Mushrooms: More Than Fuel
We’ve talked before about the supportive aspect of Cordyceps and how the tiny fungus is used by athletes around the world. It’s true, Cordyceps seems to increase stamina and have a positive effect on performance.
Did you know, mushrooms can do more than fuel your workout?
They can aid in your exercise recovery.
Consider Lion’s Mane, or Hericium erinaceus. This shaggy fungus that grows in clumps or pom poms has been found to support neurological systems. It improves concentration, focus, and overall cognitive function. These are attributes everyone can benefit from
In the case of weight lifting, it can support the synaptic firing capacity - think explosive movements when working out. It supports all nerve functions at a greater efficiency and assists in fatigue reduction, inflammation reduction, improved gut health, and immune health. Anecdotal evidence points to Lion's Mane having an affinity for the areas that need the most support, such as muscles under extreme stress. That’s one of the reasons it can be helpful during your exercise recovery phase.
Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) is another mushroom with many positive attributes. Most people think of the calming effects of reishi. It’s often brewed into a soothing tea. And while it is the perfect bedtime drink, reishi has more to offer. This shelf fungi helps modulate cortisol levels, which aids in recovery allowing your body to rest and repair more efficiently and with greater depth after exertion, such as working out. Like Cordyceps, it's a powerful adaptogen. It's been found to lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar.
Another mushroom to consider adding to your workout routine is Chaga (Inonotus obliquus). It is also an important adaptogen, which means its compounds increase the body's ability to adapt to stress, fatigue, anxiety, inflammation, and changing situations. It inhibits oxidative stress in general. In other words, it may block the formation of free radicals. Chaga contains 25-50 times more super oxide dismutase (SOD), which is one of the most potent antioxidants; it also works as a prebiotic. On the current scale for measuring antioxidants (the ORAC), blueberries are 24.5 and Chaga is 36,500.
Finally, you might consider adding Birch polypore to your diet, especially if you lift weights or run long distances. Anthropologists have found evidence that Ötzi the Iceman carried pieces of the mushroom with him, probably for its healing properties. Modern research provides evidence supporting the antibacterial, anti-parasitic, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, neuroprotective, and immunomodulating compounds in the mushroom. It contains many of the same compounds as Chaga.
If you work out regularly or are thinking about starting an exercise regimen, consider adding mushrooms to the mix. Cordyceps is the ideal mushroom to add to your pre-workout smoothie or even your morning coffee. And to aid in recovery, add any or all of the mushrooms mentioned above to your post workout snack or shake.