Nature & People: Mushroom – For A Better Health

Mushrooms are truly magical. They are well-known traditional delicacies in many parts of the world and a lot of different varieties are either obtained from their natural habitats in the wild or the farm. They belong to a group of living things called Fungi, division called Eumycota, which means "True Fungi". In fact, mushrooms are regarded as a macro-fungus with a distinctive fruiting body, which can be seen with the naked eyes. Only the fruiting body of the mushroom can be seen and the rest of the mushroom remains underground as mycelium. Mushrooms are classified as vegetables in the food world, but they are technically not plants. All types of edible mushrooms contain varying degrees of protein and fibre. They also contain a variety of vitamin B as well as mineral selenium - a highly powerful antioxidant which boosts the immune system and prevent damage to cells and tissues. Indeed, mushrooms are consumed both for nutrition and medicinal values. Although mushrooms are still harvested from the wild in many communities across the world, the ability to cultivate many different species has greatly improved over the years hence leading to its increased quantity and continuous supply. For centuries, edible mushrooms have been used medicinally to manage cancer, diabetes, reduce inflammation, and in treatment of a number other diseases. It is hard to sum up the health benefits of mushroom nutrition and the perks one gets from regularly eating them. Indeed, many communities believe that regular consumption of mushrooms can decrease obesity and diabetes. The main reason for its use in management of obesity is due to the fact that mushrooms contain two types of dietary fibres in their cell walls, beta-glucans and chitin. These increase satiety and reduce appetite hence making one feel full for a longer time and reducing overall individual calorie intake. Mushrooms are high in antioxidants - which can remove chemicals that can harm the body - just like carrots and green vegetables hence reducing risks of cancer and related conditions. The major mineral here is selenium - a mineral that is not present in most fruits and vegetables but can be found in mushrooms. Mushroom also has vitamin D, which plays a key role in inhibiting cancer cell growth. In addition, studies have showed that mushrooms contain a chemical compound psychedelic, which is very important in reducing anxiety and depression in patients. Vitamin D is also important in that it enables the body to absorb calcium, which is essential for bone growth and development. Mushrooms are known to be excellent food that can lower cholesterol levels in the body. This is due to the fact that it is a good source of chitin and betaglucan fibres, which are fundamental in lowering the body cholesterol hence reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Regular consumption of mushrooms can lower blood pressure, hence decreasing the risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases. This is due to the fact that mushrooms contain high level of potassium and vitamin C in it. The selenium, ergothioneine, and Betaglucan found in mushroom plays a key role in improving the body's immune response to infections by stimulating the production of killer T-cells in the body. Indeed, mushrooms have tremendous medicinal, food, and mineral values hence a valuable asset for human welfare. However, one should avoid eating toxic wild mushrooms, because it can cause severe illness or even death. - Richard Komakech