The Best Mushrooms for Beauty and Skin
New age health experts and fitness gurus have embraced the perfect marketing mantra: “50 is the new 40!” You might have encountered these sayings all over the internet.
For men and women approaching their 50s, these quotes are like manna for the ears. However, the reality is quite different.
Thanks to advancements in medical sciences, people now live longer. However, do they lead a healthy life? That is the most pertinent question.
I know a lot of people who look 50 years old but are in their early 30s. Stress, work pressure, financial troubles, pollution, poor diet, unhealthy lifestyles, climate change, and world conflicts are just some of the problems plaguing young people nowadays.
Youthful looks and skin become the first casualties of poor health. The skin losing its youthful sheen, moisture, and the appearance of wrinkles are also the first signs of aging. Topical creams cannot treat the root cause of premature aging.
Functional mushrooms have emerged as one of the least explored but most promising guarantors of healthy skin and eternal beauty.
If you want to maintain your youthful appearance and keep the body’s largest organ (the skin!) healthy, then continue reading. We shall discuss the importance of skin health, the effects mushrooms have on skin health, and the best mushrooms to promote beauty and skin health.
The Importance of Skin Health
The desire to be beautiful and attractive is inherent nature. Historically, more than half of the fine arts depict human beauty in various forms. People invest time, money, and emotional energy in enhancing their appearance to attract others.
Beauty is not solely employed to attract mates; it also enhances individuals’ self-perception, boosting self-esteem and confidence.
Many people regard healthy skin as the foremost signal and best indicator of age, health, and beauty. Skin is not only an external beauty indicator but also provides insights into our internal health.
A glowing skin reflects overall good health and serves as the first line of defense against harmful microorganisms.
The skin acts as a window revealing the condition inside. Like Sherlock Holmes, an expert can discern much about overall health by examining the skin.
- Conditions like allergies or infections may be indicated by a red and itchy rash, signaling an overactive or poor immune response.
- A red rash on the face may warn of autoimmune conditions like Lupus.
- Changes in skin color, such as a yellowish tint, may indicate liver disease.
- Inadequate fluid intake may result in dry skin, exacerbated by excessive sunlight or dry conditions.
- Alterations in skin color or unusual moles may serve as warning signs for skin cancer.
- Droopy, saggy skin, and dark circles under the eyes may indicate sleep deprivation and fatigue due to underlying conditions.
- The skin is among the first organs affected by chain-smoking, with smokers exhibiting paler or more sallow skin and wrinkling around the lips.
- Neurological conditions, like Parkinson’s, may manifest in severe seborrhea.
- Severe acne in adult women can signal hormonal abnormalities, especially polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
- Changes in skin color, such as a gray or sallow appearance, may indicate underlying chronic illnesses, such as psoriasis indicating chronic inflammation.
How Do Mushrooms Benefit Skin Health?
Mushrooms, whether consumed regularly or taken as supplements, enhance skin health through various mechanisms.
The daily stressors of life may lead to chronic stress, characterized by the release of hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones impact several parts of the body, particularly the central nervous system.
Moreover, an excess of cortisol can negatively affect various bodily functions, including skin cell activity. The surplus of the stress hormone also damages the elastin and collagen structures in the skin, resulting in the loss of moisture, firmness, and elasticity.
Chronic oxidative stress can increase free radicals, affecting all parts of the body, especially the DNA in skin cells, leading to premature aging. Stress hormones can also impact digestion, reducing the adequate nutrition reaching the skin cells.
Functional mushrooms are powerful adaptogens that inhibit the excessive release of stress hormones.
Additionally, most mushrooms contain potent antioxidant agents that clear free radicals, preventing oxidative stress from affecting skin complexion. These antioxidant agents in mushrooms also protect the skin from external stressors such as pollutants, heat, dust, etc.
As discussed in the above section, various underlying health conditions can impact skin health, resulting in issues like wrinkling, roughness, dryness, sagging, and discoloration. By preventing or treating these underlying conditions, mushrooms can help boost skin health.
Best Mushrooms for Beauty and Skin Health
Functional mushrooms, in general, contribute to overall health, including skin health. However, five mushrooms particularly excel in maintaining youthful, firm, elastic, and moisturized skin. Incorporate these mushrooms into your skincare routine to promote both internal and external beauty.
- Chaga Mushroom
Chaga mushrooms contain several essential nutrients and active compounds that benefit the skin. Melanin is an important compound in the skin; it is responsible for protecting the skin from damage caused by prolonged sun exposure, UV rays, dust, and pollution. Regular intake of Chaga ensures that your skin has high levels of melanin to protect against UV damage and to speed up repair after skin damage.1
Chaga prevents premature aging of the skin by protecting against free radicals that damage cells and tissues. Chaga is known for its powerful antioxidant properties, boasting the highest Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) (ORAC value of 52,000) among natural foods.
As we age, a certain level of skin damage is natural. Adding Chaga mushrooms to your health routine can boost skin repair and restore your youthful appearance.
The betulonic acid in this mushroom supports cell regeneration and repair in the skin, leading to a more natural and healthier complexion. Additionally, the Kojic acid in the mushroom helps hydrate and nourish the skin.
Inflammation, the root cause of several health problems, is responsible for the deterioration of skin health as we age. Chronic inflammation is also responsible for skin breakouts, skin allergies, dryness, acne, decolorization, and other skin problems.
The powerful anti-inflammatory agents in the mushroom reduce inflammation, thereby keeping the skin moist and healthy for a long time.2 In addition, Chaga helps maintain healthy levels of sebum, which is an oily substance that helps keep the skin moist.
- Shiitake Mushroom
It is said that skin health is at its peak at age 25 and starts to decline after that. Experts also believe that stress, pollution, nutritional deficiency, and a poor lifestyle can speed up skin aging.
Shiitake is regarded by many as one of the best natural foods to support skin health. The mushroom is rich in nutrients essential to nourish and revitalize the skin.
The mushroom contains high levels of at least 6 vitamins (Folate, Niacin, Riboflavin, Thiamin, and vitamins B5 and B6) that are vital for skin health.3 These vitamins also protect the skin from sun damage.
Dry skin is the most common complaint of the young and old. People experience symptoms such as peeling, itching, and flaking due to dry skin. Topical moisturizers are used for temporary relief. The active compounds in this mushroom address the root cause of dry skin and ensure it maintains a healthy appearance.
Shiitake also contains high levels of Kojic acid, which regulates melanin levels by inhibiting melanocyte activity. Kojic acid helps maintain healthier and brighter skin.
Collagen, a compound that is a mix of hydroxyproline, glycine, and proline, is the building block of skin. It is also essential to produce bones, ligaments, and tendons. As we age, collagen production drops, resulting in skin wrinkles and loss of skin elasticity. Our body needs plenty of copper for collagen production, and Shiitake is a rich source of copper.3
- Cordyceps Mushroom
Cordyceps is becoming increasingly popular due to the various health benefits offered by this caterpillar-like mushroom. The mushroom’s potential uses in improving energy, stamina, and sex drive are well-studied and backed by empirical data. Cordyceps has much to offer to support skin health.
Cordyceps is a repository of powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. The antioxidant compounds in the mushrooms slow down the aging process. This is achieved by neutralizing free radicals and slowing down cell damage, which are two contributors to skin aging.4
Furthermore, our skin is subjected to oxidative stress throughout its life. However, the damage to the skin increases with age. The antioxidants in Cordyceps fight oxidative stress, thereby limiting its impact on the skin.5
In the lab, scientists used Cordyceps extract on skin cells to prevent UV radiation damage. The mushroom protects the skin by inhibiting the UVB rays that are responsible for sunburn.6 Another study found that Cordyceps has the potential to repair the damage done by UVB rays.7
Poorly controlled diabetes can affect the skin, kidneys, eyes, and other major organs. The skin and eyes are the first to suffer the negative impact of poor insulin resistance. Several animal studies found that Cordyceps mushroom can help the body maintain healthy sugar levels, thereby preventing damage to the skin, kidneys, eyes, etc.8,9,10
- Reishi Mushroom
The skin benefits of Reishi have been known for hundreds of years. In Asian traditional medicine, the topical application of Reishi extract has helped reduce freckles, scarring, dark spots, and dryness.
Skin dryness is one of the first signs of skin aging. Reishi is deeply hydrating, helping the skin retain moisture to ensure it stays soft, smooth, and supple. The beta-glucans and triterpenes act as humectants to keep the skin hydrated.
Reishi mushroom contains all the best anti-aging ingredients, including essential vitamins and minerals that support the strength of the skin and maintain its youthful appearance.
The mushroom also prevents excessive pigmentation of the skin by inhibiting the production of tyrosinase, a melanin-producing enzyme.11
Many of the skin benefits attributed to Reishi are due to two compounds called glutathione and ergothioneine. These powerful antioxidants eliminate free radicals and reduce their disastrous impact on the skin. Additionally, these antioxidants also act as natural sunscreens, providing a protective layer between harmful UV rays and the skin.
The mushroom also contains Ergosterol, a precursor to the vital skin nutrient Vitamin D.12 Deficiency of Vitamin D increases the risk of skin inflammation, leading to premature aging, eczema, and acne.
- Tremella Mushroom
Mushrooms, generally, are natural promoters of skin health. They contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents that are much needed to maintain the moisture and elasticity of the skin. That said, if we had to pick one fungal species for a skincare routine, then without delay, our choice would be Tremella.
Tremella mushrooms have long been known for their skin benefits in Chinese traditional medicine. Even today, Tremella is widely used because of its ability to benefit a wide range of skin types. If you’re still not convinced, here are five reasons to use Tremella Mushrooms.
Improves Skin Hydration: The mushroom has a higher hydrating effect than best known hyaluronic acid supplement.13 The mushroom helps bind moisture to the skin, ensuring the skin stays healthy and strong. Adequate moisture also prevents over-production of oil, thereby reducing acne.
Boosts Collagen Production: Tremella contains essential skin nutrients such as vitamin C and plenty of amino acids. These nutrients, along with polysaccharides, increase collagen production. Moreover, they also prevent collagen loss.14 Higher collagen production translates to better skin texture, fewer wrinkles, and increased skin elasticity.
Nourishes the Skin: The skin, like any other organ, needs a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients to maintain strength and elasticity. Tremella is nutrient-rich. It houses plenty of skin-essential vitamins (such as Vitamin D, C, E, and K), minerals (such as zinc and copper), and amino acids.
Possesses Potent Antioxidant Properties: One key reason for Tremella’s special relationship with skincare is the antioxidant action on free radicals.15 Research shows the antioxidants in the mushroom protect the health of the skin barrier, promote wound healing, and slow down premature aging.16
Promotes Overall Health: Steps taken to promote overall health will also benefit the skin. Tremella is a rich source of protein and fiber.17 It helps people following a vegan or vegetarian diet meet their daily protein requirements. Furthermore, the fiber in the mushroom helps eliminate toxins via regular bowel movements and supports a healthy gut microbiome. One of the positive effects of a healthy gut is a better and well-modulated immune system.18
In summary, the humble mushroom harbors a beauty secret that is gradually gaining recognition worldwide.
Functional mushrooms are a tremendous success because they are entirely natural. Mushrooms serve as a skin care product with no side effects.
Whether ingested or applied topically, these mushrooms have much to offer to beauty enthusiasts. They are a bountiful source of nutrients, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory agents. These fungi aid in retaining moisture, balancing pH levels, and preserving collagen levels.
These five mushrooms shield the skin from harsh UV rays, combat pathogens, and contribute to maintaining the strength and elasticity of the skin. Additionally, they promote internal health, ensuring the preservation of external beauty.
- Christian W. Wold a, et al. “Bioactive Triterpenoids and Water-Soluble Melanin from Inonotus Obliquus (Chaga) with Immunomodulatory Activity.” Journal of Functional Foods, Elsevier, 25 May 2020,sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1756464620302498
- Alhallaf, Weaam, and Lewis B Perkins. “The Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Chaga Extracts Obtained by Different Extraction Methods against LPS-Induced Raw 264.7.” Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), U.S. National Library of Medicine, 30 June 2022, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9268247/
- “Fooddata Central Search Results.” FoodData Central, https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168436/nutrients
- Lobo, V, et al. “Free Radicals, Antioxidants and Functional Foods: Impact on Human Health.” Pharmacognosy Reviews, U.S. National Library of Medicine, July 2010, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3249911/
- Zou, Yingxin, et al. “Cordyceps Sinensis Oral Liquid Prolongs the Lifespan of the Fruit Fly, Drosophila Melanogaster, by Inhibiting Oxidative Stress.” International Journal of Molecular Medicine, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Oct. 2015, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4564082/
- JA;, Amaro-Ortiz A;Yan B;D’Orazio. “Ultraviolet Radiation, Aging and the Skin: Prevention of Damage by Topical Camp Manipulation.” Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), U.S. National Library of Medicine, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24838074/
- He H;Tang J;Ru D;Shu X;Li W;Li J;Ma L;Hu X;Xiong L;Li L; “Protective Effects of Cordyceps Extract against UVB‑induced Damage and Prediction of Application Prospects in the Topical Administration: An Experimental Validation and Network Pharmacology Study.” Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy = Biomedecine & Pharmacotherapie, U.S. National Library of Medicine, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31707352/
- SC;, Lo HC;Tu ST;Lin KC;Lin. “The Anti-Hyperglycemic Activity of the Fruiting Body of Cordyceps in Diabetic Rats Induced by Nicotinamide and Streptozotocin.” Life Sciences, U.S. National Library of Medicine, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15050427/
- Liu C;Song J;Teng M;Zheng X;Li X;Tian Y;Pan M;Li Y;Lee RJ;Wang D; “Antidiabetic and Antinephritic Activities of Aqueous Extract of Cordyceps Militaris Fruit Body in Diet-Streptozotocin-Induced Diabetic Sprague Dawley Rats.” Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, U.S. National Library of Medicine, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27274781/
- Yu, Sung-Hsun, et al. “Hypoglycemic Activity through a Novel Combination of Fruiting Body and Mycelia of Cordyceps Militaris in High-Fat Diet-Induced Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Mice.” Journal of Diabetes Research, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2015, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4519550/
- Chien CC;Tsai ML;Chen CC;Chang SJ;Tseng CH; “Effects on Tyrosinase Activity by the Extracts of Ganoderma Lucidum and Related Mushrooms.” Mycopathologia, U.S. National Library of Medicine, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18459064/
- HS;, Goyal A;Kalia A;Sodhi. “High-Performance Liquid Chromatography Studies to Estimate Ergosterol Content at Different Developmental Stages of the Lingzhi or Reishi Medicinal Mushroom, Ganoderma Lucidum (Agaricomycetes).” International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms, U.S. National Library of Medicine, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28094749/
- Ma, Xia, et al. “A Review on the Production, Structure, Bioactivities and Applications of Tremella Polysaccharides.” International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2021, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8172338/
- Lingrong Wen a, et al. “Effect of Polysaccharides from Tremella Fuciformis on UV-Induced Photoaging.” Journal of Functional Foods, Elsevier, 1 Dec. 2015, sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S175646461500554X
- Geng, Ruixuan, et al. “Boosting the Photoaged Skin: The Potential Role of Dietary Components.” MDPI, Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 16 May 2021, mdpi.com/2072-6643/13/5/1691 .
- Mineroff, Jessica, and Jared Jagdeo. “The Potential Cutaneous Benefits of Tremella Fuciformis - Archives of Dermatological Research.” SpringerLink, Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 9 Feb. 2023, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00403-023-02550-4 .
- Shanshan Zhang a b, et al. “The Structural Characteristics of Dietary Fibers from Tremella Fuciformis and Their Hypolipidemic Effects in Mice.” Food Science and Human Wellness, Elsevier, 7 Sept. 2022, sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2213453022001641?via%3Dihub
- Xu, Yingyin, et al. “Tremella Fuciformis Polysaccharides Inhibited Colonic Inflammation in Dextran Sulfate Sodium-Treated Mice via Foxp3+ T Cells, Gut Microbiota, and Bacterial Metabolites.” Frontiers, Frontiers, 10 Mar. 2021, frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fimmu.2021.648162/full