While we are generally living longer today, people are spending a large part of their lives coping with sickness rather than enjoying good health. Chronic disease is the leading cause of this sickness in the West, and it’s time to shed light on the root of it: our environment.
Environmental toxicity comes from the accumulation of man-made chemicals, pollution and heavy metals from food, air, water, and household products. While we can certainly reduce our exposure to these chemicals, we can’t avoid them all. After all, they are the byproducts of our modern lifestyle.
The good news is that our body has the power to remove these chemicals naturally. But with the growing amount of chemicals we are exposed to today, our removal systems can get overloaded and become sluggish, making it harder for us to detoxify.
What we need is a combination of lifestyle strategies to both deal with the ones currently wreaking havoc on our precious bodies, and lower our exposure to future toxins.
To assist our systems in flushing toxins out, it’s helpful to how these man-made chemicals manifest in the body. Depending on the toxin, our body can react in several ways. We may experience chronic headaches, pain, allergies, skin irritations, hormone imbalances, brain fog, obesity, diabetes, or even cancer.
We can look to these states as endpoints, meaning they happen after repeated exposure to a toxin over the course of weeks, months, or years. And while it may make sense to address toxicity by treating the chronic symptom or disease endpoint, another approach is to identify the root cause and early indicators of toxicity, which in the majority of cases is associated with inflammation.
While the way in which inflammation impacts the body is clearly unique to each and every one of us, if we address the body’s inflammatory response head on, we may be able offer therapeutic relief in a more sustainable way.
First, what is inflammation?
Put simply, inflammation is the immune system’s response to a foreign object or invader---be it a virus, bacteria, or chemical irritant. The immune system goes into defense mode to protect us from harm using our white blood cells as the weapon.
When inflammation is continuous or chronic, such as what happens after repeated chemical exposure to the body, the immune system keeps fighting indefinitely. Since the body thinks it’s under constant attack, it keeps it defenses up. Unfortunately, healthy cells near the site of attack might also get injured during the fight. The result is a cascade of events that are damaging to our inner world.
While on the outside, we may only notice what we consider to be mild symptoms and shrug those off as part of life’s daily stressors or just ‘getting old.’ When we’ve been diagnosed with a chronic disease, there’s a good chance we’ve already been living with chronic inflammation for quite some time—maybe even a lifetime.
So what can we do?
If we know chronic inflammation is bound to happen, thanks to our modern lifestyle, then we would all benefit from designing our lives to be anti-inflammatory. One of the easiest ways to do that is to consume foods that promote a healing, anti-inflammatory response in the body, while also doing our best to reduce exposure to toxins in our homes and lives.
When we consume food as medicine that reduces inflammation, supercharges our immune system and keeps the bad guys at bay, we get a chance at living a long life and actually enjoying it in the process.
The best foods to consume are the ones that
1) are easy to consume;
2) have several beneficial properties, and
3) are good for the planet, our shared body.
Medicinal mushrooms fall into this category perfectly. It’s no wonder they’re considered ancient superfoods in several traditions across the world. The good news is they’re here to stay, and science is starting to catch up with the ancient wisdom of mushrooms that’s been known and celebrated for thousands of years.
Medicinal mushrooms can not only reduce inflammation, but they are known to regulate the immune system, deliver high amounts of antioxidants to the body, improve the functioning of our metabolic hormones, and boost brain health.
They are also an abundant source of vitamins and minerals, including potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, vitamins B12, B1, C, D and E. Finally, they are rich in essential amino acids, including leucine, valine and glutamine, and high in fiber, which is fuel for our healthy bacteria.
What’s more, mushrooms can release enzymes and acids that naturally decompose organic waste and turn it into nutritious fertilizer, as well as heal soil that’s been damaged through chemical agricultural processes. This makes them not only a body detoxifier, but also a planetary detoxifier, helping to remove carbon from the atmosphere and put it back into the earth.
Given these life-changing properties of medicinal mushrooms, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t all be consuming them. As you embark on your medicinal mushroom superfood journey, be mindful of the source, manufacturing process, and packaging, to ensure you’re delivering the highest quality form of this medicinal superfood into your precious body.