Can Mushrooms Protect Egg and Sperm Health?
Can Mushrooms Protect Egg and Sperm Health?
Renowned worldwide for their immune-boosting effects, and their ability to reduce inflammation, mushrooms have been used for millennia in Chinese medicine and nutrition.
They contain a ‘Master Antioxidant’ called ergothioneine, which is an amino acid that protects your DNA from oxidative damage – and this might help protect egg and sperm DNA health too!
Plus mushrooms also contain Vitamin D, which increases in some types of mushrooms when they become sun-dried.
Only ever eat organic mushrooms as they intensely absorb the contents of their environment. If they are grown in a chemically treated area they will absorb high levels of those chemicals.
Check out the Chinese Medicine use for mushrooms below, as well as a caution for when not to use them.
The Key nutrients of mushrooms:
Vitamin D- Vitamin D is a fat-soluble hormone produced through the exposure of the skin to sunlight and is a vital nutrient for many processes in your body. Research has shown that there may be a strong correlation between Vitamin D levels and AMH (Anti-Mullerian Hormone).
Vitamin B complex – Overall this Vitamin group is necessary for energy production and the synthesis and repair of DNA and RNA. This is vital for your overall health but also for cell function, which includes egg and sperm cells and their genetic health and quality.
And they also carry excellent levels of:
Selenium: is one component of antioxidant enzymes and is also used by the body to help support thyroid health, particularly the conversion of thyroid hormones from one to the other. This can help support your thyroid health, which is fundamental for fertility health and pregnancy.
Copper: Copper is essential for overall health and is involved in many processes in the body. It cannot be produced by the body and must, therefore, be consumed through food. Copper helps maintain healthy bones, blood vessels, nerves, and immune function, and it contributes to iron absorption.
Phosphorus: Is an element that plays an important role in how the body uses carbohydrates and fats. It is also needed for the body to make protein for the growth, maintenance, and repair of cells and tissues. It is essential in our diet and particularly in children when growth and development occurs.
Potassium: Is an electrolyte which counteracts the effects of sodium, helping to maintain consistent blood pressure levels – another important element for pregnancy. Many processes in the body rely on a small electric current to function, and electrolytes provide this current.
CHINESE FERTILITY MEDICINE USES IT TO:
- Clears Dampness
- Treats Blood Deficiency
- Treats Qi Deficiency
- Clears Heat
- Boosts The Immune System
Dampness describes an excessive accumulation of fluids in your body that should not be there. The accumulated fluids include mucus, phlegm, or water accumulation – often seen by swelling (edema).
All of these forms of excessive fluid accumulation are classed as dampness or phlegm, and frequently present in fertility health issues.
Typically when someone has too much Dampness you will see a swollen and coated tongue. However, you can also have dampness without these symptoms, and I call this a ‘hidden dampness’ pattern.
Fertility issues that typically have a Damp or Phlegm involvement are:PCOS, cysts, excessive vaginal discharge, thrush, urinary infections, fibroids, polyps, endometriosis, blocked fallopian tubes, pelvic inflammatory disease, immune disorders (raised NK cells, Hashimoto’s, etc), DNA damage to sperm and eggs – and sperm morphology issues.
Accumulated fluids block the flow of healthy fluids, such as the blood, which reduces the circulation of nutrients. When egg or sperm cells lack nutrients they start to deteriorate, develop poorly, and accumulate waste in the local area – causing further complications of dampness.
Dampness also creates a good environment for bacterial and fungal overgrowth, creating issues such as candida, thrush, and UTIs.
Reducing dampness can take some time, but the physical effects you receive will be worth it!
Treats Blood Deficiency:
Blood Deficiency is the term used to describe a poorer quality of blood.
If the presentation is more serious you will see physiological changes in the blood, such as reduced iron, hemoglobin, ferritin, and other nutrients. You may also see changes in the volume and quantity of the blood cells and it’s clotting ability or nature.
However, in many cases of blood deficiency, there may be no physiological changes and so we look for specific symptoms in your general health.
Typical symptoms of blood deficiency in men and women are:
Poor circulation (hands, feet, head, and reproductive system), dizziness, low blood pressure, dry skin and hair when not moisturised, ‘the four pales’ (pale: lips, nails, inner lower eyelid, and tongue), brittle and/or ridged nails, constipation, feeling cold, feeling tired, diagnosed circulatory issues that create damaged blood vessels (varicose) or masses in the lower half of the body.
Diagnosed issues such as: varicocele or poor sperm quality in men, ovulatory issues, poor egg quality, thin endometrium, fibroids, cysts, endometriosis, blocked fallopian tubes, adenomyosis, polyps, clotting issues, and bleeding disorders frequently have a component of blood deficiency at their root too.
Blood deficiency typically arises from either:
- a lack of production of blood cells in the bone marrow – due to reduced levels of Qi. This can be due to loss of energy through lifestyle, wrong diet, or inherited genetic issues.
- a severe or extended blood loss from menstruation, miscarriage, birth, or physical trauma that causes bleeding.
Button Mushrooms can help to support blood cell production to overcome blood deficiency.
Treats Qi Deficiency:
Qi (pronounced chee) is the Chinese word used to describe energy or vitality.
It’s the non-physical aspect of your body that makes all of your organs and systems work, to fulfil their role in keeping you alive and healthy. This means that it’s also vital for the function of all aspects of your fertility, and pregnancy health too.
Energy is needed for every process in your body including cell creation and division, activity, and function – think of egg and sperm cells here too. If there isn’t enough energy available then your cells, tissues, organs and systems of your body start to function at a lower and slower level, making them less efficient at supporting the processes they should support.
Your body becomes slower and less efficient and the ability of the eggs and sperm to function properly is also affected, making them weaker and underactive. When Qi becomes more severely deficient you will likely present with hormone imbalance, typically with reduced Progesterone, Testosterone and/or FSH levels. In some cases the FSH can rise and present itself as being elevated, due to the ovaries or testes being underactive and sluggish (tired).
Pregnancy becomes harder with lower levels of energy, and once pregnant your body will need high levels of energy to support the first 10-weeks of elevated Progesterone and growth of your baby.
Some key symptoms of Qi deficiency are: Tiredness, lethargy or fatigue, lack of motivation, poor circulation, dizziness when getting up, poor appetite, bloating, looser bowel movements, sore lower back, low levels of hormones such as Progesterone and Testosterone and FSH, short luteal phase, miscarriage (cases that are not related to genetic issues), erratic and dropping BBT chart temperatures, weight gain, slow metabolism, low blood pressure, under-active thyroid and/or adrenals.
Each person is conceived and created with a certain amount of Qi.
This amount is determined by the amount of Qi your parents had at the time of your conception. This corresponds to the scientific understanding that egg and sperm quality determines the health of the embryo, the strength of the pregnancy, and health of the baby.
Once you were conceived you used your mums Qi to further support your own Qi until you were born and able to breathe, eat and drink. From that time on you were able to support your own Qi by taking it from the outside world through food, air, and fluids. This will continue for the rest of your life, but the way you eat, sleep, live, breathe, think, act physically (exercise, rest etc) and many other factors – will determine how strong your Qi remains.
Qi deficiency is at the cause of many people’s fertility health issues and so this is an important aspect to strengthen. The good news is that it’s possible to strengthen it through the correct balance of the 5 Fertility Foundations.
Button Mushrooms can help to support the healthy production of Qi.
The term heat is used to describe a subjective experience of heat in the body. It also describes pathological issues (such as fevers and infections), and symptoms that have a sensation of heat or burning.
Typical heat symptoms include: thirst, dry skin, constipation, feeling hot, hot hands and soles of feet, red face, inflammation of the skin – typically red, yellow, green or black in colour, yellow, red or green phlegm, a yellow and dry tongue coating, a red tongue, blood in the urine, burning or hot symptoms anywhere in the body, fever, many types of infections, dryness – and reduced body fluids, including cervical mucus.
Heat typically has an irritating and drying effect on the body that can damage the fluid balance of your cells, tissues, organs. It may also damage the general body fluids such as saliva, urine, bowel fluids, and cervical mucus. The reduction in these fluids causes dryness and as the fluids become deficient you experience a relative increase in heat sensation around your body.
For fertility to be at it’s optimum there needs to be a balance of fluids and warmth.
Too much or too little heat or cold will cause imbalance and disturb the fluid aspect of your body. This can negatively impact any aspect of your body including the reproductive system. The eggs, womb and also sperm are supported through balanced fluid levels and sufficient, but not too much, heat.
Drinking more fluids will generally not be sufficient to clear heat (unless the cause of the heat is purely related to a lack of intake of fluids). Most cases of excessive heat do not find resolution through increasing fluid intake, but this is an important aspect to protect the body fluids from the damage caused by the heat.
Button Mushrooms can help to support the process of clearing heat from your body. If you are experiencing more severe heat issues (fevers, infections, etc) then please seek medical attention as this food will likely not be sufficient enough to resolve your issue.
Season available: Button mushrooms can be found in the wild, usually in fields and grassy areas around late spring -autumn, however they can also be purchased in supermarkets all year round.
How it’s typically cooked: There are many ways to cook mushrooms, sauteed, grilled, stir fry but my favourite is roasting until well browned as it brings out all their natural flavours.
When preparing mushrooms avoid washing, soaking or peeling if they are dirty simply brush the dirt off with a brush or paper towel.
Cautions: Due to their immune stimulating effect (raising NK cells and other immune-related cells) mushrooms should be used with caution if you have a known immune overactivity such as raised Natural Killer cells, or raised Anti-thyroid antibodies (Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis). Seek professional guidance if dealing with these health issues.
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