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How mushrooms boost immune system

Mushrooms are edible fungus that can provide several important nutrients. The many kinds of mushrooms have varying compositions and nutritional profiles. From puffballs to truffles,…

Mushrooms are edible fungus that can provide several important nutrients. The many kinds of mushrooms have varying compositions and nutritional profiles. From puffballs to truffles, mushrooms can range from everyday fare to a costly delicacy which people can buy fresh, canned, or dried.

They are said to be rich in a type of carbohydrate called beta-glucans, found to encourage a response from white blood cells in the lab, medicinal mushrooms’ have taken the health market by storm.

Mushrooms have been universally recognized as food and it is a nutritious delicacy grown on commercial scale in many parts of the world including Nigeria. Nigeria is richly endowed with good quality mushrooms like Pleurotus and Agaricus genera which can be mass-produced for local consumption as well as for the international market.

Though often seen as a delicacy meant for the rural people, it contains many vitamins and minerals but is very low on sugar and fat and it is a nutritious source of vegetarian food.

Scientists from Griffith University, Queensland who picked three commercially available types of mushroom with high levels of beta-glucans in a new study, revealed after their study that mushrooms may boost our immune system.

The scientists discovered a special blend of shiitake, reishi and maitake which can boost the response of white blood cells.

According to them, beta-glucans are a type of carbohydrate found in the cell walls of fungi. They are also in other foods such as oats. “When ingested, the immune system sees beta-glucans as foreign, stimulating a heightened defense against pathogens, Australian scientists say.

Studies have shown beta-glucans can lower blood cholesterol, and therefore may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

There is also evidence that carbohydrate regulates blood sugar levels and stimulates the immune system.

The study, published in the journal PLOS One, blended the three mushrooms together and tested it on human blood cells in the laboratory.

“The concoction stimulated macrophages, a type of white blood cell that detects and destroys bacteria and other harmful organisms. Macrophages send signals to T cells, which carry out a range of functions including killing bacteria.” The study said.

Mushrooms have been used in Chinese and Japanese cultures medicinally for centuries.

There are large varieties, but the most common types include reishi. In China, it is known as the ‘immortality fungus’ because it’s thought to be anti-ageing.

Shiitake, being a widely used ingredient in Asian cuisine, has also become a focus of scientific research.

Maitake is used frequently in Japanese cooking and is believed to fight infections by building an immune response and decrease inflammation.

Health benefits of mushrooms

  1. 1. Mushrooms may help keep you young: due to their super-high concentration of two antioxidants, ergothioneine and glutathione.
  2. 2. Mushrooms can protect your brain as you age: The two aforementioned antioxidants may also help prevent Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s
  3. 3. Mushrooms may boost your memory: Researchers at the National University of Singapore found that eating two 3/4 cup servings of cooked mushrooms per week may reduce your odds of mild cognitive decline.
  4. 4. Mushrooms can help your heart health: they help recipes taste better in place of salt because they contain glutamate ribonucleotides. Mushrooms also make an excellent, satisfying substitute for red meat in any dish, eliminating calories, fat, and cholesterol from the equation.
  5. 5. Mushrooms can assist in strengthening your bones: eating just a small number of UVB-exposed mushrooms, you’ve met your daily vitamin D requirement and given your bone health a leg up.
  6. 6. Mushrooms will help give you energy: they are rich in B vitamins: riboflavin [B2], folate [B9], thiamine [B1], pantothenic acid [B5], and niacin [B3].


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