Reishi Mushrooms: Nurturing the Physical and Emotional Heart

Our heart, both physically and emotionally, plays a vital role in our overall wellbeing. It is not just the organ responsible for pumping blood but is also the centre of our emotions. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the TCM Heart is king.

Taking care of our hearts is crucial, and one natural remedy with a long history that has gained popularity in recent years is reishi mushroom. Read on to learn how red reishi mushrooms, also known as Ganoderma lucidum, have been treasured in traditional can help nurture both the physical and emotional heart.

Physical Heart: Promoting Cardiovascular Health

One of the key benefits of red reishi mushrooms is their potential to support cardiovascular health. Heart disease is a leading cause of death worldwide, and adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle is essential if you want to live a long and healthy life. Reishi mushrooms contain bioactive compounds called triterpenes, which have shown promising effects in reducing cholesterol levels and maintaining healthy blood pressure. High cholesterol and elevated blood pressure are risk factors for cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes. Incorporating reishi mushrooms into your diet, whether through supplements or as an ingredient in food and beverages, may help in maintaining a healthy heart.

In addition to their cholesterol-lowering and blood pressure-controlling properties, reishi mushrooms also possess anti-inflammatory effects. Chronic inflammation in the body can contribute to the development of cardiovascular diseases. Research has indicated that consuming reishi mushrooms may help reduce inflammation markers, ultimately protecting the heart from damage.

Oxidative stress is another factor that can negatively impact cardiovascular health. Reishi mushrooms contain antioxidants that neutralize free radicals and protect our cells from oxidative damage. By reducing oxidative stress, reishi mushrooms can contribute to a healthier heart.

Emotional Heart: Enhancing Emotional Well-being

While the concept of an emotional heart may seem abstract, it refers to our mental and emotional wellbeing. Our emotions can have a significant impact on our overall health, and finding ways to nourish our emotional heart is essential. Reishi mushrooms have adaptogenic properties, which means they can help restore balance and reduce stress in the body. Chronic stress can lead to various physical and mental health issues, including cardiovascular problems. By incorporating reishi mushrooms into your daily routine, you may experience reduced stress levels and improved overall emotional well-being.

Reishi mushrooms also stimulate the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a vital role in regulating mood and promoting feelings of happiness. Low serotonin levels are associated with conditions such as depression and anxiety. By naturally increasing serotonin levels, reishi mushrooms can potentially alleviate symptoms of these mental health disorders.

What’s more, reishi mushrooms are often referred to as “holy spirit mushrooms” in TCM due to their impact on the mind and spirit. They are believed to have a calming effect and promote tranquillity, aiding in relaxation and promoting a sense of inner peace. By helping to cultivate a calm and serene emotional state, reishi mushrooms can help individuals navigate life’s challenges with greater ease.

Incorporating Reishi Mushrooms into Your Lifestyle

Now that we understand the potential benefits of reishi mushrooms for both the physical and emotional heart, let’s discuss how to incorporate them into your daily routine. The heart-healthy and calming compounds of reishi mushrooms taste bitter, so they aren’t the most delicious mushrooms to consume as food. That’s why it’s easiest to get their benefits by taking supplements. If you do opt to open a capsule to consume them in food, they mix best with foods that are already bitter tasting, like hot chocolate.

When choosing reishi mushroom products, it is important to ensure they are sourced from reputable suppliers and cultivated under suitable conditions. It’s also important to make sure that you’re getting the fruiting body (the stem and cap), not just the mycelium (root-like structure), as that’s where the triterpene compounds are found.

Reishi mushrooms offer a natural and holistic approach to nurturing both the physical and emotional heart. With their potential to support cardiovascular health, reduce inflammation, and combat oxidative stress, they can contribute to a healthier heart. Additionally, their adaptogenic properties and ability to enhance emotional wellbeing make them a valuable ally in promoting a balanced and serene mind. By incorporating reishi mushrooms into your lifestyle, you can take proactive steps towards nourishing your heart. What a perfect Valentine’s gift for yourself or someone you care about!

LISTEN NOW: Have you heard about Red Reishi?


Reishi has been used as a medicinal mushroom in China, Japan, and other Asian countries for over 2000 years. The fruiting body is kidney-shaped with a wavy undersurface. There are about 80 different types of reishi that have been identified. For this episode Melissa Carr, Dr. TCM, sits down with Kuko Health* to talk about the benefits of the superfood, red reishi.


*Kuko Health is a self-proclaimed Traditional Chinese Medicine enthusiast. Visit her website and join her on her health journey to uncover the truths behind this century old practice.

The Environment, Reishi, and Our Health

The environment is something that we hear a lot about, particularly the negative impacts on our world and on our health. We all need clean air and water, uncontaminated food, and a safe place to live. However, pollution, overuse or improper use of chemicals, climate change, and poor agricultural practices have led to disease and poorer health outcomes. In this blog post, we will explore some of the key ways in which the environment can affect our health on what you can do to help protect yourself.

The Environment Problem

Air Pollution

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 99% of the global population breathes air that exceeds WHO guideline limits for air pollutants. Sometimes air pollution is so bad that it is visible as a grey or yellow smog or haze, but it can also be invisible to the naked eye. Causes of air pollution include exhaust from motor vehicles, industrial facilities, household combustion devices (gas or coal-burning devices like heaters and stoves), and fires.

Both indoor and outdoor air pollution can have serious consequences for our health, causing respiratory problems like asthma and lung cancer. It can also lead to cardiovascular disease, stroke, allergies, and environmental illness.

Water Pollution

If you’ve ever had an iced drink on vacation that resulted in a prolonged stay in your hotel’s bathroom, you know that contaminated water can have negative health consequences. However, water pollution from chemicals is another major environmental issue. While we recognize the importance of clean water to our survival, we pollute our waters with agricultural, industrial, and municipal wastes, including with toxic chemicals that cannot be broken down.

Water pollution can result in the transmission of diseases such as cholera, hepatitis A, typhoid, polio, and dysentery. Water contaminated by high levels of lead, fluoride, arsenic, or other chemicals can also lead to skin issues, neurological disorders, and an increased risk of cancer.

Climate Change

Climate change is causing a wide range of environmental problems, including more frequent and severe weather events and rising sea levels. These changes can have a significant impact on our health, including an increased risk of heat stroke, respiratory problems, and the spread of infectious diseases.

Pesticides and Chemicals

Pesticides and other chemicals used in agriculture and industry can also have a negative impact on our health. Exposure to these substances can cause a range of health problems, including cancer, reproductive problems, and neurological disorders.

Mushrooms as an Environmental Solution to the Earth

Mushrooms, including reishi mushrooms, are not only beneficial for human health but also for the health of the planet. Mycoremediation is a process by which the enzymes in mushrooms can help break down and decompose contaminants, resulting in cleaner soil and water.

Reishi mushrooms are also an important part of the ecosystem and can help to with biodiversity. By promoting the growth of healthy trees and plants, reishi mushrooms can also help to support other species that depend on them for survival.

Reishi Mushrooms Can Help Protect Us from the Harmful Effects on Our Health

Used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for thousands of years, reishi mushrooms are called ling zhi—translated as “divine mushroom”—because of their ability to help restore health for a wide range of health issues.

Support the Immune System

One of the primary ways in which reishi mushrooms can protect us from the harmful effects of the environment is by supporting our immune system. Reishi mushrooms contain beta-glucans, which are complex sugars that signal an appropriate response of the immune system. By causing our immune system to jump up its response, reishi mushrooms can help us fight off diseases that may be caused by exposure to pathogens, pollutants, and toxins in the environment.

Because the immune system can also overreact, such as is the case with allergies and autoimmune disorders, we also want something that can help calm or “modulate” an immune response. Luckily, reishi mushroom’s beta-glucans can also do this because these compounds are “immunomodulators.”

Reduce Inflammation

Reishi mushrooms also have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help protect us from the harmful effects of inflammation caused by exposure to environmental toxins. Chronic inflammation is linked to a number of health problems, including cancer, heart disease, and autoimmune disorders. By reducing inflammation, reishi mushrooms can help protect us from these health problems.

Protect the Liver

The liver is responsible for hundreds of activities, including detoxifying the body and removing harmful substances from our system. However, exposure to environmental toxins can overload the liver and cause damage. Reishi mushrooms have been shown to help protect the liver from damage caused by toxins, which can help us stay healthy in a polluted world.

Fight Cancer

Reishi mushrooms contain compounds called triterpenes, which have been shown to have anti-cancer properties. These compounds can help protect us from some of the harmful effects of environmental pollutants that can increase our risk of developing cancer.

Choose Reishi

By supporting your immune system, reducing inflammation, protecting the liver, and fighting cancer, reishi mushrooms can help you stay healthy. Incorporating reishi mushrooms into your supplement routine may be a great way to support your overall health and help protect yourself from the harmful effects of the environment.

Reishi’s Fighting Effects Against Cervical Cancer

Did you know that at least 80% of women will have been infected by the human papillomavirus (HPV) by age 50? It is estimated that more than 100 types of HPV exist and at least 14 of these are cancer-causing. While certain strains of HPV cause genital warts, others produce abnormal cells on the cervix (detected by Pap tests) that can result in cervical cancer. If it is not treated or detected in time, this disease can be fatal.

How can HPV infections lead to cancer?

About 70% of cervical cancers and pre-cancerous cervical lesions are caused by two strains of HPV. If the body’s immune system cannot effectively fight off an HPV infection, the virus can remain for years and, over time, cause normal cells to become cancerous. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women around the world, with 570,000 women newly diagnosed with it in 2018.

Fortunately, most cervical cancers can be prevented. With routine screenings, health care providers are better able to detect and remove precancerous cells before they progress. HPV vaccines are also available, but they cannot treat existing infection.

How can reishi help prevent and fight cervical cancer?

Known as the “mushroom of immortality,” while it cannot keep us alive forever, reishi has many general health benefits. It has been used for thousands of years in China and Japan to promote health and longevity. Researchers have found that reishi contains powerful adaptogens and compounds, including polysaccharides and triterpenoids like ganoderic acid, that support immune function and antibody production.

Our immune systems can become weakened by poor diet, insufficient restorative sleep, stress, age, chronic infections, and other diseases. When this happens, viral infections like HPV are able to take greater hold, multiply, and increase our risk for certain kinds of cancer.

As a result, the health community is paying more attention to medicinal mushrooms, especially their immune-supporting and antiviral benefits. In addition, scientists are studying these fantastic fungi to learn more about their cancer-fighting therapeutic potential. Research has demonstrated, for example, that fungal polysaccharides can modulate immune function. That means that these compounds help to strengthen the body’s immune response when needed, combating the growth of infection and decreasing the likelihood that it will form cancer cells. Through reishi’s ability to enhance our immune surveillance system, it can help the body identify and eliminate abnormal molecular patterns, thereby improving its protection from cancer-causing viruses, including HPV.

Further to this, reishi’s antioxidant capacity helps reduce free radical damage that could result in cancer. Additionally, studies suggest that the ganoderic acids—unique to reishi mushroom—have antitumour properties by being toxic to cancer cells (cytotoxic) and causing cancer cells to undergo their own programmed cell death (aptosis). And, because reishi supports healthy liver and kidney function, it can also help with the detoxification of carcinogens and strengthen the body if chemotherapy or radiation therapies are used.

Prevention is Key

While reishi mushroom, alongside conventional medical therapies like surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy can be employed to fight an existing cervical cancer, prevention is the best approach. This means getting regular Pap tests, but can also mean considering the HPV vaccine and practicing safe sex. In addition to all of its other health benefits, taking Japanese red reishi mushroom offers another layer of protection against getting cervical cancer.

Ushering In Movember with Reishi Mushrooms

Ushering Into Movember

Did you know that one in nine Canadian men will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime? Each year, more than 1.4 million men are diagnosed with prostate cancer worldwide, with more than 205,000 men living with this common disease in Canada. This month, we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to usher in Movember and discuss how reishi mushrooms can benefit prostate health.

About Prostate Cancer

The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that plays a significant role in the reproductive system and urinary system in men. It lies just below the bladder and in front of the rectum. As with most cancers, prostate cancer occurs when cells cease to act normally in the body.

As men age, they are more likely to develop prostate cancer. The risk of prostate cancer increases after age 50, and it is most common among men over 60. The prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test is sometimes employed to screen for prostate cancer. Because PSA is a protein is produced by both cancerous and non-cancerous prostate tissue, a small amount of PSA does enter the bloodstream. However, cancerous prostate cells produce more PSA, so a physician will consider the age of the person, the size of the prostate, whether the person is taking certain medications that can affect PSA levels, and how quickly those PSA numbers change from test to test (if they do more than one test).

Despite this, there is some good news to be found. Caught early, prostate cancer is largely treatable. Additionally, some types of prostate cancer are extremely slow growing, so not all prostate cancers are treated. Regardless, most of us would rather try to prevent prostate cancer and safely treat even low risk cancers. This is where reishi mushrooms can help.

Reishi Mushrooms and Prostate Health

Studies (1, 2, 3, 4) have shown that compounds, including the polysaccharide beta-glucans, found in reishi mushrooms prevent cancer cell growth. The Journal of Oncology published an article that discusses three cases where tumours shrank in cancer patients who started taking reishi mushrooms.

Researchers in Israel found that reishi mushrooms contain molecules that block male hormones (androgens) from acting on cancerous cells. Unless treated, these hormones can cause cells to multiply uncontrollably into cancer tissue, particularly at the early stages of the disease.

Prostate cancer drugs, such as Flutamide, also interfere with androgen reception. According to the Israeli study, reishi extracts, on the other hand, achieve the same results at a fraction of the cost and without any significant side effects. What’s more, the study showed that reishi was even more efficient than Flutamide.

Keep in mind that current studies on reishi mushrooms and prostate cancer are still in their early stages. So, it is important follow specialist recommendations and to wait until further studies have been conducted before hailing the reishi mushroom as a cure. But they can certainly be considered for preventative use and as a supportive addition to conventional treatments. Especially as reishi mushrooms can also help alleviate chemotherapy-related and radiation-related side effects.

The Other Health Benefits of Reishi Mushrooms

Reishi mushrooms aren’t just good for your prostate – they can benefit your entire body. There are several active healing ingredients found in these medicinal mushrooms that can boost your overall health.

Triterpenes, for instance, are acidic molecules that have the ability to turn off allergic reactions in your body. Polysaccharides can prevent cancer cell growth. Phytosterols can inhibit cholesterol absorption from your intestines, thereby reducing levels of LDL cholesterol.

Numerous studies around the world have shown that reishi mushrooms can be used as treatment or prevention for an array of diseases and illnesses, including diabetes, liver disease, inflammation, flu, autoimmune disorders, cancer, stomach ulcers, sleep disorders, fatigue, heart disease, hypertension, and high cholesterol.

This Movember, whether you have struggled with prostate cancer or not, grow a mustache or not, and have a prostate or not, consider that reishi’s powerful anti-inflammatory and immune balancing properties can help to keep disease at bay.

Cancer Survivor Day

Did you know that June 7 is National Cancer Survivors Day? Honouring those who have fought and won the battle of cancer, this cherished day is held on the first Sunday in June and is celebrated by many in countries all over the world. We hope you will take part in some of the many festivities taking place this Sunday. To locate an event near you, contact your local cancer treatment centre. If you can’t find an event in your community, maybe you can organize your very own NCSD celebration.

Implementing an Anti-Cancer Lifestyle

Cancer comes in a wide variety of forms, affecting millions of people worldwide. Second only to heart disease as the leading cause of death, chances are, you or someone you know has been diagnosed with some form of cancer. Winning the fight on cancer is not easy, but it is possible.

Eating a nutritious diet, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, limiting your consumption of alcohol, and quitting smoking are some of the healthy lifestyle changes you can make to enjoy a better quality of life and help you celebrate many more birthdays for years to come. In addition to making these important changes, did you know that taking Japanese red reishi may also help to prevent cancer?

Potent Fungus Fighting Power

Also known as “The Mushrooms of Immortality,” Japanese red reishi mushroom has gained almost legendary status as a trusted medical treatment for over 2,000 years, including for its cancer fighting abilities.

Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) has been widely studied for its effects as a nutraceutical to prevent the spreading of cancer. It can suppress the ability of cancer cells to reproduce, to stick to tissue, and to be able to migrate to other areas, suggesting that it may be able to reduce tumour invasiveness and metastasis. Its powerful adaptogenic and immune-boosting properties have been shown to diminish the number of cancerous cells by supporting many of the body’s immune cells, including NK cells, T and B lymphocytes, and macrophages.

Reishi is not only used to fight cancer, but may bolster typical cancer treatments such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Plus, it can be used to reduce the harmful side effects of these treatments, helping the body to maintain balance.

Though reishi mushroom supplements have been shown to be well-tolerated by most, with no major toxicity, it is important, however, to ensure you speak to your health professionals about including reishi supplements, if you have a cancer diagnosis.

New advances and incredible discoveries in cancer treatments are improving the quality of life and bringing hope to many people who have been affected by this heart-wrenching disease. Do something special this Sunday by celebrating the many survivors of cancer.

Breast Cancer: What do I look for?

Cancer. It’s a terrifying word. And breast cancer is the most common type of invasive cancer for women. British Columbia is now the first province to provide women and their doctors information about their breast density after a mammogram screening. You may be wondering, “Why does my breast density matter and what does it mean if I have dense breasts?” I’ll get to that, but first let’s discuss breast cancer, in general.

One in Eight Women

With approximately one in eight women being diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime, it is the second most common cause of cancer death in women—after lung cancer. The good news is, survival rates have improved dramatically since the late 1980s. Men can also get breast cancer, but it is much less common, making up less than one percent of all breast cancer diagnoses.

Part of the reason for an increasing number of breast cancer survivors is that we are finding and assessing breast lumps earlier on in the disease.

What Do I Look For?

If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, see your doctor so you can be assessed.

  • Feeling a lump or thickened tissue in your breast or armpit.

  • Pain in the armpit or breast that does not change with your menstrual cycle.

  • A change in shape or size of your breast not related to your menstrual cycle or pregnancy.

  • The skin of the breast looks like the skin of an orange, i.e. pitting, dimpling, or change in colour.

  • Changes in the appearance of the nipple, like a rash or scaling skin or it appears sunken or inverted.

  • Discharge from the nipple.

It may be scary to find these changes, but don’t put off seeing your health professional about it because early detection improves outcomes.

While the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care does not recommend breast self-examinations for women do not have a higher risk of breast cancer and who are aged 40 to 74 because they state that these self-examinations do not save women’s lives and can lead to unneeded tests, it is very helpful for a woman to know how her breasts normally look and feel so she can more easily notice changes. And for women who are at higher risk, self-exams can be valuable.

Higher Risks

So, how do you know if you are one of those higher risk individuals? Note that not all the risks are equal in their effect, but here are some of the factors that can be at play.

  • Age: As we age, our risk increases.

  • History: A history of breast cancer increases our likelihood of having it again, as do some types of non-cancerous (benign) breast lumps, like atypical ductal hyperplasia(ADH) or lobular carcinoma in situ(LCIS).

  • Genetics: Risk increases for those who have close relatives who’ve had breast cancer, and for women who carry the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene. Women of Ashkenazi Jewish decent are more likely to carry these BRCA genes.

  • Reproductive history: Estrogen exposure can increase breast cancer risk. Women who started their periods early or ended them later in life have more exposure, as do women who have pregnancies later in life or no pregnancies. Prolonged use of birth control pills or certain hormone replacement pills also have increased estrogen exposure.

  • Dense breasts.

  • Other: Alcohol consumption, obesity, and physical inactivity are also associated with higher risk.

  • Possible risks: Smoking and second-hand smoke, higher birth weight, and night shift work may also raise the risk, but these factors are less clear.

Dense Breasts

Breasts are composed of fat, connective tissue, milk ducts, and glands. When there is more connective tissue, glands, and ducts than fatty tissue, the breasts are termed dense, and this is a trait that is inherited. Breast density has been shown to decline with age but increase with hormone therapy.

JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) Oncology research paper found that breast density is the strongest risk factor for breast cancer in both pre-menopausal and post-menopausal women.

The increased risk appears to be two-fold. One is that dense breasts cause a higher risk of producing cancerous cells. Researchers think that it’s from the presence of more cells in the dense tissue, as well as more interaction between the cells that line the mammary ducts and the surrounding tissue. The second cause is that dense breast tissue and cancer both show up as white on standard mammograms, so it’s hard for radiologists to find cancerous tissue. It simply doesn’t show up as easily because there is less contrast.

Dense breasts may need more follow up and alternate mammograms, such as 3-D mammograms, or ultrasounds to show tumours.

Nineteen U.S. states already require women to be told if they have dense breasts, but it is not yet clear what you are supposed to do if you are told you have dense breasts. One of the study’s co-authors states, “Not everybody with dense breasts is going to get cancer. There are people with dense breasts that are not at high risk.”

Prevention for All

Certain risk factors are out of your control—age, family medical history, breast density, and genetics. But you can take the reins in other aspects of your health.

As with most disease prevention and health optimization, it’s important to maintain a healthy weight, eat nutritious foods, limit or avoid alcohol, exercise regularly, and don’t smoke. If you fit the high risk profile (if you know your breast density, you can take this risk calculator quiz, do monthly breast self-exams, have your doctor examine you yearly, and get breast assessments done.

Foods and supplements that are high in anti-oxidants can help to lower the risk of many kinds of cancers, as can supporting a healthy immune system.

Japanese red reishi mushrooms have a wide range of health benefits including supporting a balanced immune system, providing adrenal support as an adaptogenic, and they have been shown to help suppress tumour growth. Reishi contains more than 400 known compounds, with the best-known ones being triterpenes and polysaccharides, both of which have shown anticancer effects.

When it comes to something like cancer prevention, it’s comforting to know that there are some things we can do to help protect ourselves.

Red Reishi: A Holistic Companion to Cancer Treatment

If you are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatment, you will likely experience side effects. Hair loss and nausea are common side effects of chemotherapy, and local skin irritation and fatigue for radiation therapy. But there are also a host of other side effects patients undergoing cancer treatment suffer from, including a compromised immune system, loss of appetite, digestive issues, pain, anxiety, and depression, to name only a few.

For all these reasons, it is easy to understand why many cancer patients seek alternative, natural treatment options to manage the side effects of chemotherapy or radiation therapy and increase their quality of life.

Seizing a holistic approach to cancer treatment

For those going through cancer treatment, taking a holistic approach to chemotherapy and radiation therapy may help mitigate side effects. By combining standard health care with alternative options, you can have a full arsenal of therapy options to better support the body and deal with unpleasant reactions. Red reishi can play a valuable role as part of a larger cancer coping strategy. As an adaptogen that helps the body adapt to stressors and return to balance, an antioxidant that helps decrease cellular damage, an anti-inflammatory, and a natural remedy that helps calm the nervous system, its potential benefits are vast.

As an adaptogen and an antioxidant that helps support the liver and kidneys, it can help reduce some of the side effects of powerful chemotherapy and radiation therapy drugs. For example, one chemotherapy drug, cisplatin, is known to potentially cause severe kidney problems and allergic reactions. By giving compounds called terpenes that are found in the fruiting bodies of reishi to mice who were given cisplatin, kidney health and function was maintained. Reishi has also been studied for its potential benefits for reducing nausea and improving appetite during chemotherapy treatment.

Using red reishi as part of your overall wellness plan

Widely used in Asian countries for centuries to support immune function and provide energy, reishi (Ganoderma lucidum or G. lucidum) have been shown to contain potential cancer-fighting properties. In laboratory and animal studies, complex sugars known as beta-glucans found in this herb has demonstrated their ability to stop the growth and spread of cancer cells.

Reishi can also be used alongside chemo or radiation treatment to help manage side effects and to support foundational health. In addition to helping reduce negative reactions to conventional treatments, these medicinal mushrooms can also boost immune function for patients whose systems have been weakened by cancer therapies.

What’s more, reishi supplements have been shown to be well-tolerated by most, even at high doses. If you have a cancer diagnosis, it’s important to notify your healthcare practitioners about any supplements you are taking, but its certainly worth asking your health care provider if reishi is right for you.

​How to Prevent Prostate Cancer

One in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. Leading the way in cancers affecting males worldwide today, chances are, you or someone you know is dealing with this common disease.

While all men with a prostate can get prostate cancer, there are some risk factors over which you will have little to no control. These include:

  • Age: the risk increases significantly with age
  • Race: men of African descent have a much greater risk than the remaining population
  • Family history: those with a father or brother diagnosed with prostate cancer have double the risk of developing it too

Because prostate cancer can be very slow growing, it’s possible a man will live for years, never even knowing he has it. However, a significant number of men with untreated prostate cancer will suffer serious consequences. And, of course, the best course of action is to try to prevent this cancer from starting or progressing at all.

If you are concerned about preventing prostate cancer, here are some healthy ways to beat the odds.

Consume more vegetables

As if you needed even more reasons to up your veggie intake, certain types of vegetables have been shown to slow the progression of prostate cancer and to reduce the risk of getting it at all. The main vegetables to fill your plate with for this benefit are the cruciferous ones. That means broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, and dark leafy greens like kale, mustard greens, arugula, bok choy, and watercress.

Tomatoes may also reduce prostate cancer development. They are rich in an antioxidant called lycopene, which is higher in cooked or concentrated tomato products (e.g. sauces, purees, pastes; though you’re better to make your own or at least read the labels to watch for sugar and other added ingredients). Lycopene has been associated with anticancer properties.

Cut back on dairy and saturated fats. Maybe.

Studies are mixed, but associations have been made between the high consumption of dairy products and increased risk of prostate cancer incidence. According to these studies, there is some evidence to suggest that a high consumption of dairy products boosts insulin-like growth factor (IGF)—a hormone that can increase prostate cancer growth. Instead of drinking cow’s milk, you might try opting out for non-dairy drinks like oat, cashew, rice, almond, hemp, or coconut milks.

Limit processed and red meats

More and more people are looking at alternatives to eating red or processed meats, choosing, perhaps, more plant-based meals. In 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO), cited processed meats—hot dogs, ham, bacon, and some deli meats—as a carcinogenic (cancer-causing), and red meats—beef, pork, lamp, goat—as probably carcinogenic.

Legumes, nuts, and seeds offer plenty of protein, along with other beneficial nutrients like fibre, vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids. Some grains, like amaranth and millet, even contain good quantities of protein.

Other healthy protein options include fish—particularly wild salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring, and other omega-3 rich fish that may also help lower your risk of prostate cancer.

Lose that extra weight

Are you overweight? Then you might be at a higher risk of prostate cancer. If you have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher, you fall within the obese range, and that’s bad news for any man who wants to stave off prostate cancer. Watching what you eat, lowering your daily calorie intake, and incorporating a suitable exercise program can go a long way to shedding that excess weight.

Take Japanese Red Reishi Mushrooms

Celebrated in Traditional Chinese Medicine as the “mushroom of immortality” and the “medicine of kings,” you’d probably think that reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) delivers some pretty astonishing health benefits—and you’d be right. This prized fungus has been shown to support a healthy immune system, defend against heart disease, calm the nerves, relieve both allergies and inflammation, and fight cancer.

Studies have demonstrated that reishi mushrooms has cancer-fighting properties. Beta-glucans, complex sugars found in reishi mushrooms, have been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells and prevent them from spreading.

One of the ways that cancer grows is by giving chemical signals to the body to create new blood vessels that can feed it oxygen and nutrients. This process is called angiogenesis, and it also leads to the spreading of cancer cells to other areas of the body, in a process called metastasis. Some cancer drugs try to inhibit angiogenesis. What’s amazing is that reishi mushrooms help kill prostate cancer cells, inhibit prostate cancer growth, and suppress prostate cancer spreading, at least in part, by inhibiting angiogenesis. Nature is powerful.

Eating healthy, managing your weight, and taking Japanese Red Reishi mushrooms are some great steps in the right direction that will not only help lower your risk of prostate cancer, but also prevent other cancers and chronic diseases.