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best mushrooms for immune system

Best Mushrooms for Immune System

Mushrooms for immunity – this sounds too easy, right? But did you know that mushrooms are nature’s little powerhouses for boosting your immune system? It’s true! These funky fungi contain beta-glucans, which help stimulate the immune cells in your body to work harder and smarter to fight off infections and diseases.

Not to mention, some mushrooms also have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that can benefit your body in other ways. So the next time you want to add some flavor and nutrition to your meals, why not throw in some mushrooms and let your immune system thank you later?

Mushrooms are rich in bioactive compounds and have been used as food and medicine for thousands of years. In this blog, we show you five medicinal mushrooms that are so good for your immunity and explain how they work.

How Mushrooms Support Immune System

Mushrooms are known for their potential immune-supporting properties. Here are several ways in which mushrooms can contribute to a healthy immune system:

  • Beta-glucans: Mushrooms, particularly certain varieties like Reishi, Shiitake, and Maitake, contain beta-glucans. These complex carbohydrates have been shown to stimulate and modulate the immune system. Beta-glucans enhance the activity of immune cells such as macrophages, natural killer cells, and T-cells, helping the body defend against pathogens. This is how mushrooms support the immune system.
  • Antioxidants: Mushrooms are rich in antioxidants, including selenium, vitamin C, and vitamin D. Antioxidants help protect the body’s cells from damage caused by free radicals, which can weaken the immune system. By consuming mushrooms, you can support your immune system’s overall health.
  • Vitamin D: Certain mushrooms, especially those exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light, can naturally produce vitamin D. Adequate levels of vitamin D are essential for a robust immune system. Vitamin D plays a crucial role in modulating immune responses and enhancing the body’s defense against infections, which is another way how mushrooms support the immune system.
  • Adaptogenic properties: Some mushrooms, like Reishi and Cordyceps, possess adaptogenic properties. Adaptogens are natural substances that help the body adapt to stress and maintain balance. By supporting the body’s stress response, mushrooms can indirectly benefit the immune system, as chronic stress can weaken immunity.
  • Anti-inflammatory effects: Chronic inflammation can impair immune function. Some mushrooms, such as Lion’s Mane, contain compounds with anti-inflammatory properties. By reducing inflammation in the body, mushrooms support immune system health.

It’s important to note that while mushrooms support the immune system, they should not replace medical treatments or professional advice. If you have specific health concerns, it’s always recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before making any significant dietary changes or starting new supplements.

Why Mushrooms For Immune System Are So Good?

Mushrooms (Agaricus) have gills that change from pink to black over time. In an article published in The Journal of Nutrition, American and Chinese researchers found that certain fungi that are spreading, like button mushrooms in temperate regions, also have antitumor, antiviral, and antibacterial properties.

According to their research, champignon works by increasing the activity of NK (natural killer) lymphocytes and the production of interferon-gamma and TNF alpha, an antitumor factor.

The researchers conclude this study by confirming that “increased consumption of mushrooms can favor innate immunity against tumors and viruses thanks to the improvement of a key element, the activity of NK”.

Best Mushrooms for Immunity: What Science Says

A particular strength of mushrooms is their influence on our immune system. They regulate both paralyzed and overshooting immune forces. The individual mechanisms of action are not always known.

But how the consumption of mushrooms, for example, can strengthen our immune system was brought to light by an Australian study.

Accordingly, the fungi stimulate the formation of immunoglobulin A in the saliva. These antibodies form the body’s first line of defense against bacteria and viruses.

The study by Australian scientists Jeong S.C., Koyyalamudi S.R., and Gerald Pang was published in 2012. The researchers investigated whether the consumption of white mushrooms affects the amount of immunoglobulin A in the saliva.

In the study, half of the adult participants were given a mushroom-free diet for a week. The other also got to eat 100 g of blanched mushrooms daily. Saliva samples were collected before and during the study and three weeks after the study. The researchers determined the flow of saliva, the concentration of immunoglobulin A and other substances dissolved in the saliva.

The result was amazing: in the group that had also eaten mushrooms, the levels of immunoglobulin A increased significantly. The value rose by 53 percent in the test week and even climbed to 56 percent in the week after the test. These changes did not occur in the control group.

Two weeks after the experiment, the levels of immunoglobulin A returned to normal. Consumption of the mushrooms had no effect on the flow of saliva and the concentration of all other substances dissolved in the saliva. The study suggests that regularly eating mushrooms can positively influence our immune system.

best mushrooms for immune system
Best mushrooms for immune system

Shiitake: The Perfect Mushroom for Immunity

With a brown and fleshy cap, shiitake has a pleasant fragrance. It has long been used in Asian medicine and has powerful antibacterial and antifungal properties, a British study found (1).

In search of alternatives to traditional antibiotics, these researchers tested an aqueous extract of shiitake on a panel of 29 bacteria and 10 pathogenic fungi.

The results are impressive: the shiitake extract exerted comprehensive antimicrobial activity on more than 85% of the pathogens tested.

Once fermented, shiitake yields a product called AHCC, or Active Hexose Correlated Compound. This powerful immunostimulant compound is available as a dietary supplement.

Reishi: A Multifunctional Mushroom for Immunity

Relatively rare in nature, the luminous Ganoderma is better known as reishi. This mushroom has many therapeutic virtues and is commonly used in traditional Japanese and Chinese medicine.

And it doesn’t usurp the title “mushroom of immortality”: several studies have highlighted the different pharmaceutical effects.

Mushrooms’ main active ingredients are triterpenoids and polysaccharides. Triterpenoids are believed to have hepatoprotective, hypotensive, and antihistaminic effects.

On the other hand, it is known that polysaccharides have antitumor properties through immunomodulation and anti-angiogenesis. They also reduce cell damage from mutagens. (2)

Want to optimize your Reishi intake? Then start with a regimen of “immortality mushroom” extract (e.g. Reishi Extract) in Vibrant Body & Mind supplement.

Chaga Mushroom: a Powerful Immune Stimulant and Antioxidant

The chaga, or slate schillerporling, is used extensively in traditional pharmacopeia. Over the last two decades, research has shown that it is an extremely active immune stimulant and a valuable antioxidant.

Indeed, its antioxidant compounds are able to boost the immune system by protecting the thymus from aging. (3) A Korean study ascribes anti-cancer effects to it through immune stimulation. (4)

Other Korean researchers have studied the antioxidant effects of the mushroom: the study concludes that chaga can scavenge free radicals. It also helps to protect cells from oxidative stress. (5)

best mushrooms for immune system
Lion’s mane mushroom

Lion’s Mane: Mushroom for Immunity and Brain Health

Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus) is a unique mushroom that has gained attention for its potential benefits on various aspects of health, including immune support. While more research is needed, here’s what makes Lion’s Mane the best mushroom for immunity:

  • Enhanced immune response: Lion’s Mane contains bioactive compounds, such as polysaccharides and beta-glucans, that have been shown to stimulate the immune system. These compounds may help activate immune cells, such as macrophages and natural killer cells, which play a crucial role in defending the body against pathogens.
  • Anti-inflammatory properties: Chronic inflammation can negatively impact immune function. Lion’s Mane has demonstrated anti-inflammatory effects in some studies, which may help reduce inflammation and promote a balanced immune response.
  • Nerve growth factor (NGF) stimulation: Lion’s Mane contains compounds that have been found to stimulate the production of nerve growth factor (NGF) in the body. NGF plays a role in supporting the health and function of nerve cells. While the direct impact on the immune system is not fully understood, a healthy nervous system is linked to optimal immune function.
  • Antioxidant activity: Lion’s Mane possesses antioxidant properties, which can help protect the body’s cells from oxidative damage caused by free radicals. By reducing oxidative stress, Lion’s Mane may indirectly support immune health.

It’s worth mentioning that while Lion’s Mane shows promising potential for immune support, more research is needed to understand its mechanisms and effectiveness fully.

Maitake Mushroom Immune Support

Maitake (Grifola frondosa) is another mushroom that has been traditionally used in Asian cultures for its potential health benefits, including mushroom immune support. While scientific research on maitake’s effects on the immune system is still evolving, here are some ways in which maitake may contribute to immune function:

  • Beta-glucans: Maitake mushrooms are rich in beta-glucans, which are complex polysaccharides known for their immunomodulatory properties. Beta-glucans have been shown to enhance the activity of immune cells, such as macrophages and natural killer cells, which play a crucial role in immune defense.
  • Activation of dendritic cells: Maitake extract has been found to stimulate the activation and maturation of dendritic cells, which are key players in initiating and regulating immune responses. This activation may help enhance the overall immune function.
  • Antiviral and antimicrobial properties: Some studies suggest that maitake mushrooms possess antiviral and antimicrobial properties. Certain compounds found in maitake have shown inhibitory effects against various viruses and bacteria, which may contribute to mushroom immune support potential.
  • Anti-inflammatory effects: Chronic inflammation can negatively impact immune function. Maitake mushrooms contain bioactive compounds that have exhibited anti-inflammatory effects in preclinical studies. By reducing inflammation, maitake mushrooms may help promote a balanced immune response.

As with any supplement, it’s recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating maitake mushroom for immune support, particularly if you have specific health conditions or are taking medications.

Final Thoughts: Best Mushrooms for Immune System

If you’re looking for a fun way to stay healthy, why not try some mushrooms? Not just any mushrooms though – certain varieties are known to boost your immune system.

Shiitake mushrooms are a great choice, as they contain beta-glucans which can stimulate the immune system. Reishi mushrooms are another option known for their ability to fight inflammation and boost overall immune function.

And let’s not forget about the humble button mushroom – it’s packed with antioxidants that can give your body a much-needed boost. So next time you’re at the grocery store, grab a few of these immune-boosting fungi and get ready to feel your best with mushroom immune support!

Scientific sources:

  1. Rachel Hearst, David Nelson, Graham McCollum, B. Cherie Millar, Yasunori Maeda, Colin E. Goldsmith, Paul J. Rooney, Anne Loughrey, J.R. Rao, John E. Moore, An examination of antibacterial and antifungal properties of constituents of Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) and Oyster (Pleurotus ostreatus) mushrooms, Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice Volume 15, Issue 1, February 2009, Pages 5-7.
  2. Bojana Boh, Marin Berovic, Jingsong Zhang, Lin Zhi-Bi, Ganoderma lucidum and its pharmaceutically active compounds, Biotechnology Annual Review Volume 13, 2007, Pages 265-301.
  3. Griffith AV, Venables T, Shi J, et al. Metabolic Damage and Premature Thymus Aging Caused by Stromal Catalase Deficiency. Cell Rep. 2015;12(7):1071–1079.
  4. Yong Ook Kim, Sang Bae Han, Hong Woen Lee, Hyo Jung Ahn, Yeo Dae Yoon, Joon Ki Jung, Hwan Mook Kim, Chul Soo Shin, Immuno-stimulating effect of the endo-polysaccharide produced by submerged culture of Inonotus obliquus, Life Sciences Volume 77, Issue 19, 23 September 2005, Pages 2438-2456.
  5. Yong Cui, Dong-Seok Kim, Kyoung-Chan Park, Antioxidant effect of Inonotus obliquus, Journal of Ethnopharmacology Volume 96, Issues 1–2, 4 January 2005, Pages 79-85.
  6. Dayong Wu, Munkyong Pae, Zhihong Ren, Zhuyan Guo, Donald Smith, Simin Nikbin Meydani, Dietary Supplementation with White Button Mushroom Enhances Natural Killer Cell Activity in C57BL/6 Mice, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 137, Issue 6, June 2007, Pages 1472–1477.
  7. Kodama N, Komuta K, Nanba H. Can maitake MD-fraction aid cancer patients?. Altern Med Rev. 2002;7(3):236‐239.
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