For a long time, mushrooms have been hidden in the Western shadows, but now their entry into the spotlight has finally arrived!

These ancient mushrooms have long been considered the “original superfoods.” In many great Eastern traditions, mushrooms have been revered for centuries as incredibly nutritious foods used to support optimal health and longevity.

So far, these functional mushrooms are showing up all over the place, starring in bottled drinks, smoothies, soups, coffee, tea, and even in the cosmetic and beauty care industry. The bitter and earthy tones of these mushrooms pair extremely well with other popular food and beverages such as chocolate and coffee.

It’s now become commonplace to find mushroom spiked foods and drinks in your favourite restaurants and cafes.The rising popularity of functional mushrooms offers us unbelievable new levels of abundant health that we never believed possible.

Discover the top 5 most favourable health benefits of superfood mushrooms (in no particular order) as chosen by you!

1. Mushrooms Boost Weak Immune Systems

Unfortunately, many of us do not care for our immune system until we get sick. We choose not to develop a strong immune system and instead, when we fall inconveniently ill, we reach for the quick fix pills– the immune-stimulants, fast-acting pain relievers, and antibiotics that serve only to cover up the symptoms without addressing the root causes. But this approach is easier in the short term because after all, we’re too busy to be sick in our modern society!

Why is the immune system neglected?

The topic of immunity may not be as “sexy” as increasing energy, boosting brain power, nourishing skin, or supporting gut health, but truth be told, if we want to thrive in those “hot topic” areas, we need to take the immune system more seriously because there is a direct connection between all of them.

Strengthening the immune system is key to sustaining our long-term health, energy, and vibrancy. Perhaps the most famous benefit of superfood mushrooms is their ability to radically improve the health of the immune system.

There are many compounds and nutrients in mushrooms that benefit human health but the polysaccharides (essential long-chain sugars) and triterpenes are the most well studied. Human-based studies have shown that these compounds can stimulate and strongly enhance our immune system.

In nature, mushrooms have to fight off the same pathogens, bacteria and viruses that humans do. Mushrooms have developed a strong defence system in nature against invading bacterias which have shown to be very effective for humans. What’s more fascinating is that there are specific immune-cell receptor sites in the body that are designed to only receive the unique polysaccharide compounds contained in fungi.

That’s amazing!

This evidence alongside other pieces is why some scientists believe that human beings may have developed (or co-evolved) alongside mushrooms. After all, human beings and mushrooms share around 85% of the same ribosomal RNA and almost 50% of the same DNA!

Best mushrooms to support your immune system? All of them, but some of the most scientifically studied are:

2. Mushrooms Reduce Stress and Anxiety

It’s well documented that chronic stress wreaks havoc on the body– rapid aging of the skin, brain loss, reduced immunity, hormone imbalances, weight gain, mood disorders and more.

We all deal with stress every day, and our bodies strive to adapt, keep balanced and stay healthy.

The HPA axis

The body manages stress using a complex system known as the HPA axis. The HPA (hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal) axis is the important glandular components of the body’s stress response.

Under a stressful situation, a man pointing a gun at you, for example, the emotional centre of the brain, the amygdala, triggers the hypothalamus to send alarm signals to the pituitary gland, which then sends hormonal messages to the adrenal gland to release stress hormones (catecholamines)– adrenaline, cortisol, and many others –and once that occurs, in the blink of an eye, the body is primed for fight or flight and equipped to deal with the impending stressor(s).

This intelligent feedback loop (HPA axis) is a terrific survival mechanism in any stressful event. However, with all the stressors in our modern society– whether it’s a traumatic event or dealing with multiple stressors during the day to day grind, the problem today is that this feedback loop is always turned on!

If we’re always under chronic stress and producing stress hormones (cortisol and more) all the time, the adrenals begin to lose their ability to signal to the brain, the hypothalamus, that the stressor is over and its time to recuperate. We lose proper function of the HPA axis when our body is under continuous chronic stress. We need to bring the HPA axis back into balance and the “adaptogens”, like Reishi, Chaga, and Cordyceps, can help us do that.

Mushrooms can reverse the impacts of stress.

It is well known that chronic stress negatively impacts brain function, impairs memory, cognitive processing, reasoning and judgment skills. Stress can also induce mood disorders, depression, and accelerate neurodegenerative conditions and diseases. Chronic stress creates chronic inflammatory states in the brain which can be observed in studies of various pro-inflammatory markers.

Research shows that taking Cordyceps mushroom (Cordyceps sinensis) can reduce inflammatory markers in the hippocampus of the brain as a result of chronic induced stress.

Best mushrooms and adaptogens to reduce your stress:

3. Mushrooms Increase Energy and Reduce Fatigue

Being adaptogenic in nature, all superfood mushrooms work on increasing energy levels in the body. Cordyceps mushroom, in particular, has profound energizing properties that have been prized in the East for thousands of years.

Cordyceps was first made popular in the West in 1993 after the Chinese National Athletics Championships. The women’s track and field team dominated the games and broke numerous world records. It was later discovered that they were consuming a special herbal combination where Cordyceps mushroom was the main ingredient.

As a result, Cordyceps is celebrated as a superb athlete’s tonic.

Cordyceps is a great rejuvenating tonic that restores the deep energy that we expend through an excessive exertion of life’s activities, stressful circumstances and aging

It is used to enhance athletic performance, build physical power and endurance by increasing the efficiency of energy metabolism. Research has shown that Cordyceps increases energy output, oxygen utilisation, and resistance to fatigue. It can increase cellular energy, ATP (adenosine triphosphate) by 20-30%.

Cordyceps is a major Lung tonic that has the ability to strengthen respiratory power, increase oxygen utilisation, build muscle, and increase endurance and stamina. Consistent use helps to strengthen the skeletal structure, the lower back, the knees, and the ankles.

Best mushrooms to increase your energy levels:

4. Mushrooms Boost Brain Power, Memory, and Focus

We’d all like to experience more focus, better memory and concentration in our lives.

With the rising level of stimuli in our society (think about excessive overstimulation and decision fatigue), the polluted environment, and the toxic laden foods we consume, it’s no surprise that our healthy brains are rapidly declining. Lion’s Mane mushroom is a powerful tonic food for brain health.

Lions Mane has been described as the “smart mushroom” and is known as one of the best natural “nootropics” in the smart drug community. Scientific studies have proven Lion’s Mane to boost brain function, enhance memory, recall, and improve concentration. Research has also shown that by consuming Lion’s Mane regularly, it can offer profound neurological benefits and cognitive enhancements. It may even encourage neurodegeneration in the brain, which may assist with improving neurological conditions such as dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease.

5. Mushrooms Improve Digestion and Gut Health

Gut health is one of the hottest topics in health and wellness right now. Maybe it’s because the delicate ecosystems within our bodies (intestinal flora) are being destroyed by the toxic environment we live in, and the polluted water and contaminated foods we consume.

We’re forced to live in a world with both friendly and unfriendly microorganisms present in our bodies, but if we’re healthy, the friendly bacteria will outnumber the bad guys and our guts will be happy and healthy.

Historically, mushrooms have been used to support digestion and gut health.

Chaga mushroom has a rich history in Siberia where it was traditionally used to support the digestive system. Chaga contains high amounts of polysaccharides, immune-modulating compounds, anti-microbial triterpenes, and melano-glucan complexes that help support and address both inflammatory and infectious digestive disorders.

Best mushrooms to improve your gut:

Superfood Mushrooms can be found widely throughout Asia. It is one of the top ingredients in Asian indigenous food. You can find these delicious ingredients at our 1st ever Exhibition of its kind, this April in Singapore.

Check out more superfood options and ideas at Superfood Asia 2019. Coming you from 24th to 26th April 2019 in Singapore. You will be spoilt for choice!