Health Benefits of Chaga: Latest Superfood

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Chaga mushroom reduces oxidative stress, suppresses cancer progression, helps protect the immune system, reduces inflammation, can improve diabetic health, increases physical endurance and protects against dangerous blood clots.

There are so many superfoods in the market. All of them are promoted as something that will magically change your health. But how would you know whether they are actually good for you? It is important to be informed about everything that you put on your plate because it is related to your health. In this article, we will discuss the health benefits of Chaga, which has been promoted as the latest superfood in the market.

In this article:

What is it?
Amazing Health Benefits of Chaga
Side Effects of Chaga
Nutrition
Can it be Eaten During Pregnancy?
Simple Recipes

What is it?

Chaga mushroom is a fungus found primarily on birch trees that have been used in the folk medicine of Russia, Japan, and Europe. Chaga mushroom can be eaten as a food and is also made into tea, syrup, bath agents, and extracts. Traditional uses for this mushroom have included improving the immune response and treating stomach issues.

chaga mushroom

Amazing Health Benefits of Chaga

Reduces Oxidative Stress

Chaga has the strongest antioxidant activity when compared against three other common medicinal mushrooms that also fight oxidation. The Chaga extract reduces more than % of the DNA damage caused by hydrogen peroxide. In human cell studies, a compound isolated from Chaga protects nerves from oxidative stress from Parkinson’s disease.

Suppresses Cancer Progression

The Chaga extract reduces the growth of colon cancer and liver cancer. Compounds found in Chaga help the immune system to recognize cancer cells as harmful and invasive. This helps the body to then mount an immune response against cancer. Reactive oxygen species and oxidative damage increase the risk of cancerous mutations by damaging cellular DNA. By reducing oxidative stress, Chaga lowers the risk of such mutations.

Helps Protect the Immune System

The Chagaextract increases the production of immune cells il- and lymphocyte b. This can help increase the immune system’s ability to fight pathogens. Compounds found in chaga help the immune system to differentiate between the body’s cells and foreign cells. This helps the immune system to respond accurately and protect the body from those pathogens.

Reduces Inflammation

Chaga is able to reduce an over activated immune response, which can limit harmful inflammation. Chaga also reduces inflammation in colon cells, which shows promise in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease.

Can Improve Diabetic Health

The chaga extract reduces symptoms of diabetes including high blood glucose, free fatty acids, total cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein bad cholesterol. The chaga extract increased high-density lipoprotein good cholesterol and insulin levels. This helps prevent high blood sugar levels and diabetic complications.

Increases Physical Endurance

Chaga increased exercise tolerance. Chaga polysaccharides significantly reduced blood lactate levels. This may also help boost endurance since an accumulation of lactate in the body can cause fatigue. Chaga extract administration also decreased blood urea nitrogen levels, which can otherwise contribute to fatigue.

Protects against Dangerous Blood Clots

Platelet aggregation occurs when blood cells clump together and form clots. Sometimes, platelet aggregation can cause blood clots in veins thrombus, which can eventually lead to heart attacks or strokes. The chaga extract significantly inhibited platelet aggregation in animal studies. These results indicate a possibility for chaga to treat or stop thrombus formation.

Promotes Cognitive Function

The chaga mushroom extract helps with chemical-induced cognitive dysfunction. Chaga lowered brain oxidative stress in these animals. The chaga extract also restored the levels of acetylcholine during oxidative stress as efficiently as the reference drug tacrine. Acetylcholine promotes learning and memory, and increasing its availability can provide nootropic benefits.

Balances the Immune System Between TH and TH

Chaga ethanol extract administration reduces the levels of il- and increases ifn-y levels. The extract promotes th response and inhibits th cell response. The balance of th and th cytokines help balance the immune system. Th cells synthesize il-, which plays an important role in allergic reactions by inhibiting th cell functions. On the other hand, th cells produce ifn-y cytokines, which inhibit th cells.

Relieves Pain

The chaga extract reduces the reaction to pain. Because it may work through a similar mechanism, chaga could be similarly useful in limiting these negative effects.

May Help Relieve Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Oxidative stress from free radicals and low antioxidant levels can contribute to inflammatory bowel disease (ibd). Chaga mushroom extract’s antioxidant abilities can protect the gut from ibd. The chaga extract reduces oxidative stress in lymphocytes from both healthy individuals and ibd patients. Chaga also reduces inflammation in colon cells, which shows promise in the treatment of ibd.

Side Effects of Chaga

●  Since chaga stops platelet aggregation and blood clots from forming, you should not take it in combination with blood-thinning medications, such as aspirin and warfarin. This can increase the risk of bleeding.

● Chaga can lower blood sugar levels. You should not take chaga in combination with diabetes medicine because it may cause blood glucose levels to fall dangerously low.

● People with autoimmune diseases should avoid using chaga because it can cause the immune system to become more active.

● In one case study, an elderly japanese woman had oxalate nephropathy after six months of daily consumption of chaga powder. Oxalate nephropathy is a condition where excess levels of oxalate can cause kidney failure. Chaga mushrooms contain extremely high oxalate concentrations, so excess consumption can cause kidney damage.

● Additionally, sclerotium parts of chaga appeared to have stronger cytotoxic effects against normal cells than cancer cells. This can cause healthy cells to die.

● Most of the laboratory studies have either been done in human cell culture or animals. More clinical trials are needed to confirm the chaga’s safety and effectiveness.

Nutrition

Chaga is rich in fiber and essential nutrients, including vitamin d, iron, magnesium, potassium, manganese, and calcium. Chaga’s high melanin content has led some to believe that it can bolster the melanin naturally found in the skin, thereby protecting it from sun damage, skin cancer, wrinkles, or aging.

Can it be Eaten During Pregnancy?

Chaga is a remarkable medicinal mushroom that grows on living trees. Barring rare tree-mushroom allergies, pregnant women can take chaga tea and chaga mycelium daily during their entire pregnancy. To date, no side effects or toxicity of chaga have been reported.

Simple Recipes

Chaga recipes are growing in popularity as the chaga mushroom has become a popular ingredient in vegan and clean eating diets, as well as natural and alternative healing. Once you have mastered the art of steeping the perfect cup of chaga tea, you can expand your repertoire to include a variety of different drinks and snacks.  Here are some of the best chaga mushroom recipes to get started with, collected from some of the best clean eating, vegan and mainstream recipe websites and lifestyle blogs.

Chaga Tea

Most chaga tea drinkers start with a straightforward tea recipe that allows them to reap the water-soluble benefits of chaga. After a while, you may want to change things up and add to the natural flavor.

This recipe is perfect for beginners who want to try a new take on chaga tea. Using maple sugar, the tea is naturally infused with a sweetness. This tea is ideal for cooling and drinking as iced tea on a hot summer day.

  • Makes: 4 servings
  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chaga mushroom powder
  • Maple sugar, for serving

Instructions

  1. Combine the chaga powder and 4 cups cold water in a small saucepan
  2. Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat and let steep for 10 to 15 minutes
  3. Strain and serve with maple sugar for sweetness, if desired.

Chocolate Chaga Smoothie

Although the flavor of chocolate automatically makes most people think a recipe unhealthy or decadent, this chocolate chaga smoothie is actually good for the body, with plenty of antioxidants and no added sugar or sweeteners.

The berries add a natural tinge of sweetness and the chocolate flavor in the smoothie comes from cocoa powder. You can change up the flavor by adding different types of berries, cinnamon, cloves or any type of spices you like.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 sliced frozen banana
  • 1 cup of frozen berries
  • 1 cup cold chaga tea (see the first recipe)
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • Optional: a pinch of cinnamon and allspice

Instructions

  1. Combine in blender: 1/2 sliced frozen banana, 1 cup frozen berries, 1 cup cold chaga tea and 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  2. Add a pinch of cinnamon and allspice if desired
  3. Blend until smooth. Add more chaga tea if consistency is too thick.

Iced Coconut Chaga Tea Shake

Adding coconut and vanilla through natural ingredients, this shake has a robust flavor that is ideal for those who are just starting to drink chaga and might not be fans of the undiluted taste of chaga just yet.

The vanilla flavor in this chaga tea shake comes from the vanilla liquid stevia, which is derived from natural ingredients and a good option if you are looking to cut your sugar intake while keeping your sweet tooth satisfied.

The coconut and vanilla make a nice complement to the earthy flavor the chaga tea brings to the mix. Toss this in the blender for a slushy treat on a hot day, or add almond milk to intensify the coconut flavor.

  • Makes: 1 serving
  • Total time: 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3/4 of a glass of cooled chaga tea (from recipe #1)
  • 3-5 ice cubes
  • 7-10 drops of vanilla liquid stevia (nunaturals)
  • Coconut milk

Instructions

  1. Make chaga tea using recipe #1 and let cool
  2. Add 3 to 5 ice cubes to 3/4 of a glass of cooled chaga tea
  3. Add 7-10 drops of vanilla liquid stevia (nunaturals) to the glass
  4. Top the glass up with coconut milk and stir

Therefore, to conclude, chaga has plenty of health benefits with a few side effects. But which food doesn’t? As long as you are well informed about your health and food choices and get the approval from your doctor, there is no problem in having chaga.

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/pmc6142110/

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