TPV Podcast, Episode 392: Are Mushrooms Really Magic? Part 2

On this week’s episode, Stacy and Sarah are updating us about mushrooms! Since our last episode, Episode 307, we’ve discovered so much new information on mushrooms. Sarah considers them to be another food group! Find out why on Episode 392!

If you enjoy the show, please review it on iTunes!

The Paleo View (TPV), Episode 392: Are Mushrooms Really Magic? Part 2

 Introduction (0:44)

  • Stacy isn’t in charge this week! Time for Sarah to nerd out!
  • Sarah is almost done with her gut microbiome book. She thinks only 2 months before she turns it in.
  • Now that she has all this information on the microbiome, it’s now of equal importance as nutrient density.
  • “One of the foods that I have realized needs to be its own food group, needs to be emphasized, that just doesn’t get enough play in any health conscious community is mushrooms.”
  • We did an episode on mushroom extracts in episode 307, but we only scratched the surface.
  • Now we see mushrooms as a foundational food. We’ll explore why in this episode.
  • Stacy wants to see if we can figure out why she craves mushrooms with her steak when she has PMS

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 What mushrooms are their own food group (11:41)

  • Not a vegetable! Fungus are a different kingdom from plants.
  • Unique phytochemicals we can’t get anywhere else: polyphenols, triterpenes.
  • Unique fiber we can’t get anywhere else: chitin, beta-glucans, chitosan
  • Extremely nutrient dense
  • Uniquely beneficial for the gut microbiome (mediates health benefits)
  • A 100-gram serving of the least impressive mushroom (the white or common mushroom), raw, contains a whopping 24% of the RDA of vitamin B2, 18% of vitamin B3, 15% of vitamin B5, 16% of copper, 13% of selenium, 9% each of phosphorous and potassium, and smaller but still impressive amounts of vitamins B1, B6, B9, C and D as well as iron, magnesium, manganese and zinc—all for only 22 calories.
  • While we don’t count calories, that’s certainly nutrient dense!
  • Phytochemicals and fiber are very important for the gut microbiome. And then the gut microbiome breaks down nutrients for us to use.

Phenolic compounds (17:50)

  • All antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and many other beneficial properties.
  • protocatechuic acid. Studies suggest protocatechuic acid is a potent antioxidant that can reduce inflammation, protect the liver from damage, prevent cancer, protect against ulcers, and protect against cardiovascular disease, in addition to both anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties.
  • gentisic acid. Studies suggest gentisic acid has anti-inflammatory, antirheumatic and antioxidant properties, can protect cells from damage caused by gamma radiation, can protect the liver from damage, and enhances antioxidant enzyme activity.
  • gallic acid. Studies show that gallic acid has potent antioxidant effects, reduces inflammation, and may protect against cardiovascular disease, cancer, and infection. In fact, gallic acid may prove useful in the treatment of depression, cancer, and some types of infection.
  • vanillic acid. Studies show that vanillic acid has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and may even act as a pain reliever. It’s also cardioprotective, hepatoprotective, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial.
  • p-coumaric acid. Studies suggest p-coumaric acid can reduce inflammation, reduce intestinal inflammation, regulate the immune system, improve bone density, act as an antidepressant, prevent cancer, protect against kidney damage, and protect against tissue damage caused by drugs and alcohol.
  • Cinnamic acid. Another potent antioxidant, studies suggest that cinnamic acid has antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties in addition to protecting against cancer and diabetes.
  • syringic acid. Studies show that syringic acid may protect against cancer, diabetes, liver damage and lung damage.
  • myricetin. Studies show that myricetin is a superstar thanks to its strong anti-oxidant, anticancer, antidiabetic and anti-inflammatory activities. It may protect against neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, as well as cardiovascular disease, liver damage, and glaucoma. Myricetin also protects against photoaging, thrombosis, hypertention, allergies and can even act as a pain reliever!
  • catechin. Studies show that catechins act as antioxidants but also boost the activity of antioxidant enzymes. Catechins are also anti-inflammatory and modulate the immune system, anti-bacterial, anti-cancer and can boost metabolism and promote healthy weight loss.
  • Catechin also helps shifting the gut microbiome towards a healthy microbiome from an obese microbiome. Present when they do a fecal transplant in mice.

Triterpenes (26:37)

  • Mushrooms are also particularly rich in triterpenes (including ergosterol, ganoleucoin, ganoderic acid and pyrrole alkaloids), which have a variety of properties that are important for cancer prevention, including antiproliferative, antimetastatic, and antiangiogenic.
  • About 80 different triterpenes have been isolated from reishi alone, some of which are known to kill hepatoma cells (liver cancer cells), to inhibit histamine release from mast cells (anti-allergic effect), to have cardioprotective effects (by modulating angiotensin) and hepatoprotective activity.

Fiber (29:28)


  • Chitin is a type of fermentable oligosaccharide fiber made of long chains of a glucose derivative called N-acetylglucosamine with amino acids attached.
  • It can only be obtained from mushrooms and other fungi, insect exoskeletons, fish scales, and shellfish shells.
  • In studies, chitin has been shown to support the growth of species from Bifidobacterium (including Bifidobacterium animalis), Lactobacillus, Akkermansia, and Bacteroides while also decreasing the abundance of the inflammatory microbe Desulfovibrio. 
  • In mice, chitin oligosaccharides are also able to modulate the gut microbiota to combat diet-induced metabolic syndrome in mice, inhibiting the destruction of the gut barrier, restoring the Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes ratio to what it was before high-fat feeding, and reversing the decreases in Porphyromonadaceae, Deferribacteraceae, and Coriobacteriaceae and the increases in Rhodospirillaceae, Christensenellaceae, Bacteroidaceae, Lactobacillaceae, Bifidobacteriaceae, Verrucomicrobiaceae, and Erysipelotrichaceae induced by high-fat feeding.
  • At the genus level, chitin fiber dramatically increased levels of Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, Akkermansia, and Bacteroides in these mice, while decreasing the abundance of the less favorable Desulfovibrio. In human fecal culture, chitin-glucan fiber also beneficially increases the Lactobacillus/Enterococcus ratio.


  • Chitosan is also composed of a long chain of N-acetylglucosamine molecules, but it also contains randomly distributed D-glucosamine molecules linked in a beta configuration.
  • It is only naturally-occurring in the cell walls of fungi, like mushrooms.
  • In mice, chitosan increases gut microbial diversity (along with a general increase in Bacteroidetes and a decrease in Firmicutes) and decreases levels of potentially pathogenic genera Escherichia and Shigella. 
  • In diabetic mice, chitosan has also been shown to reshape the microbiota to induce an anti-diabetic effect, relieving dysbiosis by raising levels of Akkermansia muciniphilia and suppressing the growth of Helicobacter.


  • Glucans are polysaccharides derived from D-glucose, linked by either alpha-glycosidic bonds (making them alpha-glucans) or beta-glycosidic bonds (making them beta-glucans).
  • Mushrooms are particularly rich sources of beta-glucans (more specifically (1-3),(1-6)-beta-glucans which are different than the (1,4)-beta-glucans in grains like oats), which feed anaerobic microbes in the gut and can significantly increase levels of, butyric and propionic acids (the second best source of beta-glucans is oats).
  • Beta-glucans have been shown to increase levels of Roseburia, Bifidobacterium and Dialister, and in particular the species Eubacterium rectale, Roseburia faecis, and Roseburia intestinalis.
  • In a human trial, foods rich in beta-glucan, increased levels of Roseburia hominis, Clostridiaceae (Clostridium orbiscindens and probiotic Clostridium species), and Ruminococcus species, while lowering the levels of Firmicutes and Fusobacteria were lowered. Levels of acetic, butyric, and propionic acids also increased.
  • In vitro studies have also demonstrated that beta-glucan can boost the growth of Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, and Bifidobacterium animalis lactis. In an extensive review of the health effects of beta-glucan, researchers concluded that this fiber’s actions upon the gut microflora, including enhancing the production of short-chain fatty acids, contributes to its anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, and immune-modulating effects.

FAQs (37:44)

  • Taken all together, these unique properties found in no other food groups elevates mushrooms to their own food group!

Serving size? Servings per week?

  • Let’s look at the science!  Servings are defined same way as veggies, 80-100g, one cup raw (a fist-sized amount) or 1/2 cup cooked.
  • Cancer studies show highest magnitude of effect in relation to frequent mushrooms consumption. Many (but not all) CVD and T2D studies show null effect in context of SAD diet.
  • Compared to participants with mushroom consumption <1 time/week, frequent mushroom intake was associated with a decreased risk of prostate cancer (1–2 times/week: HRs [95% CIs] = 0.92 [0.81, 1.05]; ≥3 times/week: HRs [95% CIs] = 0.83 [0.70, 0.98]; p‐trend = 0.023)..
  • Breast cancer meta-analysis, reduced risk for every gram daily!

Which are best for inflammation or the gut?

  • Anti-inflammatory effects have been established across the board, even regular ol’ white mushroom. Best studied for inflammation are reishi, maitake, turkey tail.
  • For gut microbiome, each mushroom has a slightly different effect (same as veggies), so variety is the most important.
  • Reishi increases Bifidobacteria, lactobacillus, Roseburia, and lachnospiraceae in the gut. In mice, these mushrooms have also been reported to reduce obesity through modulation of the gut microbiota. Along with reversing gut dysbiosis in mice (reducing the Firmicutes/Bacteroidetes ratio and lowering levels of endotoxin-releasing Proteobacteria), reishi has been shown to alter the intestinal barrier probity and reduce endotoxemia.
  • Chaga increase Bacteroidetes at the phylum level, bringing the gut microbial profile closer to a healthy composition.
  • Turkey tail mushroom supports Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus species and elicit host responses that subsequently regulate the gut microbiome.
  • Agaricus bisporus (white button mushroom) have been shown to increase microbial diversity, increasing the levels of lactic acid producing bacteria (like Lactobacillus)
  • Shiitake mushroom supports a wide range of bacterial populations including Proteobacteria, Acidifcaciens, Helicobacter suncus, Bacteroides, and Alistipes.
  • lion’s mane induces changes in the gut microbiome that increase the bacterial production of nutrients for the host.
  • oyster mushroom stimulates the growth of Bifidobacterium strains

Are Mushrooms bad for people with autoimmune conditions? (55:29)

  • First studies done in cancer. Things that fight cancer might increase immune function that might flare autoimmune.
  • Recent research shows that mushrooms bring balance rather than stimulte it
  • Lots of species have anti-inflammatory effects and reverse dysbiosis.  Reishi especially well studies.
  • Looks for symptoms to see if you’re effected: brain issues like depression, skin issues, or autoimmune symptoms
  • Mushrooms whole have always been a part of AIP.

Do they need to be cooked or can they be eaten raw? (1:03:11)

  • With vegetables and seaweeds, cooked versus raw feeds different species, because fiber structure changes with heat. Some nutrients are lost and others are formed, so mixing up raw and cooked is best.
  • With mushrooms, we don’t have microbiome data raw versus cooked, but we do have fiber and antioxidant data.
  • Cooking increased starch, total dietary fiber (increase in insoluble, decrease in soluble, decrease in chitin), and acid-hydrolysed fat but decreased crude protein and chitin concentrations (loss of water, plus molecular transformation).
  • Boiling, microwaving, grilling, vs deep frying
  • Cooking in general increases alpha and beta glucans.
  • Decreases total polyphenols and most measures of antioxidant activity. (similar in

Can they cause gut issues? SIBO? candida? digestive issues – diarrhea, pain? (1:05:48)

Can they be eaten by people who have histamine intolerance? (1:08:16)


Thanks for listening! (1:15:43)



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