2022 is definitely the year of the mushroom. Mushrooms are sustainable, plant-based (well, technically they’re fungi … not plants!) and have been popping up everywhere in plant-based cuisine for their meaty taste and nutrition benefits. But you might not know that functional mushrooms like lion’s mane, chaga and cordyceps have a long history of use in traditional medicine systems around the world. As life hits the accelerator button again, I’m all about tools to help me fortify my body and mind so I can take on whatever life is dishing up. But I’m also an entrepreneur and mother of two, so I need something easy! If you’re plant-obsessed—or fungi-curious—like me, functional mushrooms offer an easy way to incorporate these antioxidant-rich fungi into your lifestyle to support immunity, mental clarity and stress response, to name just a few of the benefits. I’m thrilled to have partnered with B.C. supplement brand, Optimi, to help educate Canadians about the body and mind benefits of their all natural mushroom formulations. Optimi recently launched a whole range of evidence-informed mushroom supplements, including a mushroom-boosted vegan protein powder—the not-so-secret ingredient in my smoothie recipe! —Desiree Nielsen, registered dietitian
What are functional mushrooms and their benefits?
Culinary mushrooms such as shiitake or oyster mushrooms boast plenty of nutrition, such as minerals like potassium and selenium as well as B vitamins. “Functional mushrooms” refers to mushroom varieties that offer functional health benefits beyond basic nutrition. Of the hundreds of mushroom species growing in Canada, functional mushrooms are those which have been used in traditional medicine to support overall health and well-being. These properties are now being examined in clinical research: we have a growing body of preclinical evidence, and a few clinical trials, to show us that functional mushrooms contain some truly unique biochemical properties, such as immune-modulating beta-glucan polysaccharides.
Optimi has created a full range of all-natural plant-based mushroom supplements and formulations, including popular varieties such as Lion’s Mane, Reishi, Turkey Trail and Cordyceps, prized for their health advantages. Each one of these functional mushrooms has a unique biochemical profile and traditional history of use including:
- Lion’s Mane (Mindful strain) is thought to be the “brain booster”, enhancing cognitive function, memory, and clarity of mind. It contains compounds called erinacines that are thought to increase nerve growth factor in the brain.
- Reishi (Longevity strain), known as the “mushroom of immortality,” contains over 400 bioactive compounds such asganoderic acids and beta-glucans to promote longevity and wellbeing, and has been traditionally used to help the body recover from stress.
- Turkey Tail (Immunity strain) is one of the most commonly found mushrooms in the world, highly coveted for its high content of antioxidant compounds such as flavonoids, as well as immune-supportive compounds krestin and polysaccharide peptide.
- Cordyceps (Perform strain) has traditionally been considered an energy tonic, reducing fatigue and potentially enhancing endurance, as evidenced by human trials.
- Chaga (Defense strain) is known as the “king of medicinal fungi” for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immune-supportive properties. Beta-glucan and galactomannans in Chaga help to support immune function.
I recommend Optimi’s Perform, Mindful, and Immunity capsules at this time of year for anyone looking to increase their energy and stamina, reduce fatigue, enhance cognitive function, and boost immunity over the long winter months. Each formulation is made from the highest quality fruiting body mushrooms and contains nutrient-dense fungi for maximum results, an important point of difference to many other mushroom supplements out on the market.
Boost the energizing power of protein
Protein is critical for a healthy body … but it’s not just about muscles! Protein supports a healthy digestive tract as well as our bones and immune system. Plus, adding a good source of plant-based protein to our meals can help to ensure a slow and steady rise in blood sugar, avoiding a post-meal crash that can tank energy levels. With 22 grams of vegan protein per serving, Optimi’s Vanilla Protein Powder is easy to integrate into your daily routine and boasts a full serving of Optimi’s signature blend of antioxidant-packed functional mushrooms traditionally used to support immunity and give your brain a boost.
Pineapple Green Smoothie Recipe with the Power of Mushrooms!
Transport yourself with a taste! This pina colada-inspired green smoothie is rich in vitamins A + C for healthy skin and immunity as well as boasting plenty of minerals like iron, potassium and manganese. Adding 22 grams of energizing protein + a full dose of Optimi’s functional mushrooms, this smoothie will be sure to power you up all morning long.
1 cup (250 mL) frozen pineapple
1 small very ripe banana
1 big handful spinach
1/2 cup (125 mL) canned coconut milk
3/4 cup (175 mL) water or coconut water
1 scoop Optimi’s Vanilla Plant Protein Powder + Mushrooms
Place all ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until smooth, enjoy!