The 5 Best Mushrooms for Gut HealthFriday Dec 2, 2022
Did you know the trillions of microbes that make up your gut microbiome do more than aid in digestion and provide relief from conditions like leaky gut, IBS, and IBD? In other words, the benefits of improved gut health stretch far beyond the GI tract. Research shows gut health impacts your immune health, mood, skin, energy levels, and cognitive function, just to name a few things.
Foods like probiotics ( i.e. yogurt with live cultures, kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut) and prebiotics (i.e. oats, asparagus, apples, and flaxseeds) are good for gut health. But have you ever considered consuming mushrooms for gut health? If you haven't, then you're missing out!
Medicinal mushrooms are packed with prebiotics. They've been shown to reduce inflammation, strengthen the lining of the gut, and improve gut bacteria diversity (aka promote a community where good bacteria can grow and thrive).
Let's take a look at 5 superfood mushrooms in particular and the benefits they can have on your health:
- Lion's Mane
- Turkey Tail
1. Lion's Mane Mushrooms
First up on our list of best mushrooms for gut health is Lion's Mane. If you're looking for a way to quell inflammation, Lion's Mane may be your new go-to. Inflammation has been linked to a variety of diseases and conditions, from gut-related conditions like ulcerative colitis to cardiovascular disease and even mental health issues like anxiety and depression.
Lion's Mane contains an abundance of antioxidants and antimicrobial properties to combat inflammation. For example, Lion's Mane has been shown to inhibit the growth of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), a type of bad bacteria that infects your stomach. If left untreated, H. pylori can cause stomach ulcers, and it leaves the door open for unfavorable health conditions like gastritis (stomach inflammation) or duodenitis (small intestine inflammation).
One small study also revealed that eating cookies with Lion's Mane in them helped participants feel less irritable and have less anxiety and feelings of depression.
2. Chaga Mushrooms
If you suffer from a condition like Crohn's or ulcerative colitis then you know that the abdominal pain and cramping can be out of this world. So much so that sometimes all you can do is curl up on the couch and hope for the flare-up to be over ASAP! Go out in public? Forget about it. Unless you're okay taking a chance with keeping your bowels in check.
Fortunately for you, Chaga may be one of the best mushrooms for gut health you can take, especially for providing some relief from IBD symptoms. The amount of antioxidants in Chaga mushrooms is off the charts, which can help you fight inflammation, boost immunity, and keep your digestive tract running smoothly.
3. Reishi Mushrooms
Gut dysbiosis (i.e. an imbalanced gut) can lead to a variety of health issues. Fortunately, Reishi mushrooms are great for rebalancing your gut, improving the diversity of its bacteria, and reducing inflammation. And similar to Lion's Mane, Reishi mushrooms can also help you guard against ulcers brought on by H.pylori bacteria.
Want to know something important (and fascinating) about your stomach? Normally, the gaps or holes in your gut's lining will be few and far between. Sometimes though, you can develop cracks in your gut that allow whatever's in it to come spilling out into the bloodstream, which sparks an inflammatory response in the body.
- Skin issues like acne, eczema, and psoriasis
That whole scenario—when you get larger than normal cracks in your gut—is often referred to as leaky gut and can result in symptoms like:
It might even mean joint pain! That's why addressing and fixing leaky gut is super important. Research shows that Reishi mushrooms work to tighten up the intestinal lining and improve intestinal permeability, which are key to healing leaky gut.
Also, do you suffer from candida overgrowth? Reishi mushrooms may hold the key to keeping that at bay and preventing horrible symptoms like oral thrush, bloating, constipation, or vaginal yeast infections and UTIs.
4. Turkey Tail Mushrooms
Some of the best probiotic strains you can have come from the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium families. They're held in the highest regard in terms of good bacteria for gut health. So getting enough of them can do wonders for not just your gut but overall health.
Research shows that Turkey Tail mushrooms not only play a key role in the population of these two key bacterial types but also reduce the number of bad bacteria in your gut. The high amount of prebiotic polysaccharides, fructooligosaccharides, and beta-glucans in Turkey Tail mushrooms also support a healthy immune system and help feed your beneficial and probiotic microbes.
5. Shiitake Mushrooms
Considering the fact that roughly 70% of our immune system can be found in the gut, anything you can do to bolster the GI tract will be a big plus toward helping you achieve optimal immune health.
Similar to the other mushrooms for gut health on our list, Shiitake mushrooms help to improve your gut's bacterial diversity and promote an environment for healthy bacteria to be at their best. Research demonstrates its anti-inflammatory impact and how it protects immune cells from harmful pathogens.
Wrapping Things Up
Outside of the traditional advice like getting more probiotics and prebiotics in your diet, you may want to consider trying something new with mushrooms for gut health.
Keep in mind some of the more noteworthy ones:
- Lion's Mane
- Turkey Tail
They're great for boosting the number of good bacteria in your gut, improving your gut bacteria's diversity, and reducing inflammation. All of those factors enable you to maintain optimal gut health, which carries over into many other aspects of your life!
Because, don't forget, overall wellness starts in the gut. So if you find yourself lacking energy, dealing with skin issues all the time, or get sick often and have a hard time recovering, it could point to poor gut health that needs to be addressed.
About the Author
Chad Richardson is a freelance writer from Cincinnati, OH who also enjoys going to the gym and doing his best Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonation, scrolling through Netflix trying to find a new binge-worthy show, and catching a game to root on his hometown sports teams.