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A new University of Florida at Gainesville study shows improved immune function in people who ate a large-cooked shiitake mushroom every day for four weeks. Shiitake mushrooms are cultivated for their culinary and medicinal value. Sue Percival, a Professor of Human Nutrition and her team enrolled 52 healthy young adults, age 21 to 41 for the study. The researchers gave them a four-week supply of dried shiitake mushrooms to cook and consume 5 to 10 grams of the mushroom daily for 4 weeks.
Through blood tests performed before and after consumption, the researchers noted a large proliferation of gamma delta T-cells; cells which bridge the gap between more primitive and more advanced segments of immunity, are first responders or a first line of defense against infection, and also regulate and coordinate an attack on microbes. These cells were also better equipped to kill microbes.
Shiitake also improved the number and activity of the immune systems natural killer cells. These cells activate immune responses against very dangerous bacteria, viruses and cancer cells.
Secretory IgA also increased. This immunoglobulin is a major factor in the immune system of tears, saliva, the urinary tract, the prostate, and the digestive tract. The level of IL-10 improved meaning better immune system control and the level of CRP decreased indicating that although the mushroom improved immunity it was actually decreasing inflammation in the body.
"If you eat a shiitake mushroom every day, you could see changes in their immune system that are beneficial," said Percival, an Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty member. "We're enhancing the immune system, but we're also reducing the inflammation that the immune system produces." The study was published online April 11, 2015 in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.