From coffee to chocolate, skincare to makeup, mushrooms are making their way into pretty much everything. Why? Because they do, well, pretty much everything. Used for centuries in Eastern medicine and skincare, they’re now becoming more and more mainstream in the health and beauty world.
Packed with antioxidants, mushrooms help protect skin against environmental aggressors and free radicals, which in turn helps with signs of aging and visible damage. A natural anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial, they can help heal and calm stressed skin. They also boost blood circulation to restore your gorgeous, natural glow – even Charlotte Tilbury has added mushroom extracts to her best-selling foundation to tighten and firm.
To find out why we should be using fungi on our faces and in our diets, Savoir Flair spoke to Dr. Andrew Weil, a Harvard University-trained pioneer of integrative medicine who has created a best-selling range for Origins that harnesses the power of the mighty mushroom. Read on to find out more and shop the best mushroom-packed products to leave you looking as fly as a fun(gi). Sorry.
Which types of mushrooms should we include in our diets?
The more common button mushrooms offer little in the way of improving health, and are best to be avoided. I recommend incorporating the mushrooms eaten in Asia – shiitake, maitake, oyster mushrooms, and enoki – into your daily diet for their range of health benefits:
– The shiitake mushroom is a personal favorite. It enhances immunity and reduces the risk of several types of cancer.
– Maitake contains complex sugars called beta-glucans that have immune-enhancing effects.
– Oyster mushrooms contain compounds that can help address high cholesterol.
Mushrooms that are called “noble mushrooms” are used strictly in traditional medicinal preparations:
– Cordyceps mushrooms, which are found in the Origins ‘Mega-Mushroom’ collection, are used to increase aerobic capacity and support lung function.
– Reishi, also found in the collection, helps fight cancer.
– Lion’s Mane contains a nerve-growth compound that has potential for treating nerve disorders.
Should we be eating them daily?
I recommend eating mushrooms frequently, if possible. Personally, I travel very often and am in contact with many people, both of which can decrease my immunity, so mushrooms are a mainstay of my diet. They help support my immune system.
How do you include them regularly in your diet?
In Asian traditions, mushrooms are regarded as both food and medicine because they can support the body’s natural defenses by enhancing the immune system. I cook with mushrooms, and I also take extracts of mushrooms in liquid or capsule form. Because mushrooms have very tough cell walls, they are essentially indigestible if you do not cook them.
Thoroughly heating them releases their well of nutrients, including protein, B vitamins, and minerals, as well as a wide range of novel compounds not found in other foods. There are other reasons to cook your mushrooms; raw versions contain small amounts of toxins, including some compounds that are considered carcinogens. These are destroyed by cooking them thoroughly – broiling or grilling is best.
Are people overly suspicious about mushrooms – i.e. are we a bit too conservative about which types we eat?
People from all over the world use mushrooms in different ways, and I’ve found that the English-speaking world is just starting to discover their well of benefits. In Asian countries such as Japan, China, and Korea, mushrooms have long been valued as both food and medicine.
Are there many mushroom varieties that are dangerous?
Most mushrooms are not harmful and many have significant healthcare benefits. There are a few varieties that are deadly, but more commonly, there are mushrooms that can cause stomach issues.
Do you think that we’re going to be eating a lot more mushrooms and using more products containing mushrooms in the future as people develop a new appreciation for them?
Yes, because we have such a wealth of knowledge about mushrooms and their multitude of benefits. I believe the mainstream attitude towards mushrooms is changing, so I expect to see mushrooms on menus and in more and more products globally.
Mushrooms appear to be popping up in beauty products and even chocolate! Why do you think they’re in the spotlight right now?
Mushrooms have a multitude of beauty benefits. In the ‘Mega-Mushroom Skin Relief’ collection, we selected three “miracle worker” mushrooms heralded for their medicinal benefits that work alongside sea buckthorn berry to deliver powerful results for irritated skin. The chaga, resihi, and cordyceps mushrooms have been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine to cure viruses, diseases, and disorders.
They also have a long history of enhancing health, boosting resistance to stress, and promoting healthy longevity:
– Chaga is a powerful anti-irritant and antioxidant that minimizes cellular damage, a byproduct of chronic inflammation.
– Reishi is known as the “mushroom of immortality” – it immediately quiets and calms the skin.
– Cordyceps creates cellular energy called ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate), which is necessary for the skin’s protective barrier and supports the activity of the sea buckthorn berry extract within the product.
Which mushrooms have the most powerful effects on our skin?
I have long been a proponent of using mushrooms in skincare, and have carefully selected the three mushrooms in the advanced ‘Mega-Mushroom Skin Relief’ collection that has been developed to target irritation and boost cellular energy. The new trio of mushrooms – chaga, resihi, and cordyceps – was specifically used in the formula for its ability to combat the skin’s pathway to irritation in order to soothe and calm stressed skin. The collection’s new cocktail of ingredients promotes skin’s resilience, evenness, and an overall healthy appearance.