‘Shrooms for Beginners: Mushroom Facts You Need to Know

Think fast — what do you picture when you hear the word “mushrooms”?

I’m going to guess one of three images came to mind: a sizzling plate of grilled portabellas; a fresh salad topped with chopped white button mushrooms; or that sketchy dude from the concert you went to that one time who offered to sell you ‘shrooms in the parking lot.

While these are all accurate depictions of mushrooms’ usage in human society, they also represent an incredibly limited view of the fungi kingdom.

The reality is that the world of fungi features mind-boggling diversity. There are more than 140,000 known species of mushrooms around the world, and an estimated 2,000 of these are thought to be edible and/or medicinal. People have utilized mushrooms for these purposes for thousands of years, and there are now tens of thousands of studies backing up what ancient cultures long believed: Functional mushrooms offer a ton of benefits.

These benefits may include (but are decidedly not limited to) reducing occasional stress, supporting immune functions, supporting cognitive and physical performance, and helping to maintain gut health.

Because mushrooms have been shown to be beneficial to the human body in so many ways, it’s time to get educated about what mushrooms can do for you.

Why Should You Listen to Me?

Sure, it’s easy for me to say you should check out functional mushrooms — I run a company that’s devoted to them. So first let me assure you: My belief in the benefits of ‘shrooms runs deep.

In fact, mushrooms have been a part of my life since I was a kid growing up in Finland on my family’s 13th-generation farm. My mother taught me to forage for mushrooms when I was young, and I was immediately drawn to their earthy taste and culinary flexibility.

It wasn’t until I became a semi-competitive runner in my twenties that I really started to explore the health benefits of these tasty ‘shrooms. Someone introduced me to a mushroom variety called cordyceps, and I fell down a rabbit hole of research about the mushroom’s ability to increase energy and reduce fatigue. My own experiences with cordyceps bore out this research: I was stunned to discover that it really did give me more energy for my runs.

If cordyceps could work as promised for me, I thought, then surely the world of functional mushrooms was worth investigating further . My new obsession led me to research different varieties of mushrooms, and I quickly uncovered the centuries-long relationship between human wellness and fungi. It confounded me that this information wasn’t universally understood.

I started to consume a variety of functional mushrooms, and the results have been remarkable: Even now that I travel more than 40 times per year for business and am constantly exposed to germs in airplanes, hotels, and other unfamiliar environments, I haven’t been sick for a single day in almost a decade.

My personal experiences, combined with my extensive research, led me to believe everyone should have the  opportunity to reap the incredible benefits that result from incorporating mushrooms into a daily wellness regimen. So I founded Four Sigmatic in 2012 with the dream of popularizing functional mushrooms.

Today, we’re living that dream. Every day people seek us out as a source for exceptionally high-quality mushroom supplements, and more and more people are coming to understand the role mushrooms can play in achieving optimal health and wellness.

But that doesn’t mean our job is done. Fungi still face resistance in the court of public opinion, and we’re working hard to set the record straight. If you’re new to the world of functional mushrooms, the following resources are likely to make you a believer.

On ‘Shrooms for Beginners: Here’s Where to Start
More than 500,000 people have joined Four Sigmatic in the quest for better health and better living through  functional mushrooms. But before they did, they first had to overcome the skepticism that commonly crops up when people are first presented with information about the far-reaching benefits of ‘shrooms. Looking to transition from Mushroom Skeptic to Fungi Fanatic? Here are some of my favorite articles to get you started:

1) How a Mushroom Becomes a Superfood

From tree trunks to your cup: This article details how Four Sigmatic mushrooms are harvested, processed, and upgraded to provide our customers with exceptional products. We source our shrooms from sustainable forests and farms, dual extract them to ensure their benefits are bioavailable to human bodies, and formulate our products in-house to produce seriously high-quality concoctions. 

2) Benefits of Mushrooms

If you’re just dipping your toe into the world of functional mushrooms, you might be shocked to discover the sheer range of benefits packed into these tiny fungi. This article breaks down some of these mushrooms’ most noteworthy benefits for both humans and the environment.

3) The Misunderstood Health Benefits of Mushroom
Outside of the culinary world, mushrooms tend to get a bad rap. Most people can’t even name what kingdom mushrooms belong to (hint: they’re not plants), let alone why mushrooms might contain so many of the benefits described above. The truth is, mushrooms are more closely related to humans than plants. This article explains what ‘shrooms bring to the table.

4) Mushroom Safety

Among the many safety myths that slander functional mushrooms’ good name? They’re toxic, poisonous, untested, and dangerous when eaten raw. The truth? Functional mushrooms are a lot safer than many people think. This piece separates fact from fiction.

5) Why You Should Be Drinking Mushroom Coffee

Coffee is awesome. Mushrooms are awesome. Here’s why putting the two together is nothing short of a match made in heaven — and why the combo might just qualify as a veritable superfood.

6) All About Adaptogens

Adapto-what, now? If you haven’t heard of adaptogens, it’s high time you read up on their ability to minimize fatigue, boost immunity, balance mood, and more. Why am I telling you to read about adaptogens on a mushroom site? Because (as you’ll discover in this article) functional mushrooms are potent adaptogens that may help balance and restore a variety of bodily systems.

7) Cooking with Functional Mushrooms
Sure, you can enjoy plenty of benefits simply by adding functional mushrooms to your morning coffee, breakfast smoothie, or even just a mug of hot water. But if you want to savor mushrooms’ culinary benefits along with their functional ones, it’s time you started cooking with them. You can access 50 delectable recipes in my book, Healing Mushrooms: A Practical and Culinary Guide to Using Mushrooms for Whole Body Health. Or you can check out some of the amazing recipes created by our team and customers here.

These articles provide you with a great baseline of info about the benefits, safety, usage, and superfood status of mushrooms. But when it comes to becoming a mushroom expert, this is merely the tip of the iceberg.

If you’re ready to dig deeper, join our free Mushroom Academy course. There you can learn more about the incredible world of fungi and work your way through three levels at your own pace (while earning rewards along the way). When you’re ready to go public with your love of all things mushrooms, you can head over to our Facebook 'Shroom Club to share your mushroom questions, experiences, recipes, and more!

Join 320,000 other shroomers and get 10% off your first order: