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Mushrooms for Head to Toe Wellness -- Even Your Mood!

Mighty Immune Booster

By: Pam Smith, RDN

Mushrooms are a key and delicious ingredient for personal wellness today, as well as protecting against disease risk of tomorrow! A healthy lifestyle, including a nutritious diet, regular exercise, restful sleep, time outdoors, stress management, and connectedness are all critical keys to living well. Consuming foods rich in plant phytoestrogens and antioxidants can make the healthy and winning difference for living better longer. Mushrooms are rich in the B vitamins: riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid – a combination that helps maintain a healthy digestive and nervous system, as well as healthy skin and hormonal balance. The minerals and phytochemicals in mushrooms have been indicated in cognitive and bone health, in addition to helping to maintain optimum weight and regulating cholesterol and blood sugar levels, energy and moods.

Good Mood Mushrooms:

Certain edible mushrooms have been shown to have special benefits, supporting mental health and improved well-being, and reducing anxiety and depression. Researchers suggest this to result from mushrooms’ high concentration of ergothioneine and glutathione, antioxidants that when present together, work extra-hard to protect the body from the physiological stress that causes premature aging. Mushrooms are also being researched for their role in improving memory, focus and cognitive decline.

Appetite for Mushrooms!

Research shows that enjoying mushrooms in your meals could be a good way to shed pounds. Mushrooms contain fibers and nutrients (beta-glucans and chitin) that increase your feeling of fullness and help tame the appetite. Swapping hearty, flavor-filled mushrooms for meat helps make you feel more satisfied on less calories! Feeling fuller and for longer? Who doesn’t love that!

Mushrooms for Breast Health:

When it comes to breast cancer protection, it begins with mushrooms’ vitamin D content, which is associated with lower risk and better survival of breast cancer. In addition, the phytochemicals contained in fresh mushrooms have been shown to have anti-estrogen properties and can prevent the growth of breast cancer cells and tumors. Research on mushroom varieties, such as shiitake, maitake and even white button mushrooms has shown them to play a beneficial role in reducing the risk of breast cancer and help fight it by feeding the immune system. Penn State research was published last year confirming earlier findings. For this reason, we often find mushrooms on breast protection plans.

Sleep better with Mushrooms?

Yes, mushrooms can even help with sleep. Medicinal mushrooms such as reishi and lion’s mane have been indicated as a sleep aid due to their adaptogenic and calming effect – helping your nervous system adapt to stress, reducing anxiety and boosting mood. In addition, plant and fiber content in mushrooms can help restore the balance of intestinal microbes, which are linked to brain function, health and mood by the gut-brain axis.

See my blog post “A Mushroom A Day …” for tips and tricks to get all the mushrooms you need for the effects you want.

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