Cold & flu season is well on its way. In need of an immune system boost? Last week I focused on how to boost immunity with a few food and lifestyle tips. This week, as promised, I’m going to blow your mind about the amazing benefits of mushrooms!
The body’s immune system is complex and every individual has different strengths and weaknesses.
Our First Line of Defence
The body has certain defence mechanisms to protect the body from invading pathogens. It makes antibodies in response to bacteria, viruses, fungi and cancer cells. These antibodies attach themselves to foreign matter so the immune system can destroy them. In this post I’m referring to the body’s first line of defense – Secretory immunoglobulin A (SIgA). This antibody helps to protect intestinal epithelium (layers of cells that line the intestines) from invaders. SIgA promotes the clearance of antigens and pathogenic (disease causing) microorganisms by blocking their access to receptors in the gut and entrapping them in mucous. The body is then able to facilitate their removal through peristalsis and mucociliary activities. Mucociliary clearance involves little hair-like cells (that line the respiratory and intestinal tracts) that coordinate together to push the mucous filled with harmful substances out of the body; either out of the intestines to be excreted or towards the pharynx to be swallowed or expelled via coughing.
To give you an idea of how important our first line of defense is, consider this; even though our skin is the largest organ, we interface with the outside world more through our mucous membranes. The lining of the mouth, the entire digestive tract, the internal area of the respiratory, reproductive and urinary systems is the largest body surface area. The total mucosal surface area of an adult gastrointestinal tract covers more area than the size of a tennis court and is most of it is 1 cell thick. One microscopic layer is what separates us internally from the outside world.This is where IgA comes in as the body’s first line of defense.
What can you do to boost your body’s defence?
Well, you could try eating mushrooms everyday.
Yes, I said mushrooms.
The Power of the ‘Shroom
A recent 2012 study revealed that plain white button mushrooms increased salivary IgA secretion in adults. Over 3 weeks, volunteers were split into two groups – one continued to eat their normal diet and the other added 1 cup of cooked mushrooms to their daily diet for one week. One week of eating mushrooms everyday increased salivary IgA secretion by 50%! The elevated IgA secretion rate in the mushroom group remained stable at week 2 – even after a week of not eating mushrooms, IgA levels still remained high! After week 3, results fell back to baseline. The study concluded that a continuous daily intake of white button mushrooms may be necessary to maintain an increased IgA secretion and would be beneficial for the immune compromised or elderly.
This is a great example of food as medicine and how powerful food can be in healing and strengthening the body. So, why not start incorporating mushrooms into your daily diet?
Want more information on boosting immunity? Read my post on ‘Surviving cold & Flu Season + Immunity Saviours.‘ Do you have any home remedies to ward off colds anf flu? Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a happy and healthy week everyone,
Love Stace x