Mushrooms have been recognized as a superfood for years. They’re jam-packed with nutrients and make an excellent addition to virtually any dish.
But did you know that certain ‘shrooms can help you cut through brain fog, power through a killer workout, and strengthen your immune system?
Don’t worry…we aren’t talking about the psychedelic kind!
We’re talking about adaptogenic mushrooms that help your body adapt to physical and mental stress.
In this article, we’ll discuss how adaptogenic mushrooms improve training and enhance your overall well-being.
- All mushrooms are not created equal. Adaptogenic mushrooms have specific qualities that help the body combat mental and physical stress.
- Adaptogenic mushrooms can help you train longer and recover faster by improving oxygen utilization, increasing ATP and energy production, and strengthening the immune system.
- The best adaptogenic mushrooms for training are: chaga, reishi, cordyceps, king trumpet, maitake, reishi, shiitake, and turkey tail. Choose a powder or capsule that contains a blend of several mushrooms for maximum training benefits.
WHAT ARE ADAPTOGENIC MUSHROOMS?
Although the term itself is relatively new, adaptogens have been used for centuries in Ayurvedic and Chinese herbal medicine to offer health benefits and improve overall well-being.
Adaptogens are edible plants, herbs, mushrooms, or other substances that help our bodies maintain balance and manage stress.
Basically, they help us adapt and bounce back from being stressed or fatigued. This can be stress from exercise, an illness, or even from worrying about your job, finances, or relationships.
Although we need more research, the theory is that adaptogenic mushrooms work by influencing the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which plays an essential role in the body’s response to stress.
FUNCTIONAL, MEDICINAL, AND ADAPTOGENIC MUSHROOMS: ARE THEY THE SAME?
Functional mushrooms, medicinal mushrooms, adaptogenic mushrooms — what the heck?
Are they all the same thing?
Nope… not quite!
Here’s a quick rundown on the three main categories of ‘shrooms and how they differ.
Functional mushrooms: A broader term to describe fungi with health benefits that extend past the nutritional composition found in mushrooms that we often cook with. There are two types of functional mushrooms — medicinal and adaptogenic.
Medicinal mushrooms: Mushrooms that contain antioxidants and certain bioactive compounds known to protect against cell damage, reduce inflammation, and kill harmful cells.
Adaptogenic mushrooms: Refers to specific types of functional mushrooms that work to optimize the body’s stress response system.
To be classified as an adaptogen, an herb or mushroom must meet three criteria:
- It must be safe and non-toxic at normal doses
- It must support the whole body’s ability to respond to mental and physical stress
- It should be able to bring your body back to homeostasis (calm and balanced)
HOW MUSHROOMS IMPROVE TRAINING
If you’re looking to boost your performance in the gym, adaptogenic mushrooms may be just the tool you need.
According to research, adaptogenic mushrooms can:
- Improve Oxygen Utilization
- Improve Mental Functions
- Increase ATP Production
- Strengthen the Immune System
MUSHROOMS FOR OXYGEN UTILIZATION
Adaptogenic mushrooms can help you train longer and improve tolerance to high-intensity exercise by enhancing oxygen utilization, or how well your body takes in and uses oxygen.
After three weeks of consistent use, the study found that the participants’ VO2max had increased by 11%, compared to the placebo.
VO2max is the “gold standard” measure of aerobic fitness. It measures how much oxygen your body is able to consume during maximum effort. The higher your VO2max, the more oxygen your body is able to use – and the better your physical fitness is.
Researchers concluded that acute supplementation of an adaptogenic mushroom blend could improve performance by increasing training intensity and delaying fatigue.
MUSHROOMS FOR MENTAL FUNCTIONS
It is believed that adaptogens work on the central nervous system to naturally aid in stress management.
Cortisol is the primary stress hormone in our body. Chronically elevated cortisol levels can be detrimental to our health and lead to fatigue and anxiety.
One study also found lion’s mane to be effective at improving mild cognitive impairment in older adults.
MUSHROOMS FOR ATP AND ENERGY PRODUCTION
Adenosine triphosphate (aka ATP) is a molecule that stores and transfers energy. It is the primary energy source used to fuel muscle contractions.
If you begin your workout feeling great but feel tapped out not long after, it may be because you are burning more ATP than you’re making.
Cordyceps, in particular, stimulates mitochondrial ATP generation to help fight fatigue.
MUSHROOMS FOR THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
A healthy immune function is crucial to protect you against harmful invaders that can make you ill.
The review found that fungal beta-glucan supplementation can:
- Reduce the incidence and symptoms of cold, flu, and other respiratory infections
- Improve allergy symptoms
Researchers also suggest fungal beta-glucan may benefit breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.
Additionally, studies suggest that adaptogenic mushrooms improve immune function by binding to receptors that stimulate our B-cells, T-cells, macrophages, and natural killer cells.
Turkey tail specifically has been shown to enhance the recovery rate in cancer patients, particularly those with breast cancer, gastric cancer, and colorectal cancer.
THE BEST ADAPTOGENS FOR TRAINING
In addition to combating stress, each species has slightly different medicinal benefits that can help improve your exercise performance.
Let’s explore eight of the best healing mushrooms for training and how each one can benefit you.
CHAGA: Chaga is chock-full of antioxidants that can scavenge free radicals and fight long-term inflammation and viral infections. It can also support a healthy immune system, lower blood sugar, and aid in cancer prevention.
CORDYCEPS: Cordyceps increase ATP levels, improve oxygen utilization, and support your VO2 Max to help your body produce and maintain consistent energy levels. It also aids in boosting mental clarity, reducing blood pressure, and lowering cholesterol.
LION'S MANE: Lion’s Mane supports healthy cognitive function and overall brain function. It improves mental clarity and memory, increases concentration, boosts creativity, and enhances energy levels.
MAITAKE: Maitake strengthens cognitive systems by improving focus, memory, and mood. It also reduces inflammation and boosts the immune system.
REISHI: Reishi mushroom is known as the “mushroom of immortality.” It supports a healthy immune system, can reduce excess fat storage, and lower blood sugar in those with diabetes. What’s more, reishi mushrooms may help with high-altitude training by increasing the number of red blood cells produced, which can increase oxygen levels and overall endurance.
TURKEY TAIL: Turkey tail is known for its amazing health benefits and ability to boost the immune system. It also has gut-healing benefits and can promote smoother digestion.
By consuming adaptogenic mushrooms such as cordyceps, chaga, shiitake, and lion's mane, you are training your body to handle stress more efficiently. This includes physical, emotional, and environmental stress.
Each mushroom species has distinct qualities that can benefit your training in different ways.
To get maximum benefits and utilize these potent ‘shrooms to train harder and recover faster, choose a powder or capsule that contains a blend of several different mushrooms.
Our Shrooms is a diverse adaptogen blend that helps to support cognitive functions, boost mental clarity and focus, improve oxygen utilization, and support a healthy immune system.