The idea of “food as medicine” may be a bit hard to swallow, especially if you have a gourmand’s palate. What if you could fight a host of diseases and even increase your longevity, just by adding a few delicious servings of fungus to your diet every day?
Paul Stamets, renowned mycologist (that’s a mushroom expert) and TedTalk favorite, fervently believes that mushrooms can save the world. He describes fungi as “the grand molecular disassemblers of nature” due to their transformative ability to generate humus soils from decomposing organic materials. Fungi turn the decay of nature into nutrients for plants, trees, animals, and humans alike. As part of this amazing dance of biosynthesis, mushrooms alchemize Earth’s most powerful elements for the benefit of mankind. Fungi produce our best antibiotics, and have medicinal potential for a host of diseases. Certain varieties of mushroom possess psychotropic properties that have been prized since at least the beginning of recorded time, with some scientists even proclaiming that “magic mushrooms” are the key to human evolution. But these beneficial attributes merely scratch the surface of what the fungi kingdom are up to, which is apt, since most of fungi’s prolific activities take place below where our eyes can see.
The fungi kingdom represents a distinct type of organism, separate from animals, plants, and bacteria. Like animals, fungi absorb nutrients from the environment and excrete digestive enzymes, in the case of mushrooms, into the surrounding soil. Mycelium are the unseen part of mushrooms that extend below the soil. Strongly resembling neural networks, thread-like roots known as hyphae can extend for miles into the Earth, absorbing nutrients and decomposing organic materials. In his book, Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World, Paul Stamets established his belief that mycelia are the “neurological network of nature.” Intrinsically aware of their host’s needs, Paul believes mushrooms are sentient, “devising diverse enzymatic and chemical responses to complex challenges” perceived in their environment. Beyond sentience, Paul explains that mushrooms possess a co-creative consciousness, and it would benefit humanity greatly to learn how to interface: “Because these externalized neurological nets sense any impression upon them, from footsteps to falling tree branches, they could relay enormous amounts of data regarding the movements of all organisms through the landscape."
Paul’s recently published research explores another fundamental way in which fungi communicate with humanity: through our digestive systems. Mushrooms are prebiotic, boosting the microbiome’s beneficial bacteria, such as Acidophilus and Bifidobacterium, improving digestion and overall health. Recent independent research shows that certain varieties of mushroom are also our best dietary sources for potent antioxidants, such as sulfur-rich ergothioneine, and the “major biological antioxidant,” glutathione. A diet rich in antioxidants like ergothioneine and glutathione protects cells from free radicals, helping the body withstand normal oxidative stress that damages healthy cells. In addition to boosting longevity, mushrooms pack a serious nutritional punch, providing a great source of vitamin D, essential for strong immune system function.
Adding almost any type of edible mushroom to your diet will provide a healthy dose of nutrients, but there are some mushrooms that stand out from the rest. A recent study conducted at The Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine tested eleven species of mushroom to determine which varieties possessed the strongest antioxidant properties. Of the 11 species tested, the top 7 mushrooms with the strongest antioxidant constituents are also some of the most nutritionally dense. According to this latest research, these are the 7 mushrooms we should be eating, ranked in order:
Porcini are a large mushroom, with a cap that can reach up to 12 inches in diameter. Popular in Italian cuisine, porcini mushrooms represent a few different varieties, are typically reddish-brown in color, possess a thick stem, and are slightly sticky to the touch. This species of mushroom fruits from summer to fall, so you can find them most of the year in specialty markets. If you’re a forager, search for porcini mushrooms in the mulchy undergrowth of hardwood forests with pine, chestnut, hemlock, and spruce trees.
2. Golden Oyster
Golden Oyster mushrooms are typically cultivated rather than wild-harvested, making them a great mushroom to grow at home. They grow in virtually anything, using straw mats and ordinary compost, with mushroom “starters” from inoculation kits that can be purchased in specialty stores. They possess a golden hue, grow in clusters, and have a nutty, slightly bitter flavor.
Pioppino mushrooms, often called Velvet Pioppino due to the velvety-brown appearance of their small caps, grow on decaying logs or at the mulchy base of hardwood trees. Pioppinos have a mild, slightly peppery flavor, making them a popular choice for adding to recipes. They grow in clusters on long, sturdy stems, are smaller in size (caps are only about 2 centimeters wide), and retain a firm texture when cooked.
Oysters are among the most common and versatile mushrooms. Easy to cultivate, oysters grow mainly on decaying wood and possess a slightly sweet, anise-like smell. Called “oysters” due to having a similar appearance to the sea creature, the mycelia of oyster mushrooms eat small roundworms and bacteria, making them one of the few carnivorous mushroom species. Colors range from green, to pink, to yellow, depending on the variety. Fluted caps span from two-to-eight inches, with white gills on the underside, and a short, stubby stem.
5. Lions mane
It’s easy to see how the Lion’s Mane mushroom got its name! This popular edible and medicinal mushroom has exceptional neuroprotective powers, thanks to its ability to stimulate synthesis of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF). NGF is a protein that plays a major role in the maintenance, survival, and regeneration of neurons in the central and peripheral nervous systems. Known to improve memory and mood, Lion’s Mane mushrooms are a staple in traditional Chinese medicine, and can be found in supplement form as a powder or tincture in many health food stores. If you’d rather enjoy their meaty texture in a meal, sauté them in butter to intensify the flavor, or boil them as a meat replacement in soup or stew.
Found in clusters, typically at the base of oak trees, maitake mushrooms have potent anti-cancer properties. A polypore mushroom, maitakes lack the distinctive gills on the underside of the cap. Multiple caps emerge in layers from a single, thick underground stem, and can grow quite large. The entire “fruit body” can weigh 50 pounds or more, with a single cap growing as wide as twelve inches in diameter. Caps range from white to brown, are semi-firm when cooked, and possess a slightly earthy flavor that takes on the taste of your chosen cooking medium. Maitakes have been researched for a variety of health benefits, including lowering cholesteroland blood glucose in rats.
Shiitake mushrooms are one of the most popular mushrooms in the world, and for good reason. Revered in Asia for centuries for their potent medicinal properties, shiitake mushrooms have become a symbol of longevity in some cultures. Hearty and versatile, shiitakes can be consumed raw or cooked, and are found in powdered supplement form in many herbal pharmacies. Shiitakes grow in clusters on decaying hardwood trees, and are also commonly cultivated for food and medicinal uses. A classic umbrella shape, shiitakes are both beautiful and substantial. Caps range from white to light brown with white spots, and can reach up to eight inches in diameter. Cooking releases a “garlic pine” aroma and a rich, earthy flavor. Good luck for us - shiitakes are available year-round in most areas.
For additional research on the health benefits of mushrooms, visit our database on the subject.
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(NaturalHealth365) Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are one of the most commonly used medicines. Unfortunately, their side effects can put you at risk. For example, you’re probably familiar with ibuprofen side effects like a heart attack and stomach bleeding. But recent studies reveal a new side effect – alteration in testicular physiology.
The side effects of ibuprofen are already concerning. However, they’ve only been studied in patients taking normal, ‘recommended doses.’ The big problem is: people often take a lot more ibuprofen than recommended.
What does this mean to all the men out there? If you’re taking higher doses of ibuprofen, you could have a higher risk of these dangerous side effects.
Serious WARNING for all men taking ibuprofen, according to researchers
Researchers did a study on men under age 35 in France and Denmark. The results showed that the men who took ibuprofen ended up with a problem called compensated hypogonadism. The bottom line: your body has to work harder to keep testosterone levels normal if you take ibuprofen.
Researchers also think that using ibuprofen long-term may eventually cause primary low testosterone. This can cause changes in mood, the decline of muscle mass, and reduced libido. They also found that compensated hypogonadism resulted in a short-term reduction in sperm count.
A low sperm count can impact on your fertility. But studies also showed that men with both overt and compensated hypogonadism have a higher risk of heart problems. And, it’s worth noting that the study was only done for 6 weeks – with the young men taking only 3 tablets per day!
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Another study done at Stanford University School of Medicine found that defects in sperm count increase the risk of early death.
Are you at risk for hospitalization or death from ibuprofen?
Is ibuprofen safe? You may think this drug is harmless, but it’s estimated that more than 105,000 people are hospitalized (yearly) due to the side effects of NSAIDs.
Researchers continue to discover more ibuprofen side effects. What makes it more concerning is that many people take high doses of ibuprofen. More than 25 million Americans deal with chronic pain. This leads many people to exceed the recommended dose of ibuprofen to try to reduce their pain.
In fact, 11% of users take more than the recommended daily limit of ibuprofen.
Trying to control pain with ibuprofen increases your risk of experiencing ibuprofen side effects. Especially if you never treat the cause of your pain.
Don’t turn to over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen. Instead, try natural anti-inflammatories like turmeric and natural pain relievers like vitamin C.
(NaturalHealth365) Colorectal cancer, the second leading cause of cancer deaths, strikes over 145,000 Americans a year – while roughly 55,000 men and 17,000 women develop bladder cancer. Unfortunately, the cause remains a ‘mystery’ for too many people – even though we know about so many triggers to avoid.
For example, an American Journal of Public Health study – publicized (and downplayed) by The New York Times, almost 20 years ago, linked the increased risk of these cancers with an everyday household liquid – tap water treated with chlorine.
Researchers warn that chlorine combines with organic material in water to create dangerous compounds. With over 98 percent of all U.S. water supply systems now chlorinated, this presents an undeniable threat.
To learn how to minimize the danger from the toxic chemical flowing from your faucets, keep reading.
Studies confirm: Chlorinated water will INCREASE your risk of colorectal and bladder cancer
In a 1992 review conducted by researchers at Harvard University and the Medical College of Wisconsin and published in American Journal of Public Health, the team pooled data from ten different studies to create a meta-review – a relatively new approach at the time.
This technique allowed them to detect patterns that might otherwise have gone unnoticed.
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They found that people drinking chlorinated water had a 21 percent greater riskof getting bladder cancer – and a 38 percent greater risk of getting rectal cancer – when compared to those who drank non-chlorinated water.
The use of chlorine in tap water accounted for 6,500 cases of rectal cancer and 4,200 cases of bladder cancer, the team reported.
Note: currently, The American Cancer Society puts the lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer at about 1 in 23.
Study results suppressed or minimized in the mainstream media
A review co-author said the research was suppressed for a year before publication, with several major journals turning it down because they were “…uneasy about informing people about the problem until some alternative was available.”
A New York Times article about the review described the increased cancer risk as “very slight” – while the title (“Tiny Risk in Chlorinated Water”) seemed chosen to further downplay the review’s findings.
The article also pointed out that stopping chlorination – or lowering standards – in other parts of the world had resulted in cholera outbreaks in the past.
And, the co-authors themselves had commented that the potential health risks of microbial contamination of drinking water greatly exceed the risk of cancer. But, even with its uneven reception, the report’s point had been made.
According to the article, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) spokesman voiced the hope that the review would spur research about alternative methods of disinfection. Remember when the EPA actually appeared – somewhat – concerned with protecting human and environmental health?!
Additional research confirmed the increased cancer risk.
A 1997 cohort study of postmenopausal women – also published in American Journal of Public Health— showed that the group consuming the very highest levels of chlorinated water had a 68 percent greater chance of developing colon cancer than women in the lowest group.
Unfortunately, the risks of chlorinated water aren’t confined to bladder and colorectal cancer alone.
Highly toxic chlorine carries grave risks to health, including miscarriage and atherosclerosis
Chlorine combines with naturally-occurring organic matter in water to create new, hazardous compounds, known as trihalomethanes (THMs). The most common THM, chloroform, is classified as a Group B carcinogen.
One study showed that women with greater exposure to chlorinated tap water (containing over 75 ppb of THMs, an amount within legal limits) had a higher rate of miscarriage than women at lower ends of the spectrum.
Natural health experts warn that the long-term risks of chlorinated water include the oxidization of lipid contaminants and the formation of excess free radicals, which in turn increase vulnerability to cancer-causing genetic mutations.
Chlorinated water contributes to the harmful oxidation of unsaturated essential fatty acids, such as omega-3s. It also destroys antioxidant vitamin E in the body, along with acidophilus – a type of protective bacteria which helps to nourish the community of beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract.
Studies on both animals and humans show that chlorinated water damages arteries – promoting atherosclerosis and heart attacks.
In a report published in Orthomolecular Medicine, the author cited research from autopsies on American soldiers who died in battle in the Korean War. The soldiers had been issued chlorine tablets for their canteens, causing their drinking water to be highly chlorinated.
As a result, the soldiers showed “gross evidence of arteriosclerosis (narrowing) in the coronary arteries.”
Warning: Swimming pools and hot tubs also cause exposure to chloroform
Unfortunately, the danger does not exist only in drinking water.
Chlorine in swimming pools and hot tubs can react with organic compounds, including – but not limited to – sweat, urine, blood, feces, mucus and skin cells.
The resultant chloroform can be absorbed through the skin – and even by inhalation in the course of taking a hot shower.
Not surprisingly, Canadian researchers have found that an hour of swimming in a chlorinated pool caused an increase in chloroform concentration in the blood.
And, drinking chlorinated water (as well as swimming in it) can cause melanoma, a form of skin cancer.
Other adverse effects include increased concentration of chloroform in the lungs, irritation of the eyes, skin and throat, and headaches.
Minimize exposure to chlorine and chloroform with common-sense practices
Clearly, a good water filter – installed on faucets and showerheads – can be your greatest ally when it comes to minimizing exposure to dangerous chlorine. In addition, it’s wise to avoid the use of chlorinated tap water in humidifiers.
Bathroom windows should be left open when showering or bathing.
Experts also recommend limiting – or eliminating – the time you spend in chlorine-laden pools and hot tubs, and cutting down on chlorine levels if you own a pool.
Finally, vitamin C helps to eliminate chlorine. In fact, one gram of vitamin C is capable of neutralizing the chlorine in 100 gallons of water, at chlorine levels of 1 part per million (the standard for US drinking water).
Note: adding vitamin C to unsafe water will not make it drinkable, however, as other contaminants could be present.
The point is: chlorine and vitamin C are “natural enemies” – yet another reason to promote immune defense with healthy, daily dosages of antioxidant vitamin C.
Editor’s note: In terms of healthy drinking water: I only use Tourmaline spring. (and, no, I’m not paid to say that) In addition, if you prefer, you can purify your water – at home – by using a Berkey water purification system. (and, yes, your purchase does help to support our operations – thank you.)