Whilst we all enjoy having the kids home for the holidays, getting them back into a routine when school resumes is essential. Whether it’s to help keep them active in the playground or switched on in the classroom, you can rest assured knowing mushrooms are always an excellent choice.
Mushrooms are super sources of vitamin D, antioxidants and other biochemical nutrients known to help strengthen immune systems. This is especially important this year as kids are being vaccinated and working up the extra defences needed to help protect them from serious complications that can arise from COVID-19.
As a mother of three myself, I understand that mushrooms may not be the first ingredient that comes to mind when working out what to put in your kid’s lunch boxes or on the plates of fussier eaters, but after reading my ABCD&E’s of mushroom immune health goodness, you’ll see just how powerful the wonderful mushroom can be.
A - Antioxidants to defend the body
Increasing intakes of wholefood antioxidants is something that can help both small and bigger immune systems to defend the body. Mushrooms contain a number of potent antioxidants that include catechin, myricetin, quercetin, kaempferol and many more. They are also high in other nutrients that can act as antioxidants in the body, most notably potassium, selenium, copper, and magnesium.
B- Beta-glucans to influence your immunity
C- Chitin for a healthy gut and immune system
Chitin is also another polysaccharide type carbohydrate which is a key component of the fibrous wall of mushrooms. Also known as a prebiotic type of fibre, it provides an essential food source to the numerous types of good gut bacteria and the cells of the gut.
Fun fact! Did you know that 70% of the immune system is housed in the gut and that our gut microbiome (bacteria) helps direct many of its essential functions. This is also why including mushrooms in your diet can help with overall gut and immune health.
D- Vitamin D for protection
Vitamin D is a well-known essential nutrient that enables immune systems to function well. Research has also shown that healthy levels of vitamin D are able to help keep immune systems healthy and may protect against respiratory type illnesses such as asthma, viral and bacterial infections. While we are not saying that mushrooms can prevent COVID-19, there are some recent student which found that people hospitalised for COVID-19, and who also had good levels of vitamin D, did better and experienced less serious side effects.
E- Ergothioneine to stay well
Mushrooms are the most abundant food source of another powerful antioxidant or nutraceutical (nutrient that may be able to exert a therapeutic effect) called ergothioneine. There is a lot of research interest in ergothioneine at the moment as it is being studied for a possible role in being able to help in the overall treatment of respiratory illness, including COVID-19. While it will be interesting to watch this space, it seems that being able to eat a food that contains ergothioneine could help us breathe a little better and stay well.
So there you have the A,B,C,D & E of mushrooms! Implement more mushrooms into your diet by setting a target of including around three small mushrooms per day as part of a plant-focused, whole-food diet. For dinners, why not try lamb and mushroom ragu, Mexican-style mushroom mince tacos or chicken, mushroom and thyme enchiladas? Or power up that lunch box instead with egg, mushroom and pesto tarts, pizza-stuffed mushrooms, mini spinach, feta and mushroom gozleme or sausage and mushroom pides.
No matter how you decide to include more mushrooms in your kids’ diet, you can be certain they’ll be better off for it!
Note: the information in this article is meant as general information only. For specific, personal advice on any medical condition, please see your doctor.
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