When it comes to improving your health the foods you eat, amount you move and even your stress levels are all major contributing factors. We talk a lot about how mushrooms can improve various aspects of your health but how do spices come into the mix?
Spices have been prized in herbal medicine for thousands of years and are key principles in the Ayurvedic diet. Many have potent anti inflammatory and antioxidant effect much like many of the functional mushrooms do. This is why mushrooms and spices are the perfect combination to add into your daily life to protect you against conditions associated with aging from blood sugar issues to cognitive decline.
Here are some of our favourite combinations and what we use them for:
Turmeric & Chaga for anti-inflammatory
Turmeric and it’s main active constituent curcumin are possibly the most popular natural treatment for anti-inflammatory. It works by inhibiting several inflammatory molecules, enzymes and pathways that can lead to inflammation. One of the ways it does this is by inhibiting the activity of the COX-2 and 5-LOX enzymes which are involved in the production of pro-inflammatory molecules called prostaglandins and leukotrienes. Curcumin is commonly used for joint pain, period pain, gut inflammation, heart health, brain health and exercise recovery. Turmeric is found to be absorbed more effectively when combined with black pepper so be sure to add that to your turmeric recipes and lattes.
Chaga has been used traditionally for centuries and we now know it has one of the highest antioxidant quantities out of any food. Its anti-inflammatory properties make it useful for immune support, oxidative stress, skin health and liver health. For a powerful anti-inflammatory effect combining Chaga and Turmeric is the way to go and tastes delicious too!
Cinnamon & Maitake for blood sugar regulation
Cinnamon is often used as a culinary herb, but it also has scientifically proven blood sugar lowering effects particularly in those with type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance. It is thought to help improve insulin sensitivity by allowing the cells to more efficiently take up glucose into cells and thereby reducing blood sugar. Also, cinnamaldehyde which is found in cinnamon has been shown to inhibit enzymes involved in the breakdown of carbohydrates into glucose. This results in a slower release of glucose into the bloodstream after meals and prevents rapid spikes in blood sugar. Cinnamon like many other spices and herbs is also high in antioxidants which is thought to increase insulin sensitivity and improve blood sugar control by lowering oxidative stress.
Maitake mushroom is also studied for its effects on blood sugar control. In one clinical study 5 patients with type 2 diabetes demonstrated improved blood sugar levels after taking Maitake. One of those patients had complete glycaemic control and became free of medications whereas others showed over 30% decline in their blood glucose levels in 2-4 weeks. The exact mechanisms of how Maitake exerts its effects are not entirely understood yet, but it is thought to regulate glucose metabolism pathways and increase the cells uptake of glucose. The combination of Maitake and cinnamon is great to utilise in smoothies, yoghurt, muesli, and other carbohydrate sources to control the blood sugar spike these foods may bring alone.
Ginger & Lion’s Mane for brain health
Ginger aka Zingiber officinale is another excellent antioxidant spice and very widely used. It has been used for a variety of ailments throughout history including morning nausea, cold and flu relief, and digestive upset. However, ginger also has positive effects on brain health.
The high antioxidant content can protect the neurons in the brain from oxidative stress. Oxidative stress has been shown to be a factor in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties can also help to fight neuro-inflammation which has been linked to Parkinsons, Multiple Sclerosis, depression, and anxiety. Ginger has also been found to interact with serotonin receptors which has been associated with having anti-depressant activity. In this way ginger may play a beneficial role in mental health.
Lions Mane is also being researched for its positive effects on neural growth and regeneration. These preliminary studies suggest it’s use for cognitive conditions such as Alzheimer’s to assist with memory and boost brain cell growth. When combined Lions Mane and Ginger may be great at preventing cognitive decline as we age and improving mental health throughout all stages of life.
How should you take functional mushrooms?
We recommend 1 teaspoon daily for our Evolution Botanicals Maitake, Chaga and Lion’s Mane mushroom powders. Many people enjoy taking their functional mushrooms by adding them to delicious drinks.
Here is a recipe for a Chaga Turmeric Latte for a potent anti-inflammatory hit!
• 1 cup almond milk (or nut milk of your choice)
• 1 teaspoon of Evolution Botanicals Chaga Powder
• 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
• Pinch of cinnamon
• Pinch of black pepper
• 1 teaspoon of honey
• ½ teaspoon coconut oil
Blend all ingredients together and bring to a simmer for 15 minutes on low heat over the stove. Pour into your favourite mug and enjoy!