Chaga has rapidly become one of the most popular mushrooms in the world, famed for its medicinal qualities. Historically used as a folk remedy by generations of Alaskans and Siberians, chaga has been shown to have beneficial effects on the immune system, the digestive system, and much more. You may even have heard of it referred to as a “superfood,” which begs the question: what is a superfood?
The answer is that superfoods are foods you absolutely need to have in your life. Superfoods are chock full of nutrients that your body needs to survive at maximum efficiency. Here is what you need to know about superfoods and why chaga is one of the best superfoods in the world.
Chaga as a Superfood
Superfoods are foods that are regarded as exceptionally nutrient-dense and thus good for one’s health. They aren’t a strictly defined category, lacking a separate food group, but are instead a loosely defined group of foods that have nutritional content above and beyond most foods. Superfoods tend to be plant-based, but there are also a number of fish, dairy, and other foods that have acquired the “superfood” label. Salmon, acai, blueberries, and kale are just a small slice of foods that have been labeled superfoods.
What makes chaga a superfood is its exceptionally large amount of nutrients, as well as the wide variety of those nutrients. One example of these is beta-glucans, a class of polysaccharides often known as “biological response modifiers” due to their ability to increase immune response. The beta-glucans in chaga are part of what make it an effective tool to ward off disease, as they help stimulate white blood cells to destroy pathogens in the body.
Another reason chaga is popularly known as a superfood is its high amount of antioxidants. Antioxidants help reduce aging and preserve organ function through reducing oxidative stress, the process by which free radicals, free-floating particles, cause cellular damage over time. Antioxidants in chaga include zinc, betulinic acid, melanin, lanostane, and more, and they work together to shield your body from the negative effects of oxidative stress.
Speaking of betulinic acid, chaga’s high quantity of it also lends it another one of its superfood qualities: antimicrobial protection. Chaga extracts betulinic acid out of the trunks of the trees it grows on, and this substance has been shown to reduce inflammation and combat viruses in the body. Scientific studies have also shown that betulinic acid has anti-cancer qualities, making it a necessity if you want to keep your body strong and healthy.
The aforementioned antioxidants also play a role in maintaining the integrity of the immune system. Antimicrobial compounds such as inotodiol help reduce the prevalence of harmful yeast strains in the intestinal tract, and they also serve as a remedy for ulcers, ulcerative colitis, gastritis, and other chronic digestive ailments. Like the other mentioned antioxidants, these sterols help reduce oxidative stress, preserving the integrity of the body’s cells.
Finally, chaga is famed as a source of melanin. Melanin is naturally present in the skin and is the body’s first line of defense against the harmful UV rays of the sun. A lack of melanin leads to sunburns, skin cancer, and rapid aging of the skin, and melanin levels in humans decrease as they age. Chaga is recognized as one of the most melanin-rich foods in the world, and consuming it will allow you to protect your skin against UV radiation much more easily.
Chaga can be consumed a number of different ways, but the most common way to unlock its superfood potential is through brewing tea. While chaga can be consumed raw, immersion in boiling water is necessary to break down the chitinous walls of its internal structure, releasing the full bounty of nutrients and antioxidants that it contains. Chaga can also be consumed as a tincture or combined with various foods depending on one’s preferences; experiment to see what works for you.
While there is no strict definition of “superfood,” it’s clear that there are some foods that are better for you than others. Foods that have a concentration of vital nutrients should be part of your diet if you are concerned about your health. And if any food can claim to be a superfood, chaga would be near the top of the list. Its wealth of nutrients is rivaled by few foods, and its proven bevy of benefits make it one of the best things you can consume for your health.
If you’re looking for an easy way to improve your overall health, chaga is something you should definitely try. As a superfood, its concentration of vital nutrients and its proven reputation speak for themselves. No matter your age or background, chaga will help you in improving your healthy and making your body the best that it can possibly be.