Here is a delicious and easy way to boost your body’s ability to respond to allergies, infections and inflammatory conditions.
Medicinal mushroom experts have been telling us for years that mushrooms can help prevent numerous immunological conditions, including cancer and inflammatory ailments. Is this simply wishful thinking? No. These effects have been backed with hard science.
Now we find that even so-called culinary mushrooms also have many of these immunity-boosting effects. Once again, clinical research is providing the evidence.
Shiitake mushrooms tested clinically
The most recent evidence comes in the form of a clinical study conducted at the University of Florida’s Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition.
The researchers conducted a four-week study using 52 healthy young adult volunteers, ages ranging from 21 to 41 years old.
The test subjects were divided into two groups. One group was given 5 grams of whole shiitake mushrooms (Lentinula edodes) per day and the other group was given 10 grams per day for four weeks.
Before and after the four weeks of mushroom consumption, the volunteers’ blood and saliva were analyzed. They were tested for T-cell counts, natural-killer T-cells, C-reactive protein and immunoglobulin A (sIgA) in saliva among others. The researchers also collected mononuclear cells from each person and cultured them for a day to help establish immunity parameters.
Shiitake boosts immunity
After four weeks of eating the shiitake mushrooms, the subjects showed significant increases in immunity parameters. These included a 60% increase in γδ-T cells, and a doubling of natural-killer T-cells. They also found these two types of T-cells were more powerful – as they expressed greater receptor activation.
The researchers also found the mushroom consumption increased secretory IgA levels. This corresponds to an increase in intestinal immunity and an increase in sinus and respiratory immunity.
The mushroom consumption also significantly reduced C-reactive protein levels within the bloodstream. This means a reduction of inflammation within the blood and tissues.
In addition to these responses, the mushroom consumption also significantly boosted the subjects’ levels of cytokines that correspond with the ability to fight off infections and inflammatory injury. These include interleukin (IL)-10, IL-1alpha and IL-4, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha.
They also saw a reduction in macrophage inflammatory protein-1α/chemokine C-C ligand 3 (MIP-1α/CCL3). This means a significant reduction of inflammation took place during the four weeks of mushroom consumption.
The medical term for such a response by the body – which is not found among pharmaceuticals – is called immune modulation. The shiitake mushroom is modulating the immune system. Another term is immunostimulating – the immune system is being stimulated. This also means that the body’s autoimmunity is being improved.
This is confirmed by the researchers, who concluded:
“Regular L. edodes consumption resulted in improved immunity, as seen by improved cell proliferation and activation and increased sIgA production. The changes observed in cytokine and serum CRP levels suggest that these improvements occurred under conditions that were less inflammatory than those that existed before consumption.”
Delicious culinary mushroom
Organic shiitake mushrooms are readily available in whole dehydrated form and as fresh. Dehydrated versions can easily be hydrated in soups and sauces, to make a delicious addition to your meals.
The ancients were not wrong about mushrooms. We find mushrooms used therapeutically by practically every ancient civilization around the world, and for good reason. This ancient use provided the best clinical evidence – use over generations. Now we find modern science back
Dai X, Stanilka JM, Rowe CA, Esteves EA, Nieves C Jr, Spaiser SJ, Christman MC, Langkamp-Henken B, Percival SS. Consuming Lentinula edodes (Shiitake) Mushrooms Daily Improves Human Immunity: A Randomized Dietary Intervention in Healthy Young Adults. J Am Coll Nutr. 2015 Apr 11:1-10.