Shiitakes Beneficial to Whole Body Health
By Katherine Smith
Special to The Pilot
Mushrooms, as probiotics, act like a secondary immune system in the body. Not only do they help rejuvenate the body back to its homeostasis, they can eat away at harmful substances -substances like daily toxins and even tumors.
Cancer is classified as a -"disease" by medical -dictionaries and the Mayo Clinic. But the word -carries a valley of fear and confusion. Witnesses and survivors know that cancer's threat is bigger than a simple pill cure. However, more -studies and accounts are -surfacing that claim mushrooms as a preventive -cancer measure and maybe as a treatment.
According to Stephen G. Del Sordo's book "First Fifty Years: A Chronological History of the Mushroom Industry," the mushroom trade probably began with Louis XIV. Mushrooms became popular in English gardens, and by the late 1800s, they were being shipped to America. By 1914, mushroom history came to an ironic circle. Mushrooms were sold at twice their growing price, again bypassing the common man and -making it the food of the rich.
That fact is still common, as fresh organic mushrooms typically cost at least 50 cents an ounce.
But the availability is expanding. Dried mushrooms are available online from multiple organic companies, and more farmers are incorporating -mushrooms logs into their produce.
Ray and Amy Sugg occasionally sell their shiitake mushrooms at the Moore County Farmers Market on Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. This market is held at 604 W. Morganton Road, in Southern Pines at the Armory Sports Complex.
The Suggs price their mushrooms at $3 for five ounces and $10 per pound.
The couple own Bonlee Grown Farm. The 10 acres and four greenhouses -feature vegetables from tomatoes to squash; greenhouse arms of geraniums and pansies, tendrils of fruit, and -pasture on 530 Al Davis Road in Bear Creek.
Ray Sugg partners with Stewart Sorrow to grow and harvest their 600 shiitake mushroom logs. The logs crib about 4,000 square feet on Sugg's farm.
When available, Amy Sugg sells the mushrooms along with jams, canned foods, brown eggs and fresh produce at the Moore County Farmers Market.
The Suggs also sell their mushrooms to Rhett's restaurant in Southern Pines.
The Suggs' mushroom plot curves back into the still woods "so the sun and the wind won't dry them out," Ray Sugg says. His red and white oak logs require temperatures over 50 degrees, and the "first thing to be sure of is that they have moisture," Sugg says.
The most common controlled -mushroom growing is out of logs, because the moldy wood is the perfect condition for the delicate fungi. The Suggs purchased sawdust inoculated with mycelium. The sawdust is contained in a plunger-like rod. The rod is hammered into the log to deposit the spores, which are then sealed with wax.
Shiitakes are fluffy, with crinkled brown and white vein-patterned tops and a soft underside. Freshly picked, their stems should be pliable. They smell earthy and nutty. Cooked, they shrink into meaty ovals that can be used in anything from stir fry to stocks.
Beneficial to Whole Body Health
And, as scientists are discovering, -shiitakes are cordial medicines.
In the 14th century, Chinese physician Wu-Rui said shiitake's spur "spirit" energy "cures colds and penetrates into the blood circulatory system."
This has been proven true, but it is Lentinan, an ingredient potent in shiitake, that is responsible.
Lentinan is a cell wall constitute that is extracted from the mushroom. It enhances immune system functions so the body can better fight off tumors. Lentinan helps to activate a type of immune cells called macrophages. These white blood cells engulf and then digest cellular debris and pathogens, clearing potential cancer cells.
According to a 1987 study by the Department of Oncologic Surgery at Osaka University in Japan, Lentinan combined with the chemotherapeutic agent Tegafur increased the lifespan, up to three years, of patients with stomach cancer.
Though the study is nearly 30 years old, the results have not been disputed, and more studies are being done to measure the effects.
Lentinan strengthens the immune -system. It heightens the production of interleukin, a hormone that stimulates the immune system to produce B-cells and helper T-cells. The B-cells create -antibodies and the helper T-cells -coordinate the immune response against infectious microbes and cells.
For this reason, Lentinan is a key -ingredient in the -medication Videx, administered during treatment of HIV. Xiping Zhou, a medical doctor of -oriental medicine believes that the Lentinan found in -shiitakes could weaken chronic fatigue syndrome, hepatitis and Lyme's disease.
Eritadenine can compose up to 70 mg in every 100 grams of shiitake mushrooms. Eritadenine is a natural compound that enhances the removal of bad blood -cholesterol, according to the 2007 Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.
Rich in iron and antioxidant minerals such as manganese, selenium, and zinc, shiitakes are beneficial to whole body health.
They are a succulent diet and -vegetarian choice, because their protein level is comparable to chicken and beef and they have more fiber and less fat.
Shiitakes contain almost all of the -essential amino acids.
To contact the Suggs and request -mushrooms at your farmers market, call (919) 837-2937 or visit bonlee.org/ -businesses/bonleegrownfarm.
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