Fungi are all around us. They inhabit our world as frequently as plenty of other creatures do and also serve an essential purpose. They are present in our food, clothes, rivers, lakes, trees, soil, and even in the air. Their function is to break down organic matter so that other tiny organisms, including bacteria, can consume it. As a result, fungi and bacteria release Phosphorus, Nitrogen, Oxygen, and Carbon into the soil and atmosphere.
The fungus also occupies a special place in our kitchens. We use them to make cheese, bread, wine, and bake different items.
Some morels, truffles, and mushrooms also constitute a considerable portion of our cuisines. Mushrooms are most commonly seen on pizzas and other fast food. Certain mushrooms are considered epicurean delicacies and are a rich source of protein.
- Our co-dependence:
Humans are co-dependent on fungi for wholesome living as they provide us many great things. If we need to ferment anything, we require yeast – a fungus. Fungi are also a huge source of medicines. They work as great to fight off bacteria.
- As Food:
Agaricus campestris, the humble meadow mushroom, is a part of several dishes. Many group members of Penicillium are used to several ripe kinds of cheese. These are completely organic as they are produced in nature. Hence, they do not contain any hazardous chemicals. Morel mushroom and Agaricus are also edible and frequently used in cuisines.
- Commercial Uses:
Secondary metabolites of fungi are famous for their commercial uses. To kill or inhibit the growth of bacteria, antibiotics are used, which are the natural products of fungi. Penicillin and Cephalosporins have been obtained from fungi, which caused a breakthrough in medicine. Cyclosporin is a valuable immunosuppressant drug used to prevent rejection after an organ transplant; is obtained from a fungus. Ergot alkaloids are used to stop bleeding, and some precursors of steroid hormones are also obtained from fungi. This indicates that fungi are essential for our wholesome living because they help us combat diseases and achieve other tasks efficiently.
- Mushrooms as Herbal Supplements:
Supplements obtained from mushrooms and available in the form of pills or powder are termed mushroom supplements. These supplements are made from a special kind of mushrooms, called adaptogenic mushrooms. Adaptogenic mushrooms have unique health-boosting properties. These supplements are used for various purposes; some reduce stress while others increase energy levels. Shiitake is one such supplement, which is said to have terpenoids, sterols, and polysaccharides. All these compounds lower the cholesterol level and boost the immune strength.
- Mushrooms with medicinal values:
Turkey Tail mushroom has been used in Asia for thousands of years due to its ability to strengthen the immune system. It has also proved to be helpful in the cancer and some other diseases’ recovery. Similarly, Maitake, an edible mushroom, has been a part of Asian cuisine for centuries. It has been used in traditional medicine for the sport of normal blood pressure and diabetes. Recent evidence suggests their use in the maintenance of a healthy liver. Maitake mushrooms are believed to alter lipid metabolism by elevating serum lipid and inhibiting the accumulation of liver lipids.