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Reishi mushrooms, also called lingzhi mushrooms, are a species of medicinal mushroom characterized by their kidney-shaped cap and tough texture. Though widely appreciated throughout the countries of their native Asia, reishi are especially venerated in China. In fact, practitioners of ancient Chinese medicine have been prescribing reishi for a host of medical conditions such as high blood pressure and fatigue for at least 2,000 years. Even today, reishi are held in high regard by the Chinese, and have retained their traditional nickname, the “Mushrooms of Immortality.” Below are some of the health benefits attributed to reishi.
Boost immunity and prevent cancer
Reishi muhsrooms are rich in beta-glucans and hetero-beta-glucans, which are biologically-active polysaccharides found in the cell walls of certain plants and fungi. Many studies, such as the Lithuanian study published in the Medicina journal in 2007, have proven that these substances increase our immunity by enhancing macrophages and activating natural killer cell function (“killer cells” being the white blood cells that destroy infected or cancerous cells). This led the researchers to conclude that reishi could inhibit tumor growth.
Reishi mushrooms’ anti-cancer abilities were confirmed by a later study conducted by two scientists at Bellarmine University in Kentucky, who found that the polysaccharides and saponins present in the fungi could decrease cell proliferation in cancerous lungs by instigating apoptosis (cell death). The scientists claimed that “detailed biochemical characterization of this ancient herbal remedy could hold tremendous promise for the treatment of lung cancer.”
Slow the aging process
Reishi mushrooms contain an important antioxidant, ganoderic acid, which can inhibit oxidation by neutralizing free radicals. Though unchecked free radical activity is usually associated with degenerative diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s, it also accelerates the aging process. In fact, this phenomenon has its own term: the free radical theory of aging (FRTA). Therefore, eating more antioxidant-rich foods like reishi can contribute towards healthier hair, clearer skin, brighter eyes and fewer wrinkles.
Treat cardiovascular conditions
According to Phyllis Bach, author of the book, Prescription for Nutritional Healing, reishi mushrooms have been used to treat numerous cardiovascular conditions (including serious conditions like heart disease) for centuries in their native China. One condition that reishi particularly excels at treating, however, is diabetes.
A Chinese study published in the December 2006 issue of the Journal of Asian Natural Products Research, for example, found that diabetic subjects who were fed reishi extracts over an eight-week period exhibited lowered triglyceride and blood sugar levels, as well as reduced markers of kidney stress, compared to the control group. This research was reinforced by another Chinese study published in 2009 for the journal Phytomedicine, which found that reishi extracts lowered the blood glucose levels of mice within a single week, leading the researchers to believe that the mushrooms inhibit an enzyme used by the liver to manufacture glucose.
Rich in nutrients
Reishi mushrooms have become so well-known for their disease-preventing abilities that people often forget that they make good nutrient supplements in their own right. One grounded reishi mushroom, for instance, supplies our bodies with a large number of important nutrients including fiber, amino acids, protein, steroids, triterpenes, lipids, alkaloids, vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and ascorbic acid. Like their fellow medicinal mushrooms, shiitake and maitake, reishi are also a good source of copper, a trace mineral with antioxidant and enzyme-supporting properties.
Note: Unlike other medicinal mushrooms, reishi are difficult for our stomachs to digest even after they’ve been cooked, and are best consumed in extract form. Reishi powders and tinctures are a good choice, though a lot of people also swear by reishi tea. Additionally, stick to organic reishi products cultivated in the United States and Europe, since Chinese reishi are likely to be polluted.
It’s a place we’ve all been. You are working hard to lose weight and you feel like you have been doing pretty well, but sooner or later your will power fades and you start to plateau or even gain weight. This is pretty common and the truth is that living a healthy, lean life is tough.
But as luck would have it, there are a few particular things that most people do which can make life unnecessarily hard.
See if you’re doing any of these things, and if you are, try to stop:
Habitual Snacking Times
You probably have some times of day or routines which inevitably lead to eating bad foods in spite of your will power not to. These little eating patterns can be tough to break because they can be almost subconscious. I’m talking about things like:
Eating a biscuit or two in the break room
Stealing some of the kids potato chips
Having a chocolate bar after a workout
Whatever your routine you need to spot these vices and either break them or break the routine. For example, don’t take any more cash to the gym than you need. Don’t go in the break room when you’re hungry or feeling weak willed. Those little calories add up, but they’re easy to forget about.
A False Sense of Calories
If you exercise regularly (and you should) then it is all too easy to trick yourself into overeating. The truth is that although exercise does burn calories, it is very easy to over compensate by eating too much.
This is why many people who start going to the gym actually gain weight. The effect is still positive of course, because some of that weight is muscle – but even so, you need to be realistic about how many calories you are burning.
There are certain times of day when naughty foods seem to become more tempting and any occasion when you are bored or not doing very much is likely to be such a time.
This is why many people find that they eat more during the evenings when they are not busy at work…
If this seems like you then you need to break the cycle:
- Go out in the evenings
- Get into the habit of being more active
- Do something that engages your brain so that you don’t think about food
- You don’t have to do exercise every evening, just avoid too much time watching the TV or otherwise being mentally inactive
Thinking That You Have To Eat
The myth that you have to eat regularly in order to keep your metabolism going is a big one and a damaging one. The truth is that you would have to stop eating for many days before your metabolism actually slowed down.
So from now on, realize that you don’t HAVE TO eat as soon as you feel hungry…
Hunger is mostly habitual anyway
If there is no healthy food available, don’t eat. Skip a meal if you need to and wait until it is practical to eat something more suitable.
Focusing On The Scales
Weight loss is a long term game and it is entirely normal to occasionally plateau. In fact, you may lose no weight for 2 weeks and then lose several pounds in a few days.
For this reason, focusing on the scales can be dangerous for your motivation
Instead, try to focus on the things which happen sooner:
- You will feel healthier
- You will have more energy
- Your clothes will start to look better
- You will look better in the mirror
- If you measure your progress by these criteria instead of the amount of force that you exert on the ground you will find that you stay motivated more easily
Don’t get dehydrated – it’s that easy. Being dehydrated can make you feel hungry, which is obviously not going to be good for your will power or your judgement.
But aside from that, when you are hungry, a big drink of water (or cordial) will make you feel less hungry, which can either help you to abstain a little longer – particularly helpful when there is no healthy food available.