How can medicinal mushrooms help you?
It's September 21, which means that summer is officially behind us and we are entering the often short, but beautiful, fall season in the Northern Hemisphere. Sooner than later (at least here in Ontario), we'll be bundling up in our turtlenecks, coats, and scarves before we reluctantly leave our cozy, inviting homes. Getting out of bed becomes a tiny bit harder and all of a sudden, you realize it's been a few too many days since you last left your home (& perhaps taken a shower).
This transition period is a hard good-bye for me personally, as I say good-bye not only to the activeness and beauty of summer, but I often feel like I'm also saying farewell to my immunity and energy levels. With the days getting shorter and colder, I feel my body often wavering negatively both physically and mentally.
As I have gotten older and have learned to better understand how my body and mind change with the seasons, I have also taken more of a focus and inspiration from my mother. As someone who grew up in one of the coldest places on earth (yes, you guessed right - Siberia), I always watched in fascination how little effects the weather had on my mom. Her energy levels remain consistent and very rarely does she catch a cold or flu. She thrives in all seasons, and at the end of summer every year, she welcomes the cooler weather joyfully.
With both inspiration from my mom and further research on what we can do to combat seasonal changes, here is a short list I've compiled that helps with my summer nostalgia, and I hope it can help you too!
1. Time to double down on your immunity.
Without the warm weather and constant consumption of Vitamin D, our immune systems take a hit once the weather changes. One of the best ways to combat this is by consuming foods that are high in immune supporting properties. For my mom growing up, this means waking up and drinking a hot cup of Chaga tea to start the day off. Medicinal mushrooms help regulate the immune system is one of the greatest known superpowers of all medicinal mushrooms. Medicinal mushrooms include Beta glucans which is one of the most abundant forms of polysaccharides, which have been found to help inflammation and balance the immune system. Turkey tail, Reishi, and Lion's Mane are all high on this compound.
2. Continue to be active.
It's hard to keep your activity levels as high as they are in the summer. Set realistic and attainable daily goals to keep your body moving. Ideally, you are setting aside at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. Try to align your exercise to tasks - such as walking to the grocery store or to a friends/family place. Change it up! I like to plan a different activity depending on the day.
3. Sometimes, your brain needs some extra help.
Some people's brains need some extra help during the dark months. Unfortunately for me, I am definitely not one to naturally thrive during colder seasons. It took me a long time to accept that I won't be the same summer version of myself if I'm not as proactive as my mom. This could show up in many ways, but in our family, this means upping our Lion's Mane dosage. Studies show that Lion's Mane can improve brain health, improve mood, and boost focus. The benefits come from its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It's been shown that the mushroom may increase BDNF levels, a protein that supports brain health.
3. Find new and different ways to keep yourself busy.
Fall and winter mean we naturally spend more time at home. This is the perfect time to invest in new books, puzzles, game boards, and catching up on movies and TV shows that you missed on during the summer. Or, you can pick a language that you've long wanted to hone on. Something I have recently done with friends and family is doing a book and puzzle exchange so that you're not spending money and rather letting those around us reuse our belongings.
4. Focus on lighting
Whether you enjoy sunsets or sunrises (I'm definitely a sunset person myself), set aside time everyday to catch the sun rise or set. For myself, this set time gives me a moment to run through my mental gratitude list and enjoy the beauty of mother nature. I also make sure that my work space has enough light for me through out the day. If you really struggle in the morning and waking up to darkness, consider investing in a light therapy box that mimics outdoor light. It's thought that this type of light may cause a chemical change that can benefit you if you struggle with oversleeping during shorter sunlight days.
5. Eat seasonal foods
More time at home means more time to cook and nourish yourself with seasonal foods that are high in nutrients. Pull out a cookbook that has gathered dust over the summer and try a new recipe. Ideally, you are enjoying a meal with friends and family. Take turns cooking and hosting for the people you love or want to get to know. Occasionally, I love to bake and I sneak some medicinal mushrooms into the recipe, such as adding Chaga mushroom into banana bread or Lion's Mane mushroom into ginger molasses cookies. Be creative!
Writing this blog and list has made me feel immensely bittersweet. Part of me is clinging on to the warm, long summer days. But I know that the season changing is inevitable and something that not everyone has the pleasure to experience. Is there anything else that you like to do in the cooler months? If so, share below as you never know who it might help.