Wellness

Healing Mushrooms to Add to Your Diet

Photo courtesy of Markus Karjalainen

Healing Mushrooms to Add to Your Diet

Healing Mushrooms to Add to Your Diet

A workout for the immune system is how Tero Isokauppila describes the extraordinary health-promoting benefits of regularly consuming fungi. Isokauppila, founder and president of Four Sigmatic—which makes mushroom powders (dynamite mixed into smoothies), mushroom coffee, and mushroom hot chocolate, to name just a smattering of their prettily packaged, salubrious offerings—grew up in Finland, foraging for mushrooms on his family’s since-the-1600’s farm. He’s contributed to goop as an expert before, helping us understand all of the purported energizing, soporific, immunity-boosting and beautiful-skin-promoting effects possible with shrooming.

In his new cookbook Healing Mushrooms, Isokauppila focuses on the ten mushrooms most important in helping with day-to-day stress management and sustaining health. He works these into 50 easy, sumptuous recipes, the most foolproof of which, he says is the Reishi Chocolate Almonds—scroll down for the recipe. (Note: the cordyceps-infused cocktail, mushroom bacon, lion’s mane latte, and most of the other recipes also require no exceptional chef skills.)

Isokauppila’s other labor of love is the newly opened Shroom Room on Abbot Kinney in Venice, CA, a (mushroom) coffeehouse hangout that serves up an assortment of deliciously inventive beverages like adaptogenic lemonade. Shroom Room has the same mission as Four Sigmatic—to educate people about the spectacular power of mushrooms. “People who take mushrooms daily, especially those who mix it up and take a variety of types—some days a little lion’s mane, another day more cordyceps—seriously benefit as they may see a change in overall well-being,” Isokauppila says. Which is why our copy of Healing Mushrooms is already dog eared. Below, we asked him to say more about the powers of mushrooms, and how to incorporate them into our diets:

A Q&A with Tero Isokauppila

Q

Why should we be eating and taking mushrooms as food and/or supplements?

A

Top functional mushrooms are so-called adaptogenic superfoods—they work toward creating balance in your body. American culture is focused on working, so generally people are sitting for long periods of time each day. People are overworked, tired, they have trouble sleeping, and struggle to get up and to stay awake at work. Studies show that functional mushrooms provide nutrients, promote gut health, support environmental well-being and a balanced immune system to help with all of these challenges.

Q

What types of people need mushrooms? Who benefits most?

A

If you are a human on this planet, you can benefit from mushrooms. They work to promote immunity. People who take mushrooms daily, especially those who mix it up and take a variety of types—seriously benefit, because they may see a change in energy, sleep patterns, their immune system and overall well-being.

“If you are a human on this planet, you can benefit from mushrooms.”

Mushrooms are also an incredible source of calorie-free nutrients. They fit well into a keto diet because they don’t cause a significant spike in blood sugar. Actually, they can even help balance it.

Q

How can we tell the quality of a mushroom or mushroom supplement?

A

It’s important to find out where your supplements are sourced, how they are processed, and how they are packaged. All of these factors can make a difference in the quality, and how much of the actual mushrooms you are really actually getting. Log-grown mushrooms are more potent than sawdust-grown commercially. Shiitakes are commonly grown in sawdust or grain—so this is a reason to do your research. If your vendor does not cite where the mushroom was grown, it was most likely grown in sawdust or grain. Since mushrooms tend to grow on logs and stumps in nature, you can be sure they’re filled with nutrients if they’re log-grown.

You also want to look for the amount (in micrograms) of bioactive ingredients like beta-glucans, terpenoids, and triterpenes, which are indicators of therapeutic potential. I recommend using 500-1,500mg of extracted powders per serving, one to three times a day.

Make sure your supplement is pure. We include no starch, sugars, or any fillers. Our products are concentrated extracts that we spray-dry into powders, which is different than other powders that may include fillers. We also use herbs like organic eleuthero, organic rose hips, and organic mint.

Q

Is it better to eat the actual mushroom, or is the powder better because of its concentration?

A

A healthy mix of both is ideal. Fresh, whole foods are excellent for us. If you’re eating fresh mushrooms, prepare them with heat and lipids to reap the most benefits.

The thing is, most people aren’t out foraging on the weekends. That’s where elixirs and powders come in. At Four Sigmatic, we make our elixirs with concentrated, pulverized mushrooms. We only use the fruiting bodies.

Q

Mushrooms are decomposers in their natural habitat–does this ability come into play when we ingest mushrooms?

A

Mushrooms are incredible for your microbiome. We are hearing a lot about prebiotics and probiotics now; mushrooms can help the gut to create more healthy bacteria.

Q

Can you mix all powdered mushrooms into cooked food without losing their potency? What’s the best food to mix them with (besides coffee) that mask or complement the bitter flavor?

A

Absolutely. My favorite way to take the powders other than with coffee, is to toss them into smoothies made with frozen fruit or some spinach or kale, and a sachet or two of Four Sigmatic cordyceps and lion’s mane. In Healing Mushrooms, there are recipes for everything from mushroom bacon and mushroom pancakes to cocktails like Cordysex on the Beach. Don’t be afraid to be creative with mushrooms!

Q

How did you decide to focus on the mushrooms you hone in on in your cookbook?

A

My top ten are: reishi, chaga, cordyceps, lion’s mane, shiitake, maitake, turkey tail, enoki, oyster, and tremella. I wanted to make sure I only included mushrooms that have been studied and are easily accessible at farmers’ markets or at least in online shops.

“You don’t need to be able to afford a foraging trip to Siberia, Japan, or Finland in order to get shrooms into your life right away.”

We wanted to provide a mix of mushrooms, so even if you know something about mushrooms, you’ll still learn more from the book, and if there are mushrooms you don’t know about, they’re ones that are available online or in stores, so you can get excited about a recipe and not be disappointed that you can’t find them anywhere. You don’t need to be able to afford a foraging trip to Siberia, Japan, or Finland in order to get shrooms into your life right away.

Q

What is the easiest recipe in your book?

A

I wrote this cookbook for the average person to be able to make everything inside it, but the easiest recipe besides the teas and coffees is probably the Reishi Chocolate Almonds. Only a few ingredients:

Tero Isokauppila is the president and founder of Four Sigmatic—a natural superfoods company that produces an impressive range of responsibly sourced mushroom powder supplements. He’s also the author of Healing Mushrooms: A Practical and Culinary Guide to Using Mushrooms for Whole Body Health. In his native Finland, Isokauppila grew up on his family’s centuries-old farm regularly foraging for mushrooms. He holds a degree in both chemistry and plant-based nutrition from Cornell University and was awarded a Finnish innovation award for discovering that the Japanese matsutake mushroom also grows in Finland. Isokauppila currently lives in California—where he is owner/founder of The Shroom Room in Venice: a café that makes delicious, beautifully crafted, mushroom-based edibles.

The views expressed in this article intend to highlight alternative studies. They are the views of the expert and do not necessarily represent the views of goop. This article is for informational purposes only, even if and to the extent that it features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.

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