The “Divine Mushroom of Immortality” isn’t a name bestowed upon just any mushroom.
Reishi mushroom, an ancient Chinese super herb – and one of several healing medicinal mushrooms -- has been revered for centuries as being a symbol of well-being, and is also honored with this esteemed term.
With National Mushroom Day coming up on October 15th, I thought it would be an opportune moment to speak to one of my favorite veggies that doubles as a superfood, and just happens to satisfy me when paired with the right food and beverages. I personally love the taste of mushrooms but if you’re a bit resistant, take a look around your grocery and health food store where you’ll see an increasing amount of mushroom products on the market today from beverages to snacks. Innovative brands are making mushrooms more accessible and delicious for a wide variety of palates. Walking down the aisles of my food store, I can’t help but think we’re living in the ‘magic of mushrooms’ age where mushrooms are showing up everywhere I look on ingredient lists.
Mushrooms are multi-functional and have been used for thousands of years throughout Asia and around the world for food and medicine. They’ve been known to enhance athletic performance (particularly reishi and cordyceps mushrooms), reducing altitude sickness, and supporting immunity and respiratory health. I’ve been using mushrooms for many years to support my immune system and started researching them more while I went through 10 years of chronic health issues. When I started researching the immune system a decade ago, I learned how reishi is one of the top producers of a unique compound, which almost acts like a key that can ‘turn on’ the immune system. Reishi is my favorite type of mushroom; this species produces a very unique form of beta glucan (1-3, 1-6), which may improve the immune system, and is one of the most potent adaptogens available to us. Adaptogens are herbs that increase our resistance to stress. They’re gentle on our body working within an individual’s unique constitution to increase stamina without energy spiking and crashing, while also helping the body respond to stress. I love learning about how food can help support our body on a daily basis and was already eating a lot of mushrooms when I first embarked on my health journey. The problem, however, arose when I suggested that my clients start eating these superfood mushrooms, and they simply couldn’t find them anywhere.
That’s when I started to dive a bit deeper and look for other sources outside of whole medicinal mushrooms to reap the same benefits. REBBL, Sun Potion, and Health-Ade are three brands I’ve had my eye on recently for accessible, efficacious amounts of medicinal mushrooms that don’t require adventuring into the nearest forest. REBBL is one of my favorite beverage brands; they use an ultrasonically extracted form of organic reishi that provides superior health and immune benefits, and pair it with coffee and chocolate for a flavor combination that tastes amazing. Sun Potion has numerous mushroom products; I love their Cordyceps Mushroom Powder and their Reishi Mushroom Powder, both of which are ideal for tossing into smoothies, mixing with almond milk, tea, soups and more. Health-Ade’s Reishi-Chocolate drink is my go-to product for restoring my gut health because it’s loaded with probiotics, which are good bacteria for our gut. What’s great about these products is that they’re not only accessible, but also incredibly versatile and can be enjoyed daily, which makes it that much easier to try and incorporate them into a delicious recipe!
Surprisingly, until recently the most revered medicinal mushrooms (no, we’re not talking about psychedelic mushrooms)were enjoyed only by the elite and ruling classes of Asia. Now, they’re popping up everywhere from beverages to restaurant menus to superfood powders and supplements. What was once rare has now been brought to the masses through technological advances over the past 20 years, allowing high quality mushrooms to be cultivated.
It’s incredible how brands are learning how to help the body respond to stress with their products. I’ve seen so many products coming out with superfood ingredients that we would otherwise never be able to find. I personally always look for products that are certified organic, committed to sustainable sourcing, and have a positive impact on the world.
Overall, I’ve discovered that mushrooms pair well with coffee, chocolate and teas and other naturally bitter and earthy flavors. Functionally, mushrooms provide a good balance to caffeine, which is why you’ll see them in beverages more and more. If you’re looking for a way to support your immune system, adrenals and more, mushrooms may be your answer. As more research is published promoting the medicinal qualities of mushrooms, you’ll see mushroom-infused products popping up more and more. Check your local health food store for products that contain these unique types of mushrooms such as reishi and discover the benefits in your own body.