Fungi, allies of the immune system

Fungi, allies of the immune system

Edible mushrooms are meaty foods rich in fiber, they also contain unsaturated fat, vitamins, minerals and some essential amino acids, which makes them a very complete food.

Increased production of processed foods, rapid urbanization and change in lifestyles have caused eating habits to change. That is why the World Health Organization (WHO) suggests balancing our diet with healthy foods, since what we eat can strengthen our defenses and prevent diseases, or on the contrary, harm our health.

The immune system is in charge of defending the body against infections, such as bacteria and viruses. Through an organized reaction, the body attacks and destroys the infectious organisms that invade it. The good state of the immune system is essential to prevent and fight all disease.

Healthy and natural foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains are a good alternative to improve our diet, but the ingestion of edible mushrooms is more effective in protecting the immune system.

Although little is known about the health properties of edible mushrooms, a study certifies that shitake mushrooms (Lentinula edodes), native to East Asia, are traditionally cultivated for culinary and medicinal purposes.

An investigation on edible mushrooms

Research conducted by scientists at the University of Florida, in the United States and published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, shows that consuming this food regularly benefits the immune system substantially.

The team of researchers, led by nutritionist Sue Percival, monitored 52 healthy adults (between the ages of 21 and 41), who were required to eat four ounces of dehydrated shitake mushrooms daily.

To ensure the accuracy of the results, the participants' diet had to exclude foods that benefit the immune system, as well as large amounts of alcohol, as it can damage it.

By comparing blood tests taken before and after the experiment, the scientists found that the patients demonstrated better gamma / delta T-cell function, as well as a reduction in inflammatory proteins. In conclusion, the consumption of the mushrooms improved the immunity of the people at the same time that the inflammation produced by the immune system decreased.

Scientific evidence confirms that fungal proteins, minerals, polysaccharides, amino acids, and fiber promote overall health, since mushrooms perform different functions in the body. They are adaptogens, contain antioxidants, and function as detoxifying and anticancer agents.

Other properties of edible mushrooms

As explained by the Institute of Ecology, a research center of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, mushrooms have been cultivated for many years, the first was the mouse ear Auricularia sp. (year 600), then the Japanese shiitake Lentinula edodes (year 1000), the mushroom Agaricus bisporus (year 1600) and the Pleurotus spp. (year 1900). Eastern cultures, mainly in China and Japan, have cultivated and consumed mushrooms for their medicinal properties, pleasant taste, and nutritional value.

Japan has been at the forefront of research on the health benefits of mushrooms. The Japanese have found that certain mushrooms boost the immune system and help fight certain diseases. Using modern techniques, they have identified numerous bioactive components, which exhibit certain beneficial health effects.

Edible mushrooms have 19 to 35% of usable proteins in dry weight, compared to most fruits and vegetables, which have between 7.3 to 13.2%. They contain thiamine (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), pyridoxine (vitamin B6), cobalamin (vitamin B12) and ascorbic acid (vitamin C), among others; in addition to minerals such as phosphorus, iron, calcium and potassium”, Assures the Mexican institute.

In addition, mushrooms contain anticancer polysaccharides and also eritadenine, from which lovastatin is derived, a compound approved in the United States by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in 1987, to treat high levels of cholesterol in the blood, concludes the Institute of Ecology de México, founded on November 13, 1996.

Mushroom harvesting

The alternatives for consuming fresh and quality mushrooms, in addition to buying them in the markets, is to grow them yourself or collect them by consulting which ones are suitable for human consumption in your region. In many countries the mushrooms that grow on pines or eucalyptus are consumed and the locals can tell you which ones are edible.

Video: Paul Stamets: Mycology and Mushrooms as Medicines (August 2021).