Overweight? Mushrooms Could Be The Answer

Helping an overweight individual to reach their weight loss goals requires a careful strategy. The weight of each person doesn’t just rely on what they eat, or how often they exercise, but a delicate culmination of different facts.

People with weight management problems often go through rigorous regimens of constant workout routines and calorie counting to fight off the increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure that obesity can bring.

It’s enough to make anyone feel overwhelmed. Indeed, around 90% of people who lose weight end up regaining some, or all of it, because they can’t stick to their routine.

A weight loss strategy that focuses on making one simple lifestyle change could be the solution.

How Mushrooms Help Overweight People

It sounds too good to be true, but a mushroom diet could actually make a significant difference to a person’s weight. For those who don’t like the flavour of mushroom, there’s even the option to explore supplements and pills that deliver the benefits of mushrooms in a unique way. In food supplements, the concentration of bioactive compounds is even higher, which could lead to faster results.

Scientists know that obesity and weight issues are caused by a host of complex factors – not just overeating. Even an imbalance of bacteria in your gut’s microbiome could be influential to your weight.

Supplements containing components from Reishi mushrooms could alter the bacteria in the digestive system, improving the way that the body processes food and fat. Reishi mushrooms help the stomach to work more effectively at breaking down food.

Most mushrooms are loaded with zinc and B vitamins, substances that are necessary to activate metabolism and can fight possible fatigue associated with losing weight. They’re also full of antioxidants too.

Mushrooms have fewer calories than meats, but they deliver a comparable level of hunger satisfaction. In fact, studie show that mushrooms could be even better than meat at helping people to feel fuller for longer.

They also contribute to better digestion and gut health.

The 5 Best Mushrooms for a Weight Management Diet

There’s no guarantee that switching to a more mushroom-heavy diet will work for everyone. Most professionals will not only suggest mushrooms as part of a comprehensive strategy for weight loss, but also include regular exercise and other convenient health interventions.

  1. Shiitake mushrooms

Shiitake mushrooms are an excellent meat replacement because they contain almost all of the same amino acids as your standard meat-based meal. The beta glucans, sterols, and eritadenine in Shiitake mushrooms can also help to lower blood sugar levels and fight back against high cholesterol.

  1. Portobello mushrooms

Another excellent meat substitute, Portobello mushrooms are huge and satisfying as part of a delicious plate of food. What’s more, studies show that they contain CLA, which helps with reducing weight gain in overweight individuals. These mushrooms are extremely low in carbs, and they’re packed with fiber, which helps people to feel fuller for longer, so they’re less likely to seek extra food. Fiber is also helpful for balancing the gut microbiome, so that it can work more effectively at processing food.

  1. Reishi mushrooms

Reishi mushrooms change the way your body absorbs and stores fats. As mentioned above, Reishi mushrooms are some of the most scientifically proven mushrooms to consider if you’re overweight. These mushrooms contain ganoderic acids, beta-glucans and other properties that support heart health, promote better sleep and improve the functioning of the immune system.

  1. Maitake mushrooms

Maitake mushrooms are loaded with beta-glucans, which make them an excellent choice for improving immune system function. These mushrooms are also surprisingly good at reducing blood sugar levels, which means they help to fight against diabetes. Maitake can help users to lose weight by reducing hunger pangs too.

  1. Cordyceps mushrooms

Known for its stimulating properties, the Cordyceps mushroom is excellent for delivering a boost of energy. If you need help finding the motivation to work out and lose more weight, Cordyceps can help. These mushrooms improve oxygen use and enhance blood flow.

Are Mushroom Supplements a Good Idea?

Thanks to high levels of powerful nutrients, anti-oxidants, and vitamins, virtually any kind of mushroom can be an excellent addition to your diet. These foods are particularly beneficial when they replace less healthy alternatives in your routine, like fatty meats and sugars.

For anyone suffering from weight issues, mushrooms can be a powerful addition to a weight loss routine. Supplements offer the ideal way to access large portions of mushrooms to specifically target fat storage, satiety, and other factors affecting a person’s weight. The best part is that the people using these mushroom supplements don’t need to enjoy the taste to get the benefits.


How to Choose the Healthiest Mushrooms for Your Diet

Mushrooms are some of the most versatile products in the natural world. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and promise a wide selection of benefits too. For years, we’ve been adding mushrooms to our omelets and pizzas in the knowledge that they taste good, and are packed full of vitamin D. However, mushrooms could be even better for you than you realize.

Studies into mushrooms have discovered that, especially concentrated in functional food supplements, they can do everything from boosting your immune system, to keeping you in good shape and even helping your emotions.

Of course, with 5.1 million fungal species in the world, it can be a little tricky to determine which mushrooms are the healthiest for your diet.

Why Should Mushrooms Be Part of Any Lifestyle

Clinical studies prove that mushrooms can improve quality of life, reduce risk of chronic diseases, and enhance bodily functions. So, what makes mushrooms so great?

  • Beta-glucans: Mushrooms are rich in natural substances called beta glucans. These substances help to prime and support the immune system, allowing it to effectively fight off bugs and germs. Some certain kinds of mushroom are particularly rich in beta-glucans.
  • Vitamins and minerals : Mushrooms are rich in various vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamin D and zinc, which help to protect your body and enhance the creation of antioxidants. The high nutrient levels contribute to anti-aging, keep your joints healthy, and assist with keeping your blood sugar balanced too.
  • Weight and energy management: Mushrooms are rich in fiber, which helps to fill you up and feel more satisfied after you eat meals with fewer carbs. They can also boost your energy levels, so you feel more inclined to work out and keep your body fit.

Mushrooms are a low-fat food, rich in protein and nutrients, capable of transforming the way you feel. They can even come with a high dose of anti-inflammatory compounds, which assist in helping you to recover from illnesses, and defend against autoimmune disorders.

So, which mushrooms are best?

Which are the Healthiest Mushrooms?

Adding most mushrooms to your diet is a good idea. White mushrooms – the ones that account for 90% of the mushrooms we eat in America, have around 300 mg of potassium per serving, while portobello mushrooms are rich in CLA, which promote several health benefits, including weight loss.

Shiitake mushrooms are brimming with fiber, at around 2g per serving, and they’re great for accessing beta glucans, eritadenine, and sterols for reducing blood sugar. However, if you really want to choose the healthiest mushrooms for your diet, you might need to consider something more exotic. Besides finding Shiitake as a nutraceutical you can easily find the following mushrooms in this format:

  • Reishi mushrooms: Known as the mushroom of immortality, Reishi mushrooms are adaptogens that can fight against infections and damaging cells in your body. Reishi mushrooms has been widely used for several decades for various healing abilities; it possesses a strong anti-inflammatory function and is tied also to longevity, emotions and promoting a health microbiota.
  • Lion’s mane: Lion’s mane mushrooms are ideal for those who need extra help concentrating. They’re excellent at supporting cognitive function and clarity. Lion’s mane is considered a natural prebiotic that helps to balance microbiota and helps with digestive trouble.
  • Chaga: Chaga is one of the most versatile medicinal mushrooms available, known for offering excellent amounts of antioxidants, and fighting against inflammation. Researchers say that Chaga is excellent for skin health and preventing free radicals from causing damage. As an adaptogen, Chaga can also help to fight back against viruses, and improve the performance of the immune system.
  • Cordyceps: Cordyceps are immune modulating mushrooms that go beyond simply supporting your immune system. This powerful product can balance the ratio of immune cells in your body to ensure that everything performs as well as possible. These mushrooms are also excellent for increasing energy and performance, so you can get more out of your time at the gym too.
  • Maitake: Maitake is known for activating our metabolism and protecting the cardiovascular system. There are studies of Maitake related to hypertension, obesity, and weight control. Therefore, this is the mushroom to use for losing extra pounds and keeping blood sugar levels under control.

The Healthiest Mushrooms to Add to Your Meals

If you’re looking for mushrooms to add to a quick meal, then the healthiest choices usually come down to three, easily accessible fungi. Shiitake mushrooms were shown in a 2011 study to be effective at helping to reduce inflammation in the body.

Oyster mushrooms are also excellent at improving the functioning of the immune system and encouraging better responses against damaging cells. Studies show that Oyster mushrooms are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fibre that can help to strengthen the immune system.

Porcini mushrooms are also very popular mushrooms that can assist with reducing inflammation in the body. One study on aging found that chronic inflammation is one of the most important issues for most people to overcome, and Porcini mushrooms can help with this.

Ultimately, enjoying any mushrooms you’re willing to eat regularly or include in your diet is an excellent choice for improving your health. Take into account that concentrated mushrooms are the ones that you will find only in high quality functional food supplements. This means that in this format you can easily access all the wide diversity of mushrooms in a concentration that promotes a great series of health benefits.

Knowing immune support supplement: more than activating your defenses

Immune support supplement works as a complement to our immune system. Immunity is a complex system that comprises of several key processes such as activation of macrophages, antigen presentation, and response from lymphocytes. Our body has to create just enough amount of immunity to tackle the pathogens. Too few or too many of them lead to uncontrolled illness and damage to the body systems.

Therefore, immunomodulation works by either boosting or suppressing the immune response towards infections and undesirable conditions. Immunomodulatory agents are often used for treating infections, preventing immunodeficiency, and tumors. Immunomodulators can regulate the immune system to combat infections effectively. In the gut, they stabilize the composition of the gut microbiota by inhibiting harmful microbiota and stimulating health-promoting gut microbiota.

In an infection, immunomodulators don’t work directly by targeting the pathogens; instead, they modulate the innate and adaptive immune system to combat the condition effectively. This will avoid the development of microbial resistance and can be helpful to immunocompromised patients who cannot take antimicrobial and antiviral drugs.

They are especially critical in oncology cases as they can enhance immunological response to tumor cells. Very recently, immunomodulators are also included in Covid-19 therapy to attenuate the cytokine storm that leads to severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).

Myco-medicine in Immune Support Supplement

In the effort of developing natural sources as immunomodulatory agents, medicinal mushrooms are found to be suitable reservoirs of immune-enhancing compounds, experts say. These components have been extensively studied for their ability to modulate the immune system:

  1. β-glucans
  2. Triterpenoids
  3. Lectins

β-glucans work by activating various immune system components such as macrophages, neutrophils, NK cells, and lymphocytes. Combined with oncological treatments, β-glucans can enhance the immune response by binding to pattern recognition receptors that can improve resistance to infections and promote antitumor activity.

Other than having immunomodulatory effects, β-glucans are also known as prebiotics.  β-glucans can induce the growth of Prevotella and Roseburia, the gut microbiota that play critical roles in maintaining health equilibrium. Gut microbiota can boost the immune system, prevent the growth of harmful bacteria, and protect the epithelial integrity. A report shows that unbalanced gut microbiota is often linked with various diseases such as gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, cardiovascular disorders, allergy, and neural diseases. Other studies are highlighting the importance of microbiota modulation in cancer. Even a recent Nature publication states that “gut microbiota modulation, with the aim to reverse established microbial dysbiosis, is a novel strategy for prevention and treatment of colorectal cancer. Different strategies including probiotics, prebiotics, postbiotics, antibiotics, and fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) have been employed.”

Triterpenoids and lectins have both antiviral and anti-inflammatory activity. These compounds showed a potent inhibitory activity against numerous human patho-genic viruses such as HIV, herpes simplex virus type 1 and 2 (HSV-1 and HSV-2), hepatitis C virus (HCV) and influenza virus. Lectins can also stop the replication of the SARS-CoV virus that causes severe lower respiratory tract infections, as in the Covid-19 disease. Triterpenoids themselves have anti-inflammatory effects by suppressing NF-κB release, blocking DR4 and DR5 pathways, and inhibiting active caspases which all contribute to inflammation process.

Numerous Medicinal Mushroom Species Have Immunomodulatory Effects

Medicinal mushrooms such as Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi), Lentinula edodes (Shiitake), and Grifola frondosa (Maitake), and Inonotus obliquus (Chaga) are well known to exert immunomodulatory effects. Their polysaccharides and protein contents stimulate the activity of the immune components such as B and T lymphocytes, dendritic cells, macrophages, cytokines, and NK cells.

By enabling the immune system, these mushrooms are also able to inhibit tumor growth. Reishi has been proven significant as an adjunctive treatment for lung, leukemia, and prostate tumor. In a 2014 article, Maitake demonstrated its antitumor ability for breast and colon cancer, and Chaga is well-known to be a promising therapeutic agent for hepatocellular carcinoma.


There’s no denying that compounds derived from natural products such as mushrooms are proven to be safe, affordable, and accessible. Medicinal mushrooms are a significant source of nutrients that can be found in an immune support supplement. Immunomodulation is one of the best known health benefits that medicinal mushrooms have to offer. With its abundant bioactive compounds and various health-promoting actions, myco-medicine can help our immune system to combat infections, tumors, and autoimmune diseases.


The Prebiotic Benefits of Pink Oyster Mushrooms and Other Pleurotus Varieties

Pink oyster mushrooms and other mushrooms from the Pleurotus genus have been prized for their nutritional value and delicious taste for centuries. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), oyster mushrooms are prescribed for muscle, joint and tendon relaxation, to strengthen circulation and increase kidney function. These benefits are due to their impressive nutritional profile; oyster mushrooms contain a variety of valuable constituents, including proteins, amino acids, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins.

Contemporary studies confirm these traditions. According to an in vitro study, the Pleurotus genus can reduce the secretion of inflammation markers throughout the body. Meanwhile, other wide-ranging studies have concluded that the pink oyster mushroom and other varieties could be a useful oncology adjuvant, inhibiting the growth of spread of breast and colon cancers [1].

However, one of their most intriguing benefits is their prebiotic effect, and subsequently, its immunomodulatory benefits. Here, we share the findings from some recent studies.

Nutritional Profile of Pleurotus Mushrooms

Before discussing the prebiotic benefits of the pink oyster mushroom, it’s useful to lay the foundation with a more detailed overview of its nutritional benefits. In general, mushrooms are excellent for overall health and weight management because they’re low-calorie with no cholesterol. The pink oyster mushroom follows this trend, with a mere 28 calories per serving with 1g fat, 2g dietary fiber, and 3g protein.

Beyond calorific content, pink oyster mushrooms also have outstanding nutritional value thanks to their range of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Highlights of this impressive nutritional profile include:

  • Niacin: Practically every cell in the body requires niacin to function and metabolize nutrients.
  • Vitamin D: Vitamin D is not easy to find in foodstuffs as it typically comes from sunlight. However, mushrooms treated with UV lights are one of the richest nutritional sources of vitamin D.
  • Iron: One cup of oyster mushrooms gives you 12% of your recommended iron intake, which has various benefits for immune system function.

Oyster mushrooms also contain as much as 8% of the daily requirement of potassium, magnesium, B vitamins including B6, vitamin C, folic acid, amino acids, and pantothenic acid.

Prebiotic Effects of the Pink Oyster Mushroom

Certainly, the nutritional profile of the pink oyster mushroom is central to its many benefits. However, recent studies have shown that one of the variety’s most interesting benefits is its prebiotic effect. This is because the pink oyster mushroom is high in polysaccharides, which contain short chain sugars like glucose, galactose, fructose and N-acetylglucosamine [2], which are non-digestible compounds that stimulate the growth of so-called ‘good bacteria’ in the microbiota. The proliferation of these organisms inhibits the population of pathogenic microorganisms in the digestive tract. In an in vitro study performed on various types of Pleurotus mushroom, researchers found that all cultures containing the mushroom extracts had better pathogenic inhibition ability [3].

This is particularly beneficial for patients who suffer from gastrointestinal complaints, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and constipation. Moreover, the pink oyster mushroom’s high concentration of one particular subset of polysaccharides, beta-glucans, are known to have various immunomodulatory benefits. As well as stimulating the growth of beneficial bacteria, this organic compound activates macrophages and NK cell cytotoxicity [4].

Superfood Turns Super Supplement

The pink oyster mushroom is gaining popularity as a sought-after superfood. Thanks to its intriguing colour, delicious taste, and fundamental nutritional benefits, the pink oyster mushroom is popping up in delis and health food shops with increasing frequency. Anyone can gain the nutritional benefits of this incredible plant by incorporating it into a tasty stir fry, curry, or stew – often, looking to the East will provide culinary inspiration.

However, it certainly isn’t only foodies who should get excited; integrative therapists should believe the hype. More evidence is emerging that the nutritional profile of the pink oyster mushroom and other varieties from the Pleurotus genus have significant prebiotic and immunomodulatory benefits. Alongside conventional treatments, these mushrooms could be a useful supplement for patients with gastrointestinal or immunological deficiencies.


  1. Wu JY, Chen CH, Chang WH, Chung KT, Liu YW, Lu FJ, Chen CH. Anti-Cancer Effects of Protein Extracts from Calvatia lilacina, Pleurotus ostreatus and Volvariella volvacea. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011; 2011:982368.
  2. Patel, S., & Goyal, A. Functional oligosaccharides: production, properties and applications. World Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology. 2011; 27(5), 1119-1128.
  3. Thornthan Sawangwan, Wanwipa Wansanit, Lalita Pattani, Chanai Noysang. Study of prebiotic properties from edible mushroom extraction. Agriculture and Natural Resources. 2018; 52(6) 519-524.
  4. Akramiene D, Kondrotas A, Didziapetriene J, Kevelaitis E. Effects of beta-glucans on the immune system. Medicina (Kaunas). 2007;43(8):597-606. PMID: 17895634.

Gut Inflammation: Systemic Approach with Mycomedicine

Digestive complaints are a common complaint in the offices of various healthcare professionals, from GPs to nutritionists. As many as 11% of people globally are affected by irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) [1], with two out of every three sufferers being female. Other disorders that cause gut inflammation include SIBO, leaky gut, IBD, dysbiosis, gastritis, dyspepsia, and stomach ulcers, all of which are also relatively commonplace with varying severity and levels of discomfort.

A key challenge with these conditions is that they can be difficult to diagnose. For example, IBS is defined as a functional gastrointestinal disorder, which is an abnormal bowel function without identifiable anatomic cause. These disorders share their symptoms with various other conditions, including some cancers. Equally, the various subgroups of IBS can be difficult to pin down. In fact, about a third of patients with IBS switch between IBS-C (characterised by constipation) and IBS-D (characterised by diarrhoea) as the condition progresses.

The multifactorial nature of intestinal disorders (including stress, toxins exposition, nutritional issues etc..) means that healthcare professionals should assess all their options, including holistic methods. Considering the goalposts keep moving, an approach that promotes overall well-being instead of targeting discrete symptoms has unique benefits. Mycomedicine is a compelling solution, and here, we outline why.

Using Medicinal Mushrooms to Treat Gut Inflammation

When it comes to treating gut inflammation, one of the most interesting benefits of medicinal mushrooms is their prebiotic effect. Take dysbiosis as an example; characterised by gut inflammation, this condition is caused by a microbial imbalance inside the gut as a result of an impaired microbiota. Traditionally, dysbiosis is managed with probiotics and/or prebiotic fibers. However, natural, holistic methods are becoming more mainstream.

For instance, researchers at the Beijing Normal University and the Hong Kong Baptist University recently found that even commonplace gastronomic mushroom varieties such as the Pleurotus or oyster mushroom can increase microbial diversity and stimulate local anti-inflammatory response. Equally, Coriolus Versicolor, or the Chaga mushroom, were found to have various gut health benefits, including positively impacting bacterial flora [2].

For patients suffering from aggressive, acid-associated conditions like gastritis, ulcers, gastric reflux disease, and leaky gut syndrome, certain mushroom varieties have marked benefits. For example, Hericium Erinaceus or Lion’s mane mushroom can inhibit Helicobacter pylori and aid in the regeneration of gastric and intestinal mucosa [3]. Furthermore, the natural, gentle character of this supplementation avoids additional gut inflammation caused by conventional medicine.

Far-reaching Benefits of Mycomedicine

Considering the complex nature of digestive disorders, a multi-systemic approach offers various benefits. As an alternative to or in conjunction with allopathic treatments, Pleutorus, Lion’s Mane, or Chaga supplements can alleviate symptoms including gut inflammation. Meanwhile, they can stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria, restoring balance in the gut microbiota, which in turn, promotes overall well-being.

Finally, it’s important to note that medicinal mushrooms are a natural source of a range of essential nutrients. As a safe, gentle whole food that patients can take every day, mushroom supplements present minimal risk associated with allergies or interaction with other medications. This makes them an ideal integrative therapy for a variety of conditions associated with gut inflammation, enhancing well-being and quality of life.


  1. Canavan C, West J, Card T. The epidemiology of irritable bowel syndrome. Clin Epidemiol. 2014;6:71-80. Published 2014 Feb 4.
  2. Jayachandran M, Xiao J, Xu B. A Critical Review on Health Promoting Benefits of Edible Mushrooms through Gut Microbiota. Int J Mol Sci. 2017;18(9):1934. Published 2017 Sep 8. doi:10.3390/ijms18091934
  3. Chin Med J (Engl). 1985 Jun;98(6):455-6. A double-blind study of effectiveness of Hericium erinaceus pers therapy on chronic atrophic gastritis. A preliminary report. Xu CP, Liu WW, Liu FX, Chen SS, Liao FQ, Xu Z, Jiang LG, Wang CA, Lu XH.

Medicinal Mushrooms as an Integral Part of Holistic Nutrition

Holistic health is gaining increasing prominence in medicine as a useful adjunct to conventional care. Typically, holistic health considers the entire person – body, mind, and spirit. A holistic approach to health goes beyond merely eliminating symptoms; instead, it takes preventative as well as healing approaches to promote overall well-being. Often, holistic health is conflated with holistic medicine, which incorporates traditional and complementary approaches to treat illness. However, holistic health can go further, expanding into many aspects of an individual’s lifestyle, such as holistic nutrition.

Historically, the term ‘holistic’ has carried many different connotations. ‘Holism’ has its origins in the Greek holos, meaning “whole”. Later, in 1926, Jan Smuts revisited the term in his book Holism and Evolution [1]. Here, he argued that the specialisation of scientific disciplines has created a ‘silos mentality’, leading to a myopic approach to knowledge. Smuts used evolution as a case study to make the case for holism, but his thinking became a precursor for interdisciplinary, integrative approaches to health and medicine.

As such, holism doesn’t seek to draw knowledge or approaches from one particular dogma, culture, or perspective. Instead, it aims to take a wider view. Today, practices like holistic nutrition and medicine draw knowledge from diverse cultural disciplines, including traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda. Ayurveda, for instance, is about restoring and promoting health and balance. According to Ayurvedic practices, health is not just the absence of disease, but the maintenance of a harmonious balance between physical, mental, spiritual, and environmental factors.

Nutrition, of course, plays an integral role in maintaining this equilibrium. Ayurveda aims to promote optimal nutrition by formulating food groups that work in harmony, induce proper digestion and promote maximum absorption of essential nutrients. Certain foods and supplements can play an integral role in reaching this goal, namely, certain species of mushrooms. Here, we discuss the practice of holistic nutrition and why mushrooms are a vital part of this whole-system approach to health and well-being.

The Rising Acceptance of Holistic Health

Before introducing the holistic nutrition concept, it’s useful to discuss why these methods are increasingly gaining mainstream acceptance. When healthcare professionals take into account everything about a patient – that is, their overall well-being as opposed to discrete complaints – patients feel better cared for. They cease to be a statistic or a symptom, and instead, an individual with unique needs.

This is especially the case when many patients, particularly those with chronic conditions, may have spent a lot of time or money in conventional healthcare settings. After years of coping with the same ailments, many patients are seeking comprehensive (or indeed holistic) approaches to health and well-being. Equally, those using conventional medicine to treat serious conditions like cancer may use integrative methods to alleviate the side effects of medications or treatments.

Moreover, for patients with chronic conditions or in rehabilitation, these approaches have long-term benefits. Holistic nutrition and healthcare can prevent future disease or relapse by supporting harmony between mind, body, and spirit. This can be achieved via multiple strategies, from manipulative body-based therapies like massage, mind-body practices like yoga, energy practices like qi gong, and of course, adjustments to diet and nutrition.

The Principles of Holistic Nutrition

Holistic nutrition, like holistic medicine, considers the whole person in the design of healing or health-giving diets. Whereas conventional dieticians may outline plans based on symptoms, a practitioner of holistic nutrition will assess other actors that may be causing poor nutrition that leads to disease. Holistic nutrition analyses an individual’s physical, emotional and spiritual health to design a roadmap to recovery and long-term well-being, based on nutritional principles.

Holistic nutrition is currently not subject to licencing or certification by an official regulatory body. However, there is sufficient demand and emerging evidence to make the case for official training and professional credentials. Generally, good holistic nutritionists will work in collaboration with other healthcare providers to identify biochemical imbalances and toxicities that contribute to poor health.

For example, a holistic nutritionist will take into account a broad spectrum of the body’s chemical processes and how these are impacted by diet. When foods are treated with pesticides, fertilizer and hormones, they impact the body’s normal chemical processes. These substances can have a knock-on effect on other parts of the body aside from the digestive tract, including brain functions. Subsequently, holistic nutritionists will normally recommend organic foods and supplements that restore chemical and hormonal imbalances to promote overall health.

This also works the other way; some hormones that are naturally produced in the gut have an impact on neurological health. For example, high levels of a satiety hormone could decrease a person’s likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease [2]. As such, dietary choices link to emotional, mental and neurological health, situating the body as a whole system.

Mushrooms as Part of Holistic Nutrition

Edible mushrooms have a high nutritional value, more than any vegetable or fruit, and have been eaten for their flavor, economic and ecological benefits, and therapeutic properties for many years [3]

The health-giving value of mushrooms has been prized by different cultures for centuries. Ancient Greeks believed that mushrooms built strength; the Romans called them the “food of the gods”, and ancient Chinese culture referred to them as the ‘elixir of life’. Throughout human history and cultures, their sensory characteristics and biological composition have made them popular medicinal and culinary ingredients.

Today, scientific inquiry has demonstrated mushrooms’ nutritional value. Rich in fiber, antioxidants and proteins, mushrooms are a nourishing part of a balanced diet. Their protein content, particularly, is significant; with high levels of essential amino acids and essential  fatty acids, their nutritional value is of great importance to the human diet. Equally, they’re full of essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamins B1, B2, B12, C, D, and E [4].

A good illustration is the protein content of huitlacoche, which is an edible fungus found on mexican corn ears. The protein content of huitlacoche varies from 9.7% to 16.4%, which is far greater than maize (10%). As such, huitlacoche is an excellent protein source for those with vegetarian or vegan diets. Huitlacoche also contains almost every essential amino acid, including lysine, serine, glycine, aspartic and glutamic acid, as well as the fatty acids oleic and linoleic acid [5].

As well as having a high nutritional content, mushrooms also contain various bioactive substances. As an alternative source of antimicrobial compounds, namely secondary metabolites, mushrooms have various holistic benefits that contribute to broader health. These compounds include triterpenes, natural sterols, omega 3 fatty acids and perhaps most famously, polysaccharides including β-glucans.

These bioactive polysaccharides and polysaccharide-protein complexes appear to enhance innate and cell-mediated immune responses. A wide range of these compounds have been reported to have immunotherapeutic properties, with studies showing they can even exhibit anti-tumour activity [5]. In Asia, particularly, several clinical trials have been conducted to assess mushroom’s immunostimulatory and anticarcinogenic activity.

One such example is A. blazei, an edible mushroom native to Brazil that today is primarily cultivated in Japan. Commonly known as the sun mushroom, it is consumed in food or prepared as a tea due to its medicinal properties. Various studies have confirmed this mushroom to have antimutagenic, anticarcinogenic, and immunostimulatory activities. In vitro studies have demonstrated that it also has remarkable antioxidant activity, with 62% and 87% suppression of powerful oxidants such as the superoxide anion radical, amongst other activities [6]. Furthermore, it has been reported that this mushroom blocks the liver lipid peroxidation.

This rich nutritional and bioactive content makes many species of mushrooms an excellent basis for many different nutraceuticals, combining holistic nutrition and medicine. With this potential to promote health due the synergies between mushrooms’ bioactive compounds, mushrooms are a cornerstone of holistic nutrition. Alongside their rich nutritional content, various species have substantial benefits for patients.

A Whole-Systems Approach to Health

Holistic nutrition recognises the complex interplay between physical, chemical, emotional and mental well-being, as well as the environmental factors that impact a patient’s life and physicality. Therefore, holistic nutrition professionals will approach diet and supplements from a whole-systems perspective. Using nutrition education as their primary tool, holistic nutritionists highlight the importance of a bespoke approach, which takes into account each patient’s individual needs.

Considering their medicinal and bioactive properties, mushrooms encompass many of the goals of holistic nutrition, and thus, are a key tool. Several species of mushroom have been identified as rich sources of bioactive compounds, as well as low-fat sources of protein and amino acids. In fact, some species are so nutritionally beneficial they can be incorporated into the diet as a supplement in the form of a whole food or of a superfood powder.

However, many more benefits of mushrooms can be reaped from nutraceuticals. Through the extraction of metabolites via sophisticated biotechnological methods, capsule and liquid formulations can deliver a rich dose of these health-giving compounds for chronic conditions, protection of our immune system and those on restrictive diets, among others. Holistic nutritionists should look for organic products backed by evidence to ensure quality.

As part of a balanced diet, whole mushrooms, mushroom powder and their extracts have substantial benefits, with new research emerging all the time. Demand for holistic approaches is growing amongst patients and allopathic doctors are increasingly embracing a multidisciplinary approach. To address this demand, holistic nutrition professionals should situate mushrooms at the centre of their whole systems approach.


  1. Smuts, C. J. (2020). Holism and evolution. Alpha Editions.
  2. Sager W. (28 January 2019), What you eat could impact your brain and memory. Science Daily https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/190128111705.htm
  3. Sharifi-Rad J, Butnariu M, Ezzat SM, et al. Mushrooms-Rich Preparations on Wound Healing: From Nutritional to Medicinal Attributes. Front Pharmacol. 2020;11:567518. Published 2020 Sep 16.
  4. Heleno S. A., Barros L., Sousa M. J., Martins A., Ferreira I. C. F. R. Tocopherols composition of Portuguese wild mushrooms with antioxidant capacity. Food Chemistry. 2010;119(4):1443–1450.
  5. Valverde, M. E., Hernández-Pérez, T., & Paredes-López, O. (2015). Edible mushrooms: improving human health and promoting quality life. International journal of microbiology, 2015, 376387.
  6. Hakime-Silva RA, Vellosa JC, Khalil NM, Khalil OA, Brunetti IL, Oliveira OM. Chemical, enzymatic and cellular antioxidant activity studies of Agaricus blazei Murrill. An Acad Bras Cienc. 2013 Sep;85(3):1073-81.

Why is Digestion Important to Immune Health?

Here’s an intriguing statistic – 70% of the immune system is in the gut. The microbiota of our gut can have a remarkable effect on our entire physiology, influencing everything from our resilience to viruses to our tastes and cravings. So why is digestion important to our health? Essentially, a healthy digestive tract is central to fighting off disease and maintaining overall well-being.

Naturally, a balanced and nutritious diet is key to maintaining a healthy digestive tract. This involves fundamental rules that any nutritionist or health professional is familiar with; consuming fresh foods that are high in fibre, low in fat, with a moderate intake of animal proteins and minimal processed foods or toxins. Equally, avoiding alcohol and tobacco, and ensuring proper hydration is essential to maintaining gut microbiota.

There are also physiological approaches to supporting good digestion. Sufficient sleep and practising slow, mindful eating also supports proper gut function. Moods and emotions also have an impact on gut health; for instance, stress can cause hormonal changes that compromise the gut microbiome. Interestingly, there are dietary supplements that can support both the dietary and physiological factors that influence our immune health – namely, medicinal mushrooms. Here, we give an overview.

The Brain/Gut Axis and its Effect on Immunity

The principal reason why digestion is important to immunity is that a healthy digestive tract will more efficiently absorb nutrients. Essentially, this is a cycle; by eating nutritious, high fibre foods, you can maintain a healthy gut that more efficiently absorbs the nutrients within these healthy foods. Equally, there are also some supplements that can support this process, such as prebiotics.

However, it’s not just what passes through the gut that impacts the microbiota; holistic factors also influence this system. Our emotions and digestive system are closely connected – this is because emotions have a substantial impact on hormonal changes. This is referred to as the brain/gut axis, where the hormones released in our bodies affect organ function.

How Grey Oyster Mushrooms Can Support Immune Health

Used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries, the grey oyster mushroom – one of the edible mushrooms from Pleurotus family – is thought to have numerous health benefits. Mushroom consumption is becoming an increasingly popular recommendation amongst integrative therapists due to their high nutritional value. Grey oyster mushrooms are low in calories, salt, fat, and cholesterol, and rich in fibre, vitamins, and minerals, amongst other beneficial compounds [1].

This impressive nutritional profile means that grey oyster mushrooms have a broader impact on overall well-being and immunological health. This is also down to their substantial anti-oxidative action. Here, we present an overview of the key facts from some recent research on the variety’s benefits.

The Immunological Value of Beta-Glucans

Grey oyster mushrooms are rich in biologically active polysaccharides that mostly belong to a group of sugars known as beta-glucans. These substances have been found to increase host immune strength by activating the complement system and enhancing natural killer cell function. This is likely because of their activation of various cell surface receptors, lactosylceramides, and scavenger receptors [2]. They are also thought to have anti-carcinogenic properties [3].

Beta-glucans’ stimulation of scavenger receptors is partly what gives grey oyster mushrooms their potent antioxidant properties. By scavenging free radicals, these nutrients prevent cell damage and reduce oxidative stress. As a result, this variety of mushroom also has anti-ageing potential as well as immunological benefits.

Furthermore, grey oyster mushrooms are a potent source of prebiotics. In a study investigating the in vitro prebiotic potential of Ganoderma lucidum and Pleurotus ostreatus (oyster mushrooms), it was concluded that the treatments had a positive effect on prebiotic microbe populations. After gut microbiota analysis (qPCR), the quanitity of short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) and 24 h-prebiotic both increased [4].

The Antioxidant Action of Grey Oyster Mushrooms

The potent antioxidant content of grey oyster mushrooms, and thus their immunological action, has been demonstrated in recent studies. In a study conducted at Universiti Sains, Malaysia, researchers used the DPPH method to determine the free radical scavenging activity of mushroom extracts. According to their research, the scavenging activity of the samples varied from 64.51- 89.29% and increased with concentration. Thus, the researchers concluded that commonly cultivated Pleurotus sajor-caju is indeed high antioxidant activity and can be considered as a functional food with health benefits [5].

Findings such as these provide a scientific basis for what has commonly believed to be the case in Eastern medicine for over a millennium. With further evidence emerging that grey oyster mushrooms also inhibit malignant cell proliferation and the growth of some tumours, this variety of mushrooms is increasingly seen to have long-term immunological benefits [3].

Mushrooms as Part of an Immune Supporting Diet

Grey oyster mushrooms are packed with compounds that support immune health. With a highly beneficial nutritional profile and powerful, immune-supporting beta-glucans, mushrooms are increasingly accepted as a valuable dietary supplement. With new studies emerging all the time about their antioxidant content and nutritional value, the practice of mycology (the prescription of medicinal mushrooms) is set to gain greater prominence in integrative therapy.

Furthermore, oyster mushrooms are easily incorporated as part of an anti-oxidant rich diet. With a delicious flavour and great versatility, reaping the health benefits of grey oyster mushrooms is easy. Moreover, mushroom extracts and powders can be taken in capsules or added to coffee or smoothies without compromising the flavour. There’s plenty of options to encourage patients to incorporate mushrooms into their diet as part of a holistic approach to health – so it’s certainly interesting to stay abreast of developments in the field.


  1. V.J.S. Dunkwal, and S. Singh, “Physico-chemical properties and sensory evaluation of Pleurotus sajor-caju powder as influenced by pre-treatments and drying methods.” British Food Journal.Vol. 109: pp.749-759. 2007.
  2. Akramiene D, Kondrotas A, Didziapetriene J, Kevelaitis E. Effects of beta-glucans on the immune system. Medicina (Kaunas). 2007;43(8):597-606. PMID: 17895634.
  3. Jedinak, A., & Sliva, D. (2008). Pleurotus ostreatus inhibits proliferation of human breast and colon cancer cells through p53-dependent as well as p53-independent pathway. International journal of oncology, 33(6), 1307–1313.
  4. Kerezoudi, Evangelia & Mitsou, Evdokia & Gioti, Katerina & Terzi, Eirini & Avgousti, Ifigeneia & Panagiotou, Alexandra & Koutrotsios, Georgios & Zervakis, Georgios & Mountzouris, Konstantinos & Tenta, Roxane & Kyriacou, Adamantini. (2021). Fermentation of Pleurotus ostreatus and Ganoderma lucidum mushrooms and their extracts by gut microbiota of healthy and osteopenic women: potential prebiotic effect and impact on human osteoblasts. Food & Function. 10.1039/D0FO02581J.
  5. Rashidi, Arini & Yang, Tajul. (2016). Nutritional and Antioxidant Values of Oyster Mushroom (P. sajor-caju) Cultivated on Rubber Sawdust. International Journal on Advanced Science, Engineering and Information Technology. 6. 162. 10.18517/ijaseit.6.2.610.

The Link Between Nutrition and Dystrophic Nails

Dystrophic nails and the associated discomfort are the main motivators for most visits to the podiatrist. Dystrophic nails, or onychodystrophy, encompass a number of nail complaints. Manifesting either as discoloured, misshapen, or brittle nails, these conditions can be caused by exogenous such as nail trauma, moisture, chemicals, or pathogens, such as yeast or bacteria.

Equally endogenous influences like toxins, poor vascularisation, metabolic disorders, inflammatory diseases, or abnormal tissue growth can cause dystrophic nails. Now, research suggests that malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies have a significant impact on nail health. In fact, it’s thought virtually all nutritional deficiencies can affect the nail in some way, so supplements and nutraceuticals delivering superfoods are an interesting option for podiatrists to explore.

Brittle Nails and Nutritional Deficiencies

There is still research to be done about how nutrition affects nails; however, one condition where there has been proper investigation is brittle nail syndrome. This iteration of nail dystrophy is characterised by soft, weak, and dry nails that break easily. This is a common complaint, often experienced by women. The causes are generally thought to be nail or vascular trauma, although it can also occur due to deficient production of intercellular ‘cement’. This deficiency may be related to systemic diseases, metabolic disorders, or lack certain nutrients.

There are various supplements that have been found to treat brittle nails. For instance, the ingestion of vitamins, minerals, collagen and amino acids can strengthen the dystrophic nails, enhancing the health of the nail bed and structure. Plus, the direct application of essential fatty acids is thought to have benefits too [1].

The Impact of Vitamin H on Dystrophic Nails

One supplement that has been under serious investigation for the treatment of brittle nails is biotin, or vitamin H. Biotin has been used in veterinary science for some time, where it’s used to treat disorders in horse hoofs. Equally, it has been shown to have a positive impact on dermatological conditions such as seborrheic dermatitis and Leiner disease. Aside from insufficient intake, vitamin H deficiency may be caused by absorption disorders, imbalances in intestinal bacteria, or disturbance of the intestinal flora by sulfonamides, antibiotics, or anticonvulsants [2].

Why an Anti-Inflammatory Diet is Key to Combating Glycation

Advanced glycation end products (AGEs), or glycotoxins, are a group of highly oxidant compounds that are related to age, certain foods and how we cook them. They play a significant role in diabetes and several other chronic conditions. AGEs are created when proteins, lipids or nucleic acids are exposed to sugars (or “glycated”) in the body through a nonenzymatic reaction. This chemical reaction is known as the Maillard reaction. Their production is part of normal metabolism, but an excess of AGEs can have pathogenic effects and speed up the ageing process. This is because of their oxidative potential, which can cause oxidative stress and inflammation.

Modern diets are also increasingly a source of AGEs, as heat processing is a major contributing factor. Foods like processed meats, dairy products, and many nuts and seeds contain high levels of AGEs. Dietary advanced glycation end products are known to contribute to this oxidation and subsequent inflammation that are linked to recent spikes in diabetes and cardiovascular conditions.

Considering the prevalence of these conditions, encouraging patients to reduce their AGE intake is of great interest to nutritionists and integrative therapists. An anti-inflammatory diet is a good starting point to counteract these effects – and new research suggests a transformative component is mushrooms.

The Components of an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Medical professionals from across the spectrum are learning that the best way to reduce inflammation lies not only with medications but also with dietary adjustments. Aside from reducing the intake of AGEs a key response is to increase the intake of foods rich in antioxidants. The benefits are twofold: primarily, these foods are by nature lower in AGEs. Second, these foods enhance the body’s capacity to process the circulating AGEs.

According to research conducted at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, a diet rich in plant-based foods will reduce inflammation. Although there are no safe levels of glycation currently determined, animal studies suggest that halving AGE consumption leads to a reduction in oxidative stress, a longer life, and enhanced kidney function.

Low AGE foods include fruit, grains, legumes, and vegetables. These foods may also help reduce the impact of consuming AGE-rich foods, thanks to their antioxidant properties. Research also suggests that foods with high phenolic acid content may inhibit the formation of AGEs.  Equally, berries have also been found to prevent AGE production in the brain.

Reducing Glycation with Mushrooms

The anti-inflammatory foods mentioned are items that are often high on a nutritionist’s list of recommendations regardless of the patients’ complaint. After all, we are all familiar with the benefits of a nutrient-rich, high-fibre diet. However, in regard to inflammation specifically, new research has presented interesting new findings about a particularly beneficial component of an anti-inflammatory diet: mushrooms.

In a study conducted on 39 older people in Japan, it was found that those with a high intake of mushroom in their diet (approximately 15.7g per day) presented lower levels of AGEs in their system when measured from a sample on the upper arm. Mushroom intake was significantly and inversely correlated with AGE levels in the skin. Thus, the study implied that mushrooms were a major contributing factor to lowering glycation .

New Methods for AGE-related Pathologies

More research is needed, but these preliminary studies are compelling. The benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet are significant, especially for those with chronic dietary and cardiovascular conditions. But now, with these new studies, we can begin to formulate a comprehensive approach to reducing AGEs. Moreover, these benefits don’t only extend to those with ongoing conditions – it could also present a strategy to slow the ageing process and enhance well-being. It will be interesting to follow what research emerges in the future.


  1. Nedić O, Rattan SI, Grune T, Trougakos IP. Molecular effects of advanced glycation end products on cell signalling pathways, ageing and pathophysiology. Free Radic Res. 2013 Aug;47 Suppl 1:28-38.
  2. Uribarri, J., Woodruff, S., Goodman, S., Cai, W., Chen, X., Pyzik, R., Yong, A., Striker, G. E., & Vlassara, H. (2010). Advanced glycation end products in foods and a practical guide to their reduction in the diet. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 110(6), 911–16.e12.
  3. Chen H, Virk MS, Chen F. Phenolic acids inhibit the formation of advanced glycation end products in food simulation systems depending on their reducing powers and structures. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2016 Jun;67(4):400-11.
  4. Thangthaeng N, Poulose SM, Miller MG, Shukitt-Hale B. Preserving Brain Function in Aging: The Anti-glycative Potential of Berry Fruit. Neuromolecular Med. 2016 Sep;18(3):465-73.
  5. Kawaguchi, Yaeko & Nirengi, Shinsuke & Kotani, Kazuhiko & Somei, Junichiro & Kawamoto, Takuya & Tsuzaki, Kokoro & Yonei, Yoshikazu & Sakane, Naoki. (2017). Mushroom Intake and Advanced Glycation End Products in the Skin among Community-Dwelling Elderly Subjects: Preliminary Data. Journal of Biomedicine. 2. 8-11. 10.7150/jbm.17587.