The Real Magic of Mushrooms and Other Superfoods
Posted in: blog
How superfoods such as reishi mushrooms and maca can boost your overall health and well-being
Whether you are training for a marathon or crunching numbers for NASA, it’s safe to say everyone wants to get the most out of their mind and body.
Supplement retailers understand this too, and many are happy to play into it by making bold claims about how their products can turn you into the best version of yourself overnight. As unlikely as it is that you can smooth all wrinkles, double your brain power or cure all ailments in a mere 24 hours, there are supplements out there that can make a difference to your life. There are a number of research-backed superfoods that you can use on a daily basis to improve your overall health and well-being, that can help with everything from nutrition and gut health to circulation and respiration, to name just a few.
Alec Cousins, founder of SuperPlant, has a deep understanding of how superfoods can be used on a daily basis to improve overall health. We spoke to him to learn more about incorporating things like reishi into our diet, as well as what to look out for when purchasing your own superfood blends and powders.Top tips for starting out with superfood powders
- Beware of any retailers that overpromise
- Avoid buying from brands who do not openly declare the origin of the product
- Use superfoods in a variety of ways outside of smoothies, get creative!
We’re talking specifically here about the superfoods that SuperPlant specialises in, such as reishi mushrooms, lucuma, maca, ginger and camu camu – traditional, highly-revered and well-studied superfoods.
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What did your interest in superfoods stem from?
Alec: I spent a lot of time in Peru, developing markets for some of the most amazing fruits and roots found in the Andes and Amazonian. I was so inspired by growers’ passion and their incredible history. Did you know that Peru is the birthplace to the tomato, peanut, chilli and potato? There are more than 4000 varieties of potato!
It also seemed incredible that more was not done to incorporate fruits and roots with powerful health benefits into our own daily diets. The myriad of benefits for these foods had been acknowledged for centuries in these communities. I wanted to create a range of products that were easy to use and completely transparent in their provenance and performance.
What are superfood powders?
Alec: They are dried and powdered roots, fruits and fungi that boast specific health and wellness benefits.
What are reishi mushrooms?
Alec: Reishi mushrooms are large, hard reddish coloured fungi that have been used for medicinal (rather than culinary) properties for hundreds of years. Wild Reishi are very rare and most are now grown commercially. SuperPlant’s Reishi grow wild in specific areas of the Peruvian jungle where they are foraged by the Huitoto and Matses tribes. Their adaptogen qualities have been a central feature in Shamanic healing for hundreds of years.
What do reishi mushrooms taste like?
Alec: There is no getting away from the fact that reishi tastes bitter. We prepare ‘tea’ by steeping reishi in hot water for approximately 30 minutes. We suggest mixing reishi tea into coffee or strongly flavoured dishes. I was told that the more bitter reishi, the more effective the fungi! .
What are the benefits of reishi mushrooms?
Alec: There are myriad benefits of reishi mushrooms that include high anti-inflammatory properties, they are also high in beta-glucans (gut health), high in potassium, B-complex vitamins, amino acids, and vitamin D. Consumers will use them to address a range of conditions including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, asthma, anxiety and stress, sleep disorders and more. Mostly, they are consumed for the preventative, antibacterial and antiviral properties. We do, of course, urge people to consult with their doctor if in any doubt, especially when pregnant.
What are the biggest misconceptions about reishi mushrooms and other superfoods?
Alec: In my view, the biggest misconception about superfood powders is the speed with which they are effective. They do not work like paracetamol! Studies suggest that it takes reishi at least two weeks to become effective, so superfood powders should be used as part of an overall lifestyle step, rather than solutions in themselves. As superfoods become more popular and large food companies contemplate how they can form part of our everyday life, studies into their effectiveness are better funded and more widely published. We encourage scientific claims rather than rumours and myth!
What is maca powder?
Alec: Maca is a root that grows in the barren environment above 4000 metres elevation in the province of Junin (Peru). It is an adaptogen that has been used for centuries to deliver energy and help us cope with stress. It is often thought of as an aphrodisiac and has a malty flavour.
What is the best way to use superfood powders?
Alec: There is no ‘one rule’ on how to use them. Mostly though, they dissolve in liquid and we suggest blending in smoothies, yoghurt, kefir, porridge. Feel free to experiment!
Besides a shake, what else can I add superfood powder to?
Alec: It depends on the type of superfood powder. For us, aside from camu camu (a fruit rich in Vitamin C), all our ingredients survive heat, so why not try adding them to pasta sauce, noodle broth, pancake mix or soup!? Our savoury SuperBouillon really lends itself to that; I love to incorporate it into so many recipes, often replacing salt and it has the added health benefit of key micronutrients B12, D, Calcium, Iron and Iodine.
How to choose the best and clean(est) plant powder?
Alec: Not all ‘super’ plant powders are created equal. As global demand rises, there is a risk that quality is compromised. I would say that wherever possible, do a little research into the provenance of the superfood powder. Avoid buying from brands who do not openly declare the origin of the product. Since we are present in Peru, we choose the best plant powders, grown in specific regions, by known communities. For our reishi, we work closely with communities linked to the Huitoto people near San Pedro, close to Iquitos. Their knowledge of the terrain is second to none and generations have handed down a deep understanding of plant medicine.
Try also to invest in the purchase price if the company offers transparency of supply chain. If they reinvest in local communities, they are most likely honourable and trustworthy too!
So that's the lowdown from Alec at SuperPlant (thanks Alec)! We're off to make superfood pancakes...Check out our full selection of Superfood Powder products here >>