Eating Your Way to Boosted Immunity & Better Health with Shiitake Mushrooms (+Bonus Recipe)

Every few years, new trends emerge and become a force in the wellness community. One of those trends is functional mushrooms. 

Although, when you look more closely at these fantastic fungi, you’ll understand that they are in no way a “fad.” Functional mushrooms, which bestow health benefits beyond nutrition, have been used for millennia in Asian cultures. Finally, the Western world is catching on to their health value. 

There are thousands of mushroom varieties, but only a handful are considered truly “functional,” meaning they have proven medicinal benefit. Some you might be familiar with are Reishi, Lion’s Mane, and Chaga. The most common is Shiitake.

History of Shiitakes

For centuries, Shiitake mushrooms have been a valued food source in Asia. Today, they’re one of the most widely cultivated edible mushrooms in the world. Their meaty texture and woodsy flavor make them a fantastic addition to soups, salads, and stir-fries.

The Shiitake mushroom is also a functional mushroom power player. It’s loaded with vitamins, minerals, and other bioactive elements like beta-glucan and polysaccharides. (1) These elements give them the ability to assist your immune system in fighting infections. (2)

A study done by the University of Florida found that eating 4 oz of shiitakes every day for four weeks improved T-cell proliferation and increased levels of natural killer T-cells and their function, resulting in improved immunity. (3)

Studies have also shown Shiitakes to help control blood sugar levels, support digestive health, and reduce inflammation. (3,4,5) That’s right — every one of these health boosters comes from eating Shiitake mushrooms.

Where to find & How to use Shiitakes

Fortunately, you don’t have to forage in the forest to find Shiitakes. They are sold both fresh and dehydrated at health food stores across America. Dehydrated versions work just as well as fresh in soups and sauces.

Now, there are numerous ways you can include Shiitakes in your diet. A few delicious ideas are:

· Add to every soup and salad.
· Sauté shiitakes with onions and spinach and fold into an omelet.
· Sauté with green beans for a healthy side dish.
· Make a Shiitake-Veggie Stir-fry (pea pods, onions, and red peppers work well) on top of brown rice.

Or you can use the quick and easy recipe below.

Quick Sautéed Shiitake Recipe

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons Olive Oil
8 oz. Shiitake mushrooms with stems removed*
¼ cup teriyaki, 1 tablespoon oyster sauce, or a dash of fish sauce depending on your preferred taste

* Shittake stems can be too tough to eat, but they are very flavorful. Save the stems to flavor vegetable broth.

Instructions:

1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms and cook until golden brown and tender, about 8 minutes.
2. Add 2 tbsp of water to the skillet, tossing mushrooms, until water evaporates, about 2 minutes.
3. Transfer mushrooms to a bowl and toss with either teriyaki or oyster sauce.

Shiitake Supplements

Shiitake mushroom supplements are an excellent choice if you’re looking for an all-natural supplement that supports your immune system, cardiovascular, and digestive health. 

Stonehenge Health’s Dynamic Mushrooms uses a high-quality Shiitake extract plus four additional functional mushrooms – including Lion’s Mane, Chaga, Reishi, and Maitake. A daily dose promotes healthy immune function, boosts cognitive function, helps reduce stress, and supports your overall well-being.

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Citations:
1. A Review on General Nutritional Compounds and Pharmacological Properties of the Lentinula edodes Mushroom (scirp.org)
2. Lentinula edodes-derived polysaccharide enhances systemic and mucosal immunity by spatial modulation of intestinal gene expression in mice – PubMed (nih.gov)
3. Consuming Lentinula edodes (Shiitake) Mushrooms Daily Improves Human Immunity: A Randomized Dietary Intervention in Healthy Young Adults: Journal of the American College of Nutrition: Vol 34, No 6 (tandfonline.com)
4. sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0065216408705951
5. dl.begellhouse.com/journals/708ae68d64b17c52,2806f82d786f0ca1,4eb7001c6dfb2b2e.html

Discover Chaga, Diamond of the Forest

You are probably familiar with buttons and portobellos, the varieties of edible mushrooms we add to soups, pasta, and salads. But there’s a whole other world of mushrooms that are becoming increasingly popular for the health benefits they offer beyond nourishment. These varieties are called medicinal mushrooms.  

Reishi, Shiitake, and Lion’s Mane are among the most well-known medicinal mushrooms. A lesser-known but well-loved variety in Asia and Northern Europe is called Chaga (Inonotus obliquus). Chaga is so prized in these parts of the world it’s referred to as “black gold” and “diamond of the forest.” Chaga has been used to boost endurance and help with age-related diseases. However, Chaga is best known for its immune-stimulating ability.

Chaga grows on the bark of birch trees in cold climate regions. But if you wandered into the forest and came across it, it’s unlikely you’d recognize it as a mushroom. You might be fooled into thinking the gnarly black knot on the birch was part of the tree. Chip in to the outer realm, and if you see stunning orange color, you have struck gold.

Immune System Support

Many studies show that Chaga is vastly beneficial for your immune system by stimulating white blood cells essential for fighting off harmful pathogens. (1) As a result, Chaga could help fight infections — from minor colds to severe illnesses.

Studies also demonstrate that Chaga may help prevent the production of harmful cytokines, which trigger chronic inflammation and are associated with various diseases. (2)

Blood Sugar

One study involving diabetic mice observed that Chaga extract reduced blood sugar levels and insulin resistance compared to untreated diabetic mice. (3) In another study, Chaga decreased blood sugar levels by 31% over three weeks. (4)

Lowers Cholesterol

Multiple animal studies show that Chaga extract may help cholesterol levels, reducing the risk for heart disease. In several studies, Chaga extracts reduced “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides in high-cholesterol rats while increasing “good” HDL cholesterol and antioxidant levels. (3, 4) It seems that Chaga’s rich antioxidant levels may be responsible for its effects on cholesterol.

Stress Relief

Chaga is highly regarded as an adaptogen. Adaptogens help your body cope with mental and physical stressors by influencing how your hormones react to stress. Moreover, Chaga contains minerals such as magnesium, potassium, and zinc that support mental health and, by extension, alleviates mental stress.

Supplementing with Chaga 

Chaga is an excellent choice if you’re looking for an all-natural supplement to help support your immune system, cardiovascular and overall health. It may also help you better cope with age-related health issues.  

So, where do you find Chaga?

Stonehenge Health’s Dynamic Mushrooms has blended high-quality Chaga extract, plus four additional medicinal mushrooms – Lion’s Mane, Shiitake, Reishi, and Maitake. A daily dose of Dynamic Mushrooms along with a healthy diet and lifestyle promotes healthy immune function today and for many years to come.


Citations/Sources:
1. “Immunomodulatory Activity Of The Water Extract From Medicinal Mushroominonotus Obliquus”. Mycobiology 33 (3): 158. doi:10.4489/myco.2005.33.3.158. – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3774877/
2. Mishra, Siddhartha Kumar, Ju-Hee Kang, Dong-Kyu Kim, Seung Hyun Oh, and Mi Kyung Kim. 2012. “Orally Administered Aqueous Extract Of Inonotus Obliquus Ameliorates Acute Inflammation In Dextran Sulfate Sodium (DSS)-Induced Colitis In Mice”. Journal Of Ethnopharmacology 143 (2): 524-532. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2012.07.008. – pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22819687/
3. Wang, J., Wang, C., Li, S., Li, W., Yuan, G., Pan, Y. and Chen, H. – Wang, Jia, Cong Wang, Shuqin Li, Weiwei Li, Guoqi Yuan, Yuxiang Pan, and Haixia Chen. 2017. “Anti-Diabetic Effects Of Inonotus Obliquus Polysaccharides In Streptozotocin-Induced Type 2 Diabetic Mice And Potential Mechanism Via PI3K-Akt Signal Pathway”. Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy 95: 1669-1677. doi:10.1016/j.biopha.2017.09.104. pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28954386/
4. Sun, Jun-En, Zong-Hua Ao, Zhen-Ming Lu, Hong-Yu Xu, Xiao-Mei Zhang, Wen-Fang Dou, and Zheng-Hong Xu. 2008. “Antihyperglycemic And Antilipidperoxidative Effects Of Dry Matter Of Culture Broth Of Inonotus Obliquus In Submerged Culture On Normal And Alloxan-Diabetes Mice”. Journal Of Ethnopharmacology 118 (1): 7-13. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2008.02.030. – pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18434051/
5. Anti-diabetic effects of Inonotus obliquus polysaccharides in streptozotocin-induced type 2 diabetic mice and potential mechanism via PI3K-Akt signal pathway – PubMed (nih.gov)
6. Antihyperglycemic and anti-lipid peroxidative effects of dry matter of culture broth of Inonotus obliquus in submerged culture on normal and alloxan-diabetes mice – PubMed (nih.gov)

How To Calm Your Racing Brain and Fall Asleep Faster

Have you ever put your head on your pillow, hoping for sleep to come quickly? But your wired mind, obsessing over your work or family problems, just perhaps it just won’t let you relax.

Not quickly falling asleep is one of life’s cruelties, exhausted from the day yet knowing sleep won’t come for minutes or possibly hours.

But what can you do about it? Certainly, there are many options, from sleep meditation, prescription sleep aids, white noise machines, optimizing your room for sleep, and more.

Let’s take a look at one of nature’s go-to-sleep helpers, Reishi mushrooms.

Adaptogens

Instead of resorting to sedatives, many bad sleepers looking for a more natural way to deal with their racing minds have turned to adaptogens. Adaptogens originated from Eastern medicine and are a way for your body and mind to better cope with physical and emotional stress.

Stress is perhaps the most significant factor affecting how well you sleep. With their ability to promote a greater sense of calm, adaptogens, by extension, are proving to be very useful for those in the pursuit of a good night’s sleep.

Some well-known adaptogens include Ashwagandha, Rhodiola Rosea, and medicinal (functional) mushrooms. Mushrooms have been recognized as one of the more powerful adaptogens, with Reishi mushrooms, in particular, gaining popularity with those struggling with sleep.

The Stress-Reducing Effect of Reishi

The Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) has long been revered in Asian cultures and is considered the mushroom of immortality. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Reishi has been prescribed for over 2,000 years to help promote calmness and relaxation. As early as the first century BC, Reishi was recognized in “Shennong’s Herbal Classic” for its tranquilizing effect. 

Several research studies on Reishi have shown an extraordinary ability to calm the body and mind and promote deep relaxation.

One study conducted using Reishi mushrooms for over eight weeks on 132 people with neurasthenia, a condition of exhaustion that includes symptoms of headache and irritability, found a significant reduction in mental and physical fatigue and improvement in overall wellbeing.

It’s believed that the terpenoid compounds found in Reishi may help soothe the nervous system. Studies show that long-term Reishi use helps increase slow-wave sleep, also known as deep sleep. With regular use, consuming Reishi mushrooms may help promote quality sleep. Unlike melatonin or sedatives, Reishi doesn’t make you feel drowsy. Instead, Reishi mushrooms help calm your racing mind and help you better respond to stress, which translates into falling asleep quicker.

How to Use Reishi to Fall Asleep

Reishi grows naturally in Europe and Asia in dimly lit forests, typically on dead oak tree trunks. Bitter tasting and tough to chew, they are not the type of mushrooms you’d include in your soup or salad. 

The best way to use Reishi for sleep is to make a cup of tea using an extracted powder. Mix a quarter teaspoon with a bag of chamomile and let it steep in hot water. Add a little honey to cut the bitter taste.  It takes a while getting used to but can be well worth it.

Medicinal Mushroom Supplements

Medicinal mushroom supplements that include adaptogens like Reishi, Chaga, and Lion’s Mane are becoming more and more popular. These mushrooms are known for boosting your resiliency to stress and offer health benefits that support your body’s natural functions for immunity, cognitive clarity, relaxation, and balance.

Stonehenge Health’s Dynamic Mushrooms is an expertly crafted blend that includes Reishi plus Lion’s Mane, Chaga, Maitake, and Shiitake. Include Dynamic Mushrooms in your daily routine as part of an overall healthy lifestyle and to boost your ability to adapt to physical and mental stressors, as well as supporting your immune system’s health.

Sources:
1.    nature.com/articles/s41598-021-92913-6.pdf?origin=ppub
2.    pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22207209/
3.    Babu, P. D., & Subhasree, R. S. (2008). The Sacred Mushroom “Reishi”-A Review. American-Eurasian Journal of Botany,1(3), 107-110.

Health & Wellness Trends for 2021

Without a doubt, the Covid crisis is the primary driver of health and wellness trends for 2021. And you don’t need to consult a crystal ball to know that the realities of this pandemic will affect the way we approach our health and wellness for years to come.

1. At-Home Fitness

With the pandemic forcing fitness centers to close down for much of the year, home fitness became one of the hottest trends in 2020. People discovered that working out at home is more comfortable than traveling to the gym, saving time and money. It’s anticipated that the trend will continue throughout 2021, with people dedicating part of their homes to personalized workout spaces.

2021 continues to see a trend in customized fully equipped home gyms with high-end workout equipment like stationary bikes, treadmills, and personal trainer workout mirrors.

Even if you don’t have space or finances to support adding a home gym, many health-conscious people will look to technology to bring world-class coaches and the gym experience into your home. Streaming fitness apps like Daily Burn or Apple Fitness+ and other online fitness classes provide motivation and instruction without needing to leave home.

2. Mental Health Is Key to Overall Health

According to a recent study, 53% of U.S. adults reported that the pandemic had negatively affected their mental health. Unemployment skyrocketing, shocking numbers of people getting sick and dying, and the pandemic’s uncertainty have led to an unprecedented number of people suffering from mental health issues.

Not only that, the lack of social interaction from workplaces, schools, and houses of worship closing has caused a loneliness epidemic. Chronic loneliness can trigger stress, depression, insomnia, and more.

Prioritizing mental health will become increasingly important in 2021. We’ll see more people practicing techniques that promote stress relief, such as yoga, meditation, prayer, and mindful walking.

One bright spot, the prevalence of mental health illness, may finally eliminate the stigma of seeking help. For many, this will be the year to identify emotional vulnerabilities and plan what’s needed to optimize emotional and physical health.

3. Big Year for Adaptogens

As stress continues to be a significant health concern throughout America, adaptogens will likely get even more popular and become mainstream.

Adaptogens help your body and mind deal with physical and emotional stressors and promote a greater sense of calm. They are a way to help you cope with life’s pressures before events trigger a racing heart or a panic attack. Some popular apoptogenic herbs are ashwagandha, Maca, Rhodiola, and holy basil.

Among the most researched adaptogens are medicinal mushrooms, specifically Lion’s Mane and Reishi. These mushrooms have been a mainstay in Eastern medicine for over 5,000 years.

Western medicine studies show medicinal mushrooms help regulate your adrenal glands’ function, which produces the primary stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. Beyond a greater sense of calm, taking medicinal mushrooms daily may give you a boost in your mental clarity and energy.

Medicinal mushroom blends are growing in popularity for their ability to increase resiliency to anxiety, among other health benefits. Stonehenge Health’s Dynamic Mushrooms is an expertly crafted blend of Reishi and Lion’s Mane, plus 3 other beneficial mushrooms – Chaga, Maitake, and Shiitake.

Use Dynamic Mushrooms as part of an overall healthy lifestyle and to boost your ability to adapt to physical and mental stressors, as well as supporting your immune system’s health.

4. Emphasizing Immune System Health

The COVID crisis has put a big spotlight on the immune system and ways to boost its disease-fighting ability. The immune system health focus will continue way beyond 2021.

Naturally, we’ll see a flood of scams, gimmicks, and misinformation on social media and the internet claiming to boost immunity. So, it’s critical to look for trusted sources of information you can rely on, like this blog.

Now, certain foods, along with a healthy diet, plenty of sleep, and exercise, can help optimize your immune system function.

Taking daily supplements that include proven ingredients like zinc, vitamin C, turmeric, L-glutamine, and probiotics. Herbal remedies such as echinacea, astragalus, and elderberry will also gain popularity.

An easy way to get the nutrition you need to optimize your immune system function is to take a blend that incorporates several proven ingredients like Stonehenge Health’s Dynamic Immunity. It’s formulated with vitamins C, E, B6, Zinc, L-Glutamine plus Elderberry, Echinacea, Turmeric, and Garlic at levels designed to support your overall immune system health.

Sources:
healthline.com/health/stress/smart-girls-guide-to-adaptogens
drbrighten.com/7-adaptogenic-herbs-heal-adrenals-naturally/
pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19939212/
mentalhealth.org.uk/blog/mental-health-loneliness-and-disability
businesswire.com/news/home/20210202005236/en/Nearly-Half-of-American-Workers-Now-Suffer-from-Mental-Health-Issues-During-COVID-19
healthline.com/nutrition/fitness-trends#78.-Virtual-fitness

The King of the Medicinal Mushroom Kingdom: Lion’s Mane

There are thousands of mushrooms species that exist on the planet. And mushrooms are a peculiar form of life. They pop up out of seemingly nowhere, in the strangest places. And unlike plants, they’re not green, they don’t have leaves, and they never flower.

Believe it or not, from an evolutionary standpoint, mushrooms are more like humans than plants. And this fact could be the reason why some of the elements that help mushrooms defend themselves also help boost your body’s defenses.

Scientists, doctors, and health experts have all taken note and are increasingly looking to mushrooms as a way to enhance human health and well-being.

Using mushrooms as therapy is not a new idea. Ancient Egyptians believed eating mushrooms led to a longer life. And mushrooms have been used as medicine for over five thousand years in Asian cultures.

Today, more than a hundred species of mushrooms are presently under research for their potential health benefits. These shrooms are real health heroes. And none has shown more healing power than the king of the mushroom domain – Lion’s Mane.

What is Lion’s Mane?

Lion’s Mane, also known as Hericium Erinaceus, is named for its white, fluffy, cascading spines resembling a lion’s tresses. Lion’s Mane mushrooms grow in the southern regions of the United States, China, Japan, and Europe.

Lion’s Mane mushrooms are a safe and edible mushroom that appears to have remarkable nootropic brain-boosting power. Nootropics are compounds that help improve cognitive and executive function, memory, motivation, focus, and creativity.

Lion’s Mane is also known to help boost your energy and immune system function.

All-Around Better Brain Function

The biggest draw to Lion’s Mane for most people is for its nootropic effects. In thousands of studies, supplementing with Lion’s Mane has been shown to boost mental cognition, including enhanced memory, verbal recall, focus, and attention – something practically everyone can benefit from having.

One study published in Phytotherapy Research Journal, using a 1,000 mg Lion’s Mane over four months, showed significant improvement in the battery of cognitive skills tests. As world-renowned mycologist Paul Stamets says, “Lion’s mane may be our first ‘smart’ mushroom. It is a safe, edible fungus that appears to confer cognitive benefits on our aging population.”

Healthy Brain and Nervous System

Lion’s Mane is possibly the most potent natural source known to stimulate your Nerve Growth Factor (NGF). NGF promotes the regeneration of brain neurons and their outgrowths called dendrites and axons. These outgrowths are responsible for cell to cell communication. A study published in the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms showed the interaction between Lion’s Mane and NGF encourages new dendrites and axons; the effect is quicker communication between your brain cells.

Relieves Depression and Anxiety

With things the way they are today, we are all under a tremendous amount of stress. Unaddressed and compounded stress levels can easily develop into anxiety, depression, or worse.

Research done in Japan showed that people who took a Lion’s Mane supplement reported less irritation, reduced anxiety, and greater concentration levels than a group of people given a placebo over the course of a month. It seems that Lion’s Mane’s ability to relieve anxiety and depression is linked to stimulating NGF.

Reduces Fatigue

Studies show that a polysaccharide (a type of long-chain carbohydrate) found in Lion’s Mane extract helps improve your energy levels and drastically reduces fatigue. Another way Lion’s Mane has been shown to reduce fatigue is by increasing the amount of energy reserves your body stores in your muscles. Due to its fatigue-reducing ability, Lion’s Mane is often used in sports nutrition.

Enhances Immune System

Lion’s Mane is loaded with antioxidants and beta-glucans, which will help strengthen your immune system. These compounds exhibit immune-modulating qualities, which help reduce inflammation and harmful prevent oxidation.

Supplementing with Mushrooms

Lion’s Mane is not the type of mushroom you’d find in the produce section at your local grocery store. It’s in the class of medicinal mushrooms, those that confer proven health and therapeutic benefits. Lion’s Main mushrooms are much more valuable and harder to find than the standard varieties.

The easiest way to enjoy the numerous health benefits of Lion’s Mane is through a supplement. Stonehenge Health’s newly launched Dynamic Mushrooms is an expertly crafted blend of Lion’s Mane 4:1 extract of mushroom fruiting bodies along with four other powerful medicinal mushrooms – Chaga, Reishi, Maitake, and Shiitake.

Dynamic Mushrooms contains 1,000 mg of Lion’s Mane extract per serving, which is the amount studies show helps elevate your cognitive function and boost energy. Take Dynamic Mushrooms daily as part of an overall healthy lifestyle – for better memory and focus, increased mental strength and physical endurance, improved ability to adapt to physical and mental stressors, and support for your immune system’s health.

Sources:
1. Mori, Koichiro, Satoshi Inatomi, Kenzi Ouchi, Yoshihito Azumi, and Takashi Tuchida. 2009. “Improving Effects Of The Mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium Erinaceus) On Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial”. Phytotherapy Research 23 (3): 367-372. doi:10.1002/ptr.2634.

2. Nagano, Mayumi, Kuniyoshi Shimizu, Ryuichiro Kondo, Chickako Hayashi, Daigo Sato, Katsuyuki Kitagawa, and Koichiro Ohnuki. 2010. “Reduction Of Depression And Anxiety By 4 Weeks Hericium Erinaceus Intake”. Biomedical Research 31 (4): 231-237. doi:10.2220/biomedres.31.231.

3. HM, Xu, Xie ZH, and Zhang WY. 1994. “[Immunomodulatory Function Of Polysaccharide Of Hericium Erinaceus]”. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi Zhongguo Zhongxiyi Jiehe Zazhi = Chinese Journal Of Integrated Traditional And Western Medicine 14 (7). pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7950232/.

4. pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20834180/
5. pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18844328/