Nutrition

Can you eat fungi?

We need to eat food as a basic body requirement. Without it, we won’t be able to function properly and may eventually die of starvation. There remains no objection to the importance of food in our daily lives. However, people often ask nutritionists: what to eat and what not to?

The answer to the above question has overlapping theories. Medical scientists would highlight the benefit of certain items while warning against the harmful effects of others. For example, minerals and vitamins are potentially healthy items needed by our body. While on the other hand, excessive ingestion of fat can pose a high amount of danger. In short, there always needs to be a balance in our diet consisting of a right number of nutrients in the right amount.

Can you eat fungi?

Some people might have wondered whether it would be medically okay to be eating fungi. The field of medical science is increasingly coming up with research studies answering different queries. Many such studies have tried exploring the answer to the question of eating fungi.

On a very general level, people would react with disgust when asked to eat fungi. This item is something we normally would not include in our daily diet. However, interestingly the story happens to be far more different to what people might be perceiving. Science has revealed that it is considered perfectly normal to eat some types of fungi. The reference is towards mushroom which is thoroughly enjoyed in some parts of the world particularly Asia. Mushrooms are added in various dishes to add to the taste while some people would eat them directly.

On the other hand, not all types of fungi are edibles. Mould, for example, can be of a serious concern if a person eats it. It can lead to complications occurring in the body and times would demand medical attention. Thereby, it is important to be aware which type we are eating and know the potential benefits and harmful effects.

What are fungi?

Fungus (or plural fungi) belong to the category of micro-organisms like that of bacteria and virus. They further are categorized into various types and live in a different environment. You might come across fungi either on land, water or even on food. When people tell you that a food has gone bad that is when a fungus(mould) has grown onto the item. Other times, the smell of the stagnant water is also due to the presence of fungi.

The cell structure of a fungus is usually singular while there are types which contain more than one cells. They cannot reproduce normally like normal cells instead rely on the decaying process. For this reason, they are classified as parasites.

The types of fungi and are they edibles?

It is pertinent to look and consider some of the categories of fungi. Each has a particular function to perform and may not in all cases be edible. In fact, medical scientists believe that some types have the potential to be seriously consequential. They have caused the person to fall ill and have resulted in the development of related illnesses.

Let us now highlight some of the types and answer the question of eating them or not.

Mushrooms

This is far the most popular type of fungi and comes in various types. According to one data revealed, scientists have been able to identify 10,000 different types.

Mushrooms have been a prominent food item for as long as humans have existed! They are used for cooking and in other cases add to the taste of the food. For example, in a lot of the Chinese dishes particularly soups, mushrooms have found their way inside. The most used type for eating purpose are truffles. To add to the advantages, mushrooms have numerous health benefits. Oyster mushrooms are loaded with antioxidants which prevent the body from inflammation. In addition, antioxidants will hinder cell and tissue damage.

While there may be a long list of advantages of mushrooms, not all the types are safe. The “unsafe mushrooms” are particularly harmful and can be poisonous at times. It is important for parents to keep their children away from certain deadly ones since these mushrooms can attack the immune system. In frequent instances, a lot of people also find themselves allergic.

Moulds

Moulds unlike their counterparts, mushrooms are not considered safe for eating. Even if someone eats them by mistake, they can cause serious body damage. People have fallen ill for ingesting even small amounts of mould. They were known to suffer from severe nausea and diarrhoea. The symptoms of both lasted for a considerably long time.

The easiest way to detect mould is to look for green patches on the food item. Often, when bread or cheese are leftover in open for a long time, mould will start to replicate. The growth also provides a medium for bacteria to multiply on the food as well.

There have been mixed reviews on eating moulds. Some nutritionists have argued that mould in early stages(mildew) is edible. Eating mildew will not result in the development of symptoms like that of mould. On other hand, nutritionists also believe that by removing this fungus, you can make the food ready to eat. However, there still remains a small possibility of risk. It is thereby always better to replace the item whenever there are visible patches of mould.

Yeast

Yeast has been used in the formation of bread and beer for thousands of years. It is unicellular and the majority of the types are edible when not in raw form. If you ever notice your bread to rise when put in an oven, it’s because of yeast. Yeast feeds itself on the sugar contained in the bread. This process results in the excretion of carbon dioxide gas which makes the dough rise.

The different flavours of beer obtained are also because of varied fermentation of yeast. The S.Cerevisiae type is loaded with proteins and fiber. It acts as a great counter to problems like constipation. Medical scientists also believe that its ingestion can make the immune system stronger.

However, raw yeast can be of some harm and lead to a number of complications. When ingested will start to grow and multiply inside the body affecting the digestion process. The person may develop a yeast infection as a result.

Raw yeast can get on to the person if a person touches any substance where it is growing. Wash your hands and clean yourself thoroughly if you suspect yourself.

Conclusion

Can we eat fungi?

Yes, you can eat fungi but not all types. Mushrooms and yeast are considered to be safe but not mould. It is still, however, important to know the details of the type before ingestion. The advice of a nutritionist should not be overlooked.

 

Source:

http://perspectivesinmedicine.cshlp.org/content/5/1/a019273.short

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