Thursday, June 18, 2015

How Mushrooms Combat Diseases and Slow Ageing?

If somebody tells you, that there is a magic, aging reversing food, proven by multiple scientific researches, do not trust for several reasons. First, there is no magic solution, which will help all people. Second, if it is published online or written in the newspaper, there is no guarantee that it is true, no matter how scientific and well justified it may sound. Third, if there were indeed more or less scientific studies, you never know, who pays for them. That is true, scientific study, sponsored by tomatoes marketers, will definitely prove the hypothesis that tomatoes extremely health food, and possess multiple healing properties.

Bottom line, you need to accept in moderation and filter through healthy skepticism everything you read and hear. However, you may test the suggestions, using your perception as a test ground. Eventually, you will have the collection of the tools, techniques, and food items, which help you to feel better and look better.

After such “cooling” preface, we would like to present one of the food items, which claimed by scientists not only being able to slow down your ageing process, but even reverse it. Today, we are talking about mushrooms, little guys, packed with vitamin D, a powerful antioxidant, with some types even containing precious vitamin D3 and D4.  Your body absorbs vitamin D into the skin to make it look healthy and younger.

In the summer of 2004, mycologist Paul Stamets discovered that the level of vitamin D in freshly picked, indoor- grown shiitake mushrooms rose from 110 IU (international units) to an astonishing 46,000 IU per 100 grams when the mushrooms were placed outdoors in the sun for just six hours with the gills facing up (when the gills were facing down, the level rose to 10,900 IU).

This means that eating just one gram of sun-treated shiitake - about one tenth of one mushroom - would give you 460 IU, close to the FDA's recommended daily dose of 400 IU, and about a quarter of Dr. Weil's recommended 2,000 IU. In his book, Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World, Stamets concluded, "(In) populations where vitamin D is seriously deficient, sun-exposed dried mushrooms can help address a serious health issue."

History of Use

Mushrooms are being used for thousands years both as food and for medicinal purposes. They are often classified as vegetables or herbs, but they are actually fungi. While there are over 14,000 mushrooms, only about 3,000 are edible, about 700 have known medicinal properties, and fewer than one percent are recognized as poisonous.

The Pharaohs prized mushrooms as a delicacy, and the Greeks believed that mushrooms provided strength for warriors in battle. The Romans regarded mushrooms as a gift from God and served them only on festive occasions, while the Chinese treasured them as a health food.

Why Mushrooms?

Mushrooms may have anti-aging and health magic that we are just beginning to understand. If you think on basic principles of healthy eating, you may see them as consuming substantial variety of fruits and vegetables because each fruit of vegetable contains different nutrients that your body can use in anti-aging and disease prevention.

However, mushrooms represent completely different category of food that has different nutrients and substances that your body can use to keep you young. So adding mushrooms to your diet gives you low-calorie healthy nutrients, nicely complementing various traditional diets and healthy food approaches.

Mushrooms, Health and Anti-Aging

Mushrooms contain about 80 to 90 percent water, and are very low in calories (only 100 cal/oz). They have very little sodium and fat, and 8 to 10 percent of the dry weight is fiber. Hence, they are an ideal food for persons following a weight management program or a diet for hypertensive.

Mushrooms are an excellent source of potassium, a mineral that helps lower elevated blood pressure and reduces the risk of stroke. One medium portabella mushroom has even more potassium than a banana or a glass of orange juice. One serving of mushrooms also provides about 20 to 40 percent of the daily value of copper, a mineral that has cardio protective properties.

Mushrooms are a rich source of riboflavin, niacin, and selenium. Selenium is an antioxidant that works with vitamin E to protect cells from the damaging effects of free radicals. Male health professionals who consumed twice the recommended daily intake of selenium cut their risk of prostate cancer by 65 percent. In the Baltimore study on Aging, men with the lowest blood selenium levels were 4 to 5 times more likely to have prostate cancer compared to those with the highest selenium levels.

Other Anti-Aging Uses of Mushrooms

You will find mushrooms showing up in all sorts of elixirs and face creams with claims of anti-aging effects. As far as I know, none of these claims has been thoroughly researched, so you will have to use your own judgment. On one hand, smearing mushroom cream on your face seems better than some of the chemicals, found in most store face creams -- but who knows for sure?

Toxic Mushrooms

The problem with mushrooms is that they are kind of like a sponge – whatever they are growing in - they soak up environment. If there are toxins and chemicals in the ground, the mushrooms will soak it up. In fact, mushrooms are mostly water, so mushrooms growers (and mushroom pickers) need to be careful about keeping everything clean and toxin-free. Stick with organic mushrooms whenever you can. There is a simple trick to tell if produce in the grocery store is organic. Each piece of produce has either a 4 or 5 digit code for the cashier to enter. All organic produce has a 5-digit code that starts with a 9. Look for those 9s and you know it is organic.

Popular Types of Mushrooms

Different species of mushrooms contain different active ingredients that play specific functions in the human body. To clarify that further, here a few species of mushrooms and their functions: 

White Mushrooms 

Generally, these are very helpful in weight management and in the prevention of prostate cancer in men. White mushrooms include button mushrooms, portabella, and cremini. White mushrooms contain a special carbohydrate that fires up the body’s metabolic rate. Ultimately, this leads to weight loss. According to some studies, consuming about three ounces of white mushrooms every day for a period spanning four to six weeks is likely to result in considerable weight loss. Moreover, they contain high amounts of selenium. 

All white mushrooms, but especially the fresh button mushrooms, possess substances that inhibit the activity of aromatase (an enzyme involved in estrogen production), and 5-alpha-reductase (an enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT). The latest findings show that white button mushrooms can reduce the risk of prostate cancer. An extract of white button mushrooms decreased cell proliferation and decreased tumor size in a dose-dependent manner. The chemoprotective effect can be seen with an intake of about 100 grams (3.5 ozs) of mushrooms per day.


Aside from looking like a small trumpet, it has good anti-microbial as well as antibacterial properties. It is rich in Vitamin C and D as well as high levels of selenium. 


Currently, some health experts are trying to determine whether oyster mushrooms could offer a remedy for HIV. While the jury is still out on that, scientists have determined that they contain high amounts of anti-oxidants. 


These mushrooms have a long stem with a tiny cap. For useful chemical compounds, they contain beta-glucans. The National Cancer Institute of Japan has found that beta-glucans are very helpful in fighting cancer and destroying tumors. They are also useful in soothing symptoms of asthma as well as treating diabetes. 


This meaty mushroom looks quite similar to portabella and contains high amounts of anti-inflammatory compounds. 


Many individuals consider the reishi mushroom to be the jewel in the crown of the mushroom family due to its very well documented anti-inflammatory and natural pain relief properties. This mushroom, also known as Lingzhi in Chinese or Ganoderma in English, is white and brown in color and typically has numerous medicinal properties including anticancer, antibacterial, antioxidant, antiviral and anti-fungal properties. The word Ganoderma derives from one of Reishi’s main ingredients-Ganodermic acid. Ganodermic acid helps to lower cholesterol in the body as well as lower high blood pressure. The mushroom boosts the body’s immune system and builds up stamina. The list of Reishi's health benefits includes the following:
* Antibacterial, antiviral (Herpes, Epstein-Barr), antifungal (including Candida) properties
* Anti-inflammatory, useful for reducing symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis
* Immune system up-regulation
* Normalization of blood cholesterol levels and blood pressure
* Reduction of prostate-related urinary symptoms in men


Cordyceps, also called caterpillar fungus or Tochukasu, is a favorite of athletes because it increases ATP production, strength and endurance, and has anti-aging effects. This parasitic mushroom is unique because, in the wild, it grows out of an insect host instead of a plant host. Cordyceps has an enduring history in both traditional Chinese and Tibetan medicine.

Cordyceps has hypoglycemic and possible antidepressant effects, protects your liver and kidneys, increases blood flow, helps normalize your cholesterol levels, and has been used to treat Hepatitis B. It has antitumor properties as well.

Turkey Tail

Turkey Tail is also known as Coriolis, or "cloud mushroom."  Science is showing that Turkey Tail mushroom holds an arsenal of cancer-blasting compounds. Two polysaccharide complexes in Turkey Tail are getting a great deal of scientific attention, PSK (or "Kreskin") and PSP, making it the most extensively researched of all medicinal mushrooms with large-scale clinical trials.

A seven-year, $2 million NIH-funded clinical study in 2011 found that Turkey Tail mycelium improves immune function when dosed daily to women with stage I–III breast cancer. Immune response was dose-dependent, with no adverse effects.

In addition to breast cancer, Turkey Tail has been found to hold promise for other cancers, including stomach, colorectal, lung, esophageal, nasopharyngeal, cervical, and uterine. PSP has been shown to significantly enhance immune status in 70 to 97 percent of cancer patients. Turkey tail is also being used to treat many different infections, including aspergillus niger, Candida albicans, E. coli, HIV, Herpes, and streptococcus pneumonia, and is hepatoprotective. It may also be useful for CFIDS.


Himematsutake, also called Royal Sun Agaricus, a relative of the common button mushroom. Himematsutake was not cultivated in the East until fairly recently but is now a very popular natural medicine, used by almost a half million Japanese.

Himematsutake mushroom is attracting many scientists worldwide due to its remarkable anticancer properties related to six special polysaccharides.  Like many other medicinal mushrooms, this fungus can also protect you from the damaging effects of radiation and chemotherapy. But its benefits don't stop there—Himematsutake can also decrease insulin resistance in diabetics, normalize your cholesterol, improve your hair and skin, and even treat polio.

There are many more mushrooms deserving mention—far too many to include here. At least you can begin to appreciate the scope of benefits mushrooms have to offer, based on the handful of examples above.

Sources and Additional Information:

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