Get Healthy Gut Bacteria (and Maybe Lose Excess Weight) with Japanese Red Reishi

by Dr. Melissa Carr, Dr. TCM

August 23, 2018

The way to a man’s heart might be through his stomach, but as it turns out, the way to overall health and well-being might also be through the digestive system.

Bacteria may get a bad rap—but they shouldn’t always be deemed the bad guys. While it is true that bugs that live in our bodies are linked to disease, healthy gut bacteria, on the other hand, plays a huge role in supporting immune, heart, brain, liver, and lung health. It can even help with weight loss and blood sugar regulation!

The skinny on your gut

Do you really know what the gut does? Well, if you think it’s just for digesting food, think again. Believe it or not, the bulk of your immune system resides in your intestines. So, if you want to fight off harmful pathogens, you’ll need a healthy gut.

Your intestines contain trillions of microorganisms (or microbes, for short), responsible for keeping us healthy. These beneficial bacteria have been shown to boost immune health, improve mood and mental health, regulate hormone levels, increase oral health, improve cholesterol levels, and defend against toxins and pathogenic bacteria.

Good bacteria may also help regulate metabolism, reduce excess fat storage, regulate blood sugars, and reduce gut inflammation.

An imbalance of intestinal bacteria has been linked to a wide range of chronic health issues, including obesity, inflammatory bowel diseases, type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, autism, chronic fatigue, and more. So, it’s not surprising that many researchers and healthcare providers are searching for ways to support a healthy microbiome (the micro-ecosystem of organisms in your body).

How to kick start your gut health

Fortunately, there are a wide variety of natural choices out there to help you restore your gut health. For starters, you’ll want to include more probiotics in your diet. Yogurt and other fermented foods like sauerkraut and miso, bone broths, and quality probiotic supplements are all great options to get your tummy feeling terrific.

Of course, you’ll also want to feed those good bacteria, without nourishing the bad ones. Prebiotics are specialized plant fibres that help grow healthy bacteria. Found in many fruits and vegetables, prebiotics aren’t digestible by your body, instead becoming food for bacteria and other microbes.

Take Reishi for better gut health

reishiBy now, you probably already know many of the incredible health benefits of this miracle mushroom. But what you might not know is that Japanese Red Reishi can support a healthy balance of the right intestinal bacteria.

A study published in Nature Communications showed that mice fed a high-fat diet along with reishi mushroom gained 25% less than those just fed the high-fat diet. In other words, on a high caloric diet, reishi supplementation helped the mice gain less weight. The supplementation of reishi appeared to reduce the development of excess fat tissue, gut inflammation, and the buildup of harmful bacteria in the blood.

Reishi mushroom is rich in polysaccharides—compounds that help support a healthy immune system, as well as act as prebiotics. By feeding the good bacteria, reishi can help support healthy bacteria and promote great gut well-being.

Of course, there are many factors to maintaining a healthy weight, so the right balance of gut bacteria is just one piece of the puzzle. However, if you’ve been watching what you eat, exercising regularly, and sleeping soundly, and still can’t lose those excess pounds, ensuring your digestive system is in top working condition is a key ingredient you shouldn’t ignore.

Dr. Melissa Carr is a registered Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine with a B.Sc. in Kinesiology. In practice since 2001, Dr. Carr has a passion for sharing health information. She has been a nutrition instructor and a health consultant, lecturer, and writer for 24 Hours Vancouver newspaper, Fraser Health Authority, UBC, and the David Suzuki Foundation, amongst others.


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