(NaturalHealth365) Shitake mushrooms are among the most researched mushroom type due to its remarkable ability to boost immunity and prevent cancer. These mushrooms are particularly known for their ability to increase the activity of natural killer (NK) cells. These ‘NK’ cells are a natural part of our immune system – which attack cancerous and viral cells.
Recently, researchers identified a phytonutrient compound called lentinan in shitake mushrooms. Lentinan, a polysaccharide, is the key nutrient to kick start the production of killer cells within our immune system.
An animal study demonstrated how consuming shitake mushrooms can inhibit tumor cell growth. This study revealed that six out of ten mice, supplemented with shitake extracts, had regression of tumors. When the dosage was increased slightly – all ten mice were completely free of tumors.
How do shitake mushrooms kill viral infections?
Many studies have documented the potential of shitake mushroom to upregulate and downregulate the immune system. One set of studies show that shiitake mushrooms prevent over activity of the immune system. And an equal number of studies show that they can also stimulate a poorly functioning immune system. While this may seem contradictory, this ability is unique to ‘medicinal’ mushrooms like, shitake.
In the process of downplaying an overactive immune system – shitake mushrooms can help to decrease inflammation, and allergies; while its capability to boost immune activity will help to fight off viral infections – including tumor-related growths. This type of adaptive regulation is precisely what our body needs to thrive.
Shitake mushroom is nature’s wonder food because very few foods are identified to play this dual regulatory role. In addition to this, they also demonstrate strong antibacterial, and anti-fungal effects; blood sugar stabilization; reduced platelet aggregation; and reduced atherosclerosis. Shitake also contains eritadenine – which has strong cholesterol-lowering properties.
Can shitake mushrooms help boost my vitamin D levels?
Shitake mushrooms are identified as a good source of vitamin D – which is a crucial nutrient for immune strength. Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) say that if you eat vitamin D rich mushrooms it can be as effective at increasing and maintaining vitamin D levels (25–hydroxyvitamin D) as taking supplements. Just be sure to choose the ones that grow in natural-setting with ample sunlight – this ensures adequate vitamin D production by the mushrooms.
Mushrooms have a meat-like taste with a smoky flavor and certainly add a great flavor to any dish. Be sure to cook all types of mushrooms before consumption, this reduces the harmful compound called agaritine.
Another great reason to consume medicinal mushrooms
Shitake mushrooms are one of the sustainable foods on the planet. They grow – naturally – off trees. Most health experts would agree that consumers should look for the term ‘forest farming’ – when it comes to the source of these mushrooms. Bottom line, supporting sustainable agriculture is good for the body and good for the Earth.
So, the next time you think your immunity is on the decline – remember to enjoy a cup of delicious sautéed shitake mushrooms. It is a sure fire way to boost your immune system – safely and effectively.
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1. Yamaguchi Y, Miyahara E, Hihara J: Efficacy and safety of orally administered Lentinula edodes mycelia extract for patients undergoing cancer chemotherapy: a pilot study. Am J Chin Med 2011;39:451-459.
2. Ciric L, Tymon A, Zaura E, et al: In vitro assessment of shiitake mushroom (Lentinula edodes) extract for its antigingivitis activity. J Biomed Biotechnol 2011;2011:507908.
3. Rincao VP, Yamamoto KA, Ricardo NM, et al: Polysaccharide and extracts from Lentinula edodes: structural features and antiviral activity. Virol J 2012;9:37.
4. Suzuki F, Suzuki C, Shimomura E, et al: Antiviral and interferon-inducing activities of a new peptidomannan, KS-2, extracted from culture mycelia of Lentinus edodes. J Antibiot (Tokyo) 1979;32:1336-1345.
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