The Little Mushroom That Could

Athletic performance, Cordyceps, functional mushrooms -

The Little Mushroom That Could

We all know that exercise is vital to our overall health and wellbeing. Do you work out regularly? Is it something you look forward to or do you dread going to the gym? Do you wish you had more stamina to get through a tough workout?

While mushrooms may not inspire your workout or make it more fun, there is a tiny fungus that can possibly help you make it to the end of that tough workout before running out of steam. I’m referring to Cordyceps.

If you’re an athlete you may have already heard about Cordyceps. The little fungus gained attention in 1993 when the Chinese women’s running team dominated the Asian Games in Beijing and then went on to win 5 medals at the Track and Field World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany. While there is still controversy around these events, it brought Cordyceps to the attention of athletes and researchers in the west.

Today, research supports the idea that Cordyceps can enhance performance. While it probably won’t turn you into a world class athlete, it can definitely provide support for your performance. For example:

Cordyceps is a great supplement for sustained energy making it perfect for athletes. Anecdotal evidence speaks to its ability to increase oxygen uptake. While it's not a stimulant, it does have a mild vasodilatation affect. In other words, it mildly dilates the blood vessels and increases nitric oxide levels, which has been found to be beneficial for most athletic performance. It's restorative to the lungs and a metabolic enhancer. It also reduces inflammation and prevents muscle aches because it acts on the Cox 2 receptor site, mimicking the effects of an analgesic. One of the interesting things about Cordyceps is that it is an adaptogen.

a·dapt·o·gen: a nontoxic substance and especially a plant extract that is held to increase the body's ability to resist the damaging effects of stress and promote or restore normal physiological functioning. Merriam Webster

Research indicates that Cordyceps functions as an energizing adaptogen that can help fight fatigue. It also has been shown to balance cortisol and other stress hormones, helping restore balance in the body and accelerate recovery. In traditional Chinese medicine, Cordyceps is both yin - nourishing, and yang - invigorating. It's helpful during a workout for sustained energy and after for aiding in recovery. One note about Cordyceps - a small percentage of people find taking it later in the day can make it harder to fall asleep.

Will Cordyceps turn you into a world-class athlete? Probably not. Will this fungi support your exercise results? Quite likely. The results you experience will depend on your current level of athletic ability and efficiency. If you are already at an elite level, you won't experience as dramatic a benefit as those still developing their athletic ability. If you’re looking for support to keep you going through your workout, Cordyceps may be the perfect addition to your workout.

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