Functional mushrooms and health – The Model Health Show podcast with guest Tero Isokauppila from Four Sigmatic

Tero Isokauppila, who describes himself as ‘a Finnish nomad turned into a fungi lovin’ foodpreneur’ [1], recently featured on ‘The Model Health Show’ podcast.

The episode was ‘TMHS 395: The amazing connection between Fungi, Skin Health, And Weight Loss – With Guest Tero Isokauppila’ [2]. It was a very interesting podcast so much so that I ended up buying the Mushroom blend coffee from Four Sigmatic, Tero’s company. I have started with just 10 sachets of it because I have no clue if I’m going to like it. This is the link (affiliate) to what I bought FOUR SIGMATIC Mushroom Coffee Lion’s Mane & Chaga.

Funnily enough, years ago, I had a small lecture series as part of my biology-based university degree which focused on Fungi and mushrooms. I never thought I’d be researching and writing about them again. But here goes, the blog is predominantly information from the podcast, with a few other links mentioned below.

The podcast, in particular, focuses on the use of mushrooms in health, and gut biology and skin, looking at high-quality scientific research [2].

My dream is to bring back the ancient mushroom wisdom to modern lifestyle.

Tero Isokauppila [1]

The mushroom kingdom

Mushrooms are a biological kingdom. You have, of course, plants and animals which everyone is familiar with and then, one which is often overlooked, mushrooms [2]. I’m just going to interject here briefly and state that the kingdom is called the Fungi Kingdom and includes mushrooms, yeasts, moulds, mildews and rusts but for the purpose of food health and staying true to the podcast and its purpose, we can ignore these for now [3].

When something is a kingdom, like plants and animals, there is mass variety in terms of look, type, structure, how beneficial or harmful it is, it’s effects on the body etc. And mushrooms are the same, with six times more mushroom varieties then there are plant varieties [2].

Species from the mushroom kingdom can be found in:

  • antibiotics, e.g. penicillin
  • beer
  • bread
  • some cheese
  • kombucha
  • sauerkraut
  • our gut microbiology [2]

There isn’t mush room here

Despite the vastness of the kingdom, simplistically, you can classify mushrooms as three broad groups:

  • The Culinary Mushroom – typical grocery store mushrooms; Chestnut, Button, Portobello
  • The Functional Mushrooms – these are grown on trees, less common but still available to buy in some stores
  • Psychedelic Mushrooms – those that alter the mind, usually illegal so stay away those

Tero states that the nutritional value of the culinary mushroom is similar to that of a vegetable whereas your functional mushrooms contain higher levels of antioxidants and adaptogens [2].

The three mush-keteers

The three mushrooms mentioned repeatedly in the podcast for its benefits were:

  • Reishi mushroom – the queen of mushrooms.
  • Chaga
  • Lion’s mane

The Four Sigmatic website states the following properties for each of the above:

“Lion’s Mane is your brain’s best friend. Long used by the Buddhist monks to help with focus during meditation” [4]

“Chaga to support your daily immune functions.” [4]

“Reishi has been shown to support the body’s sleep cycles as well as support occasional stress.” [4]

More benefits

Reishi is a strong adaptogen [2] and classified in Chinese medicine by Shen Nong over 2400 years ago as a superior herb [5]. More benefits and an interesting read come from this article on the use of Reishi in Chinese medicine.

Reishi and other functional mushroom are full of antioxidants. These ‘calm down’ the skin, the gut and stress levels as it lowers inflammation [2]. This makes me wonder whether it would help my IBS and bloating.

When you’re body is calm, your happiness, productivity and brain power improve. If you think about it, when you are in flight or fight mode, you are panicky, looking around for danger and imagining different scenarios and solutions. Essentially, you are not focused so you are not calm, collected or confident. Reishi and Ashwanga help with those flight or fight processes. This is also why these particular ones are recommended for the evening [2].

Tero mentioned Ashwagandha which is similar to Reishi. If you are interested here is a non-affiliate link to another article on the topic.

Tero goes on to talk about mushrooms and skin and the beauty industry which I found so interesting, I’m in the process of writing that up as a separate blog. Shawn also touches briefly on dark pigmented foods and the link to longevity which will be another article once I’ve researched it further.

Dual extraction: The best way to prepare mushrooms

To get the most out of the mushrooms, Tero recommends a process called Dual Extraction.

For some background as to why this is important, mushrooms have a very sturdy cell structure due to compounds called Chitin. Our bodies don’t have much of the enzyme required to break down Chitin. This means that all the nutrients we are trying to access are encapsulated by this Chitin structure which our body cannot brwak down efficiently, making them bio-unavailable. So, before ingestion, we need to make these nutrient bioavailable and we shouldn’t be eating raw mushrooms [2].

Dual extraction involves breaking down the Chitin and dissolving the nutrients. First, use heat and water to extract any water-soluble compounds. This process unlocks the polysaccharides that are good for our immunity and gut [2].

Second, use lipids (fats) or alcohol to help extract any non-water soluble compounds. These will be the adaptogenic and brain-boosting properties [2].

Caution taking mushrooms

Interestingly, Tero warns that the most popular ‘mushroom’ products on the market aren’t actually made from mushrooms. He states that the FDA has said that they shouldn’t be called mushrooms because they aren’t the mushroom part of the fungi. One way to tell is that real mushroom supplements/products will have a bitter taste [2].

Tero also reminds us to not to overdo it, keep it simple with maybe two or three concoctions. For the morning, Lion’s mane and Chaga are good options with Reishi in the evening [2]. Personally, I’ll try one a day and ease myself in. Moderation is key for me and I know if I go all-in with something, I’ll be going all-out pretty soon, despite my best intentions.

#MushroomMovement

Conclusion

I found this podcast fascinating. It’s so interesting to hear of another way of battle-proofing my health which I have yet to try. I wanted to keep going and do more research and add more papers into this but the topic is so huge, I’ll be writing a mini dissertation. The brilliant thing to take away from this is that there is a lot of research and studies out there which are well worth looking into. No doubt I will be writing some more blog posts on this topic.

If you would like to listen to the podcast, The Model Health Show website has all the ways you can listen to it. I listened to it for free on Spotify, it was Episode 395: The amazing connection between Fungi, Skin Health, And Weight Loss – With Guest Tero Isokauppila.

And here it is again, help a blogger out through the affiliate link below if you are interested in purchasing some mushroom coffee from Four Sigmatic themselves, Tero Isokauppila’s company, at no extra cost to you.

Bibliography

  1. Tero Isokauppila personal website – Tero Isokauppila
  2. The Model Health Show podcast – Shawn Stevenson Episode 395
  3. Encyclopedia Britannica – The Fungi Kingdom
  4. Four Sigmatic
  5. Chinese medicine living