Beyond Fungi: Mushrooms and Hunger

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH; Justin Lam, ABAAHP, FMNM


Recent study suggests that there is a connection between mushrooms and hungerNot all mushrooms are created equal. Some species of mushrooms are delicious, while others are deadly. While mushrooms are extremely healthy, they?re commonly underappreciated and overlooked. Although some mushrooms have a strong and pungent taste, making them hard to consume, others have a very subtle taste, making them an easy food to incorporate into your favorite dishes. Moreover, mushrooms are bursting with vitamins, nutrients, and extraordinary properties that could improve your overall well-being. Recent studies regarding mushrooms and hunger have suggested that these fungi could keep you from reaching for a second plate of food.

Consuming mushrooms has been associated with satiety, reduction in weight, increased energy, better sleep, and even prevention of cancer or other chronic health conditions. While you may only be familiar with white button mushrooms, also known as cremini mushrooms, there are thousands of species of mushrooms in existence, with many more still undiscovered. Any macrofungus that has a fruiting body that?s large enough to be picked by the hand and seen by the naked eye is referred to as a mushroom.

Mushrooms and Hunger

Many health-conscious people focus too much on eating highly processed and overly sweetened protein shakes and bars instead of meals. These portions that keep them feeling deprived and hungry. However, by focusing on more nutrient-dense, low-calorie foods, such as mushrooms, you could keep full and give your body the boost it needs.

It?s unhealthy, and even inconvenient, to diet and replace your foods with prepared shakes and bars. In fact, many of these meal replacement bars come along with artificial sweeteners, genetically engineered ingredients, preservatives, and additives that you cannot pronounce and are unrecognizable to your body.

Instead, aim to have a diet made up of mostly whole foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, high-quality poultry or meat, and wholesome grains. Make sure to consume plenty of healthy fats, such as extra virgin olive oil, virgin coconut oil, organic grass-fed butter, organic raw nuts (soaked), seeds, avocados, and fatty fish such as sardines or salmon. Healthy fats have also been linked to satiety, improved energy, better mood, balanced hormones, and heart benefits. Work towards clearing your diet of processed food, and gradually make changes in your lifestyle for lasting results.

Mushrooms can give your body the nutrients and minerals it needs without deprivation, mood swings, and feeling of hunger. Recent studies have supported the correlation between mushrooms and hunger. Mushrooms can keep your stomach full and happy, and their unique nutritional profile could fulfill your daily recommended intake of numerous vitamins and minerals.

Weight loss, mushrooms and hungerIf you?re looking to drop a few pounds, or feel like your cravings need help getting under control, research on mushrooms and hunger has shown this could be an important path to weight loss. Replacing some of the usual amount of meat with mushrooms in your meals may help you feel full longer and reduce cravings for other foods. Mushrooms are nutrient dense, yet very low in calories, and this could enable you to stay satisfied long after meals.

Providing your body with sufficient amounts of vitamins and minerals also plays a vital role in reducing cravings and balancing your hormones. The vitamin D content of mushrooms is very high, and this is another reason to add more of them to your daily meals. Mushrooms are an excellent natural source of vitamin D and could improve your energy, mood, and vitality.

Benefits of Mushrooms

While each of the types of mushrooms has its own unique characteristics and health benefits, there are common benefits from consuming all the types of mushrooms regularly.

The study on mushrooms and hunger is one of many peer-reviewed studies on the benefits mushrooms provide your body.

Mushrooms are a natural remedy for preventing cancer, and surprisingly, they are one of the top-ranked foods for increasing natural killer cells. Natural killer cells are unique types of immune cells that seek out and then destroy cancer cells. Mushrooms protect your DNA from damage, preventing the mutation of cells, inhibiting tumor growth, increasing detoxification, and protecting your healthy cells.

Additionally, mushrooms can lower inflammation in your body and strengthen your immune system. Mushrooms have been found to contain unique compounds that contain natural antiviral, antimicrobial, antiallergic, anti-inflammatory, antitumor and even hypoglycemic properties.

The connection between mushrooms and hunger should not be the only reason you consume these tasty fungi, but to reduce bodily inflammation, prevent or reduce allergies, and detox your body of unhealthy microbes. Mushrooms protect you from more than just gaining weight. They alkalize the body, and with an improved bodily pH level, your health can enhance in various ways. Mushrooms also appear to help your body extinguish strains of deadly multi-bacterial and microorganisms that cause dangerous skin and gut conditions.

Types of Mushroom

Shiitake Mushrooms

Shiitake mushrooms have been found to improve your heart?s health, destroy bacteria, viruses, and infections, reduce inflammation, and improve your energy levels. These brown mushrooms contain unique properties that protect your DNA from oxidative damage, aid in improving cholesterol levels, and carry bone-building benefits.

Other research about mushrooms and hunger found that shiitake mushrooms, in particular, could aid in improving digestion, losing weight, and building muscle. A study published in the Journal of Obesity argues the link between mushrooms and hunger is more than just keeping you full.

Shiitake mushrooms contain a compound known as beta-glucan which is responsible for keeping you full, reducing your food intake, and reducing plasma lipids. Consuming shiitake mushrooms could help keep you from gaining weight while bringing a myriad of other health benefits. Add more shiitake mushrooms in your diet, whether fresh, as a supplement, or as a dried powder.

Reishi Mushrooms

Reishi mushrooms and hungerReishi mushrooms are known as a medicinal fungus. They have been called the king of mushrooms for their jaw-dropping health benefits. Reishi mushrooms have been linked to reducing inflammation, improving mental clarity, preventing cancer, destroying harmful bacteria and viruses, and enhancing your immune system.

Reishi mushrooms, in particular, have been linked to improving energy, which is especially important if you are trying to manage Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS). AFS occurs when excessive chronic stress day in and day out overworks your adrenal glands. Your adrenal glands continuously pump hormones to keep you primed to fight or flee, you could develop other health conditions. This results in the disruption of your NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response system, leading to AFS. If you have AFS, and experience chronic fatigue, mood swings, inability to lose weight, lack of sexual drive, unexplained hair loss, or inability to perform your ordinary daily tasks, taking reishi mushrooms may help you better manage your condition.

Reishi is, in fact, one of the best mushroom choices for improving your energy levels, clearing your thinking, reducing inflammation, balancing your hormones, managing allergies, detoxing your liver, and boosting your mood. Reishi has also been found to decrease anxiety and depression, balance blood sugar levels, and improve sleep.

If you experience low energy and insomnia due to AFS, reishi mushrooms may do your health wonders. However, due to their strong taste and tough texture, reishi is more readily taken in the form of a powder or supplement.

In earlier Chinese Medicine, reishi mushrooms were first dried, sliced, boiled in hot water, and then consumed as a soup. Today, however, it?s best to not purchase reishi prepared or at a restaurant, as they are often boiled many times at high pressure, destroying many of the natural benefits and nutrients. If you find the taste of reishi too strong, look for a high-quality organic supplement, extract, or powder.

It?s also important to consult your healthcare practitioner prior to starting any new supplement, diet, or exercise program, as some may backfire, especially if you have AFS. Some people who take reishi mushrooms experience side effects such as skin rashes, dry or itchy throat, or dryness of the mouth. So make sure this is the best option for your individual body first.

Oyster Mushrooms

Oyster mushrooms have a distinguished shape and anti-inflammatory properties that could reduce joint pain. They improve blood flow, strengthen blood vessel walls, and reduce the risk of several chronic heart conditions. Moreover, oyster mushrooms could prevent anemia, as they are a great source of iron. They improve concentration and energy levels. They also do wonders in keeping you full, allowing you to stay satisfied. While they may be harder to find, they?re definitely worth the search due to their incredible nutritional profile.

Portobello Mushrooms

These brown and wide mushrooms are the perfect burger replacement mushroom, and they have a very distinct taste. They are bursting with anti-inflammatory benefits and unique properties that could boost your immune system. You can add them to your morning eggs, atop your salad at lunch, or into your vegetable and salmon stir-fry for dinner. With just 21 calories in every cup and packed with nutrients, the relationship between these mushrooms and hunger can keep you from reaching for unhealthy desserts. Per cup, Portobello mushrooms contain two grams of protein and less than 0.2 grams of fat, but provide more than 25 percent of your daily need for riboflavin, 19 percent of the RDA for niacin, 17 percent copper, 14 percent selenium, and 12 percent potassium.

White Button Mushrooms

White button mushrooms are also known as cremini mushrooms and can do you wonders in trying to manage your weight and attaining satiety. Although they are the most commonly accessible, they are not at the top in terms of nutrient density. Many find cremini mushrooms somewhat tasteless, which makes them an easy addition to various dishes. They are extremely low in calories, with just about 16 calories in one cup. White button mushrooms could work well in almost any entree from scrambled eggs to roasted with onions and lamb. They will soak up the spices and sauces you add and bring a more palatable texture than other mushrooms.

Suggestions for Consuming Mushrooms

Vegetable stir-frys, mushrooms and hungerVegetable stir-frys can be one of the easiest and most convenient ways to eat mushrooms. Saute diced onions with organic grass-fed butter or organic coconut oil, and allow them to caramelize. Add in other cut vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, bell peppers, and a variety of mushrooms. Add a variety of spices such as ginger, turmeric, dill, ground mustard seed, Himalayan pink salt, red cayenne pepper, or cilantro for their anti-inflammatory, digestive, and heart benefits. You can add in some healthy protein too, such as beans, grass-fed chicken, or tofu.

The link between mushrooms and hunger is clear; they curb cravings, balance your blood sugar, and contain a myriad of health benefits. Many mushrooms, such as reishi, shiitake, or other medicinal ones, could be difficult to consume in foods. In that case, look for a high-quality supplement or extract to reap their remarkable health benefits.

Incorporate more mushrooms into your diet, and remember to try to stick to whole foods as much as possible. Drink plenty of water, eat naturally wholesome foods, and with patience, you?ll be on the path to better health. As you add a variety of mushrooms to your diet, observe how your well-being enhances in remarkable ways.

? Copyright 2018 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.


Dr. Lam’s Key Question

There have been incredible research findings beyond just the relationship between mushrooms and hunger. These fungi have remarkable health benefits for your physical and mental well-being. Whether you?re looking to boost energy, clear your thinking, or sleep better, incorporate these into your diet.


Mushrooms and hunger