Antioxidative Mushrooms Versus Free Radicals
Many factors associated with modern living, including sleep habits, food choices, environmental conditions, alcohol, stress, smoke, vapor, inflammation, and others, contribute to an increase in free radicals. Free Radicals are molecules that can cause several diseases through a process called oxidation. If your body isn’t equipped to handle these free radicals, you may experience oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is a major contributor to rapid aging and inflammatory diseases, the root cause of all chronic illness. The following issues may be an indication that you are experiencing excessive free radical damage: Sleep issues, brain fog, anxiety, depression, digestion problems, skin conditions, and lower immunity.
Fortunately, antioxidants from mushrooms can help protect us from the damage caused by free radicals. It’s not hard to incorporate antioxidants into your life. Below are some of the most potent antioxidative mushrooms recommended by a Registered Dietitian to protect your cells from free radicals.
Reishi: Antioxidant Abundance
When grown and extracted properly, certain types of Reishi contain unrivaled concentrations of antioxidants. That’s why it is often referred to as the “Mushroom of Immortality.” It holds over 400 bioactive compounds, such as triterpenoids, polysaccharides, nucleotides, sterols, and more. The mushroom was named “Reishi” over 2400 years ago and has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. There are believed to be over 2000 species of Reishi, but only 1 of those has been deeply examined for its medicinal properties, ganoderma lucidum. It is often used to support the lungs, brain, blood vessels, and better sleep. Reishi is too bitter and tough to eat raw, so many people use the mushroom in powder form. You can capitalize on all of the amazing antioxidants of ganoderma lucidum with the RIGHT reishi extract.
King Trumpet: Longevity Vitamin
King Trumpet mushroom (also called king oyster) contains a significant amount of ergothioneine (ET or ERGO), which is considered the “longevity vitamin” or “master” antioxidant. L-ergothioneine is the only antioxidant with its own cellular transport mechanism. ET can pass the blood brain barrier (most healthy compounds aren’t able to penetrate this barrier, which prevents our brain from acquiring their benefits). Unlike many other antioxidants, ET isn’t produced internally in our bodies, so we need to seek outside sources to absorb it, such as king trumpet. Studies have shown that ERGO has potential to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, mitigate neurodegeneration and increase lifespan. However, it is estimated that Americans are lacking in this vitamin of longevity, which researchers believe contributes to higher rates of neurodegenerative disorders and heart disease. Regardless of where you live, introducing more ERGO into your routine can have a positive impact. It’s easy to take more ergothioneine by eating the raw mushrooms or using king oyster mushroom powder on a consistent basis.
Lion’s Mane: Stress-Reducing Mushroom
All medicinal mushrooms are anti-oxidative and many are adaptogenic. Adaptogens better equip your body to handle stress, which is a MAJOR cause of free radicals. Mood directly impacts our antioxidant to free radical ratio, so it's important to harness the power of adaptogenic mushrooms! Lion's mane (hericium erinaceus) is functional, edible AND adaptogenic. It has shown potential to reduce anxiety, combat depression and improve sleep. Solving these issues plays a major role in reducing oxidative stress. Understanding the benefits of lion’s mane and optimal dosing for your needs is an important first step. Many people enjoy using lion’s mane powder because it’s efficient and easy to calculate exactly how much you’re taking on a daily basis.
BONUS: Antioxidant Variation Is Key
There are many types of antioxidants and each one has a specific function. That said, they are stronger together! Antioxidants can work synergistically to reduce oxidative stress and cell damage. Even if you’re already consuming a lot of antioxidants, it is still essential to introduce as much variety as possible. Every antioxidant is unique and important. Here are some superfoods and micronutrients that are overflowing with antioxidants.
Fruits and vegetables have varying amounts of antioxidative capacity. Some have more than others. Wild Blueberries, for example, are overflowing with antioxidants. "This super fruit is incredibly resilient and 100 times healthier than traditional blueberries," says Max Lowenstein, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with a Masters Degree in Clinical Nutrition.
Vitamin C (VC) is an essential antioxidant micronutrient that is exogenous (originating outside of the body). It helps us recycle glutathione, which is our body’s strongest endogenous (originating inside of the body) antioxidant.
Medicinal mushrooms offer unique antioxidants and compounds that can help support overall health. As mentioned earlier, variation is key. Combining the right mushroom supplements and plant medicines can help you beat various issues caused by free radicals.
Antioxidant & Medicinal Mushroom Studies
- Lobo, V et al. “Free radicals, antioxidants and functional foods: Impact on human health.” Pharmacognosy reviews vol. 4,8 (2010): 118-26. doi:10.4103/0973-7847.70902
- Cherian, Elizabeth et al. “Free-radical scavenging and mitochondrial antioxidant activities of Reishi-Ganoderma lucidum (Curt: Fr) P. Karst and Arogyapacha-Trichopus zeylanicus Gaertn extracts.” Journal of basic and clinical physiology and pharmacology vol. 20,4 (2009): 289-307. doi:10.1515/jbcpp.2009.20.4.289
- Cör, Darija et al. “Antitumour, Antimicrobial, Antioxidant and Antiacetylcholinesterase Effect of Ganoderma Lucidum Terpenoids and Polysaccharides: A Review.” Molecules (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 23,3 649. 13 Mar. 2018, doi:10.3390/molecules23030649
- Cui, Xiang-Yu et al. “Extract of Ganoderma lucidum prolongs sleep time in rats.” Journal of ethnopharmacology vol. 139,3 (2012): 796-800. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2011.12.020
- Beelman, Robert B et al. “Is ergothioneine a 'longevity vitamin' limited in the American diet?.” Journal of nutritional science vol. 9 e52. 11 Nov. 2020, doi:10.1017/jns.2020.44