Moodeys Guide To Mushrooms

Functional mushrooms have been used for centuries, and frankly, today they're showing off. These ancient mushrooms have been used to enhance cognitive functions, boost overall well-being, and strengthen the immune system. Tossing a few into your daily routine isn't just smart; it's a no-brainer 😉.

What are Functional Mushrooms?

These adaptogenic mushrooms have been used by our ancestors since at least 3000 BCE. Mushrooms are reported to have anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic, antimicrobial, hepatoprotective and anticancer properties

Through extensive research over the past 40 years, mushrooms represent a branch of botanical medicine and are classified in the kingdom of Fungi. 

The Science Behind Functional Mushrooms

Alright, let’s geek out for a moment on the science behind them. The active compounds in functional mushrooms are what give us the benefits we need. These mushrooms reproduce as spores, which means the fungal body can be a single cell or structure called a hypha or mycelial threads. But what you really should pay attention to are the active compounds like beta-glucans, polysaccharides, polysaccharide peptides, proteins, terpenoids, and nucleotides. These guys are responsible for the health-promoting properties of mushrooms, such as antioxidant activity, boosted immune system, mental clarity, and energy. 

Key Types of Functional Mushrooms

  • Reishi

    Known as the "Mushroom of Immortality" beneficial for stress relief and immune support.

  • Cordyceps

    Enhances energy levels and athletic performance.

  • Lion's Mane

    Promotes brain health, improving memory and cognitive functions.

  • Chaga

    A potent antioxidant source for immune system support and overall wellness.

  • Shiitake, Maitake & Turkey Tail

    Other mushrooms with various health benefits, including supporting heart health and immune system.

Health Benefits of Functional Mushrooms

Immune System Support

First off, functional mushrooms are like the secret service of your immune system—always on guard, always ready to protect. Thanks to beta-glucans, mushrooms like Reishi and Chaga are on the front lines, boosting your body's defence mechanisms against unwanted invaders. Both help your body protect itself with antioxidants.

Cognitive Function Enhancement

Next, let's talk brain gains. Lion's Mane, for instance, isn't just that crazy long hair looking mushroom; it's your brain's best friend. This mushroom is known for stimulating nerve growth factor (NGF) production, which is basically saying it helps keep your neurons firing and wiring correctly. Regular consumption could mean saying goodbye to brain fog and hello to focus.

Stress Reduction

Feeling stressed? Reishi has entered the chat. Reishi works its magic by helping to regulate the adrenal system. It's like a natural chill pill, reducing stress and making you feel more zen.

Potential Anti-Cancer Properties

And then there's the big C. While we're not claiming mushrooms are a cure-all, research suggests that certain types, like Chaga and Reishi possess compounds that might help fight cancer. These mushrooms may potentially slow down cancer cell growth as shown in these studies

Mushroom-Specific Benefits

  • Reishi: Beyond stress relief, it's your immune system's best hype-man.
  • Cordyceps: For those who want to feel like the Energizer Bunny, Cordyceps improves stamina and athletic performance
  • Lion's Mane: The brain booster, enhances memory, focus, and cognitive functions. 
  • Chaga: The antioxidant king, defending against cell damage and supporting your immune system in its daily battles.

So, while mushrooms might not be the end all be all, they're pretty close, offering a range of health benefits. Incorporating mushrooms into your daily routine could be the difference between going from “meh” to “Yeah!”

How to Incorporate Functional Mushrooms into Your Diet

Integrating functional mushrooms into your diet can be as simple as popping a supplement or blending them into a smoothie or stirring into porridge.  Since some can be bitter on their own, we recommend looking into speciality stores or famer’s markets for whole or dried functional mushrooms. Chef Elise Smith from Winnie’s Bakery recommends to “use the reconstructed liquid (from rehydrating dried functional mushrooms) and reduce that down in sauces, (or) give them a saute or perhaps braise them with other ingredients.” 

Lion’s mane mushrooms are easy to saute or roast. Some say it has the thickness of crab meat as they are meaty, hearty and chewy. Here are a few ideas on how to cook Lion’s mane in your kitchen. Lastly, Cordyceps are the most flavourful and have that true mushroom umami taste that would add depth to any dish. We love Alan Bergo’s Cordyceps with linguine, shallots, watercress and chives recipe

Whether you take a supplement or cook these bad boys, you can’t go wrong with incorporating them into your everyday life.

Choosing Wisely

When you’re new to the functional mushroom world or trying anything new for that matter, it’s important to note that not all supplements are created equal. Start by reviewing labels for purity- opt for products that are 100% organic or 100% mushroom, steering clear of those filled with fillers or mycelium on grain, which can dilute the mushroom’s power. Secondly, capsules are the easiest and most convenient way of adding adaptogenic mushrooms into your daily routine. Plus, they allow for more precise dosing. 

Extraction methods are also make or break. Dual-extraction processes, involving both water and alcohol, pull out the widest spectrum of beneficial compounds, especially from tough, woody varieties like Chaga and Reishi. This method ensures you’re getting both water soluble beta-glucans and alcohol soluble triterpenes, maximising the health benefits. 

While mushroom supplements are regarded as safe, it’s always best to consult with a doctor before incorporating them into your diet. 


Throughout this page, we've explored the unique properties and benefits of functional mushrooms, such as Reishi, Cordyceps, Lion's Mane, and Chaga, each offering its own array of health-supporting advantages. From boosting cognitive function and supporting the immune system to enhancing energy levels and reducing stress, the versatility and efficacy of these natural wonders are truly unparalleled.

As you continue on your wellness journey, we encourage you to explore further into the specific mushrooms that have caught your interest. Each mushroom has a unique story to tell and health benefits to offer. Whether you're looking to dive deeper into the cognitive-enhancing properties of Lion's Mane or the stress-relieving powers of Reishi, there's a wealth of information.

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