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The Top 5 Reported Benefits Of Functional Mushrooms

Mushrooms for health? It might seem like a crazy concept at first. But that’s probably because here in North America, mushrooms have often been thought of as either deadly dangerous, "trippy" and hallucinogenic, or just something to pick off your pizza. Personally, I like to leave them on... In the rest of the world though, using mushrooms as a superfood has been mainstream for millennia. From “turkey tail” to “lion's mane”- the undisputed benefits of these funny sounding fungi have stood the test of time. And now, more and more people right here at home are not only discovering the incredible benefits of functional mushrooms, but are finding ways to incorporate them into their daily routine. So, what exactly is it that’s causing the humble mushroom to gain so much attention lately? What reason do people have to use mushrooms? Check out these 5 most commonly reported benefits from people just like you who are using functional mushrooms as a part of their daily regime.

1. Never Getting Sick

I used to get sick on the regular. Every 3-4 months, I’d get that familiar feeling in the back of my throat, and inevitably fall prey to whatever pesky bug happened to be going around. But that changed almost as soon as I started supplementing with functional mushrooms on the daily. Many people around me have gotten sick- (maybe I should share my mushrooms!)- but every time I think something is starting to get me, it just goes away. It’s like my immune system has become a deadly assassin, wiping out the bad guys before they can do any damage. And it’s not just me! Many people are using mushrooms to improve their immune systems and ward off the common cold. The reason for this is the mushroom beta-glucans, molecules contained in the tough outer walls of the fruiting body, which act to supercharge your immune system. A lazy immune system will be kicked into high gear, whereas an overactive immune system can be throttled back. This is known as "immunomodulation", basically bringing the immune system back into balance. Better find another reason to make use of those sick-days!

2. Mental Clarity

Ever feel like your brain isn’t firing on all cylinders? First thing to do is make sure you’re getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, and exercising on the regular. Simply doing those three things is almost a guaranteed way to feel mentally sharp everyday. But... if you're checking all those boxes and still not feeling top-notch, then maybe you need some mushrooms. That’s because one of the most common reported benefits of using mushrooms is a major boost to your brain power and exceptional mental clarity. The mushroom responsible for supercharging your brain is a funny looking fungus called “Lion’s Mane” (Hericium erinacious for the scientifically inclined). This superhero of the forest works by stimulating Nerve Growth Factor, a crucial element to brain and nervous system health. There is no doubt that the popularity of using Lion's Mane as a nootropic is growing everyday. Bio-hackers like Tim Ferris have mentioned that they use this mushroom in their coffee, and encourages others to use it "if you want to light yourself up like a christmas tree," suggesting to start with half a dose. Even famed mycologist Paul Stamets was recently on Joe Rogan's podcast, talking about the amazing nootropic benefits of this mushroom. I use Lion's Mane almost everyday. Of course, my favorite is to grow it and eat it fresh- but for ease of use and a guaranteed supply, I often use an extract powder, tossed into smoothies or a good cup of joe.

3. More Energy

Ever heard of a mushroom that turns bugs into zombies, controlling their mind and eventually fruiting out of their head? That’s crazy mushroom is called Cordyceps sinensis- and luckily, us humans don’t have to worry about it taking over our brains. But there is another mushroom that bodybuilders, ultra-marathoners, and other high performance athletes use to increase stamina and endurance. (Non-superhumans use it too.) It’s called Cordyceps Militaris - and although it shares the functional properties of its zombie-like cousin, it’s doesn’t grow on bugs. Cordyceps can boost energy by increasing VO2 Max, essentially helping you increase the amount of oxygen that can be delivered to your cells. Having more energy increases the likelihood that we'll feel like exercising.... which in turn helps our energy levels. It's a virtuous cycle, highlighting the importance of having the extra boost of energy when you need it the most.

4. Better Sleep

We could all use more sleep. (kind of jealous of my dog to be honest...) But it’s not just the hours you have your head on the pillow that counts- it’s the quality of that sleep. So how do you get better quality sleep? First, you need to take care of the basics. Things like no caffeine after 11 am (caffeine takes hours to work it way through your system) and reducing screen time a few hours before bed (blue light from these devices can negatively affect sleep). Having a solid bedtime routine can help as well, even though you not 4 years old. One thing you can consider adding to your bedtime routine is Chaga and Reishi mushrooms. Chaga has been used to relax, and can help you calm down at the end of the day. Reishi is also commonly used with non-caffeinated tea before bed, in order to help bring on the zzz’s. People report that these mushrooms can drastically improve the quality of their sleep, and makes waking up the next morning that much easier. Better sleep is a key aspect of feelin' good all the time, so it's worthwhile pursuing.

5. Less Stress

Stress is a killer. And if you’re ever feeling like you want to pull out your hair and scream at the top of your lungs… well, you might want to consider using mushrooms. Many people report an overall feeling of well-being and having better reactions to stress. This is because functional mushrooms are a known adaptogen- something that strengthens our ability to resist stress and promotes balance in the body. Adaptogens work in much the same way as physical exercise does to benefit our body. They will purposely “stress” our bodies, training us to be better prepared for stress reactions in the future.

Feeling Amazing... Everyday.

If you always feel great, are never tired, and have your brain firing on all cylinders- then maybe you don’t need functional mushrooms. But if you ever feel like you could use a sidekick, you should definitely consider adding mushrooms to your daily routine, and see the benefits for yourself!
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