The earth’s soil is home to large populations of natural agents that help promote the environment. One of them is the fungi mushroom, which helps restore pollution-damaged habitats, acts as natural pesticides, and even provides a sustainable fuel called Econol.
While mushrooms have the ability to support Mother Nature, they are also capable of promoting your own health, from helping strengthen your immune system to preventing debilitating diseases. Some benefits that you may enjoy from consuming mushrooms are:
- Weight management – One study showed that substituting red meat with white button mushrooms may support a healthy weight.
- Improved nutrition – Adding more mushrooms to your diet may help improve diet quality.
- Optimal vitamin D levels– Eating certain mushroom species is seen in a study to be more effective than taking vitamin D2 supplements.
- Optimal digestive function – Mushrooms support your gastrointestinal health, thanks to their supply of dietary fiber and fungal enzymes.
- Antibacterial properties – Penicillin, streptomycin, and tetracycline are all derived from fungal extracts.
It’s small wonder that mushrooms are now gaining a superfood reputation. I recommend you to add more of them to your diet or consume them indirectly through supplementation. But first, let me explain to you how mushrooms support your health.
Mushrooms contain long-chain polysaccharides, specifically alpha- and beta-glucans. These molecules have beneficial effects on your immune system. In fact, did you know that medications like penicillin, streptomycin, and tetracycline are all derived from fungal extracts?
Other naturally-occurring compounds like fungal proteins, lectines, peptides, and laccases in mushrooms also support your immune function. In fact, studies show that mushrooms have cancer-fighting and anti-tumor properties.
Mushrooms are also great sources of protein, fiber, B vitamins (especially niacin), vitamin C, calcium, minerals, and selenium. They also contain antioxidants that are unique to mushrooms, such as ergothioneine, which according to studies is a highly powerful antioxidant. It is produced by fungi and certain mycobacteria found in soils.
A study published in the journal Nature states that ergothioneine is a derivative of the amino acid histidine. The antioxidant also contains sulfur, which may help protect your DNA from oxidative damage.
Mushrooms also owe some of their beneficial properties to the mycelium, a cobweb-like structure that is found in nearly all landscapes. Through the mycelia, fungi absorb nutrients from the soil. When two compatible mycelia join, they form mushrooms, which make spores. These spores, which fly away, are responsible for making new mycelial colonies.