Immune system boosting supplements have gotten extremely popular, for a very good reason, a high quality, diverse immune support formula can help your body to fend off external threats and viruses. Our immune systems are complex systems with a networks of structures and processes within our bodies that protect against disease and dangerous foreign bodies.
Mushrooms have been recognized for thousands of years as enhancing your body’s ability to fight disease and stay healthy. They act by supporting an engaged and balanced immune response via immune stimulation and immune modulation. The immune system is activated by polysaccharides, terpenes, and other compounds found in mushroom mycelium and fruitbodies. Beneficial mushroom species contain a wide variety of nutrients and compounds to support our natural immunity. The variety and multitude of nutrients found in mushrooms is the key to immunomodulation. Immunomodulation is the regulatory adjustment of the immune system to bring it into balance which is important because we don’t want to simultaneously activate every immune cell at full strength.
Mushrooms regulate the immune system to support long-term health by maintaining a balanced immune response. They contain anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory components that work together to fight cancer, viruses and inflammation to supercharge your immune system. First, they modify cytokines, which are inflammatory messengers that can suppress white blood cells and make you more susceptible to getting sick (think colds and flu). Mushrooms are also rich in polysaccharides, which help bolster and maintain the structure of your cells (essential in having a healthy immune system).
What to look for in a mushroom supplement? First, look for a whole mushroom extract, not just mycelium, then look for a hot water extract and of course organic. As for type of mushroom, there are five main species available and recommended for immune support: shiitake, maitake, reishi, coriolus and Agaricus blazei. Of course cooking with mushrooms is more than acceptable.
There are other nutritional factors that are important in immune support but mushrooms taste the best. And remember “a shiitake a day keeps the viruses at bay”!
~ Dr. Donna Kachinskas PhD, ND