Dr. Brooks Tiller is an American Ninja Warrior competitor, adventure athlete, speaker and author. He has traveled the globe as a physical therapist, strength coach and movement specialist; coaching Olympic and professional athletes to increase their performance physically and mentally. Tiller lives in Tennessee with his wife and two children.
While often considered a vegetable, mushrooms are actually a type of beneficial fungus. Beneficial fungus sounds a little contradictory, but let's take a closer look. These little fungi provide a powerful punch of nutrition and help us improve our health and fight off sickness and disease.
More than 14,000 different plant species of the fruiting body macrofungus have been identified but scientist estimate that there are actually over 140,000 types of mushroom species on the earth.
While not all are edible, different types of mushrooms will have some variation in their exact nutrient profile. Mushrooms are generally low in calories, low in carbohydrates, and low in sugar while being high in nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and especially antioxidants including energizing B vitamins, copper, and selenium.
One cup of common farm-raised, raw white button mushrooms contain:
- 21 calories
- 3 grams protein
- Less than 1 gram fat
- 1 gram fiber
- 2 grams sugar
- 2 grams carbs
- 0.4 milligrams vitamin B2 riboflavin (23 percent DV)
- 5 milligrams vitamin B3 niacin (17 percent DV)
- 4 milligrams vitamin B5 pantothenic acid (14 percent DV)
- 0.3 milligrams copper (13 percent DV)
- 9 milligrams selenium (13 percent DV)
- 305 milligrams potassium (9 percent DV)
- 83 milligrams phosphorus (8 percent DV)
Those grown and harvested in the wild are often found to be even more nutrient dense than farm-raised, store-bought mushrooms.
Mushrooms provide compounds and antioxidants that provide anti-inflammatory properties which keep immune cells alert and help lower bodywide inflammation. They also have the capability to inhibit viruses, fight off infection, help to neutralize toxins, and even decrease the severity of illness in those that are already sick by increasing the production of B and T lymphocytes, which help control our response to pathogens.
10 Reasons to Hunt Mushrooms:
1. Fight Cancer
Mushrooms are known as a natural cancer remedy as they increase the natural killer cells that seek out and destroy dangerous cancerous cells. Mushrooms have been shown to suppress the growth of prostate cancer cells and breast cancer cells.
2. Improve Immunity
Mushrooms can enhance the body systems to protect us from numerous diseases, fight bacteria and viruses, plus they contain antimicrobial, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antifungal compounds.
Many of our common medicines including penicillin are derived from mushrooms.
3. Decrease inflammation
Mushrooms can help to alkalize the body and balance pH level, which in turn improves immunity as disease does not grow in an alkaline environment. Mushrooms improve our gut health which is a key to decreasing inflammation.
4. Protect Heart Health
Mushrooms improve our cholesterol levels. They can lower our LDL cholesterol which hardens arteries and increases heart disease while raising HDL cholesterol which keeps cells from sticking to blood vessel walls and prevents plaque from building up and blocking arteries, maintains healthy blood pressure and improves circulation.
5. Improve Brain Function
As a great source of B vitamins, mushrooms improve neurotransmitter function which improves mental clarity, prevents thyroid disorders, supports healthy metabolism, and helps to support adrenal function.
6. Decrease stress
Works as an adaptogen to balance hormones including lowering cortisol. Cortisol is our stress hormone and elevated levels over extended periods can also cause us to store body fat. A decrease in cortisol helps us to feel more upbeat and energetic.
7. Weight management
Mushrooms are a nutrient-dense food, meaning they are low in calories and high in nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Eating mushrooms a few times a week has been linked to a healthy body weight, reduced waist circumference, and better general health.
8. Vitamin D
While the sun triggers our body to create vitamin D, mushrooms are a great way to consume vitamin D. For many, vitamin D deficiency is a serious problem that has been linked to depression, cancer, bone loss, and heart disease
Antioxidants such as selenium and ergothioneine are found in mushrooms. Antioxidants protect our cells from damage that leads to chronic disease and strengthen our immune system.
Hunting mushrooms requires us to put miles in our boots. Walking in the woods not only gets us physical exercise that improves endurance, strength, and cardiovascular health, it also allows us to get some MRI (as “Cuz” calls it) while getting fresh air and sunlight which provide us with a ton of benefits.
While foraging for mushrooms, pick up a few dandelions that make great salad greens. Dinner is almost served just from a jaunt through the woods.