Functional Foods to Fuel Your Health
Emphasizing nutrient dense, functional foods in your diet is the best way to improve health and well-being. Functional foods do just what they say: help your body function at its best. If you’re not emphasizing these high integrity, highly nutritious foods and ingredients, you may be starving your body of the building blocks it needs to not just function, but actually thrive.
We eat for many reasons: we’re hungry, we desire a certain food or we want to cheer ourselves up. But we don’t often think about eating therapeutically. Despite truisms like “you are what you eat,” many people have a disconnect between what they eat and how that food might be affecting their bodies. The heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity epidemics all testify to this disconnect.
Scientists have also been slow to embrace the relationship between food and health, but that is changing. An article in Pharmacognosy Review highlights the new discipline of Functional Food Science: the study of foods that have a positive influence on our bodies.
In the article, researchers from the Department of Pharmacology at the Shri Ram Institute of Technology in India look at the many biological advantages of mushrooms. Specifically, they note how medicinal mushrooms, which have been used for thousands of years, can modulate the immune system, neutralize free radicals and support cellular health.
The paper cites multiple examples of mushrooms’ medicinal properties. For example, Ganoderma lucidum offers an excellent source of potent antioxidants. Lentinus edodes has been shown to exhibit both immune and cellular health properties. Grifola frondosa has also shown powerful cellular health activity. Biomedical research is confirming what many cultures have known for thousands of years: Medicinal mushrooms are valuable sources of numerous health promoting compounds.
A Health Resource
For those seeking to incorporate more functional foods into their diet, specific formulas containing a variety of mushroom species offer an excellent way to supplement the diet. Combining medicinal mushrooms into a synergistic formula can help to maximize mushrooms’ natural immune-supporting qualities and overall health benefits.
In addition to the Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi), Lentinus edodes and Grifola frondosa varieties noted in the study, a number of other scientifically researched mushrooms have long been known for their beneficial properties. Hericium erinaceus, also known as Lion’s Mane or Monkey’s Head, supports healthy digestion. Cordyceps sinensis (caterpillar mushroom) supports internal organs like the liver and kidneys. Tremella fuciformis supports healthy blood sugar balance.*
To get your daily dose of nourishment from beneficial mushrooms, ecoNugenics recommends Ten Mushroom Formula®. This formula contains a precise blend of ten organically grown mushrooms that work synergistically to promote healthy immune function, while supporting additional areas of health in the process.*
Medicinal mushrooms may top the list of powerful functional foods, but they are certainly not alone. Other top-functioning superfoods include:
Cruciferous vegetables, such as bok choy, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, are excellent for your cells and for overall health. In addition to an abundance of diverse phytonutrients and antioxidants, these vegetables contain a compound called brassinin that helps support healthy cell growth. They also contain the precursors of the active compound DIM (diindolylmethane). Studies have shown that DIM supports healthy hormonal balance in part by promoting the excretion of xenoestrogens that we encounter through toxins and pollution.
A number of dark-colored berries, including acai, blackberry, blueberry, black raspberry and others, have been well researched for their powerful health-promoting properties. They are high in antioxidants and other phytonutrient compounds shown to support cellular health, cardiovascular function and immunity, among other important benefits.
Yogurt, sauerkraut and other fermented or cultured foods have been a traditional food staple in many parts of the world. They offer an important source of beneficial bacteria (probiotics) that work to fight harmful pathogens in the intestines and other areas of the body. Beneficial bacteria such as those in the Lactobacillus family and others have also been shown to promote immune health, improve nutrient assimilation, support cellular integrity and even benefit our mental and emotional health.
There are obvious advantages to becoming more mindful of the food we eat, including seeking out organic, locally grown produce. However, in today’s world, sometimes we need to take a more targeted approach to health, and emphasize foods known to provide powerful support for optimal wellness and vitality. These are just a few great examples of what will assuredly become a long list of functional, health-powering foods.