Beauty & Brain Health With Functional Mushrooms

 
 
 

I’m adding in another concoction to my superfood routine! I absolutely love experimenting with different combinations of things, and if you could ever see all of my herbs, powders, tinctures, and mysterious brown bags in my cabinets, you’d probably wonder first, why but then secondly, how? I typically add a bunch of different things to my smoothies but other times I mixed them into hot water with raw cacao, as long as the flavor permits it. I’ve mixed in superfood powders to this yummy plant based cookie dough I make, and even energy bars. There are so many ways.

Today I’m talking about this amazing combo of Shiitake, Turmeric, Ginger & Tulsi from a fine company I love, Four Sigmatic. The mix packets come packed up individually, but don’t let the packaging confused you. It looks like it could be a tea bag, but it’s actually loose powder that dissolves in hot water.

The uses are endless with this product. You can keep it simple like me and drink it warm on it’s own, or you can blend it in with your smoothies, sprinkle it in with granola, add it to your homemade energy bars. The possibilities are endless.


The ingredients in this pack include:


Organic Coconut Milk Powder: for non-dairy latte creaminess

Organic Turmeric Powder: See benefits below

Organic Coconut Palm Sugar: for a teeny bit of sweetness. Don’t worry, only 1 gram of sugar!

Organic Shiitake Mushroom Extract: 500mg; See benefits below

Organic Ginger Powder: See benefits below

Organic Tulsi Powder: See benefits below

Organic Black Pepper: To help nutrient absorption; See it detailed under the turmeric benefits

Reb A: Organic stevia extract

Benefits of Shiitake

If you aren’t a huge mushroom fan and never experienced shiitake mushrooms, try them! They taste really good! Obviously, how you use them and cook with them also matters, and coming from a mushroom fan already, I might be a little biased. Besides the flavor, they have huge health benefits, and the best news is, you don’t have to EAT them to get all the benefits! Before we get onto the benefits, if you do choose to cook with them, you must rehydrate dried shiitake but soaking them in water. Although fresh shiitake aren’t poisonous, they are still recommended to be cooked well before eating.

You can find shiitake in many superfood powders, like the drink packets I posted here from Four Sigmatic, and even in a capsule form or liquid extract. Regardless of the form, mushrooms have been already been added to my daily supplement routine, shiitake included!

Shiitake in particular helps with immune support, reduction of platelet aggregation, as well as having antibacterial and antiviral properties. Believe it or not, these mushrooms actual help with heart health too, and help prevent cardiovascular disease by lowering bad cholesterol. Shiitake mushrooms are highly nutrient dense as well, containing high amounts of vitamins, especially vitamin D. They can be used on their own, and with food, fresh or dried. Believe it or not, they are actually the primary protein source for many Asian vegetarians. Yes!!! So the next time you wonder where vegans get their protein, you can remember one word, shiitake!

Medicinal uses have been used for centuries in China, dating as back as far as 100 A.D.. Using mushrooms as a superfood might be new to us in the west, but is by no means a new form of medicine. You can find many companies offering high-quality shiitake supplements as reasonable prices.

Shiitake mushrooms are also non-toxic which means they can be eaten or taken in high amounts, daily. Even things found in nature can be toxic if they’re consumed in high enough amounts, or if it’s highly concentrated, so it’s always best to do your due diligence and educate yourself before adding anything that can be taken as a concentrated supplement. Well, shiitake can be consumed in large amounts, day after day, with no negative side effects. So, there is your due diligence for shiitake!

Main benefits include:

  1. Fight obesity

  2. Support immune function

  3. Destroy cancer cells

  4. Support cardiovascular health

  5. Contain antimicrobial properties

  6. Boost energy and brain function

  7. Provide vitamin D

  8. Promote skin health 

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Benefits of Turmeric

So, I’ve been taking turmeric as a supplement since 2014 ever since I listened to a podcast that featured Dr. Rhonda Patrick on the Joe Rogan Experience. I love this woman’s brain and I would honestly do whatever she recommends. I’ve dubbed her my micronutrient guru because this woman’s knowledge is off the charts. You know how people snap a pic of their meals and will break it down by macronutrients saying, here’s my protein carbs and fat for the day… well, this woman breaks down her meals by MICROnurtrients, it’s amazing. I love it so much.

Well, when I hear turmeric, first and foremost I immediately think “anti-depressant”, while most people probably immediately think “spice”! I know I know, I’m “different”. Well, the chemical in turmeric linked to this and all the benefits is actually the curcumin, and it has been studied and examined as having anti-depressant properties.

Just to clarify, turmeric is the spice and curcumin is the medicine. Now, if you’re using this spice when you cook, curcumin is relatively low, like around 2-5%, and unless you’re cooking with this multiple times a week, eating turmeric once a week won’t give you all the health benefits that are contained in the curcumin… and that is exactly why I supplement with it.

Another thing to remember is the fact that we don’t quite absorb curcumin very well. So if you’re looking for curcumin as a supplement, especially if it comes in a capsule form, make sure it’s paired with piperine, which is a compound found in black pepper, which helps the body absorb nutrients better.

There are other huge benefits too though! It’s an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, increases brain function, helps with pain relief and liver support. It is also extremely beneficial for digestion, gut health and intestinal permeability. It is even being tested as a treatment for IBS.

Besides powder form, you can also find turmeric in capsules, fluids, extracts, and tinctures. Some of the side effects may include an upset stomach, and it also acts as a blood thinner. So, although it aids in digestion, having an upset stomach may be a possible side effect, obviously in certain people and not everyone! If you want to try it and are unsure, start small and use your best judgement.

The main benefits include:

  1. May slow or prevent blood clots

  2. Reduces depression symptoms

  3. Fights inflammation

  4. Boosts skin health

  5. May outperform common arthritis drug

  6. Could treat or prevent certain cancers

  7. May help manage diabetes

  8. Combats obesity

  9. Supports management of inflammatory bowel disease

  10. May regulate cholesterol

  11. May work as a natural pain reliever

  12. Aids in detoxification


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Benefits of Ginger

Ginger is another one that we hear about all the time. Ginger works wonderfully on nausea, which is one of the main reasons our moms would give us ginger ale when we had an upset stomach as kids. Although there isn’t any ACTUAL ginger in conventional ginger ale soda (it’s carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup and ginger flavor, not actual ginger) the tradition of ginger originated from their parents and grandparents generation, and at least they meant well!

So, ginger is actually in the Zingiberaceae family and is a very close relative to turmeric, aye! Hey cuz! This is why they actually look very similar if you’ve ever seen them in their root form. The active compound in ginger that contains all the health benefits is gingerol.

So, gingerol is to ginger, what curcumin is to turmeric.

Ginger is amazing as an anti-inflammatory as well as pain relief. Those who struggle with muscle or joint soreness, arthritis and even fibromyalgia would benefit from gingers medicinal properties. Because of the anti-inflammatory properties, this can help with brain health too, combating brain inflammation. Chronic inflammation accelerates the aging process, so one way to reverse that process is to include components that help reduce inflammation.

So, the key thing to remember is, anti-inflammatory is equivalent to anti-aging.

The main benefits include:

  1. Helps relieve nausea

  2. Fights fungal infections

  3. Protects against stomach ulcers

  4. Eases menstrual pains

  5. May inhibit cancer growth

  6. Regulates blood sugar

  7. Relieves joint and muscle pain

  8. Lowers cholesterol levels 

  9. Improves brain function

  10. Blocks bacterial infections

  11. Eases inflammation

  12. Promotes proper digestion

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Benefits of Tulsi

Tusli is also known as Holy Basil and is another amazing adaptogen to include with your supplements. Adaptogens help support the adrenal system and balance hormones, so your body can manage it’s stress response better on a daily basis. Tulsi is often used as a natural remedy for anxiety, adrenal fatigue, hypothyroidism, unbalanced blood sugar and even acne.

To be honest with you, this is my first rodeo with tulsi. I’ve never taken it before, but after reading the ingredient label and seeing that it was on there, I got to work with all the benefits. After realizing it’s the Hindi name for Holy Basil, I quickly realized that I have indeed heard all about the amazing benefits but have just never added into my routine.

The main benefits include:

  1. Fights acne

  2. Remedy for anxiety

  3. Helps with adrenal fatigue

  4. Supports hypothyroidism

  5. Balances blood sugar

  6. Protects against diabetes

  7. Helps fight cancer

  8. Balances hormones and lowers stress

  9. Relieves fever

  10. Helps improve respiratory disorders

  11. Good source of vitamin K

  12. Dental care and oral health

  13. Relieves headaches

  14. Supports eye health

Let me know in my latest Insta post if you’ve tried these superfoods or Four Sigmatic, and let me know what you think!

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Top 10 Ways To Ring In The New Year Stress Free

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It’s the New Year, everyone is dropping their resolutions, and I love it! Like ‘em or hate ‘em, resolutions are inevitable, even for the people who say they don’t make them, the mere fact of not making one is indeed, a resolution, wouldn't you say?

As much as we are all saying “new year new ____”, one thing is for sure, after December holidays, between extra spending and extra celebrating, many of us are ringing in the new year with a little extra pounds and a little extra on the credit cards. We can look back and say “yea but it’s worth it!!” and trust me, I’m with you.

However, with all this extra stuff on our mind, it can manifest in the form of stress, worry, anxiety, or outbursts that feel like they literally come out of nowhere.

This is why I’m sharing my top 10 ways to ring in the new year STRESS FREE… or at least as close as possible.

Ready!?

Let’s go!


1. Identify Triggers.

We can’t manage stress until we know the cause. As soon as you feel the onset of stress, panic, anxiety, rage, or anger, write it down! Where were you? Who were you around? What were you thinking about? What were you talking about? Open up the notepad on your phone and document it. Remember to state the time and place. Your phone will automatically timestamp the date. Keep a log. You’ll be able to notice a pattern sooner than you realize.


2. Understand Coping Strategies.

There are 2 ways to handle stress; helpful and unhelpful. Unhelpful ways always initially feel good, but over time, they produce less than helpful results. Unhelpful coping strategies can include smoking, drinking, doing drugs, binge eating or even something as harmless sounding as staying in bed all day. Just like the trigger, you can keep a log when you want to reach for these coping strategies. Jot down how you felt immediately before, why you felt that way, how you felt after, and then how you felt after-after… like later that evening or even the next day. You may even start to identify an underlying trigger by looking at the patterns of your coping strategies.


3. Develop New Strategies.

Once you’ve identified the unhelpful strategies, the next step to replace them with helpful ones. These can include exercise, meditation, dancing, playing with your kids, reading a book, taking a bath, unplugging from social media, listening to music, or connecting with a friend or support group. Literally, anything that instantly raises your vibe. One of my favorite things to do is blast music and have a dance party with the kids. Moving and dancing is enough on it’s own, but hearing their laughter always kicks it up a notch.


4. Move.

We already know how powerful exercise is with releasing endorphins and improving the mood, but exercise is also helping for mental health and even emotional health. Emotions get stored in muscle and fascia tissue. Listen to your body when you move. Allow yourself to push beyond your comfort zone but not to the point of injury. If it’s something as simple as holding a plank for 1 minute, you can. You will not injure yourself for holding a plank for a minute. You might get pissed off, you might shake, you might cry or feel weak and ashamed… I know, I’ve been there… but you won’t die. This is where the mental game begins. Go ahead and set your timer and try it. You can do anything for 1 minute. Don’t give up on yourself.


5. Get Proactive.

Can your stress triggers be changed? Absolutely! Maybe not overnight, but over time they can. Write down 3 things that you could do to address a stressful situation, and commit to doing them by a certain time. You’ll not only increase your sense of pride and accomplish, but you’ll also have completed those tasks. It’s a win-win!


6. Practice Acceptance.

It’s possible that you can’t change what’s stressing you, at least initially, especially if it’s stemming from another person, situation or place that you cannot avoid like your living situation, a family member, a person at work, the person who takes your coffee order, a yoga substitute that you weren’t expecting, anything or anyone at all. As frustrating as it feels already, feeling into that frustration will only release more stress hormones, which perpetuates the cycle of stress. If this is the case, practice accepting the things you cannot change. Bless and release.


7. Make Connections.

Reaching out to a certain someone or a group you know, will help you feel calm. They may even be able to offer advice, and if not advice, then simply support. You don’t even have to talk about what’s stressing you out. Simply the act of reaching out to friends, or your favorite online group may be enough for you to make those social connections to get your mind off things and have a much needed laugh. Try not to seek advice from someone who already stresses you out, in hopes that they may miraculously understand this one time. Use your best judgement. Understand who you can trust and know that when someone asks if something is wrong, you have the right to set up a boundary and explain that you aren’t ready to talk about it, if you’re not.


8. Practice Self-Care.

Make a conscious effort to set time aside to recharge. This doesn’t have to be elaborate, or even take a long time. Get rid of any distractions and take the time to do something that you truly enjoy. It can be playing music, doing a puzzle, knitting, taking a bath, exercising, playing with your kids, cooking, the list goes on. Self care for me comes in the form of setting up, cooking and cleaning. I know it sounds arduous to some people but the ultimate way that I love taking care of myself is through nurturing my body and having a mess free sanctuary.


9. Manage Time

Being busy almost is mandatory these days, but being busy ins’t the same as being productive. If we don’t manage our time effectively, we can easily become overwhelmed.  Don’t overcommit. Learn to prioritize. Don’t be afraid to say no to things you don’t want to do or simply don’t have time to do.


10. Practice Gratitude

Take a few minutes everyday to remind yourself about all the things your grateful for. This can be a wonderful mood-booster. Every minute that you’re complaining about something is a minute taken away from being productive towards something positive. Keep a gratitude journal or simply think of at least 3 things you’re grateful for at the end of every day.

Let me know your favorite ways to avoid or deal with stress!!

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