Best Mushrooms for Gut Health
The gut is one of the most important aspects of health and nutrition. There are many types of microbiomes, which are microorganisms in a particular environment. The gut microbiome is a contained unit of bacteria in your intestinal tract. It plays an important role in improving overall wellbeing and immunity. Your gut microbiome can either protect or harm you. It's one of the essential keys to living a long, happy and healthy life. Certain (properly extracted) medicinal mushrooms have been shown to facilitate a healthier gut, including turkey tail, shiitake, lion’s mane, and others.
Importance of a Healthy Gut
"The gut is your second brain, your intuition, and the seed of your immunity," says Max Lowenstein, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with a Masters in Clinical Nutrition.
The vast majority of people have an extremely pathogenic gut due to modern ways of living. This can worsen conditions such as diabetes, neurological disorders, arthritis, psychological issues, and others. Fortunately and unfortunately, gut wellness changes fast based on your food, lifestyle and environment. If you travel somewhere new or alter your diet, your gut microbiome can be completely different in 24 hours! For example, you might experience gastrointestinal discomfort immediately after taking something that kills bacteria in the stomach, such as antibiotics.
However, there are things that you can do to increase the beneficial bacteria in your gut TODAY! With a few small adjustments, you can significantly boost your gut microbiome’s health. Functional mushrooms are easy to implement and can offer incredible benefits for your digestive tract.
Make sure to read until the end for additional tips from Max Lowenstein, Registered Dietitian, including stress reduction strategies, exercise, and other healthy actions to improve your gut.
Heal Your Gut With Mushrooms
Specific functional mushrooms have been shown to increase gut immunity. Let’s dive into the best mushrooms for digestion and gut health:
There are 3 species of turkey tail mushroom, but trametes versicolor has the most scientific research supporting it. T. versicolor contains a powerful prebiotic that supports your gut microbiome.
Clinical research suggests that trametes versicolor improves gut health by enhancing positive bacteria (bifidobacterium and lactobacillus) that help fight off serious diseases and intestinal issues. Turkey tail also reduces negative bacteria (clostridium and staphylococcus) that cause illness and digestion problems. This is important because the ratio of beneficial to pathogenic bacteria is ESSENTIAL for overall health. Good bacteria helps you break down food, assimilate nutrients, and produces healthy compounds for your gut, body, and brain (many neurotransmitters are generated in your gut).
Your mood directly affects gut health. For example, a study demonstrated that stress and depression impact the gut microbiota. Fortunately, lion’s mane was shown to reduce depression and anxiety after 4 weeks of consumption.
A scientific study showed that the polysaccharides in letinuna edodes (species of shiitake with the most scientific research) increased gut microbiome diversity (positive bacteria), lowered bad cholesterol, and improved good cholesterol in mice.
Medicinal Mushroom Types For Immunity
70% of your immune system is located in the gut.
Many medicinal mushrooms are shown to enhance immunity, which as mentioned above, is largely housed in your gut. Some of the best mushrooms for bolstering immune function include Reishi, Chaga and Maitake. It’s easy to incorporate and digest these healthy compounds with medicinal mushroom powders.
Studies suggest that you need a variety of functional mushrooms to achieve optimal gut health! It has to be a collaborative effort that involves your mind, body and immune system.
Dietitian Suggestions for Improving Gut Health
Max Lowenstein, Registered Dietitian, suggests the following to improve your gut microbiome:
- Consuming fiber (both soluble and insoluble)
- Properly extracted medicinal mushrooms (as mentioned in the previous paragraphs)
- Drinking clean water
- Physical activity & movement
- Consuming foods that are prebiotic
- Consuming the right probiotics
- Consuming postbiotics
- Reducing stress
What is detrimental to the gut microbiome?
- Drinking alcohol
- Consuming fried foods
- Processed foods
- Drinking dirty water
- External toxins and pathogens
The old adage, listen to your gut, holds true in many situations. That’s why it’s important to do everything you can to protect it! The gut microbiome has been in the spotlight recently due to its huge impact on our health. In fact, it’s REACTION to our ACTIONS usually determines whether a life choice is healthy or unhealthy. This demonstrates the importance of having an optimal gut. While modern living generally tends to diminish our good bacteria, there are many actionable things we can do to increase positive bacteria. This includes getting the right amount of sleep, medical mushrooms, moderate physical activity, clean water, and more
- Pallav, Kumar et al. “Effects of polysaccharopeptide from Trametes versicolor and amoxicillin on the gut microbiome of healthy volunteers: a randomized clinical trial.” (2014)
- Madison, Annelise, and Janice K Kiecolt-Glaser. “Stress, depression, diet, and the gut microbiota: human-bacteria interactions at the core of psychoneuroimmunology and nutrition.” (2019)
- Nagano, Mayumi et al. “Reduction of depression and anxiety by 4 weeks Hericium erinaceus intake.” (2010)
- Dai, Xiaoshuang et al. “Consuming Lentinula edodes (Shiitake) Mushrooms Daily Improves Human Immunity: A Randomized Dietary Intervention in Healthy Young Adults.” (2015)
- Wachtel-Galor S, Yuen J, Buswell JA, et al. Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi or Reishi): A Medicinal Mushroom. (2011)
- Vetvicka, Vaclav, and Jana Vetvickova. “Immune-enhancing effects of Maitake (Grifola frondosa) and Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) extracts.” (2014)