If holistic living is your thing, you know there is always someone coming forward with a new and improved "superfood". Whether it's kombucha, kefir, kale, or quinoa, I'm always on board for trying new things if I truly believe it is something that can benefit me. Today I want to introduce you to something you may or may not have heard of, share a little of what it does, and how I incorporate it into my wellness routine.
Who doesn't like mushrooms? Listen, if you just raised your hand, I don't know that we can be friends anymore, but I'll try if you will. So far, I have never met a mushroom that I didn't feel deep affection for. I have been known to sauté mushrooms, add them to some rice, and call it a meal. The mushroom I'm bringing you today isn't that type of mushroom, and while I'm certain there are more ways to prepare and consume it that I have yet to try, I am a simple gal who likes to find something that resonates with me, fits well with my lifestyle, and stick with it. Have you ever heard of something called Chaga? Many of you may have heard the buzz, but aren't sure exactly what it is, where you get it, or how it works. No worries, I'm here to give you a little mini lesson on all of those things now.
Chaga is actually a type of mushroom or fungus that grows in colder climates in and around the Northern Hemisphere.
If you are like me and Geography isn't your strong suit, you're gonna need some specifics on that. I gotcha covered. Think northern parts of Europe, Russia, Korea, Canada, and North America. The Chaga I purchase comes from Golden Tea Leaf Co. and is a wild harvested Chaga from the Canadian west coast mountains. Chaga grows on Birch trees which means that often times you have to actually climb the tree to harvest it. I love nature and I love cold climates, but let's get one thing straight here. I am not climbing trees to harvest a damn thing. I choose to stand in awe of the wonderment of trees... From the ground and thus will continue to leave the harvesting up to the professionals at Golden Tea Leaf.
Now that we have covered the "what" and "where", let's move on to the "how". As with most things I post on my website, there is a large element of immune system support behind it. What sets Chaga apart is the fact that when your immune system needs a boost, it's there to kick in, but when you are well, it slows it down when it's overactive. Yes, your immune system can become overactive, and that's no good. You want to fill your body with immune, but you also don't want to fight the good guys right? This takes Chaga from being not only an immune system booster but also a Biological Response Modifier (BRM), meaning that it alters the way your immune system responds to your body's needs. Can't beat that, right? Not just a superfood, but a smart one, as well. Chaga is also full of powerful antioxidants. If you have an issue with your LDL or bad cholesterol, studies have shown that Chaga aids in the breakdown of bad cholesterol in the bloodstream. The most favorable health benefit of Chaga and the initial reason I personally decided to give it a solid chance is the support of gastrointestinal health. I'll be completely honest. I do my yoga, I meditate, but like most human beings, stress can sometimes be a bear. I've been known to harbor stress-induced gastric ulcers which can be soothed by Chaga. For me personally, preventing gastrointestinal issues is 50% knowing my limits, and 50% listening and responding to my body's needs. Essentially, when my body and my gut talks, I listen. This morning, my gut told me that last nights Super Bowl party foods were not something my tummy had been used to for a long while, but luckily I had Chaga to calm my tummy.
So, at this point, I'm sure you are wondering how exactly you use Chaga. For me, the easiest way is in a tea form. I love hot tea, and when exploring methods of using Chaga, it seemed like a win-win. As you can see from the photo, the Chaga I have is in chunks. I use a cheap coffee bean grinder that I use for herbs and I grind it into a very fine powder. I then add a heaping teaspoon to a thermos and add hot water. I let it brew for about an hour before I drink it. Chaga can also be brewed from the large chunks, but when I received Chaga for the first time, I was intrigued and wanted to see how it would grind up. I've been doing it that way ever since. I say if it ain't broke don't fix it. Golden Tea Leaf Co. also sells Chaga that is already ground into a fine powder if you would rather do it that way. So what does it taste like? It's Earthy and ever so slightly sweet. However, if you are someone who drinks sweet teas on a regular basis, it may not be a sweetness that you pick up on. My sister and I may be the only two Southern women that weren't raised on sweet teas, therefore, for me it's a subtle sweetness and one I enjoy.
Listen, I know I say this often, but let me just say it again. I'm not perfect, you guys, and anyone who has ever been around me when pizza is involved knows that I don't make every step of my journey a healthy one (did I mention pizza?), but what I do now is put my best foot forward in an attempt to research, try, and put my wellness into the overall equation of my life. I eat, drink, and live in the real world with real struggles and real temptations (again...pizza), but today I know that, for today, I am the best version of me. I encourage you all to find that happy place in life where you can balance your health and wellness with real life. Do what makes you the best and happiest version of yourself no matter the form, and don't forget to Live, Love, and Grow Roots!