Reishi mushroom and certain microalgae are great ways to enhance your immune system

Every day, you are exposed to free radicals which, if uncontrolled, can cause various diseases. According to a study published in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the combination of extracts from reishi mushrooms (Ganoderma lucidum) and Chlorella vulgaris (CV) can be an effective weapon against free radicals and their harmful effects.

In chemistry, the term “radical” pertains to a molecule, atom, or ion with an unpaired electron. This makes a radical extremely unstable. By nature, atoms require a specific number of electrons in their “shell.” Missing an electron means the shell is incomplete, in which case the atom or molecule will need to bond with another to obtain the missing electron.

Free radicals exist in the body as a result of various processes, most notably your own metabolism. However, you may also be exposed to them because of external factors, such as pollution. In most cases, they contain a single oxygen atom with an unpaired electron. When they build up inside your body, oxidative stress occurs.

Oxidative stress disrupts and breaks down your cells over time. Not surprisingly, this results in a variety of health conditions. The brain, being an organ that consumes much of your body’s oxygen supply, is especially vulnerable. Oxidative stress is linked to neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. Even worse, your body loses its natural ability to cope with oxidative stress as you grow older.

In this study, the researchers looked at the antioxidant properties of both reishi mushrooms and C. vulgaris, as well as their synergistic properties. Antioxidants support good health by “donating” electrons needed to stabilize free radicals and convert them into harmless chemicals that your body can then get rid of. Their presence alone upsets oxidative stress and restores balance to your system.

Reishi, also known as lingzhi in China, is a fungus that was once attributed with magical healing and life-extending properties. Modern research has confirmed that it does have health-boosting effects, although its origins are far from supernatural. Reishi is packed with nutrients that include carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and fiber, as well as potassium, calcium, magnesium, selenium, iron, and zinc, among other minerals.

This mushroom has been associated with many health benefits. It fights bacteria and viruses and strengthens the immune system. It also has benefits against lung and liver damage, diabetes, and cancer.

CV is a nutritional powerhouse, too. It is a microalga that belongs to the genus Chlorella and is known for its rich protein content. It is rich in carbohydrates, lipids, and the pigment chlorophyll. It is known to support the immune system and protect the body from diseases like cancer, atherosclerosis, and age-related conditions.

The researchers wanted to know if these two superfoods work well together, particularly against disease-causing inflammation. They collected aqueous extract from reishi (GLE) and CV (CVE) and tested them for antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, synergistic, addictive, and antagonistic properties.

They found that in terms of antioxidant properties, the combination was more potent than the individual components in attenuating oxidative stress and its effects. It also suppressed inflammation induced by the introduction of lipopolysaccharides (LPS), a toxin produced by gram-negative bacteria such as Escherichia coli and Salmonella. (Related: Inflammation: Tame this silent killer with food-based solutions.)

The combination was noted to have down-regulated the expression of inflammatory mediators that the body releases in the presence of possible health threats and pathogens. Surprisingly, the combo’s anti-inflammatory effects were more potent than that of standard anti-inflammatory medication like dexamethasone.

Because of their findings, the researchers concluded that the two superfoods have powerful synergistic antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that aid your immune system and help treat diseases caused by inflammation and oxidative stress.

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