Fungus! It isn’t the most appetizing word in the world. Let’s replace it with mushrooms, -much better. Perhaps if we conjure up the image, the smells of cremini mushrooms sautéed with garlic and onions, served warm over a salad, or in a wrap with plenty of green veggies and a nice green smoothie organic of course, on the side. Then we start to get images of health and wellness.
Mushrooms are a fungus and as such, we can say that not all fungi are bad. In fact, some are very, very good. For example, Chaga mushroom is a mushroom that grows on birch trees. It is black and looks a bit unappetizing. However, when harvested properly, combined with water and cooked it forms a dark liquid that strengthens the immune system and helps with breast milk production. Many people have begun to supplement their diet and wellness programs with reishi mushrooms. Reishi mushrooms are said to combat heart disease, ward off the flu, and prevent cancer and liver problems.
Besides these somewhat more exotic mushrooms, there are mushrooms you can buy in the local organic store and prepare easily in your home. The shiitake mushroom can be bought virtually everywhere, yet holds a legacy as a healer in Chinese culture. For thousands of years, the image of this mushroom has been a symbol for health and healing. Shiitake mushrooms also strengthen the immune system, and research has been done on this and other benefits the shiitake is known to have.
The mushroom helps the cardiovascular system by preventing excess immune cells binding to the linings of the blood vessels. Shiitake mushrooms protect the blood vessels by preventing molecular adhesion to a large extent. Another remarkable property of this delicious fungus is the abundant quality of iron it possesses. It is easy for the body to break down and use the iron found in the shiitake.
Another delicious mushroom found in just about every supermarket is the cremini mushroom. It is similar to the rather typical white mushrooms, except brown in color and richer in taste. Cremini mushrooms also give the immune system a nice boost and protect the cardiovascular system. New studies show that fresh cremini mushrooms are an excellent source of B12. More research is needed there, but new information is very promising in that regard.
White mushrooms or button mushrooms also provide the immune system boosting as well as cardiovascular protection in addition to B vitamins.
All edible mushrooms that are exposed to the sun’s Ultra Violet rays absorb vitamin D and deliver this to people who consume them. Vitamin D in turn helps with calcium absorption. Even after being harvested, exposure to the sun can boost the vitamin D content of mushrooms. This is useful for people who live in dark places during the winter months.
A good way to ensure you have mushrooms on hand is to grow your own. Growing kits are the best way to start. Follow the directions to grow spores into edible, delicious and healthful mushrooms. When harvesting mushrooms in the wild, it’s important to consult an expert to be sure you are getting something edible and good (not poisonous).
A delicious way to enjoy cremini mushrooms is to take off the stalk, fill them with organic pesto and cheese and grill or fry them. Mushrooms are excellent baked in casseroles, sautéed and eaten on salads, as a side dish, as part of a main meal, or as a snack.
Mushrooms are among the oldest life forms on earth and the oldest medicine. We can eat them and use them as medicine simultaneously, since those of us who consistently live the organic lifestyle know that food is our medicine. We can have mushrooms as part of a delicious meal and strengthen the immune system at the same time as we reap the benefits of vitamin D, B vitamins and protect the cardiovascular system.
In addition to a diet full of organic greens, berries, herbs and other super foods, mushrooms are a must for health and wellness.