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.
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.
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.
Every type of mushroom has different qualities according to Chinese medicine. As a general rule, most mushrooms will cover one or several of the following qualities.
- Treat Dampness
- Treat Blood Deficiency
- Treat Qi Deficiency
- Treat Heat
Dampness is the word used in Chinese Fertility Medicine to describe an overabundance of negative types of fluids that have accumulated in the body.
This includes mucus, phlegm, or water accumulation (edema) that build up over time in different areas of the body.
A variety of fertility issues can arise from having too much Dampness including immune disorders, fluid retention, circulatory issues, bacterial and fungal overgrowth, and other inflammatory diseases.
Reducing dampness can take some time, but the physical effects you receive will be worth it!
Blood deficiency is a Chinese Fertility Medicine term used to describe an imbalance in the quality of the blood.
The blood is responsible for circulating nutrients throughout the body to all of your cells, including egg and sperm cells.
When it is deficient the blood can’t properly nourish the body and certain aspects of health get out of balance.
This can impact egg and sperm health as the deficient blood is unable to transport necessary nutrients to the eggs and sperm – causing a depletion in their quality, quantity, and activity.
If the Blood deficiency reaches a deeper level of imbalance you will see physiological changes in the blood, such as reduced iron, haemoglobin, ferritin, B-vitamins and other nutrients. You may also see changes in the volume and quantity of the blood cells and it’s clotting ability or nature.
Qi is the word used in Chinese Fertility Medicine to describe energy, life force, or vitality inside and outside the body.
Qi is the non-physical aspect of your body that makes all your organs and systems work.
This means that it’s vital for the function of all aspects of your fertility, and pregnancy health too. When your Qi is deficient your body struggles to function efficiently, and this can lead to a variety of fertility issues.
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).
Heat is a pattern of imbalance in Chinese Fertility Medicine that refers to one or more of the following: a feeling of heat in your body, a measured fever, or some type of inflammation typically related to infection.
It presents with signs of over-activity, mood changes, inflammatory issues, discolouration of body fluids, and symptoms of dryness and heat.
Too much heat typically affects the fluid and blood balance of the body and this can impact egg and sperm quality to varying degrees.
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, sautéed, 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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