Complete Guide To Functional Mushrooms: 5 Key Benefits

In recent years, functional mushrooms have been growing in popularity. These special fungi can now be found in all types of products – from coffee to protein bars, to supplements. …

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Written by: Daniel Powers, MS
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In recent years, functional mushrooms have been growing in popularity.

These special fungi can now be found in all types of products – from coffee to protein bars, to supplements.

While the market may seem saturated now, it’s only getting started. Sales of functional mushrooms are expected to double over the next 8 years.

In this article, we will look at the health benefits of functional mushrooms, their safety, and their history.

health benefits of functional mushrooms

What Are Functional Mushrooms?

Functional mushrooms are nutrient-rich mushrooms that provide a variety of health benefits. They have been used for thousands of years as both food and medicine.

There are different kinds of functional mushrooms, each of which provides its own unique benefits.

List of Functional Mushrooms:

There are many different functional mushrooms, below is a list of functional mushrooms.

  • Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum)
  • Cordyceps (Cordyceps militaris)
  • Chaga (Inonotus obliquus)
  • Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus)
  • Shiitake (Lentinus edodes)
  • Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor)

While these are the most popular medicinal mushrooms, there are other less common ones as well.

Health Benefits of Functional Mushrooms:

Each individual functional mushroom has its own specific benefits.

That said, in general, functional mushrooms work to increase energy levels, boost the immune system, support digestion, and help to increase your skin’s natural glow.

Below are the top functional mushroom benefits.

1. May Be Rich in Nutrients

Functional mushrooms are full of nutrients that help to build health.

These nutrients include:

  • polyphenols
  • polysaccharides
  • beta-glucans
  • and antioxidant properties.

All of these compounds work together to provide your body with the nutrients that it needs to thrive.

Additionally, from a macronutrient standpoint, these mushrooms are also rich in dietary fiber, which helps with digestive health.

2. May Support Immunity

Functional mushrooms are also beneficial for immune health.

This is due to beta-glucan content.

Glucans are natural molecules found in mushrooms that provide significant benefits for the human body – especially for the immune system.

Glucans are strong activators of cellular immunity as they work to activate macrophages, which work to remove foreign pathogens within the body.

3. May Promote Skin Health

Functional mushrooms are rich in antioxidants that help protect skin cells from accelerated aging and premature death.

These antioxidants also help to balance skin pH.

Mushrooms are naturally anti-inflammatory and possess anti-tyrosinase activity that can help to improve inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.

4. Anti-Aging Properties

Functional mushrooms contain a variety of bioactive components that have anti-aging functions.

These compounds include:

  • polysaccharides
  • triterpenes
  • peptides

5. May Help to Manage Stress

A handful of the listed functional mushrooms are considered to be “adaptogenic”.

Adaptogenic mushrooms are a type of mushroom that can help to reduce the effects of stress on your body.

The typical mechanism of action is that adaptogens work to lower cortisol production in the body. This helps your body to better respond to stress.

Click here to learn more about the health benefits of adaptogens.

Do Functional Mushrooms Have Psychedelic Properties?

No, functional mushrooms do not have psychedelic properties.

Psychedelic mushrooms, such as psilocybin mushrooms, are a completely different category of mushrooms.

While functional mushrooms can have many benefits, they will not cause you to trip.

Are Functional Mushrooms Safe?

Yes, functional mushrooms are safe for most people to consume.

Most functional mushrooms (such as reishi) have been used as a food source for thousands of years.

What’s the Best Way to Add Functional Mushrooms To Your Diet?

The best way to add functional mushrooms to your diet is to find a quality supplement with your mushroom of choice.

Fresh mushrooms aren’t always available in stores. Hence, taking a supplement or mushroom powder is often the best way to go.

If you choose to buy a mushroom powder, you will then be able to add it to your cooking, smoothies, protein shakes, etc…

If you don’t enjoy cooking or don’t have time to cook, consider taking a supplement. Single mushrooms or a combination of single and wild mushrooms are available as supplements.

Conclusion:

The health benefits of functional mushrooms should not be overlooked.

They provide many benefits to the human body.

Functional mushrooms are safe for most people to consume and can be easily added to your diet.

Whether you’re looking for a natural way to boost your energy levels or support your immune system, functional mushrooms should be your go-to.

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About Daniel Powers, MS

Daniel has a master's degree in herbal science from the Maryland University of Integrative Health. He has a passion for herbal medicine and how it can be used to support everyday health & wellness.

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