The science behind the powerful immune-supporting properties of organic functional mushrooms

The science behind the powerful immune-supporting properties of organic functional mushrooms

Your immune system plays a huge role in how you achieve and maintain good overall health. As your body’s built-in protection system, its job is to eliminate foreign invaders that may be in the air that you breathe, the foods that you eat or the water that your drink. Because you are constantly exposed to external threats that are naturally present in the environment, it is important that you keep your immune system healthy and functioning optimally.

Your immune system is made up of organs, specialized cells, proteins and chemicals that work together to defend your body against external threats. When this large, organized network is working properly, it can instantly mobilize an army of cells and biomolecules to attack any invader that may cause you harm. But when your immune system is not functioning at its best, the response to harmful substances that enter your system can be weak and underwhelming. This means you’re more likely to get sick and recover slower. [1]

Another disadvantage of having an immune system that’s not working optimally is that, sometimes, it fails to either distinguish your own cells from invaders or stop its attack even after a threat has been eliminated. To make sure that your immune system can mount a successful attack against external threats without going overboard or endangering healthy cells, you need to give it proper support through the foods that you eat.

All cells, including your immune cells, need nourishment to function properly. Some foods contain an abundance of nutrients that are particularly important for the healthy functions of your immune cells. Experts emphasize consuming those foods rich in vitamins A, B6, C and E, as well as minerals like copper, folate, iron, selenium and zinc because numerous studies show that being deficient in these essential nutrients can lead to weak immune responses. [2]

Fortunately, you can conveniently boost your intake of almost all of these immune-supporting nutrients by adding certain functional mushrooms to your regular diet.

Organic functional mushrooms are immune-supporting superfoods

Mushrooms are some of the most nutritious foods available to humans. Besides being great sources of essential vitamins and minerals, they’re also packed with fiber and protein. Another great thing about mushrooms is that they contain no fat and are low in sodium and calories. [3] Although many people, including nutritionists, count mushrooms as vegetables, they are actually edible fungi.

What makes mushrooms a great addition to an immune-supporting diet is the nourishment and protection they can provide for your immune cells. Mushrooms are rich in copper and zinc, two essential minerals that are crucial for healthy immune function. While copper is necessary for maintaining healthy white blood cells – immune cells found in your blood and tissues – zinc is important for supporting optimal immune responses. [4]

Your innate immune system is your body’s first line of defense against external threats. It includes your skin and mucus membranes, as well as certain types of white blood cells that respond very quickly to the presence of foreign invaders. [5]

Your adaptive immune system, on the other hand, is responsible for identifying and targeting specific threats, especially those your innate immune system is unable to deal with. It also has the ability to commit foreign invaders to memory so you can easily defend against them the next time they invade your body. Your adaptive immune system is made up of memory cells and white blood cells that produce antibodies.

Your immune cells also need protection from destructive molecules called free radicals. This is where the antioxidants in functional mushrooms come in handy. Many studies talk about the importance of consuming antioxidant-rich foods and supplementing with antioxidant vitamins to promote optimal immune responses. According to an article published in the Journal of Dairy Science, human immune functions are highly dependent on the intake antioxidant-rich foods. [6]

When free radicals accumulate inside the body, they cause oxidative stress, which damages cell membranes, proteins, enzymes and DNA. Because of its harmful effects, oxidative stress has been linked not only to the premature aging of healthy cells but also to an early decline in immune cell function. [7]

Antioxidants have unique properties that allow them to neutralize free radicals and prevent them from triggering oxidative stress. This is why increasing your antioxidant levels is important for maintaining healthy cells and strong immune defenses. Many clinical trials have shown that increased antioxidant intake can support optimal immune responses even in the elderly. [8]

Organic functional mushrooms are good sources of powerful antioxidants like vitamin C and selenium. [9] Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is well-known for its immune supporting properties. According to a study published in the journal Nutrients, vitamin C supports your innate and adaptive immune systems by promoting healthy skin barrier function and maintaining healthy adaptive immune cells. [10]

Selenium does similar things for your immune system as vitamin C. Research shows that the protection offered by this antioxidant mineral against oxidative stress supports healthy immune cell responses. [11]

Another nutrient found in mushrooms that support immune function is choline. A recent study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry found that this essential nutrient, which also supports healthy brain and nerve functions, is important for the healthy functions of macrophages. [12]

Macrophages are immune cells that work as part of your innate immune system. These specialized cells destroy external threats by engulfing them – a process known as phagocytosis. Macrophages also release signaling molecules that activate other immune cells. [13] According to the study, macrophages need choline before they can jump into action.

7 Organic functional mushrooms that help support a healthy immune system*

More than 2,000 different species of mushrooms exist in nature. Due to their well-documented and widespread use in traditional medicine, researchers continue to explore the beneficial properties of many edible fungi. [14] Among the most commonly used medicinal mushrooms, 7 species stand out because of their ability to support a healthy immune system. Here are the best immune-supporting mushrooms you can add to your diet, according to studies:

Reishi mushroom

The fungus known as reishi (Ganoderma lucidum), or lingzhi, is a staple in Eastern medicine. In many Asian countries, particularly in China and Japan, reishi mushroom is considered a valuable herb that promotes health and wellness. This oriental fungus can easily be recognized by its large size, woody texture and dark but glossy exterior. [15]

Chemical analysis of reishi mushroom reveals that it is a good source of copper, iron, manganese, selenium and zinc. These essential minerals are crucial for healthy immune cell functions. [16][17] But researchers attribute one of the most widely reported benefits of reishi mushroom – its immune-supporting effects – to the bioactive polysaccharides present in it.

In a study published in the journal In Vivo, researchers reported that a polysaccharide-rich extract they isolated from reishi mushroom successfully promoted the activities of various immune cells, particularly those involved in innate immunity. [18] Meanwhile, a separate study that appeared in the Journal of Proteome Research found that reishi polysaccharides are also responsible for the mushroom’s antioxidant properties. [19]

Shiitake mushroom

Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) is one of the most popular edible mushrooms on the planet. This fungus with a dark-brown cap can be found growing on decaying hardwood trees and is native to East Asia. Thanks to its earthy, meaty flavor, shiitake is often used by Chinese and Japanese chefs to enhance the flavor of vegetarian dishes. [20][21]

Like reishi, shiitake has a long history of use in traditional medicine. It can also provide various immune-supporting nutrients, such as copper, folate, manganese, selenium and zinc. According to a study published in the journal Progress in Food & Nutrition Science, being deficient in folate can reduce your antibody responses, thanks to the crucial role played by this B-vitamin in DNA and protein synthesis. [22]

Another way shiitake can support your immune system is by helping you meet your daily vitamin B6 requirement. Studies show that having inadequate levels of vitamin B6 is very detrimental to your immune system. [23][24]

Cordyceps mushroom

There are over 400 species of Cordyceps in existence. Of these, only two species, namely C. sinensis and C. millitaris, are studied for their beneficial properties. According to a study published in the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, the antioxidant and immune-supporting properties of cordyceps can be attributed to polysaccharides and the nucleoside, cordycepin. [26]

In an article published in the journal Immunopharmacology and Immunotoxicology, researchers reported that cordyceps can provide excellent immune support by promoting various functions of innate and adaptive immune cells. [27][28]

Cordyceps are rich in various B-vitamins, immune-supporting minerals like iron, manganese, selenium and zinc, and the antioxidant, vitamin E. [29]

Turkey tail mushroom

Turkey tail mushroom (Trametes versicolor) is a common mushroom that grows in many parts of the world. It gets its name from its unusual appearance, which resembles a strikingly colored turkey’s tail. This fungus is widely used in Traditional Chinese Medicine and is hailed for its immune-supporting properties. [30][31]

According to a study published in the Scientific World Journal, turkey tail mushroom contains powerful antioxidants that can protect immune cells from DNA damage caused by free radicals. [32] It also contains two protein-bound polysaccharides, namely krestin (PSK) and polysaccharide peptide (PSP), that support healthy immune responses. [33][34]

Based on chemical analysis, turkey tail mushroom is a rich source of various B-vitamins, antioxidant flavonoids and phenols, and immune-supporting minerals like copper, manganese and zinc. [35]

Maitake mushroom

Maitake mushroom (Grifolafrondosa), also known as hen-of-the-wood or dancing mushroom, is native to northeastern Japan but can now be found in Europe and North America. This frilly polypore – meaning it has pores on its underside instead of gills – grows at the base of trees, especially oak trees. Known for its sweet and umami taste, maitake mushroom is often used as a delicious ingredient and food-flavoring. [36][37]

According to a study published in the journal Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin, maitake mushroom contains a polysaccharide known as grifolan that supports optimal immune health. [38] In another study, researchers found that a protein in maitake mushroom also helps promote healthy dendritic cells. [39]

According to data from the USDA, maitake mushroom contains decent amounts of immune-supporting nutrients like vitamin B6, copper, iron, manganese, selenium and zinc. It also has the highest amount of ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) of any edible fungi. [40] Vitamin D is also known to provide invaluable immune support. [41]

Chaga mushroom

Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) is another mushroom that boasts immune-supporting capabilities. It is often described as resembling a dark clump of dirt or burnt charcoal and can easily be distinguished by its orange tissue. [42]

Chaga mushroom is one of the most nutrient-dense of all mushrooms. Aside from an abundance of B-complex vitamins, it also contains fiber, vitamin D, various amino acids and the usual cast of immune-supporting minerals found in mushrooms – i.e., copper, iron, manganese, selenium and zinc.

In addition, chaga mushroom is a rich source of antioxidant polyphenols and melanin, a natural black pigment, that give it the highest ORAC score – a measure of antioxidant potency – of any superfood. [43] Thanks to these powerful antioxidants, chaga mushroom can help protect your immune cells from oxidative damage and keep them healthy and functional. [44]

Lion’s mane mushroom

Lion’s mane mushroom (Hericiumerinaceus), or yamabushitake in Japanese, is one of the easiest mushrooms to identify. As its name suggests, this fungus resembles the shaggy mane of a lion, only it’s made up of long, white, dangling spines instead of hair. Native to Europe, North America and Asia, lion’s mane mushroom is well-known for its culinary and medicinal uses. [45]

According to a study published in Food & Function, lion’s mane mushroom can support healthy immune function by promoting a healthy intestinal immune system. [46] This system is responsible for dealing with external threats that enter your body via the foods that you eat. [47]

Another study also revealed that the polysaccharides in lion’s mane mushroom can help you maintain a balanced composition of intestinal microflora. This, in turn, allows your intestinal immune system to do its job properly and combat threats. [48] 

Where to get these lab-verified organic mushrooms in powder form

Because of all the attention edible mushrooms have received from the scientific community, their impressive benefits are known to many. Hence, it isn’t surprising that the market is currently saturated with all kinds of mushroom-based products. But not every product can deliver on their promises. Only those that are made of high-quality ingredients can allow you to experience the remarkable benefits offered by functional mushrooms.

The Health Ranger Store is known for its dedication to providing the cleanest superfoods on the market. This is why you can trust that our Health Ranger Select Organic Seven Treasures Mushroom Powder is made from only high-quality functional mushrooms that are meticulously sourced and laboratory verified for purity and potency.

Health Ranger Select Organic Seven Treasures Mushroom Powder combines the powerful immune-supporting properties of seven of the healthiest organic mushrooms, namely, reishi mushroom, shiitake mushroom, cordyceps mushroom, turkey tail mushroom, maitake mushroom, chaga mushroom and lion’s mane mushroom, to help you maintain optimal immune function.

With the abundance of immune-supporting nutrients in Health Ranger Select Organic Seven Treasures Mushroom Powder, you can rest assured that your immune system will receive all the nutrients it needs to function properly and combat threats. And because our product is in a convenient powder form, you can easily add it to dishes or even to your favorite healthy drinks.

Health Ranger Select Organic Seven Treasures Mushroom Powder is vegan, non-GMO, non-China and certified Kosher and organic. It is also extensively lab tested for glyphosate and common low-grade mushroom contaminants, such as lead, cadmium, arsenic and mercury. Our standards for laboratory testing are the most stringent in the industry, so you can be sure that our products contain only the cleanest functional mushrooms in the world.

Enjoy excellent immune support by adding 7 of the healthiest organic functional mushrooms to your diet today!

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose any diseases.