Chaga Mushrooms – A Potent Source of Antioxidants
Chaga mushrooms are a rich source of antioxidants, which are substances that may prevent or delay some types of cell damage. In fact, chaga tea offers very high levels of antioxidants and delivers the health benefits in a convenient and pleasant-tasting herbal drink.
What’s in the Antioxidant Chaga?
You can find the following vital substances in the Chaga Mushrooms or in an extract:
- different B vitamins
In addition, organic acids such as formic, oxalic, acetic, betulinic and vanillic acid are included.
Overall, the birch mushroom can even boast over 200 vital substances – so it is a real nutrient bomb.
Antioxidants protect your body from damage caused by free radicals, which are a specific type of molecule. To understand how the antioxidants in chaga mushrooms work, it is helpful to know how free radicals form. All body cells contain atoms, which consist of a nucleus, protons, neutrons and electrons. Electrons orbit around the atom on “shells”; when one shell becomes full of electrons, electrons begin to fill another shell outside of the first one. Many atoms contain paired electrons, which mean they are more stable in pairs.
Atoms that have a full outer shelf are very stable. Atoms whose outer shells are not completely full try to stabilize themselves by gaining or losing electrons to create a full outer shell, or by sharing the electrons on its outer shell with other atoms. The bond created by sharing electrons helps all of the participating atoms become stable, healthy atoms.
Even strong bonds between atoms can break but normally they do not break in a way that leaves empty space in the outer shell, which means that healthy atoms break apart in a healthy way. The bond between unhealthy atoms can break in a way that creates empty spots on the outer shell.
The atoms react to empty shell space by actively seeking out electrons to ‘steal’ to fill out their outer shelves. Scientists refer to substances in this state as “free radicals,” referring to the way the atoms become unstable and begins to react quickly with other atoms in an effort to capture electrons. When a free radical steals an electron from another atom, the attacked atom becomes a free radical; this can begin a chain reaction that is difficult to stop. The action of stealing electrons can cascade to damage cells and eventually cause dysfunction of body tissues and organs.
There are many types of free radicals but those that come from oxygen atoms can be especially unstable. Oxygen has two unpaired electrons orbiting in its outer shell. This electronic structure makes oxygen especially susceptible to the formation of free radicals.
The Potent Antioxidant Powers of the Chaga Mushroom
Antioxidants, like those in chaga mushrooms, chaga tea and chaga extract, stop the cascading action of free radical damage by donating one or more of their own electrons to the unstable atom. This stabilizes the free radical and stops the ‘electron stealing’ that could eventually cause ill health. The antioxidants do not turn into free radicals because they are stable, no matter how many electrons they give away. Furthermore, the antioxidants in chaga mushrooms act as scavengers that clean up the mess left behind by free radicals.
Scientists use a special scale, known as ORAC, to measure the antioxidant levels in foods like chaga mushrooms. ORAC is an acronym that stands for “oxygen radical absorbance capacity.” This test determines how well an antioxidant stabilizes free radicals.
Depending on the location and conditions in which they were grown, the ORAC value of chaga mushrooms can range from 5200 to 146,000 units per gram. In comparison, the ORAC value of another antioxidant powerhouse – the mighty blueberry – is only 30 to 85. This means chaga mushrooms are dietary supplements with some of the highest antioxidant powers on the market today.
Chaga Mushroom Benefits Your Immune System With Antioxidants
To understand the Chaga mushroom benefits for your immune system, it is important to understand how antioxidants work. Antioxidants work because they neutralize free radicals, but what are free radicals and why are they bad?
Essentially, everything in our bodies are made up of complex chains of atoms, which are molecules. Atoms have protons with a positive charge and electrons with a negative charge. A free radical is atom that has been knocked out of balance. It is a missing a neutron, so it is no longer stable. When that free radical bumps into another atom it takes an electron causing a chain reaction of mishaps. These free radicals bouncing around can lead to all kinds of biological problems.
This is where the antioxidants come in. Antioxidants have an extra negative charge that they can give to the free radicals. The free radicals are then neutralized because they have a balanced number of electrons and protons. Reducing the number of free radicals in your body can improve and protect your health.
What Causes Free Radicals
Free Radicals can happen when you are exposed to environmental toxins, eat highly processed foods, drink alcohol or smoke, and even when you get a sunburn. Some free radicals happen simply due to unavoidable exposure to the environment we encounter every day. Others are a result of life choices. Here’s the catch, our bodies also make free radicals that can be used to fight infection and have other important functions. As with all things, moderation is best. We need some free radicals, but not too many.
Some argue that too many of the same kinds of antioxidants can also send the immune system into imbalance and consequently have negative effects. This is why supplements with antioxidants are not necessarily a cure all. It is likely that it is better to get your antioxidants from foods and drinks. You will be exposed to a wider variety of antioxidants, and be able to better maintain a healthy balance of free radicals. Foods such as blueberries, leafy greens, tea, pomegranates, and coffee are all rich in antioxidants.
Chaga is an ideal source of antioxidants because it contains a large concentration of varied antioxidants. The mushrooms grow naturally and concentrate antioxidants from their hosts, birch trees. They are full of antioxidants such a triterpenes, polyphenols, and Superoxide Dismutase (SOD). The concentration of antioxidants, as well as the diverse types of antioxidants makes Chaga an excellent choice to include in your diet to help curb the proliferation of free radicals. In addition, Chaga can also function as an anti-inflammatory, which also helps bring balance to the immune system. You can drink Chaga brewed as a tasty tea. It is simple to make and enjoyable to drink. A well rounded diet, healthy life choices, and including antioxidant rich sources in your daily health routine can help you maintain an excellent state of health and well-being. Try Chaga in your diet and see how your immune system benefits.