Many of us rely on our morning cup of coffee to get the day started. The delicious aroma of a warm cup of coffee just sets the tone for the day ahead. What you might not know is that coffee itself, as well as the grounds, are good for so much more.
Cinnamon has a long history and is one of the oldest spices known to humanity. It received honorable mentions in the Bible and was used in ancient Egypt to flavor beverages, as medicine, and as an embalming agent. Some ancient Chinese botanical medicinal writings date its use as far back as 2700 BC.
How do you like your coffee? Maybe a little cream, a little cinnamon, honey, or perhaps a few mushrooms? Maybe I had you at cream, cinnamon, and honey…but lost you at the mushrooms. Believe it or not, fans of mushroom coffee rave about benefits like increased energy, stress reduction, better sleep, and clear thinking. But does it work?
Mushrooms and herbs are known as adaptogens that help the body recover from short and long-term physical and mental stress. Research shows that adaptogens can boost immunity, combat fatigue, improve mental acuity, and reduce anxiety and depression.
What are super mushrooms?
Super mushrooms, or “magic,” non-trippy mushrooms, have been used for thousands of years in Eastern medicine to tackle many ailments and support the immune system. Today, mushrooms are one of the most scientifically studied superfoods. Researchers are finding out mushrooms have incredible health benefits for the brain, immune system, hormones, energy levels, mood, and cognitive function.
These powerful mushrooms are ground up and added to many things such as coffee and tea. Let’s take a closer look at the top adaptogenic mushrooms often included in coffee blends, along with their health benefits.
Reishi is known as the drug-free option for Xanax. Also known as lingzhi, reishi mushrooms are known as the “mushroom of immortality” and have powerful adaptogenic impacts on the body and mind. Reishi is loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. People have been drinking reishi tea for thousands of years to boost immunity and longevity. These immune-boosting fungi contain compounds that promote cells involved in immune system function. Because they have analgesic properties, reishi mushrooms help the body relax and wind down. Research also shows that reishi mushrooms can help you fall asleep faster and sleep better by promoting high-quality, deep, slow-wave sleep. Studies also show that reishi mushrooms can reduce blood sugar in persons with diabetes and reduce excess fat storage.
Chaga mushrooms are best known for their inflammation-busting properties. Packed with antioxidants, these fungi go right to work, fighting inflammation and gobbling up free radicals. Like reishi, Chaga mushrooms help to fuel the immune system. Research shows that these mushrooms can be used to prevent aging of the heart, fight viral infections, and can even possibly be used to treat cancer.
For brainpower, including memory, creativity, clarity, and concentration, lion’s mane mushrooms are a great choice. This fungus stimulates the production of nerve growth factor (NGF), a vital bioprotein in the maintenance, health, and regeneration of brain neurons. Research shows the power of these mushrooms in the prevention of Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s.
Do you currently fuel up on pre-workout stimulants to help you get through your workout? Cordyceps is a natural pre-workout fuel that is not a stimulant but rather an adaptogen that supports the adrenal glass and helps your body stay energized all day long. Also, cordyceps increase cellular oxygen absorption, boost strength and stamina, improve performance during exercise, and hasten recovery from a hard workout. Like other mushrooms, cordyceps is rich in antioxidants and anti-aging properties.
Make mushroom powder
The good news is that you can make nutritious mushroom powder. After dehydrating mushrooms, place them in a food processor or blender. Process into fine powder and store in a clean jar with a lid. If you want extra fine powder, use a mesh strainer to separate any larger mushroom pieces. Place the larger pieces back into the blender or food processor. Add mushroom powder to your favorite soups, smoothies, broth, sauces, gravy, yogurt, and more for a nutritional boost.
Eat mushrooms whole
Adding more whole mushrooms to your diet is an excellent way to reap all of their tremendous benefits. Just be sure always to choose organic. Toss mushrooms into salads, pasta dishes or grill them with other veggies for a delicious summer side dish.
So, whether you enjoy them in a coffee or tea blend, superfood powder, or whole, mushrooms are a spectacular superfood loaded with vitamins and minerals and adaptogenic properties you don’t want to miss.
Here’s to eating more mushrooms,
-Susan Patterson, CBHC and Master Gardener
Think about the foods that most people crave on a daily basis. Things like chips, candy bars, french fries, cookies, and pizza. What do these foods have in common? They are “engineered” foods that have been created by the food industry to have the perfect balance of sweet and salty flavors, and pleasing texture
Now think about the opposite flavors, such as sour and bitter. These are the tastes that make us pucker our lips, pop our eyes wide open and shake our heads. They’re not the flavors we usually seek out to enjoy every day. In fact, many of us have virtually eliminated these flavors from our lives altogether.
This movement toward a “lazy” palate, which prefers easy-to-eat tailored junk over the diverse flavors of real food, is theorized by many experts to be of huge detriment to the human race. The natural foods consumed by our ancestors had a wide variety of flavors that stimulated the tongue and indeed had many different effects throughout the body.
Traditional cultures emphasized the consumption of bitter foods and revered them for their therapeutic properties, while such foods are largely viewed as disagreeable in our society today. Read on to discover some important reasons for incorporating bitter foods into our daily diets, and even using them as natural remedies.
The importance of eating bitter foods
Bitter-tasting foods were a natural part of the human diet until recent years, and this is not without reason. When we taste bitter flavors, many things happen in the brain and body which support good health and fight disease.
The most important benefit of these foods is to stimulate digestion. When a bitter flavor hits the tastebuds, the digestive system begins to produce saliva and enzymes. This is why many societies still consume drinks like aperitifs and digestifs — they really work!
Improving digestion can have numerous benefits, such as boosting energy and revving up your metabolism. You may find that bitter foods help you fight sugar cravings and lose weight, too.
Digesting food more effectively also means that more nutrients are absorbed. While many of us have nutritional deficiencies due to modern foods and medications, we can start to rectify these problems by consuming more nutrient-dense, real foods and improving digestion by working in those bitter flavors.
The liver gets lots of benefits from the consumption of bitter foods, too. The boost in digestion that we get from bitter tastes leads to more bile production in the liver, and thus a more effective detoxification process. Many bitter foods contain sulfur, which is an important nutrient to support liver health.
Individuals with hormonal imbalances may find that consuming bitter foods such as dark chocolate and organic coffee is beneficial to get everything back in check. This, in turn, may result in healthier blood sugar levels, less constipation, and healthier-looking skin.
Incorporating bitter flavors into your diet can even improve unhealthy cholesterol levels and fight inflammation! This could be tied to the traditional Chinese medicine belief that bitter foods help to remove excess heat from the body.
Bitter foods that you should eat on a regular basis
While the best way to consume bitter foods is to forage wild fruits, roots, and vegetables from the natural environment, this isn’t always practical. Here are some options you can easily find in the local supermarket.
- Dandelion greens
- Raw, dark chocolate
- Bitter melon
- Jerusalem artichokes
- Sesame seeds
You can also use a supplemental herbal blend of bitters to stimulate digestion, balance appetite, and encourage detoxification. You can find digestive bitters in health-food stores or online. They typically include herbs such as gentian, cascarilla, cassia, orange peel, and cinchona bark. However, whenever you purchase a supplement, make sure you find a high-quality product from a source you trust.
The more bitter things you taste, the more you will start to crave them as your body readjusts and finds balance in a variety of flavors. Will you try bitters to help ease chronic health issues and discover robust wellness naturally?
-The Backyard Vitality Team