(Natural News) If healthy food is medicine, then mushrooms are highly medicinal. These edible fungi contain numerous nutrients and produce natural compounds that help protect against diseases. They can even increase the longevity of people who eat them regularly.
Researcher Paul Stamets explains that fungi can convert rotting organic materials into humus soils that help plants flourish. He calls them one of nature’s most vital disassemblers of organic molecules.
By turning decaying matter into usable nutrients, fungi provide nourishment to both plants and animals, including humans. They also biosynthesize some of the most potent substances on Earth for human use.
Penicillin and other antibiotics come from fungi like Penicillium. Other fungi also show considerable potential as medicinal treatments for diseases and other health conditions.
Some mushrooms produce mind-altering effects on humans who ingest them. Ancient cultures and peoples valued these psychotropic fungi, while modern-day researchers believe that these “magic mushrooms” may be the key to human evolution. (Related: Nutrient powerhouse: 5 Health benefits you can gain from medicinal mushrooms.)
Improve your health and live longer by eating more mushrooms
Fungi conduct most of their activities in the soil, away from the prying eyes of humans. Stamets wrote that the underground network of mycelia acts as the soil’s nervous system.
Furthermore, he theorized that fungi possess a form of sentience. Mushrooms and other types of fungus display a natural awareness of the requirements of their host. They respond to environmental stimuli by producing enzymes and chemical reactions.
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Building on this theory, Stamets proposed that mushrooms have a co-creative consciousness. He also believes in the possibility of interacting with this consciousness.
“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,” Stamets wrote.
As part of his research, Stamets looked at the human digestive system. The gut enables interaction between fungi and their human hosts.
Mushrooms are prebiotic foods. They enhance digestion and overall health by boosting the population of beneficial bacteria that live in the gut.
A 2017 study by researchers from The Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) showed that some nutritionally dense mushrooms have high amounts of ergothioneine, glutathione, and other antioxidants. An antioxidant-rich diet can protect cells against oxidative stress and slow down the aging process.
Mushrooms not only increase longevity, they also supply valuable nutrients. For instance, their vitamin D content ensures that the immune system can function properly.
These mushrooms have the highest antioxidants and nutrient levels
Any edible mushroom brings a lot of antioxidants and nutrients to the dining table. In their study, Penn State researchers identified seven edible mushroom species with the highest antioxidant activity and the greatest concentration of nutrients.
Porcini mushrooms appear in specialty markets for most of the year. They flourish in the undergrowth of chestnut, hemlock, pine, and spruce trees.
In contrast, golden oyster mushrooms are usually cultivated. A simple straw mat with compost is enough to induce the growth of this nutritious fungi.
Pioppino mushrooms have a mild flavor akin to pepper. They are found on rotting logs or at the base of hardwood trees.
One of the most familiar types, oyster mushrooms are easy to cultivate. Their sweet scent is similar to anise’s.
Lion’s mane mushrooms spur the production of nerve growth factor, a protein that helps neurons in the central and peripheral nervous systems regenerate. A staple in traditional Chinese medicine, they enhance memory and mood.
Maitake mushrooms often feature in animal studies. They reduce cholesterol and blood glucose levels in rats.
Asian cultures consider shiitake mushrooms to be a symbol of longevity. They are also considered medicinal.