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Turkey Tail Gut Health Benefits: Does Turkey Tail Improve Gut Microbiota?
Oct 11, 22
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Author: Sony Sherpa

Turkey Tail Gut Health Benefits: Does Turkey Tail Improve Gut Microbiota?

  • by Sony Sherpa
  • |
  • 13 min read

One of the most crucial things a person can do to improve their health is to maintain gut health. A healthy gut can help with immune support, energy production, and mood improvement.

Medicinal mushrooms, used for millennia in Eastern medicine, are an excellent alternative to support gut health organically. Turkey tail mushrooms, for example, promote gut health and balance the gut microbiome. This mushroom is the most significant therapeutic fungus for gut health due to its immune defense and digestion-improving properties.

This article will delve into the many health benefits of turkey tail mushrooms and how they nourish the gut. We will also look at how the mushroom increases healthy gut bacteria. 

Turkey Tail Mushroom: What Is It?

Turkey tail mushrooms are multicolored fungi that develop on tree trunks.  The turkey tail mushroom is a flat fan-shaped fungus with a pattern of many different shades of color radiating outward in rings.

These mushrooms have various patterns and disc-like forms that look like a turkey's tail from a distance, hence the name. The mushrooms can appear in multiple colors, including red, orange, brown, green, and blue. They sometimes form shelves-like arrangements along a tree when they develop in clusters together.

Turkey tail mushrooms are members of the Polyporaceae family, indicating that they lack the gills of most fungi and instead have pores on their backs. The mushroom releases its reproductive spores through these holes, which eventually land on dead trees, stumps, logs, and branches.

Trametes Versicolor, its scientific name, means "thin one" and "many colors." These mushrooms, also known as Coriolus Versicolor, have been a health supplement for a long time. 

They're one of the 'functional mushrooms' widely sought after for their health benefits that expand beyond their nutritional qualities.  For example, turkey tail extract (Yun Zhi), a component of traditional Chinese medicine, is used to treat respiratory ailments.

Read More:See how cordyceps improves lung health and fights respiratory ailments. 

Today, people often use these mushroom supplements to boost heart health and manage—or reduce the risk of—chronic conditions like diabetes. With more people learning about the benefits of using the products from this unique fungus, pet lovers are using turkey tail for dogs to share its compounds' miracles with their furry friends. 

Now that we know that the nutrients—vitamins and minerals—and bioactive ingredients in turkey tail promote healthy gut bacteria, the next question we need to answer is how the mushroom improves your gut microbiome. Below, we'll discuss the benefits of Turkey tail for gut health.

4 Benefits Of Turkey Tail Mushrooms In Gut Health

4 Benefits Of Turkey Tail Mushrooms In Gut Health

1. Turkey Tail Mushrooms Are An Important Source Of Prebiotics

This seemingly common fungus, widespread on dead and downed trees, branches, and stumps, is healthy for the intestines because it contains sufficient prebiotics. Prebiotics feed good gut bacteria.

The mushroom's polysaccharides improve the microbiome's composition in the human intestine(1) and overall digestive tract. The mushroom can positively regulate the balance of the intestinal flora, helping them grow well and take active action in metabolic processes resulting in the proper absorption of foods and energy.  This guarantees healthy bacteria in the entire gastrointestinal tract, promoting overall digestive health. 

Researchers conducted an 8-week study on 24 individuals consuming 3,600 mg of polysaccharopeptide (PSP) from turkey tail mushrooms daily. This study investigated how the mushroom would impact overall digestive health. By the end of the period, favorable changes in gut flora were noted, and there was inhibition of the growth of the potentially harmful E. coli and Shigella bacteria(2)

From the beneficial changes observed in this research study, it is easy to see that the mushroom effectively promoted a healthy microbiome. This makes turkey tail one of the best edible mushrooms for people who want clear and consistent positive changes in their gut health. 

2. Turkey Tail Mushrooms Contain Fiber

Like most other mushrooms, these mushrooms contain plenty of fiber(3). The fiber in the diet is essential for making regular bowel movements. 

In addition, dietary fiber softens and increases the weight and size of your stool, maintains the health of the bowels, decreases cholesterol levels, aids in blood sugar regulation, and helps one reach a healthy weight. 

Read More: See how Lion's mane supports weight loss

High dietary fiber intake considerably reduces the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and several gastrointestinal illnesses(4). Turkey tail mushrooms are a very effective source of fiber.

3. Improves Immunity And Immune System Health

Improves Immunity

Turkey tail mushrooms can also help to improve gut immunity. In addition, it strengthens innate and adaptive immune reactions(5)

The mushroom, through its protein-bound polysaccharides, activates natural killer cells and white blood cells, improving the immune system and health. 

As noted above, the traditional medicine—turkey tail mushroom extract—contains polysaccharopeptide, a polysaccharide (carbohydrate) bound to proteins.

Turkey's tails contain two different kinds of polysaccharide peptides: krestin (PSK) and polysaccharide peptide (PSP)(6). Both have potent immune-stimulating qualities. They support immunological response by activating and inhibiting particular types of immune cells and reducing inflammation.

PSP can boost the infection-fighting monocytes in the body. In addition, PSK stimulates dendritic cells that support immunity to poisons and control the immune response. Additionally, PSK can activate macrophages in the body, causing an active response against hazardous substances. 

This ability of turkey tail mushrooms may help prevent several diseases, such as cancer, and could even provide some assistance in treating them. 

Read More: See how turkey tail fights cancer.

4. Source Of Antioxidants

Antioxidants found in natural food sources such as mushrooms can alter the gut microbiota's quantity and composition, decreasing the generation of reactive oxygen species by activating the antioxidant enzymes and signaling pathways(7).

Turkey tail mushrooms contain leucine, methionine, tyrosine, glutamine, phenols, flavonoids, and asparagine(8). These substances have antioxidant properties.

By lowering inflammation and encouraging the release of protective chemicals, these antioxidants improve the immune system and the composition of the beneficial bacteria in the gut(9)

How Turkey Tail Gut Health Benefits Impact Your Overall Health

How Turkey Tail Gut Health Benefits Impact Your Overall Health

How does the turkey tail's ability to boost your gut health impact your overall health? 

Drinking tea prepared using turkey tail does more for you than just improving digestion. Below we will look at additional benefits. 

Read More: Interested in mushroom tea? Learn how Chaga mushroom tea improves weight loss

Improved Brain Health

The gut microbiome may have a direct impact on your brain health. First, certain bacteria can aid in producing chemicals in the brain known as neurotransmitters. 

Serotonin, for example, is an antidepressant neurotransmitter primarily produced in the gut. Moreover, the gut and brain are physically linked by millions of nerves. As a result, the gut microbiome may influence brain health by controlling messages sent to your brain via these nerves. 

Several studies—one of these was conducted in 2016(10)—have found that individuals with psychological disorders carry different kinds of gut bacteria than healthy people. This clearly shows the gut microbiome may have an impact on brain health.

One of the best mushrooms for brain health, turkey tail improves gut health, which, in turn, affects the brain's health. One of the benefits of using the mycelium of this fungi is that you do not have to worry about any side effects—turkey tail is not psychedelic and hence will not cause hallucinations. 

Reduced Risk Of Diabetes

The gut microbiome may also aid blood sugar control, influencing the risk of type 1 and type 2 diabetes. 

A recent study(11) looked at 33 genetically predisposed infants to type 1 diabetes. Researchers discovered that the microbiome diversity decreased abruptly before type 1 diabetes onset. They also found that the number of harmful species of bacteria increased shortly before the emergence of type 1 diabetes.

Since turkey tail improves gut health, when people add it to their diet, the currently available research shows that it may reduce insulin resistance. 

For this reason, just like Lion's mane has diabetes benefits, turkey tail also carries similar benefits—the mushroom could also reduce the risk of developing diabetes. In people with diabetes, the mushroom may aid in management. 

Reduced Risk Of Heart Problems

Surprisingly, gut bacteria may also have an impact on heart health. For example, one 1,500-person study discovered(12) that the gut microbiome was influential in promoting "good" HDL triglycerides and cholesterol. 

Certain harmful gut microbiome species may also contribute to cardiovascular disease by producing trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO). TMAO is a chemical that significantly contributes to artery blockage, which can result in heart attacks or strokes. Certain microbiome bacteria convert choline and L-carnitine, both nutrients found in red meat and other animal-based foods, to TMAO, possibly increasing heart disease risk factors.

Just like Chaga helps with blood pressure, turkey tail's ability to improve gut health may benefit cardiovascular health. As a result, the mushroom may lower your risk of developing heart disease, stroke, and other heart-related conditions. 

Obesity Prevention

In your intestines, there are many different kinds of bacteria, most of which are beneficial to your health. Too many unhealthy microbes, on the other hand, can cause disease. Gut dysbiosis is an imbalance of beneficial and harmful microbes that may lead to weight gain.

Many studies have demonstrated that the gut flora of identical twins, one who was obese and the other healthy, differed dramatically. This showed that distinctions in the microbiota composition were not due to genetic differences.

In one study(13), mice that received the microbiome of the obese twin gained more weight than mice that were given the gut bacteria of the lean twin, despite both groups ingesting the same diet.

Just like reishi helps with weight loss, turkey tail may also promote weight loss by improving gut health. What's more, when ingested by people with healthy body weight, the turkey tail mushroom can reduce the risk of obesity

FAQs

Is Turkey Tail A Probiotic?

No. Turkey tail mushrooms are prebiotics. Prebiotics serves as food for the beneficial gut bacteria, while probiotics aid in replenishment. Turkey tail mushroom feeds the beneficial bacteria in the gut and maintain health, making the mushroom a prebiotic. 

Does Turkey Tail Mushroom Help With Inflammation?

Yes. Turkey tail mushroom contains various antioxidants like leucine, methionine, tyrosine, glutamine, asparagine, phenols, and flavonoids. These antioxidants can help with inflammation. 

Besides this, PSK and PSP in turkey tail mushrooms have potent immune-stimulating qualities. By activating and inhibiting particular types of immune cells, they can also help reduce inflammation. 

Can You Take Turkey Tail Mushrooms Daily?

Yes. You can consume turkey tail mushrooms daily. The recommended daily dose is about 2,000 milligrams (or 2 grams). 

Final Thoughts

Turkey tail mushrooms have many health benefits, including being an antioxidant. In addition, these mushrooms also enhance immunity and act as a prebiotic, which significantly helps in improving gut health. Hence, turkey tail mushrooms may be an ideal choice if you're looking for a food source to improve your gut health, with its fiber-filled goodness and prebiotics. 

Have you used turkey tail to boost your gut health and overall health? What was your experience with this functional mushroom? Let us know in the comments. 

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References

  1. Effects of polysaccharopeptide from Trametes versicolor and amoxicillin on the gut microbiome of healthy volunteers: a randomized clinical trial,  (1)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25006989/
  2. Effects of polysaccharopeptide from Trametes versicolor and amoxicillin on the gut microbiome of healthy volunteers: a randomized clinical trial, (2)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25006989/
  3. The Effect of Edible Mushroom on Health and Their Biochemistry, (3)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35369040/
  4. Health benefits of dietary fiber, (4)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19335713/
  5. Trametes versicolor mushroom immune therapy in breast cancer, (5)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19087769/
  6. Medicinal mushrooms as an attractive new source of natural compounds for future cancer therapy, (6)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30018750/
  7. Role of Food Antioxidants in Modulating Gut Microbial Communities: Novel Understandings in Intestinal Oxidative Stress Damage and Their Impact on Host Health, (7)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34679698/
  8. Assessment of Bioactive Compounds and Antioxidant Activity of Turkey Tail Medicinal Mushroom Trametes versicolor (Agaricomycetes), (8)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32865897/ 
  9. Food Antioxidants and Their Anti-Inflammatory Properties: A Potential Role in Cardiovascular Diseases and Cancer Prevention, (9)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28933408/
  10. From gut dysbiosis to altered brain function and mental illness: mechanisms and pathways, (10)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4879184/ 
  11. The dynamics of the human infant gut microbiome in development and in progression toward type 1 diabetes, (11)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25662751/ 
  12. The Gut Microbiome Contributes to a Substantial Proportion of the Variation in Blood Lipids, (12)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26358192/
  13. Cultured gut microbiota from twins discordant for obesity modulate adiposity and metabolic phenotypes in mice, (13)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3829625/
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