans, and polysaccharide protein complexes, such as lactones, terpenoids, alkaloids, antibiotics, and heavy metal agents.

 

Simply put they may assist with:

  • Mood elevation
  • Immune boosting
  • Adaptogenic (stress support)
  • Building blocks of essential nutrients for neurons and neurotransmitters (serotonin)
  • Promotes healthy gut microbiome
  • Hormone balancing agents
  • Support physical recovery, endurance, and stamina
  • Lifts brain fog and improves mental focus
  • Great for cholesterol balance

In addition to all these incredible benefits, they are a rich source of fiber, vitamins (such as D), and powerful antioxidants.

There are so many ways in which you can add them to your daily routine:

  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Smoothies
  • Yoghurt
  • Baking
  • Curries
  • Soups

The top 8 medicinal mushrooms to consider including as part of your diet and/or supplement regimen:

Functional Medicinal Mushrooms

1. White button mushrooms (Agaricus) - This family of mushrooms includes the white button mushrooms, cremini mushrooms, and portobellos. This family of mushrooms contain phytochemicals that inhibit aromatase activity and breast cancer cell proliferation. They’ve also been shown to improve memory. And they taste delicious!!

2. Cordyceps - This super-mushroom is best known for its adaptogenic (ie. good for stress) and energy-promoting effects. It boosts metabolic rates and helps with muscle recovery post-workout. It has also been shown to enhance fertility. Cordyceps increased detoxifying glutathione production, enhanced levels of LH and testosterone, and improved sperm count and motility.

3. Reishi - Like cordyceps, reishi also has adaptogenic effects. Reishi also has a positive impact on the brain, improving focus and memory. This mushroom is particularly helpful in cases of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

4. Maitake - This mushroom is also known as “hen of the woods.” It has anti-cancer and immune-modulation effects. It also enhances fertility and protects the liver from damage. In addition, it has anti-aging effects, protecting the skin against UV damage and promoting collagen production. This mushroom loves fighting the free radicals that smash our body during each day.

5. Lion’s mane - Studies show this mushroom significantly improves scores on cognitive function scales. It also boosts brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is like “miracle grow for the brain.” In addition, lion’s mane has been shown to be effective in cases of depression and anxiety. This one is for your brain!

6. Chaga - Chaga is energizing! It increases exercise endurance and improves biological measures related to fatigue.

Chaga is also a rich source of antioxidants.

7. Morels – The substances extracted from this magical mushroom are promising for immune-modulation, anti-cancer, and anti-inflammatory applications. How good is this !?

8. Turkey Tail (Coriolis) - Turkey tail is a rich source of antioxidants, notably quercetin. It slows the progression of breast cancer, especially in combination with radiation and chemotherapy. Cancer patients that took Turkey Tail they had a 9% absolute reduction in 5-year mortality’s

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