metabolism

Adaptogens and Mushroom Supplementation for Wellness and Immune System Function

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Adaptogens are phytonutrients that have the ability to help your body adapt under physiological stress. These phytonutrients are herbs that contain phytochemicals. Adaptogens can also be defined as a pharmacotherapeutic group of herbal preparations used to increase attention and endurance during fatigue. Furthermore they can help to prevent, mitigate or reduce stress induced impairments and disorders related to neuroendocrine and immune systems (Bagchi, et. al., 2013)

Stress, especially chronic stress, is associated with increased inflammation, and other body responses, all of which are adversely related to cellular aging. Mushrooms have been studied numerous times for their adaptogenic abilities during times of stress and immune system stimulation. Mushrooms have a long history of treatment for a number of ailments. The benefits are endless but as adaptogens, they help the body maintain proper balance. This may help those who are in a high stress environment or facing other complications such as sleep deprivation or fatigue. Mushrooms come in many forms but some of the most beneficial ones are: Reishi, Shitake, Moral, Maca and Cordyceps.

  1. Reishi, Shitake

Reishi is known for its immune stimulating properties by way of increasing production of leukocytes (white blood cells), thus strengthening the immune system. Reishi is made up of polysaccharides (carbohydrates) which promote longevity and resilience. In addition to that, other benefits include reducing viral infections and anxiety. Shitake have some similar benefits to reishi that enhance immunity and slow aging; it is also an excellent source of Vitamin D2 and has capabilities to adapt to stress form work or other daily life activities.

  1. Maca

Maca is one of the most powerful mushroom types because of its proven health benefits. This adaptogen contains phytochemical power to help relieve anxiety and tension. Maca is also a great source of calcium, vitamin C, amino acids, and healthy fats. It is typically sold in powder form, and can be easily added as a topping to yogurt and smoothies. Maca greatly benefits those who are lacking sleep and is very accessible for those looking to add into their diet.

  1. Cordyceps

Cordyceps are considered one of the best herbs for their ability to regulate homeostasis. This herb dates back to old Chinese history, where it was commonly eaten with soups. It’s most known for its antioxidant effects, reducing infections, fighting off stress, and increasing energy levels. Some studies have shown that it can prevent the growth of tumors in addition to reducing fatigue. (Zhen-yuan, et. al., 2012)

  1. Morel

Morel is widely hunted for because of its excellent taste. Similar to reishi, morels have a significant content of polysaccharides (carbohydrates) which support the immune system. Moreover, morels have been shown to benefit respiratory function and promote a healthy GI tract. Additionally, they also contain anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor properties. Those are in a high stress environment should consider adding morel to reduce cortisol levels (stress) and increase overall health benefits.

With the addition of proper sleep, exercise, stress-reducing techniques, and a balanced diet, we can optimize the quality of our life. Cordyceps as mentioned earlier can be advantageous for athletes. Supplement forms of different types of mushrooms are available. Furthermore, Laird Superfood has a mushroom blend in capsules and other forms of mushroom supplements for easy access.

In sports performance, athletes deal with physiological and physiological stress every day. Minimizing this can help improve performance.  A recent study has shown that adaptogens taken 1 hour prior to endurance exercise may increase lipolysis (breakdown of fat), reduce heart rate, reduce lactate concentration while maintaining good health (Wong, Bandyopadhyay, & Chen, 2011). These powerful phytonutrients are able capable of helping your body adapt to increased stress and reduce mental and physical fatigue. According to the University of Michigan Health Library, Cordyceps dosage of 3 to 9 grams taken twice daily as a liquid extract, as food, or as powdered extract, may support sports performance.

 

By Jesse Rodriguez

Jesse’s focus and emphasis is on Sports Nutrition. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Nutritional Science with the addition of a CSCS certification from the NSCA. Jesse swam for the El Salvador National Team and competed at the international level. Jesse has worked at USC with the Strength and Conditioning program and UCLA as the lead intern for Sports Nutrition. He is currently a dietetic intern to complete requirements for the Registered Dietitian exam and obtain his professional license. During his free time, Jesse continues to strength train, Olympic lift, and stay up-to-date on the latest nutrition trends. Lastly, Jesse is a member of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, National Strength and Conditioning Association, and Collegiate & Professional Sports Dietitians Association.