If you have made it this far in 2023 without being tempted by the allure of functional mushrooms, we would be surprised. Whether they have snuck their way onto the beloved coffee menu in your favourite cafe or flooded your social media in the form of gummies and healthy snacks, we are all left wondering, what actually makes functional mushrooms, well functional?
Functional mushrooms got their name from proponents who believe that they have properties and compounds that go beyond their nutritional value, potentially offering various health benefits. This group of mushrooms that fit the brief of being functional belong to arguably one of the most exclusive clubs in the world, in fact only 0.00667% of the around 3 million mushroom species here on earth are functional. Here are some factors that make functional mushrooms "functional":
Bioactive Compounds: Functional mushrooms are rich in bioactive compounds, such as beta-glucans, polysaccharides, and triterpenes.
Traditional Use: Many functional mushrooms have been used for centuries in traditional medicine systems, particularly in Asian cultures. These traditions and practices have recognized the mushrooms' potential for promoting well-being and addressing specific health concerns.
Adaptogenic Properties: Some functional mushrooms are classified as adaptogens, which means they may help the body adapt to stress and maintain balance. Adaptogens are believed to support the body's resilience and overall vitality.
Immunomodulatory Effects: Functional mushrooms are often studied for their ability to modulate or regulate the immune system.
Anti-Aging Properties: Functional mushrooms are sometimes associated with anti-aging benefits due to their potential to combat oxidative stress and inflammation, two factors that contribute to the aging process.
Nutrient Density: Functional mushrooms are nutrient-dense, containing vitamins, minerals, and other bioactive compounds that can contribute to overall health and well-being.
Non-psychedelic: Functional mushrooms do not contain any mind altering substances, they do not cause any distortions of reality.
It's important to note that while functional mushrooms hold promise in various areas of health and wellness, more research is needed to fully understand their mechanisms and effectiveness. When considering the use of functional mushrooms, individuals should consult with healthcare professionals and approach them as part of a holistic approach to well-being, not as standalone treatments.