Node Smith, ND
Mushrooms: Antioxidant Powerhouse
A recent study is touting the anti-aging benefits of mushrooms. Mushrooms, a delicious food source, are extremely high in 2 antioxidants – ergothioneine and glutathione. Glutathione is a commonly known antioxidant that many people take as a daily supplement. The two antioxidants are known to prevent certain aging effects and promote good health.
Antioxidants Clean Up Free Radicals
Antioxidants are good for the body because they “clean up” free radicals. Free radicals are a naturally occurring phenomenon in the body, created as byproducts of metabolism. Antioxidants are the body’s way of ensuring that they don’t do unnecessary damage. However, when the body doesn’t have enough antioxidants oxidative stress occurs at a higher level. This free radical damage is a large part of the aging process. Oxidative stress is involved in inflammatory processes that damage blood vessels and hinders the body from repairing itself. This leads to more wrinkles, slower healing time, less supple skin, and degeneration of the organs of the body. Toxic exposure, and consumption of alcohol, sugar, and drugs also increase free radicals and oxidative damage. This is the basic reason for wanting to consume more antioxidants through the diet.
Key Finding Notes Cooking Doesn’t Matter as Antioxidants are Heat Stable
Antioxidants are found in virtually all food to some degree, however, are especially high in colorful fruits and vegetables, egg yolks, liver, beans, oats (in the bran), and mushrooms. The study looked at 13 varieties of mushrooms. They found that the wild variety, porcini, a mushroom commonly foraged in Italy, is the highest in ergothioneine and glutathione. White button mushrooms, and criminis, also have these antioxidants, but in lesser amounts. A key finding was that cooking the mushrooms doesn’t matter, as the antioxidants are heat stable.
Could Eating Mushrooms Have an Effect on Developing Neurological Diseases?
The research team is hoping to do further research to look at whether eating mushrooms could have an effect on the development of certain neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s. It is noted that countries that consume more mushrooms on a daily basis have less occurrence of these diseases, however, it is likely that they consume more fruits and vegetables in general than people in the U.S.
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Node Smith, ND, is a naturopathic physician in Portland, OR and associate editor for NDNR. He has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine among the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend camp-out where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Four years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision.