eLanka | Sri Lankans Need to Eat More Mushrooms-by Dr. Harold Gunatillake


Harold Gunatillake

Shiitake mushroom (lentinula edodes)

Can mushrooms improve immunity, reduce heart disease, and even fight and reverse cancer, as believed?

There are people in sri Lanka still believing that most edible mushrooms sold in the markets, could be poisonous and hesitate purchasing. Yes, there are thousands of varieties of mushroom, naturally found and grown, and most of them are poisonous. Today, there are popular varieties of farm grown mushrooms available in the markets, and they are guaranteed to be safe for consumers. No cases of poisoning or death have been reported in sri Lanka in the recent past, to our knowledge. Mushrooms are not vegetables though available in the vegetable markets, they belong to the fungi kingdom, like penicillin discovered from the fungus penicillium notatum.

Mushrooms have no attractive colours like the many colourful varieties of vegetables containing the most vitamins and minerals, but though commonly white in colour prove containing important nutrients, specifically focussed on boosting your immune system.

Mushrooms are low calorie, virtually have no fat, and they decrease the risk of obesity and benefits heart health. They have hardly any soluble sugar and forms worthy nutritious food for diabetics. Also, when eaten, you get a filling of fullness and may curb your appetite.
They are good for your complexion and hair.

Antioxidants and vitamins
Mushrooms are packed with antioxidants helping in your immune system and body health.

It has riboflavin (vit b2), vitamin b, including plenty of vitamin b12 same as found in animal foods, niacin, pantothenic acid and mineral selenium and copper.Vegans must eat plenty of mushrooms to supply their vitamin b12 needs.
Mushrooms also have vitamin d, the only non-animal food containing this ‘sunshine vitamin’.
Red reishi mushrooms (Ganoderma lucidum)

Red reishi mushroom has been used traditionally for centuries by ancient cultures for boosting immunity against diseases and for their other health benefits. In china red reishi is called lingzhi. It is a large mushroom and has been used in daily hospital diets to build up immunity among cancer inpatients. It is also believed that this mushroom keeps the liver and brain healthy. It is considered an antiinflammatory food and used mainly to cool the body and boost the immune system.
It is believed to support mood, anxiety states and depression.

Anti-cancer properties

Mushrooms have anti-cancer properties, supposed to inhibit growth of cancer cells. Folate in mushrooms plays an important role in DNA synthesis preventing the formation of cancer cells.
Wild poisonous mushroom in china forests were found to carry compounds helping to kill cancer cells, according to a study published in the journal cancer research A compound called verticillin a, found in these mushrooms, according to immunologist dr kebin liu, in Georgia health science university cancer centre, is found to have cancer sensitive properties, to “self-destruct” cancer cells.
Magic mushroom

Eating this mushroom is supposed to cause hallucinations, as it contains a chemical called psilocybin
Clinical trials have shown that this may help ease the pain of feeling rejected among once socially active individuals. Hallucinogenic psilocybin seems to help these people to become socially active again.
Psilocybin is supposed to work to reduce feelings of social rejection by stimulating brain receptors for serotonin a brain chemical, referred to as the ‘feel good hormone’ commonly present in bananas and other fruits. Those who take this mushroom experience a feeling and a sense of oneness with the universe and with others, a feeling of transcending time, space, and other limitations, coupled with a sense of
holiness and sacredness.
Shiitake mushroom (lentinula edodes)

This is the most popular mushroom consumed by the Japanese. In most hospitals’ shiitake mushroom is included in their daily diet.

Shii in Japanese refers to the tree on which this mushroom grows and ‘take’ is the word used for mushrooms. Japanese venerate this mushroom and has been traditionally eaten for centuries for its health benefits. In the us this mushroom is grown in the forest farming in hardwood logs.
Common button mushroom (agaricus bisporous)

This is a common ‘non-exotic’ cheap mushroom available in sri Lankan in the marketplace, for the consumption of the average person. For the exotic ones, you need to patronise the Colombo super-markets where foreigners visit.
In America 900 million pounds of mushrooms consumed are mostly this cheap variety, which includes regular white mushrooms (button, closed, open cup and large flat) and the brown varieties crimini and portobello.
These cheap mushrooms have been eaten by the humans since the times of the early hunter gatherers.
Ancient Egyptians believed that these mushrooms could grant immortality and only the pharaohs ate them, and the commoners were not allowed to touch them. It was then referred to as the ‘food for the gods.
Today, these mushrooms are attracting the attention of the rich and the poor in most countries, mainly due to medicinal properties. Jane Clarke nutritionist in a recent report considers mushrooms as superfoods and summarises major scientific studies from around the world that highlights the extraordinary nutritional values and their health benefits.
Eating mushrooms of any kind will enhance your immune system, reduce inflammation, and that would be our conclusions.
So why wait, after reading this article you will visit the closest market shop and buy adequate mushrooms, to add into frying foods, soups, omelettes, you name it.
Hope you enjoyed reading this article.

About the author: Dr Gunatillake-Health editor is a member of the Academy of Medicine, Singapore. Member of the Australian Association of Cosmetic Surgery. Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (UK), Corresponding Fellow of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, Member of the International Societies of Cosmetic surgery, Fellow of the International College of Surgery (US), Australian diplomat for the International Society of Plastic, Aesthetic & Reconstructive Surgery, Board member of the International Society of Aesthetic Surgery, Member of the American Academy of Aesthetic & Restorative Surgery, Life Member of the College of Surgeons, Sri Lanka, Batchelor of Medicine & Surgery (Cey). Government scholar to UK for higher studies and training




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