Superfoods are all the craze and without a doubt the best foods on this planet for optimal nutrition. I look at superfoods as a sort of insurance policy over our health. To make sure we are getting enough of a variety of essential vitamins and minerals.
But what about our medicine? What will keep us from getting sick when the bug is going around. Or what will prevent life-threatening diseases?
As a huge believer in holistic health and food as medicine, I am not keen on taking any supplements for my body that are not natural or plant-based. Nope ladies, not even an Aleve or ibuprofen at that “time of the month”.
I really believe that when we put the best into our bodies, we will get the best (physically, mentally, emotionally).
Which leads us to the star of this show today: medicinal mushrooms.
Mushrooms aren’t just for stir fry’s and salads anymore (or for a bit of psychedelic fun), but can actually be used as medicine to keep our bodies as healthy as possible and prevent certain diseases. These mushrooms are food for our immune system.
“Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food” – Hippocrates
Most of us only care about our immunity when we get sick, but you should be taking care of your immune system on a daily basis. We should be eating the right foods daily that specifically target the immune system and act like medicine for your body to keep your immunity in tip-top shape. Thus, preventing you from getting sick and preventing certain diseases.
A.K.A. the “king of medicinal mushrooms“, grows in cooler climates in the western hemisphere almost always on birch trees. If you were to find chaga growing wildly, you probably wouldn’t even recognize it as a mushroom because it looks nothing like one. The outside of chaga looks like bark and is very hard to the touch when compared to your typical supermarket mushrooms. The inside of chaga has a rust like color to it.
Although chaga has been used for its medicinal benefits for centuries now, this powerful mushroom is just now gaining popularity in western culture. Centuries ago people used chaga other ways besides just for the nutritional benefits. It was also used to make cleansing soaps, as fertilizer for plants, for “internal cleansing” or detoxing, was burned for sacred, ritual and spiritual cleansing, and was also used to help keep animals healthy.
What Are The Benefits?
Chaga has one of the highest levels of antioxidants, gram for gram, of all the foods in the world. It contains a high amount of SOD (superoxide dismutase) which is a class of enzymes that repairs cells and reduces the cellular damage caused by free radical damage in the body. SOD is anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, and promotes longevity. It can help keep a youthful appearance since it neutralizes the free radicles that cause wrinkles. SOD is considered to be the most powerful antioxidant our body creates.
Chaga contains one of the highest amounts of melanin found in any food in the world. Melanin helps support and keep our hair, skin, nails, and eyes healthy. And works great as an internal sunblock, protecting the skin and hair from sun damage. It is even known to help diminish and reduce the size of age spots. Thus, making chaga a great mushroom for external beauty.
There are high levels of polysaccharides found in chaga, which is true for most medical mushrooms. Polysaccharides are what your cells run on. They help regulate our immune system, give us energy, fight against fatigue, regulate blood sugar levels, reduce cholesterol, and helps enhance our mood by releasing feel-good chemicals naturally produced in our brains to helps us feel happier. Polysaccharides also benefit our cardiovascular system, and liver function.
The powerful mushroom chaga also contains high compounds of betulin and betulinic acid, which are some of the most antiviral compounds that we have discovered yet today. The betulinic acid actually comes from the betulin found in birch trees, which is the most common type of tree chaga grows on. Chaga then converts betulin into betulinic acid which is more biologically active in humans. Therefore, it is most beneficial to consume chaga that has been grown on birch trees because it contains this beneficial compound. Betulinic acid helps normalize the bodies cholesterol levels and has antitumor properties. And has now been shown to have potent anticancer properties.
Vitamins & Minerals
Chaga contains high amounts of minerals including, potassium, zinc, iron, magnesium, manganese, copper, selenium, phosphorus and calcium. And contains vitamins B1, B2, B3, vitamin K, and vitamin D2. Chaga is also high in amino acids and dietary fiber.
Chaga is basically like a forcefield in a cup. It is an extremely alkaline drink with an insane amount of benefits. I like to have chaga daily to fight against pathogens and to keep my immune system in tip-top shape. It also helps keep my skin, hair, and nails looking healthy, gives me sustained energy throughout the day, increases my mood, reduces any inflammation, prevents signs of aging and promotes longevity.
What Does It Taste Like?
Chaga has a very unique and distinct flavor. Most people find it to have an acquired taste since it is slightly bitter and earthy tasting. It has somewhat of a chocolate taste to it, and can also have vanilla and nutty notes. The first time I had it, I didn’t really mind the taste as it was a bit milder of a flavor than I expected. But when I first started drinking it, I would add some sweetener so I could enjoy it easier.
How Do I Eat It?
Nowadays, the most popular way to use chaga is by making and consuming chaga tea. I buy a pre-prepared chaga from four sigmatic since it is so simple to just add hot water to it, or pour it into my morning tea or smoothies. You can also find chaga in capsules, or as tinctures from your local health market.
p.s. this is not sponsored by four sigmatic. I just really like and trust this brand!