If you’re a mushroom lover but have never heard of the chaga mushroom, don’t fret because you are not alone. The chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus), acts as a strong antioxidant that can both prevent and cure several serious diseases. And with the rise of wellness and interest among the general population to live a better lifestyle, more and more people are looking to various superfoods, and researching the benefits that those foods can bring to their everyday lives.
Consumers are looking more and more for products that promote well-being. Mushrooms, in particular, make the list of superfoods, because they are rich in Vitamin A, potassium, fiber, and a host of antioxidants.
Check out this list for the health benefits that can be gained by chaga mushrooms.
- In addition to Vitamin A, fiber, and potassium, chaga is rich in a host of vitamins, including amino acids, B-complex vitamins, calcium, cesium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, rubidium, selenium, vitamin D, and zinc. Each one of these vitamins brings a unique benefit to our bodies, and with the mushroom, we have the opportunity to benefit from all of these, naturally.
- When we consume antioxidants, it is believed that we can help to slow the inevitable aging process. Oxidative stress, which is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in your body, creates physical manifestations of aging. This can include wrinkles, skin that starts to sag, and the graying of your hair. Further, excessive and repeated exposure to the sun and pollution can also accelerate the aging process.
- It is believed that over 102 million American adults suffer from high cholesterol, which is a waxy and fat-like substance that is found in your body, and in many of the foods that we consume every day. In order to function normally, we actually need cholesterol, but what we need is adequately created by our body. So, when we consume foods that are high in cholesterol, our body gets too much, and this can cause a build-up in our arteries, which increases our risk and susceptibility to strokes and heart disease. A total cholesterol level at or above 200 mg/ dL is considered unhealthy, and chaga mushrooms can help to lower cholesterol levels.
- The chaga mushroom has been used in other regions of the world to help treat and prevent cancer. A study conducted in 2010 by The Korean Nutrition Society and the Korean Society of Community Nutrition, discovered that chaga could slow the advancement of lung, breast, and cervical cancer cells when grown in a petri dish. That same study additionally found that chaga could inhibit or slow the production of tumors in mice.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 75 million American adults have high blood pressure – that is one in every three adults. High blood pressure, frequently referred to as the silent killer, has very few warnings signs, if any, and can lead to stroke or the development of blood clots. The antioxidants found in chaga is linked to lowering blood pressureand improving cardiovascular health.
- Additional studies on mice have found that chaga can regulate the production of cytokines, which can ward off germs. While some germs can be good to us and can help us build strong immune systems, in many cases, germs can make us sick when they enter our bodies. And, certain germs can lead to disease by upsetting the way the body is designed to work. This happens when germs produce poisons in the body, increase in number, and/or attack a particular part of the body.
- Chaga mushrooms are believed to help fight inflammation. When the body is at work fighting an illness, inflammation actually helps to support that fight. But in many situations, that inflammation can lead to other more serious health issues, including chronic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, and even depression.
- When your blood sugar gets too high, it can lead to hyperglycemia, which can wreak havoc on the vessels that supply blood to the vital organs in your body. This means an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, vision problems, nerve problems, and kidney disease. An inability to regular blood sugar, as in the case of diabetes, can lead to long-term negative health effects (not including the presence of diabetes itself), such as damage to both the large and small blood vessels, which in turn can cause eye, kidney, and foot problems. While research has not yet been done on humans, research on mice has indicated that chaga may serve as an alternative treatment for diabetesin the coming years.
- Those going through serious medical treatments, or on heavy doses of prescribed medications, can experience a host of challenging side effects. But it is possible that treating patients with chaga mushrooms could reduce the side effects of treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation.
The popularity of Chaga is on the rise
While chaga hasn’t yet become widely known in the United States, it is certainly gaining popularity. These mushrooms have been used for centuries in other parts of the world, including Siberia and other parts of Asia. As chaga tends to grow in colder climates and grows on birches, it is more widely available in the Northern Hemisphere.
Chaga is best harvested when the temperature is consistently below five degrees Celsius (41 degrees Fahrenheit), for at least 20 straight days and nights. It is at this time that birch trees are dormant for the winter, which means that the chaga can provide its utmost in nutritional value. Further, chaga mushrooms should only be selected from living trees, as when a tree dies, so does the mushroom. When picking chaga, make sure that some is left behind, as this will allow for more to grow.
Chaga can be consumed in a variety of ways, including raw, in capsules, in a powdered form, and as a tea.