Mushrooms and Blood Sugar Management
Just when we think we know all there is to know about health and longevity, we’re still being surprised.
For decades, we were convinced that dietary fat is what causes body fat and that we should minimize it in our diets at all costs. (Thank goodness that myth has gone the way of the dodo.)
Then we were bombarded from Atkins and paleo camps with accusations that it’s carbohydrates that are the cause of all our ills. (Why is it always the most delicious macronutrients that get all the hate?)
That’s not to mention the rumors that any and all meat will shorten your life, that any and all alcohol is nothing but bad for you, that grains will reduce your mental capacity to that of an infant...we’ve made a lot of mistakes.
Slowly but surely, however, we’ve been making progress toward some unshakeable truths in nutrition: green vegetables are incredibly nutrient-dense and should make it to your plate every day. Fat is important for a litany of cellular functions and hormonal responses, and should also be consumed every day — in moderation. And carbs aren’t bad, but keeping your blood sugar levels stable is very good.
That last part isn’t quite as popular as far as health advice goes, but nonetheless extremely important.
If you don’t have Type 1 diabetes or Type 2 diabetes, you may not have thought a lot about your blood sugar. If you think your blood sugar levels are off, it’s important to speak with your health care provider so you can get your blood glucose checked through a blood test. The American Diabetes Association and The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases are great resources.
Today, I’d like to talk a little more about the causes and symptoms of high blood sugar, and how mushrooms fit into blood sugar management.
What Causes High Blood Sugar?
Maybe this sounds like an easy question. “High blood sugar levels are caused by eating too much sugar, right?”
That’s actually not the whole story.
Carbohydrates like sugar do indeed cause blood glucose levels to rise. That causes the pancreas to release insulin to help move the sugar out of the blood and toward the organs where it’s needed most. (Usually it’s stored as energy in the muscles and liver.)
Short-term insulin spikes aren’t as bad as long-term chronically elevated blood sugar, which can happen for a variety of reasons. Commonly, it’s eating too much, not exercising enough, or eating too many simple carbs resulting in frequent blood sugar spikes. If you tend to consume mostly refined carbs and insufficient protein, fiber, or fat, your blood sugar may run high and your pancreas will need to keep releasing more insulin than it would otherwise.
This, or other causes, may lead to the pancreas stopping being able to produce insulin properly.
Symptoms of High Blood Sugar
Early signs of high blood sugar include increased thirst, dry mouth, fatigue, blurred vision, unexplained weight loss or getting sick more frequently. There are additional long-term complications that your doctor can explain to you.
Diet and High Blood Sugar
Physical activity and diet are a key part of making sure your blood sugar stays where it needs to be if you are an otherwise healthy adult. You can work directly with a dietitian to figure out a meal plan that will help keep your blood sugar levels in check. It often involves balancing out carbs with proteins and fats, and eating regularly and consistently.
Carbs in Mushrooms
While you work with your dietitian, there is good ‘shroomy news. Mushrooms are low carb. And the types of carbohydrates mushrooms have are very good carbs.
Mushrooms are lower in carbohydrates (and calories) than pretty much any other vegetable. If you look at the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference you’ll see the carb count of a full cup of raw white mushrooms is only 2 grams of carbs[*]. With 0.7 grams of dietary fiber in that same amount, it’s only 1.3 grams of net carbs.
Especially when you’re eating a functional mushroom powder of reishi, lion’s mane, and chaga, the max amount of carbs you’ll be consuming is 4 grams carbs for an effective serving. Most likely it’s only 1 gram of total carbs.
The little amount of carbs that are in mushrooms are complex carbs called polysaccharides. Preliminary research suggests that these polysaccharides actually support blood sugar management[*].
So those are my ‘shroomy insights on blood sugar and mushrooms. Of course, you should talk to your doctor and adapt this information to fit your body’s needs.
To learn more about the carbs in mushrooms, check out our FREE Mushroom Academy.