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I was on a wellness streak.  Eighteen months of energy and health, and not one cold or sniffle to mar it.  Previously, I had caught a virus two to three times a year.  With a child in school and germs unavoidably everywhere, it just seemed inevitable.   But then I experienced wellness for a good long stretch – this despite the enormous strain of my husband’s mountain biking accident and the resulting hospitalization, months of therapy and loss of income while he recovered.  He eventually returned to work.  I remained well throughout the summer.   Then WHAMO!  I got sick.

I found this annoying in the extreme.  I didn’t have time to be sick.  I had almost forgotten how debilitating it was to try and slog through the day with brain fog, a box of tissue and endless cups of tea.  I suddenly realized how long I had been well, and started reviewing my food choices and habits.  What had changed?

I had stopped taking my mushroom supplement. 

After hearing David Wolfe speak at an Institute for Integrative Nutrition conference about the power of tree mushrooms to boost immunity and fight cancer, I had decided to add a mushroom supplement to my diet.  I had been taking it faithfully for quite some time, in combination with a healthy diet that included raw, whole food green smoothies.  But I had run out of the mushroom supplement about a month prior to getting sick.  I had not gotten around to making the special trip to Natural Grocer’s at the north end of town to get more.  Big mistake.

How Mushrooms Boost Your Immunity

Mushrooms like maitake and shiitake contain beta-glucans which stimulate the immune system by binding to immune system cells – like natural killer (NK) cells, T-cells and macrophages (white cells that devour invaders) – increasing their activity.  Many studies have proven that beta-glucans found in mushrooms improve resistance to infections, protect the liver and provide cardiovascular benefits.

Reishi mushrooms contain ganodermic acids that help detox the liver, improve adrenal function and lower blood pressure.  It is recognized by the conservative and highly regarded Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center as a useful supplement for boosting immunity and enhancing the immune responses in advanced-stage cancer patients.  Reishi is also a natural stress-buster, and is often recommended to people under extreme physical or emotional stress.  By reducing your stress, you improve your overall health and the ability of your body to fight viruses and infections.

There are many more mushrooms with health benefits, like lion’s mane, cordyceps and chaga.  To boost your immunity, enjoy mushrooms in your cooking.  The white button mushroom is packed with nutrients!  And consider taking a high quality supplement from a variety of mushrooms.  I take NewChapter Organics® lifeshield® IMMUNITY Whole Life-Cycle Activated Mushrooms.  It includes the full life cycle of mushrooms – mycelium biomass, fruiting body, spores and extracellular compounds – from a dozen different organic mushrooms.

Maybe it was just time for me to finally catch something and get sick.  But I am convinced that mushrooms played a role in my staying well for so long, and despite very stressful circumstances.  I now take it faithfully every day, and it is a supplement that I highly recommend to anyone wanting to boost their immunity and avoid the colds and flu of the winter season.

What do you do to boost your immunity?  Share your comments below.