By Richard Gray

Fungi for Your Belly: The Best Medicinal Mushrooms for Gut Health

Are you looking for a natural and effective way to improve your gut health?

Look no further than the fascinating world of fungi!

Medicinal mushrooms have been used for centuries in traditional medicine to promote digestive health and overall wellness.

From the mighty Agaricus Blazei to the versatile Reishi, these mushrooms are packed with beneficial compounds that can help support your gut microbiome and boost your immune system.

Let’s explore the best medicinal mushrooms for gut health and discover how these incredible fungi can help keep your belly happy and healthy.

What Is Your Gut Microbiome?

The gut microbiome is a complex community of microorganisms that reside in the digestive tract of humans and animals.

This community includes bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other microbes that work together to help digest food, produce essential nutrients, and support immune function.

In fact, the gut microbiome contains trillions of microorganisms, which can weigh up to 2 kilograms!

One of the primary functions of the gut microbiome is to break down and digest food that we cannot process on our own.

For example, humans lack the enzymes needed to break down certain types of fiber, but bacteria in the gut microbiome have the necessary enzymes to do so. These bacteria break down the fiber into short-chain fatty acids, which can then be used as an energy source by the body.

In addition to aiding digestion, the gut microbiome plays a critical role in immune function.

The gut is home to about 70% of our immune system, which means that the microbes in our gut are in constant communication with our immune cells. Certain strains of bacteria in the gut can help to stimulate the production of immune cells and antibodies, which can help protect against infections and diseases.

Another important function of the gut microbiome is to act as a barrier between the inside of the gut and the rest of the body.

The microbes in the gut help to prevent harmful bacteria and toxins from crossing the gut wall and entering the bloodstream. This is critical because a "leaky gut" can lead to inflammation, immune dysfunction, and a host of other health issues.

Why is Gut Health So Important for Our Overall Health and Well-being?

Gut health is crucial for our overall health and well-being because it affects various bodily functions and systems. The gut microbiome plays a critical role in digestion, absorption of nutrients, and the production of essential vitamins and enzymes that support overall health.

The gut microbiome also plays a vital role in the immune system. It helps to protect the body against harmful pathogens and regulates inflammation in the gut.

Research indicates that maintaining a healthy population of bacteria in the gut can assist in disease prevention and bolster the immune system.

Studies have shown that imbalances in the gut microbiome can lead to chronic inflammation, which has been linked to numerous health issues such as autoimmune disorders and allergies.

Additionally, the gut microbiome communicates with the brain through the gut-brain axis, influencing mood, behavior, and cognitive function.

An unhealthy gut microbiome has been linked to anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders.

Furthermore, the gut microbiome affects our metabolism, blood sugar regulation, and even weight management.

Studies have shown that individuals with a healthy gut microbiome are less likely to experience obesity and metabolic disorders.

What Factors Affect The Health Of Our Gut?

The health of our gut is affected by various factors, including our diet, lifestyle, and environment. Here are some of the most significant factors that can impact our gut health:

  1. Diet: What we eat can have a significant impact on the health of our gut. Consuming a diet high in processed foods, sugar, and unhealthy fats can lead to an overgrowth of harmful bacteria and inflammation in the gut. On the other hand, eating a diet rich in whole, nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats can promote a diverse microbiome and overall gut health.
  2. Lifestyle: Our lifestyle habits can also play a role in gut health. Lack of sleep, chronic stress, and sedentary behavior can all negatively impact the microbiome and contribute to inflammation in the gut.
  3. Antibiotic use: Antibiotics are known to kill both good and bad bacteria in the gut, disrupting the delicate balance of the microbiome. While antibiotics are often necessary to treat bacterial infections, overuse or misuse of antibiotics can lead to long-term gut health issues.
  4. Environmental factors: Environmental toxins and pollutants can also impact gut health. Exposure to chemicals such as pesticides, heavy metals, and air pollution has been linked to gut dysbiosis and inflammation.
  5. Genetics: While the role of genetics in gut health is still being studied, research has shown that certain genetic factors can impact the composition of the microbiome and increase the risk of gut-related conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

What Are The Signs Of An Unhealthy Gut?

An unhealthy gut can manifest in various ways, affecting not only your digestion but also your overall well-being.

Here are some common signs that may indicate an unhealthy gut:

  1. Digestive issues: These include frequent bloating, gas, constipation, or diarrhea. If you frequently experience these symptoms, it could be a sign of an imbalanced gut microbiome.
  2. Food intolerances: An unhealthy gut can lead to food intolerances or sensitivities, which can cause discomfort and inflammation in the body. If you notice that certain foods trigger symptoms like bloating, headaches, or fatigue, it's worth investigating further.
  3. Skin problems: Your skin is a reflection of your gut health. Skin issues like acne, eczema, or rosacea may be a sign of inflammation in the gut.
  4. Weakened immune system: The gut plays a crucial role in immune function, and an imbalanced gut microbiome can weaken your immune system, leaving you more susceptible to infections and illnesses.
  5. Mood and mental health issues: The gut and brain are connected through the gut-brain axis, and an unhealthy gut can impact your mood and mental health. Symptoms like anxiety, depression, or brain fog may be linked to gut health.

If you experience any of these symptoms, it's important to address them and seek professional advice if necessary.

Best Medicinal Mushrooms To Boost Gut Health

Functional mushrooms have been used for centuries worldwide due to their adaptogenic and medical healing properties.

The bioactive compounds in mushrooms have been found to alter gut microbiota to promote better function and overall gut health and wellness.

They have been known to boost immune function, improve brain function, reduce inflammation, and promote gut health.

In this section, we will discuss the best medicinal mushrooms that can boost gut health.

1. Agaricus Blazei Mushroom

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Agaricus Blazei Mushroom, also known as Himematsutake or Royal Sun Agaricus, is a medicinal mushroom native to Brazil. It has been used for centuries in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments (like the immune system), including digestive issues.

Studies have shown that Agaricus Blazei Mushroom has potent prebiotic effects, meaning it promotes the growth and activity of beneficial gut bacteria.

Additionally, Agaricus Blazei Mushroom has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties that can help to reduce inflammation in the gut. Chronic inflammation in the gut can lead to a host of digestive issues, including inflammatory bowel disease and leaky gut syndrome.


2. Reishi Mushrooms

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The Reishi mushroom, also known as Ganoderma lucidum, is a popular medicinal mushroom in traditional Chinese medicine.

It has been shown to improve gut health by increasing the number of beneficial gut bacteria and reducing inflammation in the gut.

David Ojcius, a microbiologist at the University of the Pacific School of Dentistry in San Francisco who participated in a study, said

“Mice kept on a high-fat diet gained up to 25 percent more than mice kept on the same diet with extracts from the Reishi mushroom.”

Consumption of Reishi mushroom extract with high-fat food prevented the development of fat tissue, gut inflammation, and buildup of harmful bacteria in the bloodstream — all symptoms of obesity in both mice and humans.

Ojcius and colleagues in Taiwan treated mice kept on a high-fat diet with various compounds from Reishi mushrooms, called polysaccharides, to see which ingredient played the biggest role.

“The ratio of two different types of gut bacteria, firmicutes, and bacteroidetes, can indicate gut health”, Ojcius said.

In this case, a subset of the polysaccharides from the Reishi mushroom altered the bacterial ratio in favor of a healthier gut.

“The findings in this study suggest that Reishi can promote stomach health in people already experiencing symptoms of obesity”, Ojcius said.

3. Chaga Mushroom

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Chaga Mushroom, or Inonotus obliquus, is a mushroom that grows on birch trees in cold regions of the world. It is known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Chaga contains both special polysaccharides and chemicals called phenols which have an antioxidant effect.

As well as offering myriad potential healing properties, chaga can also help you build a healthy gut microbiome.

A study in mice found that chaga polysaccharides caused changes to the bacteria living in the gut. These changes gave them a healthier microbiome profile overall.

Another study revealed a similar microbiome-improving effect in mice with chronic pancreatitis.

4. Lion's Mane Mushrooms

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Lion's Mane Mushroom, or Hericium erinaceus, is a mushroom that looks like a white fluffy lion's mane.

It is known for its ability to improve brain health and has also been shown to have gut health benefits.

Monique Richard is a registered dietitian-nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

According to Richard, “Properties of lion's mane have been shown to support the digestive tract. In particular, lion’s mane may help prevent ulcers by stopping the growth of Helicobacter pylori, a bacteria that can have negative effects on gut lining”

The authors of a study published in 2019 in the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms gave lion’s mane extract to a group of mice with H. pylori. Those that were treated with lion’s mane had lower levels of H. pylori in their stomachs than mice that didn’t receive the extract.

A test-tube study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology also revealed that lion’s mane inhibited the growth of H. pylori

While these results may appear promising, human research is needed to substantiate this benefit. 

Richard also pointed out that “Lion’s mane may also protect the intestines from inflammation and inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease”

5. Turkey Tail Mushrooms

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Turkey Tail Mushroom, or Trametes versicolor, is a mushroom that looks like a turkey tail.

Turkey tail mushroom has shown potential in promoting a harmonious balance of gut bacteria, leading to improved overall health.

One study found that PSP from turkey tail has prebiotic abilities and helps the gut regulate its balance of bacteria. Prebiotics are a type of fiber that acts as a food source for healthy bacteria in the gut.

In addition, other evidence indicates that PSP regulates the gut microbiome by balancing levels of healthy bacteria in the intestines.

6. Maitake Mushrooms

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The Japanese term for "dancing mushroom" is "Maitake."

According to legend, people who discovered this mushroom in the wild were so delighted with its incredible healing properties that they danced with joy, hence the name "dancing mushroom."

Maitake, like other mushrooms, contains plenty of prebiotic fiber. Its polysaccharides support microbial diversity in the intestines, enabling the growth of beneficial bacteria and promoting a healthy gut flora.

Agaricus Blazei Mushroom Supplements for Gut Health

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Agaricus Blazei contains beta-glucans, which are believed to support the immune system and improve gut health.

One of the best ways to incorporate Agaricus Blazei into your diet is through supplements. NutriMyco offers high-quality Agaricus Blazei supplements that can be easily added to your daily routine.

The BRAZIL MUSHROOM EXTRACT POWDER and BRAZIL MUSHROOM EXTRACT are made from organic Agaricus Blazei mushrooms grown in Brazil.

NutriMyco's BRAZIL MUSHROOM EXTRACT POWDER is a convenient way to incorporate Agaricus Blazei into your diet. It can be added to smoothies, coffee, or other beverages for a boost of gut-supporting nutrients. The powder is made using a dual-extraction process, which ensures maximum potency and bioavailability of the mushroom's beneficial compounds.

Incorporating Agaricus Blazei supplements into your daily routine can help support your gut health and overall well-being.

NutriMyco's high-quality supplements ensure that you are getting the maximum benefit from this incredible medicinal mushroom.