Benefits of Medicinal Mushrooms

Mushrooms may not seem the obvious choice for keeping your immunity strong, skin glowing and blood sugar balanced, but numerous clinical studies have proved medicinal mushrooms can have amazing superpowers when it comes to keeping our health in tiptop condition.  

Everything from boosting immunity to keeping your blood sugar balanced; you can be supercharged with these fabulous fungi. 

Dr. Vivienne Rolfe PhD, and Pukka’s Head of Herbal Research, explains why they should be a go-to natural remedy for staying in good health.   

1. Keep your immunity strong and support natural defences

Mushrooms are high in beta-glucans – natural substances that have been found to help ‘prime’ our immune system, making sure it’s ready for action to fight off bugs and germs (1). Certain types of mushrooms such as reishi, shiitake and maitake are especially rich in the most powerful beta-glucans. So, getting a daily dose of these mushrooms could be beneficial at times when we need extra support, such as during the cold and flu season. A recent study found that maitake mushrooms have a protective effect against the flu virus and reduce cold symptoms, so it’s worth adding a dose of maitake to your wellbeing rituals. 

2. Natural source of vitamin D

Studies have shown that vitamin D plays an important role in our immune systems. That’s why, combined with the fact we are spending a reduced amount of time outside, it’s a good idea to make sure we’re getting a sufficient amount of it. Mushrooms are a great vegan food source of vitamin D. Known as the chestnut tree mushroom, the Shiitake mushroom contains essential amino acids and vitamins B1, B2 and D2. As an edible mushroom, it has been cultivated since ancient times both for culinary and nutritious uses. Vitamin D contributes to the normal function of the immune system and process of cell division

3. Boost energy and help you cope with stress

Certain medicinal mushrooms are traditionally used in many parts of Asia on a daily basis as a mood tonic or ‘adaptogen’. Adaptogens are natural substances that are said to help the body adapt to stress and protect against some of its negative effects, such as fatigue and poor sleep (3) meaning you have more energy too! Maitake and reishi are among the mushrooms said to have adaptogenic qualities.

4. Keep blood sugar balanced 

When blood sugar levels get out of control, this can affect everyday energy as well as increase the risk of other problems such as type 2 diabetes and weight gain. The maitake mushroom has been found in studies to help bring blood sugar down by improving sensitivity to insulin (4,5) – the hormone that triggers cells to take glucose out of the blood. It may also help protect the pancreas, which produces insulin.

5. Keep joints healthy 

Missing out on your morning run due to aching joints can set you back, but inflammation around the joints be a major concern for many people, especially those with arthritis or joint damage. Mushrooms are said to be anti-inflammatory, so could help to ease pain and discomfort (6). Reishi and shiitake mushrooms, in particular,      are helpful here. A randomised, placebo controlled double-blind study      (a robust clinical trial)      found that reishi mushrooms helped to ease pain in people with rheumatoid arthritis over a period of 24 weeks (7). So, mushrooms could help keep you moving and doing the activities you love. 

6. Look after your natural glow 

Lastly and certainly not least of all, studies have found that mushrooms such as shiitake (8) and reishi (9) are rich in youth-boosting antioxidants, such as polyphenols, like those found in fruits and vegetables. But mushrooms actually go one better than most vegetables – in fact, two better. Firstly, because their powerful beta-glucans      – which are also helpful for immunity – can have an antioxidant effect. And, scientific reviews have found that mushrooms are also a great source of the minerals copper and zinc (10), used by our body to make its own powerful antioxidants. All this means that they can have anti-aging      and protective activity for our skin, as well as our heart, brain and liver.

How do I get medicinal mushrooms into my diet?

You may have seen shiitake mushrooms in your local supermarket, but maitake and reishi are not as readily available in food form. For a convenient and effective way to get all the health benefits of these      powerful mushrooms, try a good-quality organic nutritional mushroom supplement combining all three. Pukka’s Mushroom Gold is a blend of organic full-spectrum reishi, shiitake and maitake mushrooms.

This article has been brought to you from Pukka. You can read the original feature by clicking here.

What To Eat When Exercising

Exercise or workouts plays a vital role in our daily energy expenditure and understanding what to eat before exercising, after exercising and how much food to eat is really important to enhance both your workouts and your body composition to meet your overall training and fitness goals.

What is on your “everyday plate”?

Better food choices are established from creating and following simple everyday habits that can lead to an improvement in calorie control, nutrient timings and food selections. Before focusing your attention on pre and post workout meals it is important that your everyday food choices are near optimum. Your everyday meals are what you eat when you are not exercising, these days are known as rest days or for those that do not exercise it is their everyday. The Eat Well guide shows how much of what we eat overall should come from each food group to achieve a healthy, balanced diet.

Eat slowly and stop at 80% full

For the majority of people, the focus is on what they are eating and how they are eating often gets forgotten. Eating slower and stopping when you’re 80% full can improve your workouts and digestion. It is really important to listen to your hunger and appetite cues and focus on how you are eating. Focus should be on ensuring we are sat down when we eat, in other words avoid grabbing foods on the go. Turn off your distractions whether it is the TV, your phone or laptop and pay attention to what you are eating. Aim for about 15-20 minutes per meal, this is because it takes about 20 minutes for our satiety mechanisms to kick in, these are the messages between your brain and your gut to say you are full. Stop when you are 80% full to avoid the feeling and need to unbutton your trousers!

Eat protein dense foods with each meal

It is essential to ensure you are eating adequate amounts of protein per meal (20-30g for women and 40-60g for men). You may have heard or seen people having protein shakes or protein dense foods after they exercise but it is important to look at the protein you are eating throughout the day, not just after you exercise. By eating protein dense foods with each meal, you will stimulate your metabolism, improve your muscle mass and recovery and help to reduce your body fat.  The demands for protein increase when you are exercising regularly and the amounts you need to eat changes depending on the type of exercise you are doing and for how long you do it. This increase occurs because the protein balance during exercise shifts towards muscle break down as opposed to muscle building. It is important to eat protein as soon as possible after exercising as there is an increased demand for protein metabolism for up to 24 hours after exercising.

Carbohydrates for fat loss and maintenance

Carbohydrates are essential for providing energy to fuel exercise. You may have heard of “carb loading”, where individuals consume large amounts of carbohydrates before exercise to provide the body with enough energy for the workout ahead. Energy for workouts comes from a mixture of blood glucose from carbohydrate rich meals eaten before exercise and glycogen stored in the liver and muscles from carbohydrate rich meals eaten days before. It is important to eat carbohydrates before but additionally after exercise which a lot of people can be unaware of. HIT (high intensity training) workouts are extremely popular and it is important to eat carbohydrates immediately after strenuous exercise sessions such as HIT workouts as it will help to build up the glycogen stores that have been depleted during exercise. Additionally, the process of rebuilding and repairing of muscles can be stimulated by eating carbohydrates as the increase in insulin stimulates the uptake of amino acids which are the building blocks of protein.

Eat healthy fats daily

It is important when optimising your health, performance and body composition that you have the correct balance between the different types of fats you consume. It is recommended to have a balance of saturated fats, monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, giving a third of your recommended fat intake to each fat group. After working out, the recommendation to increase your carbohydrates will result in a reduction in fats to balance out.

Examples of meals and snacks for individuals who exercise

Breakfast

• Porridge with milk/milk alternative and fresh fruit
• Muesli (no added sugar) or wholegrain cereal with milk/milk alternative and fresh fruit
• Wholegrain or granary toast with peanut or other nut butter alternatives
• 2 slices of wholemeal toast with scrambled eggs and a grilled tomato
• Greek or natural yoghurt with banana, berries and cereal (e.g. oats)

Lunch

• Baked potato with tuna and salad
• Eggs of choice on wholemeal toast with vegetables
• Chicken and salad sandwich (wholemeal bread or wrap)
• Lentil and vegetable soup with whole wheat roll
• Couscous or quinoa salad with chicken, roasted vegetables and kale

Dinner

• Wholemeal pasta with grilled chicken and vegetables in a tomato-based sauce
• Chilli con carne – lean mince, kidney beans, chopped tomatoes and brown rice
• Salmon with boiled new potatoes and vegetables
• Stir fry – whole wheat noodles, lean meat (chicken, turkey or beef), tofu or prawns and vegetables

Snacks

• Fruit
• Vegetable sticks with hummus
• Fruit yoghurt
• Unsalted nuts / seeds
• Oatcakes with peanut butter

This article is written by Jade Mottley – Fitness & Nutrition Coach for NutriAdvanced. You can read the original article here.

Is vitamin D the secret to staying injury free?

As the UK continues to embrace daily exercise, natural health experts share another key reason to supplement vitamin D.

Article powered by BetterYou.

Over 60 per cent of the adult population is now considered ‘active’, an increase of 1.5 per cent year-on-year, with people admitting to undertaking at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity every week, according to Sport England.

Despite this time of great uncertainly, people are finding fun and creative ways to get moving, with over 60 per cent of adults saying it is more important to be active now, compared to before the coronavirus crisis.

Armed with the knowledge that increasing amounts of Brits are addressing their activity levels and are forming new exercise habits, International High Jump Athlete, Beth Partridge, discusses the impact this can have on our overall health and how a simple vitamin hit may just be the secret to keeping us injury-free. 

“Vitamin D is vital for many processes within the body and may be crucial for recovery and staying injury free. It is important, not only for its role in bone function, but it can also help to reduce the risk of autoimmune and chronic diseases”, explains Beth.

“There are various factors that can impact the amount of vitamin D an individual naturally absorbs from sun exposure and this can be dependent on time spent outdoors and sunscreen use, as well as skin pigmentation and diet.

“Our bodies endure a high state of stress when exercising regularly or at a high-intensity compared to those that do not exercise or those that have a lower volume of training. This, coupled with a higher energy requirement, means that the body can be at an increased risk of injury.

“Due to the nature of the lifestyle, it can be reasonable to suggest that vitamin D may be of greater need to an individual who undertakes a lot of physical exercise”, Beth continues.

“Playing a significant role in muscle structure and function, adequate vitamin D levels can help to reduce the risk of inflammation of the body, impaired muscle function and infectious illnesses, with optimal levels often resulting in improved health markers among those that are highly-active.

“For those that train regularly, a vitamin D deficiency may result in musculoskeletal discomfort, viral tract infections and stress fractures, all of which will have an impact on performance due to the time lost to illness or injury.

“From a dietary perspective, oily fish such as mackerel and salmon, egg yolks and fortified cereals or milk are the best sources to maximise your vitamin D intake. However, it can be difficult to obtain adequate levels from natural sources alone, so supplementing is the best way to ensure good health.

“With research suggesting that vitamin D deficiency can impact immune function, bone health and inflammation, I would recommend supplementing with vitamin D year-round to enhance your ability to exercise and ultimately improve performance. 

“For me, the best way to supplement is using an oral spray. This is the easiest way to ensure you have a consistent and measured daily amount without potentially damaging your skin through excess UVB exposure from sunlight.

“Vitamin D can often be overlooked and many of us are unaware that we may be deficient, so I would advise testing your levels using a simple at-home test kit, as maintaining optimal levels could be crucial when trying to maximise physical activity and training availability all-year-round”, Beth concludes.

BetterYou, the experts in effective vitamin D supplementation, is on a mission to eradicate vitamin D deficiency once and for all. The brand is helping to raise public awareness, encouraging people to test their levels to make sure they are supplementing appropriately.

Natural Support for Joint Health

Picture of runner's legs with sore knee joint, inflamed with red and orange and another picture of a knee joint with red inflammation around the bone

Looking after our joints is not just something for the elderly. Those who do a lot of sport may find their joints hurt with intense or repetitive exercise. For some people it’s the repetitive work related activities which can cause joint pain. There are also specific joint conditions that people suffer with, of which Osteoarthritis is the most common. It is estimated that at least 8 million people in the UK suffer with this form of arthritis, which occurs from wear and tear of the cartilage. The second most common form of arthritis is Rheumatoid Arthritis, which is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of the joint. Another common joint condition is Gout, caused by urate crystals in the joints. So what can we do to support our joints?

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