After writing a book there is a big hunk of empty time while waiting for it to be printed and released. That time for me is happening right now. The down time should be welcomed because of the exhaustive push of deadlines along with my regular work schedule. But, of course, I am too excited to be sitting around waiting so I had to come up with a productive way to fill the time.
My kids are all in college so I can only call and annoy them so much. I took a few baths, trimmed back the liriope (a fast spreading ornamental grass used in landscaping) and sold stuff of my husbands that he almost never uses on Ebay. That took a week and I still have four months left until the June 6th release.
My publisher (Workman) puts out some interesting books and while I had read some before signing with them, I had not had a chance to read any since. I decided to look at books that were in the same health genre as mine. The title, “Secrets of People Who Never Get Sick,” by Gene Stone caught my attention immediately. At least half of the people I have talked to over the last few weeks have been sick so I decided to see what he had to say on the subject.
Most of the hardly-ever-get-sick people I know do what you would expect, they exercise, think bright and happy thoughts, eat a diet full of whole foods (some vegans, others animal eaters) and take a handful of supplements everyday. Stone chose to reveal the secrets of 25 people who concentrated on one main area to maintain their health and avoided those with complex regimens.
I am not going to be a book spoiler though if you are the health conscious type you can probably guess ½ of them. (That could be a fun game to play at your next party if charades is not going well.) Reading it made me think about my own personal keep healthy tricks. Consequently, I am adding my very own bonus secret: mushrooms.
Naturopaths and herbalists have long recommended certain mushrooms for immune enhancement but the exact reason they worked was not discovered until recently. Dr. Ikekawa, arguably the father of mushroom science, discovered that the cancer rates of families of Enoki mushroom growers had remarkably low cancer rates compared to the rest of the population. The cancer rate in the men from mushroom growing families was 1/3 (or 2/3rds less) than other men in the same area. Women had ½ the predicted cancer incidence. If there was a drug that could claim this near miraculous cancer reducing capability, it would be the best selling medicine in the country. Ikekawa isolated the chemical responsible for the immune protecting properties of this little fungi and the science mushroomed from there.
We now know different mushrooms have different immune enhancing compounds. Some prevent cancer, others fight tumors, still others increase first line defense against illness or decrease inflammation. There are species that produce antibiotic compounds and one even helps nerve regeneration. This last one is called Lion’s Mane and it is a white mushroom that grows on trees and logs.
In Blog # 18- What to do to prevent the flu, I mention three great immune enhancers. One, Immpower (American BioSciences) is extracted from specially cultivated mushrooms and has been studied in cancer and AIDS treatment as a natural killer cell enhancer. Natural killer cells are part of the immune system that respond first when an illness threatens. I have used this product for years and it is very effective as a first line defense against colds and flus. I take two twice per day for a few days if I feel run down or am being exposed to a particularly high amount of germs in a stressful environment such as traveling. Whenever I fly, inevitably I am sitting right next to someone who is copiously sneezing and snorting. Then I think about the one cubic feet of air being filtered for the 280 people on the plane and I take out a bottle of mushroom extract and pop a few for peace of mind.
Last year, I discovered Paul Stamets and his company Host Defense. Stamets is a mushroom nerd. There is probably a more technical term for his avocation like fungologist. All I know is if you ever read anything he has written it makes you want to go out and eat mushrooms by the handfuls. After reading one of his treatises last week, I ran out and bought a half pound of shitake mushrooms to sauté. He talks about mushrooms like they are the most luminous and magical plants in the world.
His classic mushroom mixture product for general immune enhancement is called My Community. Host Defense has a line of mushrooms but My Community is the place to start for beginners. If you are having a hard winter, immune-wise, consider taking two per day. If you are having an awful winter, double that dose. If you are still having trouble, you might have to take a deeper look at your sleep, eating and exercise habits and brush up on those happy thoughts.