Different cultures around the world have used mushrooms for medicinal purposes for centuries and this practice dates back to ancient Egypt. There are about 200 or 300 different types of mushrooms that are good for human consumption. A number of these mushrooms come with different nutrients, antioxidants and vitamins which have different healing powers and purposes for the human body. Some mushrooms have been linked to cancer in that they help to reduce the harsh effects of chemotherapy, boost the immune system and provide cancer patients with the energy their body needs. However, below are some of the benefits of eating mushrooms while on chemo treatment.
THEY HAVE CANCER FIGHTING PROPERTIES: A study published in the journal Experimental Biology and Medicine tested five different types of mushrooms- portabella, oyster, white button, crimini, and maitake – and found that they suppressed the growth of breast cancer cells and their reproduction. Shiitake mushrooms contain lentinan which is a type of sugar molecule that comes from the mushroom and is said to help extend the survival rate of patients with some types of cancers when used during chemotherapy.
MUSHROOMS HELP FIGHT AGING PROCESS: A study carried out at Penn State found that mushrooms have high amounts of two antioxidants, glutathione and ergothioneine, which are both said to have anti-aging properties. Mushrooms are said to be the highest dietary source of the two antioxidants which are taken together. The amounts of antioxidants vary depending on the type of mushroom but the wild porcini mushroom is the richest in them.
‘MAGIC’ MUSHROOMS MAY HELP CANCER PATIENTS: John Hopkins University School of Medicine, and New York University Langone Medical Center, conducted tests in different clinical trials on about 80 cancer patients who were suffering from depression, anxiety and fear of death. The patients were given psilocybin which is a naturally occurring psychedelic compound that is found in about 200 different types of mushrooms.
80 percent of the patients experienced an increased optimism in life. The effect lasted through the six months the trial follow up period was going on. The results of the research were published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology and they state that psilocybin can be helpful to people with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
MUSHROOMS HAVE ANTI-INFLAMMATORY POWERS: Mushrooms have an antioxidant called ergothioneine which helps to lower inflammation in the body. Reishi mushrooms in particular have important anti-inflammatory effects. Several studies have also shown that reishi mushrooms have many health benefits including reduction of tumour growth, fighting diseases, suppressing allergic reactions and lowering inflammation.
MUSHROOMS ARE HIGH IN VITAMINS B AND D: Mushrooms are among the few foods that are rich in vitamin D which is a fat soluble vitamin which our bodies can produce with exposure to sunlight. Mushrooms are rich in vitamin D because they are exposed to a small amount of ultraviolet light, according to WebMD.
Criminis and button mushrooms are particularly high in vitamin D but criminis are also rich in vitamin B12 which is key for vegetarians as it is mostly found in animal products. Vitamin B is important because it helps convert food into fuel for the body which in turn gives on energy while vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and promote the growth of bones.
MUSHROOMS HELP TO LOWER CHOLESTEROL LEVELS: Mushrooms are not only cholesterol free but they are a good source of beta-glucan and chitin which are cholesterol lowering fibres. A study in the International Journal of Medicinal Mushroom found that pink oyster mushrooms tend to reduce cholesterol and LDL which is bad cholesterol.
According to Josh Axe, a bestselling author and nutritionist, mushrooms contain phytonutrient that prevents cells from sticking to blood vessel walls and prevents them from forming plague build up, which in turn maintains healthy blood pressure and improves blood circulation.
MUSHROOMS BOOST IMMUNITY: Even though lentinan boosts the immune system, it gets help from Beta-glucan which is a sugar that is found in the cell walls of fungi that also helps to boost your immune system. The lentinan is found in shiitake mushrooms and beta-glucan is found in different types of mushrooms including the most common, button mushrooms.