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The Prebiotic Power of Mushrooms

The Prebiotic Power of Mushrooms

This group of fungi is packed with good gut bacteria.

When Jefferson Airplane sang White Rabbit, they were musing over the power of some fungi to make gut changes in your consciousness: “When the men on the chessboard get up and tell you where to go, and you’ve just had some kind of mushroom and your mind is moving low, go ask Alice, I think she’ll know.”

But while psilocybin mushrooms can turn your mind to mush, white button mushrooms turn out to have transformative powers that are positive and far-reaching. Researchers from Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences have discovered that these most common edible fungi (they’re not as exotic as shitake, cremini, Portobello, oyster, chanterelles or reishi) are powerful prebiotics that can help prevent runaway blood sugar levels.

The way they do that, explained in a study published in the Journal of Functional Foods, is as circuitous as Alice’s journey through Wonderland. Seems the ’shrooms are gobbled up and fermented by good-for-you gut bacteria in the large intestine, goosing them to produce more short chain fatty acids (SCFA). These heart-loving, inflammation-dampening SCFAs are then able to change genes (that’s epigenetics in action) along a gut–brain pathway, so production of glucose is more effectively managed. All it took was about three ounces (one serving) a day to get that benefit.

So enjoy: Slice and saute ’em with spinach and garlic, put into soups and stews, broil with fish or skinless chicken. And for more info on other types of mushrooms’ benefits, check out “Anti-inflammatory Diet Tip: Mushrooms” on Sharecare.com.

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