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How Mushrooms Can Boost Your Immune System

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A healthy diet, sleep, adequate water, stress management, and moderate exercise. These are all important factors in supporting a healthy immune system. And while there is no replacement for obtaining essential nutrients through food sources, there are some plants, herbs, vitamins, and supplements that can help fill in the gaps in your diet.

Medicinal mushrooms have been used for thousands of years in Eastern medicine and are now gaining popularity in the western world. Loaded with vital vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, mushrooms have incredible nutritional value and contribute to a healthy, balanced diet.

Mushrooms for immunity support are perhaps the most popular function of mushroom supplements. Available in several forms, such as powders, capsules, and gummies, it’s easy and convenient to add mushrooms for immunity to your health regime.

When searching for the best place to buy mushroom gummies and other mushroom supplements, be sure to buy from highly reputable and trustworthy brands. VidaCap is an up-and-coming brand proving to be a strong competitor in the mushroom space.

Mushrooms and the immune system

For thousands of years, mushrooms have been touted for their ability to boost the immune system. Mushrooms are loaded with immune-boosting compounds, like polysaccharides and terpenes and work to keep the immune system functioning at optimal levels. 

Moreover, mushrooms are shown to have immunomodulating effects, meaning they help keep our immune system in balance. They stimulate it when there is a disease or infection to fight and downregulate it when it’s overactive. This is important because the immune system is a complex balancing act. 

It’s just as important not to overreact as it is for it to respond adequately when foreign invaders are detected. Too much immune activity can cause an overactive immune system, which is what happens in the case of autoimmune diseases. 

How mushrooms can boost your immune system

Medicinal mushrooms contain potent polysaccharides called beta-glucans, which research suggests help combat inflammation and balance the immune system. Beta-glucans bind to receptor sites on immune cells, activating them and helping them to recognise harmful invaders and produce a higher level of response. 

A key immune-boosting effect of mushrooms occurs through their ability to stimulate cytokine production. Cytokines are small proteins that help regulate immune system cells and blood cells. When released, they signal the immune system to do its job.

By supporting the production of cytokines, mushrooms help increase our natural killer cells, which improve our body’s defence system. 

Moreover, there are both pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines. Mushrooms may minimise the inflammatory response of pro-inflammatory cytokines, allowing for T-cells, B-cells, and antibodies to work more efficiently. Furthermore, mushrooms may stimulate the anti-inflammatory response, decreasing inflammation and promoting a healthy immune response.

Best mushrooms for immunity

When considering mushrooms for immunity, you have to choose the right type. Medicinal mushrooms such as reishi, lion’s mane, and cordyceps have all been shown to have immune-supporting effects.

These mushrooms are not popular for culinary usage but instead as supplements. It’s challenging to pick one mushroom as the most effective for immunity support since they all have unique benefits for the immune system. 

Therefore, many companies supply immunity blends, which incorporate a combination of powerful medicinal mushrooms specifically designed to boost the immune system.

Here are the most popular mushrooms for immunity:.

  • Turkey tail. Turkey tail contains two unique compounds called polysaccharide-K (PSK) and polysaccharide peptide (PSP). Both have immune-boosting potential; they activate specific immune cells while suppressing inflammation. More specifically, PSP increases monocytes, types of white blood cells that fight infection while strengthening immunity.
  • Reishi. Reishi can help stimulate the innate immune response thanks to its beta-glucan and triterpene content. Furthermore, research suggests that reishi can affect the genes in white blood cells, thereby regulating inflammatory pathways and supporting a healthy inflammatory response.
  • Lion’s mane. Lion’s mane is also touted for providing immune support. The mushroom is believed to stimulate activity in the intestinal immune system, which is the body’s defence against harmful bacteria that enter the body through the nose and mouth. 

These are just three mushrooms for immunity that may be particularly beneficial. However, other species like cordyceps, maitake, and chaga may also be helpful.

Final thoughts

Mushrooms are nutrient-dense, immune-boosting powerhouses that could be extremely useful in maintaining a healthy and robust immune system. They’re loaded with beneficial nutrients that provide immunomodulating effects, thereby helping to keep the immune system in balance and maintaining its full strength. 

Certain mushrooms for immunity may be more beneficial than others, so be sure to buy the right species. Typically, immunity blends are an excellent choice because they incorporate several species, combining multiple immune-enhancing properties.

David Tobin did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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