The hidden nutritional power of mushrooms

December 24, 2018

When Jefferson Airplane sang “White Rabbit,” they were musing over the power of some fungi to make gut changes in your consciousness: “When the men on the chessboard get up and tell you where to go, and you’ve just had some kind of mushroom and your mind is moving low, go ask Alice, I think she’ll know.”

But while psilocybin mushrooms can turn your mind to mush, white button mushrooms turn out to have transformative powers that are positive and far-reaching. Researchers from Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences have discovered that these most common of edible fungi (they’re not as exotic as shiitake, cremini, portobello, oyster, chanterelles or reishi) are powerful prebiotics that can help prevent runaway blood sugar levels.

The way they do that, explained in a study published in the Journal of Functional Foods, is as circuitous as Alice’s journey through Wonderland.

Seems the ’shrooms are gobbled up and fermented by good-for-you gut bacteria in the large intestine, goosing them to produce more shortchain fatty acids.

These heart-loving, inflammation-dampening SCFAs are then able to change genes (that’s epigenetics in action) along a gut-brain pathway, so production of glucose is more effectively managed.

All it took was about 3 ounces (one serving) a day to get that benefit.

So enjoy: Slice and saute them with spinach and garlic, put them into soups and stews and broil them with fish or skinless chicken.

And for more info on other types of mushrooms’ benefits, check out: “Anti-inflammatory Diet Tip: Mushrooms” on Sharecare.com.

Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer and chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.

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