Top Mushrooms for Optimal Health

Mushrooms have been the subject of dozens of research studies of late, and for good reason, as they seem to improve health in many ways. For example, individuals that eat one small portion of any variety of mushrooms per week may be as much as 50% less likely to experience a decline in cognition (1). Additionally, consistent mushroom consumption may also improve gut health, cardiovascular health, blood sugar, cholesterol levels, and more. Here are a few examples of well-researched mushrooms along with an explanation of some of their health benefits.

Lion’s Mane
• Brain Optimization: Lion’s mane mushroom is proven to contain compounds that promote the health and growth of brain cells, also known as neurogenesis. More neurogenesis means a consumer is more likely to stay mentally sharp despite the aging process, as well as mitigate the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia (2).
• Gut Health: Lion’s mane is proven to prevent H. pylori growth in the digestive tract, which is a bacteria known to damage the gut and cause ulcers. It also reduces gut inflammation, which may make it useful for treating inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis (3,4).
• Lowering Risk of Diabetes: Lion’s mane is shown to block a particular enzyme in the small intestine. Blocking this enzyme slows the release of sugar into the bloodstream, therefore controlling blood sugar and blood insulin levels (5).

• Optimal Sleep and Stress Relief: Reishi mushroom has a long history in ancient Chinese medicine. Research shows that it may increase the amount of time a consumer spends in deep sleep, as well as regulate the circadian rhythm, via the serotonin pathway. This combination leads to the user feeling more rested and rejuvenated (6).
• Immune System Support: Research shows that Reishi mushrooms can increase the prevalence and activity of white blood cells. This would make the consumer better able to fight infections. Reishi has also been shown to modulate inflammatory pathways in the body (7).

• Cancer Prevention: Chaga mushroom is extremely dense in antioxidants, which would explain why preliminary research shows that it may prevent cancer and slow the growth of a tumor (8).
• Lowers Cholesterol: Preliminary animal studies show that Chaga can indirectly improve cardiovascular by lowering unhealthy cholesterol (LDLs) and increasing healthy cholesterol (HDLs) (9).

• Feng, Lei et al. ‘The Association Between Mushroom Consumption and Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Community-Based Cross-Sectional Study in Singapore’. 1 Jan. 2019: 197 – 203.
• Mori K, Obara Y, Moriya T, Inatomi S, Nakahata N. Effects of Hericium Erinaceus on amyloid β(25-35) peptide-induced learning and memory deficits in mice. Biomed Res. 2011;32(1):67-72. doi:10.2220/biomedres.32.67
• Shang X, Tan Q, Liu R, Yu K, Li P, Zhao GP. In vitro anti-Helicobacter pylori effects of medicinal mushroom extracts, with special emphasis on the Lion’s Mane mushroom, Hericium Erinaceus (higher Basidiomycetes). Int J Med Mushrooms. 2013;15(2):165-174. doi:10.1615/intjmedmushr.v15.i2.50
• Qin M, Geng Y, Lu Z, et al. Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Ethanol Extract of Lion’s Mane Medicinal Mushroom, Hericium Erinaceus (Agaricomycetes), in Mice with Ulcerative Colitis. Int J Med Mushrooms. 2016;18(3):227-234. doi:10.1615/IntJMedMushrooms.v18.i3.50
• Wu T, Xu B. Antidiabetic and antioxidant activities of eight medicinal mushroom species from China. Int J Med Mushrooms. 2015;17(2):129-140. doi:10.1615/intjmedmushrooms.v17.i2.40
• Yao C, Wang Z, Jiang H, et al. Ganoderma lucidum promotes sleep through a gut microbiota-dependent and serotonin-involved pathway in mice. Sci Rep. 2021;11(1):13660. Published 2021 Jul 1. doi:10.1038/s41598-021-92913-6
• Cheng CH, Leung AY, Chen CF. The effects of two different Ganoderma species (Lingzhi) on gene expression in human monocytic THP-1 cells. Nutr Cancer. 2010;62(5):648-658. doi:10.1080/01635581003605516
• Lee SH, Hwang HS, Yun JW. Antitumor activity of water extract of a mushroom, Inonotus obliquus, against HT-29 human colon cancer cells. Phytother Res. 2009;23(12):1784-1789. doi:10.1002/ptr.2836
• Sun JE, Ao ZH, Lu ZM, et al. Antihyperglycemic and anti-lipid peroxidative effects of dry matter of culture broth of Inonotus obliquus in submerged culture on normal and alloxan-diabetes mice. J Ethnopharmacol. 2008;118(1):7-13. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2008.02.030

About the Author: Brett Deters

Brett is a second-year medical school student who has been training and living a fit lifestyle his entire life. He holds an advanced belt in Brazilian Jiu Jiutsu and has been published multiple times in scientific, peer reviewed journals. Brett is the son of former editor-in-chief of Muscle & Fitness magazine, Dr. Tom Deters.

Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and is not meant as medical advice, nor is it to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Please consult your physician before starting or changing your diet or exercise program. Any use of this information is at the sole discretion and responsibility of the user.