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Mushrooms Contain Unique Disease Fighting Compounds

Mushrooms Contain Unique Disease Fighting CompoundsMushrooms play an important role in the immune system. Mushrooms are unique because they contain many unusual disease fighting compounds that medical science is just beginning to understand. There are several immune supporting compounds in mushrooms that empower the body to react quickly and powerfully when we are exposed to disease-causing pathogens like viruses and bacteria. In most cases, we can defeat invading microbes before any symptoms occur.  Because of their anti-inflammatory and immune-modulating effects, the naturally occurring chemical compounds in mushroom may help reduce longevity detracting, autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

The compounds found in simple mushrooms and mushroom supplements have been shown in animal experiments and cell cultures to enhance the activity and function of natural killer-T (NKT) cells.  NKT cells are a group of T cells that share properties of both T cells and natural killer (NK) cells.  T cells are a type of white blood cell that plays a central role in cell-mediated immunity.  NK cells detect cells infected with a virus and respond to tumor formation by releasing “killing granules” to destroy abnormal cells.

NKT cells seem to be essential for several aspects of immunity and longevity because their dysfunction or deficiency has been shown to lead to the development of cancers and autoimmune diseases like atherosclerosis (chronic inflammatory response in the walls of arteries) and diabetes.

Another benefit is that common mushrooms contain carbohydrate-binding proteins called antigen-binding lectins (ABL) which bind only to abnormal cells by recognizing a molecule on the surface of many cancer cells.  Once bound to the abnormal cell, they activate the body’s defenses calling them into action against that cell.

White, cremini, portobello, oyster, maitake, and reishi mushrooms have all been shown to have anti-cancer effects by preventing DNA damage, slowing cancer cell or tumor growth, causing programmed cancer cell death, or preventing tumors from acquiring a blood supply. These effects have been shown in breast, prostate, and colon cancers and/or cancer cells.

Tip: Add common mushrooms like these to your shopping list: white, cremini, portobello, oyster, maitake and reishi.

Tip: Replace ground beef in homemade meat sauce for pasta with sautéed mushrooms because you will lower both the sauce’s calorie and unhealthy fat content.


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