Functional mushrooms can benefit our well-being in so many ways. One of those ways that I believe deserves a little more attention, is the link between mushrooms and our gut health!
I am fascinated with our gut microbiome and the impact it can have on our overall health. For those of you who are wondering, what is our gut microbiome - simply put, it’s the name for the collection of microbes that reside in our intestinal system; a.k.a. - our gut. There are trillions of different bacteria, along with viruses, parasites and fungi that make up this internal ecosystem within us. Each person’s gut microbiome is unique to them, like a fingerprint. This is part of what influences everyone’s digestive function and immunity.
There are beneficial bacteria, and then there are more pathogenic, or opportunistic bacteria within our gut. When these become unbalanced, it can take a real toll on us in a number of different ways. We always want the positive gut flora to dominate, and when that happens, it is as if we have an inhouse army working toward homeostasis and supporting our health.
These gut bacteria can do so much for us! They make digestive enzymes, break down toxins, help produce B and K vitamins, stimulate our immune system, help absorb nutrients… the list goes on. Consequently, research has shown that our gut has the potential to influence not only digestion, but metabolism, hormone regulation, immunity and our mental health.
Essentially, it is very important to maintain balance within our gut. One of the ways we do this is by increasing the beneficial bacteria and making them stronger! That is where our wonderful mushrooms come in, because one of the many amazing things about mushrooms is that they act as a prebiotic. Prebiotics are the superfoods that feed our gut bacteria.
While both are important, this is not to be confused with probiotics! In short, the main difference between these is that: probiotics replenish our gut bacteria, while prebiotics nourish our gut bacteria.
Studies on turkey tail, reishi, lion’s mane and shiitake mushrooms have shown the ability to positively influence the ratio and diversity within our microbiome. The fruiting body of a mushroom has the most prebiotic components, and our gut bacteria love to eat these, making them stronger and inducing growth.
Functional mushrooms also have the ability to help us combat and adapt to stress, as well as the potential to reduce inflammation, both of which are extremely important for proper digestive function.
All in all, when tending to our gut health, we think it’s a pretty great idea to consider utilizing medicinal mushrooms to help achieve optimal results!
Wellness Wednesday - Written by: Jordyn Cozzuol