Functional mushrooms are quickly rising in popularity in the Western world’s health and wellness industry. In fact, a market study done in 2021 has predicted the popularity of functional mushrooms to increase almost 10% in the next 9 years! You’ve probably heard the unforgettable names of these mushrooms floating around the internet – chaga, lions mane, cordyceps, reishi, turkey tail (try saying that five times fast!). So what’s the buzz around these fungi? And how are they different from the mushrooms we toss into a stir fry or enjoy in a pasta?
The delicious (and nutritious) benefits:
With the million species of fungi inhabiting the wild, functional mushrooms are the edible ones that are not just tasty, but also have higher nutritional value. The term “functional” emphasizes the variety of nutritional benefits they provide to body and mind.
Also known as “adaptogenic mushrooms”, they help our body adapt to and manage the physiological and psychological stress that it goes through every day. Psychological stress will typically trigger physiological stress. For example: that important presentation you have to give that you haven’t prepared well for? (All hypothetical of course…) You may experience sweaty hands and tense muscles when the time comes. This is a short-lived kind of stress called “acute stress”, which we commonly experience from time to time.
“Chronic stress”, on the other hand, is the kind of stress that builds up over weeks or months and can be a detriment to our health. Whether you’re unhappy at your job or dealing with a life-changing circumstance, allowing these stressors to persist in your life causes your body to continuously react in “fight-or-flight” mode. Your body produces the hormone cortisol in response to stress. Long term, high levels of cortisol in response to stress can be harmful to your body, making your more prone to a variety of health issues, such as anxiety, depression, heart disease and digestive problems.
Integrating functional mushrooms into your daily diet will assist your body in fighting off these negative stress responses. Its adaptogenic properties will help your body lowers the levels of cortisol, reducing the effects of stress in your life. This is done by the work of adaptogens (sounds like adaptogenic, right?) that are found in functional mushrooms that work hard against the stress that enters our life. The adaptogens produce an “anti-fatigue” effect that pushes our brain to fight against the mental blocks of stress and fatigue that we may face. I guess you can say, “a mushroom a day keeps the stress away!”
A little history lesson
Despite its growing popularity in the West, the fascination and appreciation for functional mushrooms have been around for centuries. The ancient Romans viewed them as “food of the gods”, similar to how the Mayans viewed our beloved cacao.
Additionally, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) saw functional mushrooms as an essential ingredient for healing remedies, managing a variety of diseases for thousands of years.
The Western world is embracing the love of functional mushrooms by incorporating these desirable fungi into products that can provide the versatile, nutritional benefits that they hold. At Daybreak Cacao, we curated a specific blend of mushrooms that are especially good for mornings. This morning mushroom blend contains health-boosting compounds that are perfect for making the most of your day– starting at daybreak!
Our all-star “mushroom” cast:
How can I include functional mushrooms into my daily life?
Since functional mushrooms are not typically found fresh in grocery stores, an alternative and accessible way to include them in your diet is through their powder form. And don’t worry, dry-scooping is not what we have in mind as a way to get these mushrooms into our body. Here are our favorite ways to implement functional mushrooms into our diet:
- Cook it up: Functional mushrooms can be a great addition to foods such as soups, entrees and even brownies! They are easy to add into any recipe – whether it be a yummy reishi pasta sauce or a lions mane crab cake, they are easy and adaptable to your daily meals. Functional mushrooms often have an “earthy” taste, which is why mixing them into your favorite recipes is an easy way to get the max benefits in a tasty way!
- Mix them into a drink: With just a few sips, you can reap all the nutritional benefits that functional mushrooms have to offer. If you want to enjoy all of the best morning mushrooms at once (because why settle on just one?!), check out our morning drink! Our Cacao & Mushroom Morning Mix is a great option that not only contains these fine fungi, but also cacao and the four other superfoods that will help you feel like you’re on top of the world.