Earlier this month we organised a very special virtual lunch-date with an expert in the superfoods and supplements biz – Lari Laurikkala, one of the founding members of Four Sigma Foods.
Lari was kind enough to spend time answering questions from fellow clean eating foodies on our Facebook page. If you’ve missed out, fear not - we’ve rounded up all the tips from the mushroom connoisseur and foraging aficionado (and former Finnish TV soap star) in the interview below.
- What are currently your favourite tonics and seasonal foods?
The autumn is one of my favourite seasons because of all the fresh food that is available and mainly because of the wild foods and mushrooms available in the forests! Here in Finland I've recently enjoyed a lot of root vegetables, kale and wild funnel chantarelle mushrooms. My newest experimenting with tonics have been with a lot of rhodiola root from Lapland, an amazing adaptogen and stress-buster, and guayasa leaf from Amazon, a really nice, mild stimulant with a lot of l-theanine so it helps give clear focus. I like to try some lesser used root vegetables - I think parsnip, rutabega and beets need to be given more respect. They are often cheap, clean and really nourishing when well cooked.
Rhodiola is in something to try for everyone! The taste of it is an amazing combination of astringency, bitterness and sweetness (rose flavour). In our products there is Rhodiola in the Mushroom Coffee with Lion's Mane (coming soon to Content) and also in the Sport Herbs!
- What’s your favourite way to use medicinal mushrooms in Autumn, whether cooking with them or taking them in sachets?
Autumn is a great time to enjoy the outdoors and fresh air in the forest, and this is also the best time come across wild Reishi! If you happen to find one of those beauties in the wild, I love to brew it in a big kettle for several hours with licorice root pieces and ginger. Really warming and healing autumn brew. Other than that, the basic autumn drink is strong Chaga tea (for example Four Sigma Chaga) with a bit of honey. Keeps you going strong! Another bit extreme idea I just received from a customer was that they sprinkle the Four Sigma mushrooms sachets on top of bread. So if one likes to eat some bread (we love to occasionally have our Finnish 100% rye bread), that could be a fun new way to experiment with the mushroom extract powders too.
One for cacao fans: Personally at #ContentHQ we love to mix the Xoco Reishi and Cacao into coconut yogurt for an instant cacao pudding!
- Do you recommend a seasonal approach to mushrooms, as with other foods?
The medicinal mushrooms have always been considered as something called tonics. This means that they are safe to use over long term and even in big doses. So there is not a need for cycling them or using them only seasonally. I personally find that my consumption of hot mushroom drinks increase in fall and winter, but in the summer I still use them regularly and I make a lot of cold elixirs and smoothies with them. It is best to listen to the body and find the ideal doses and combinations for yourself.
- What are your essential every day habits for good health and wellbeing?
My first priority always is a lot of good, fresh water. I personally value my spring water which I gather from a living spring regularly. Also primary nutrition is huge, so is doing fun things like spending time in the nature with good friends. After these eating good food that makes one feel alive. Occasional fasting or simply eating a bit less for a day or a few days always gives a good rest for the digestive tract.
- What is the biggest misconception/confusion when it comes to mushrooms?
Two comes to mind:
- If one has fungal disease, all mushrooms are bad. Wrong. The strong medicinal mushrooms, especially Reishi, are anti-fungals themselves, and are really potent healing aids towards fungal diseases such as candida. It is the same as saying that all animals are bad because of sharks kill a few people every year…
- All commercial mushroom products are equal. Wrong. There is a lot of variety in the market, and some companies only sell the mycelium (mushroom "roots"), which are grown in grain and then ground up. These contain up to 50% or more residual starch in the final product. Then there are the strong extracts which we have at Four Sigma Foods, and these are made from the actual fruiting bodies, extracted in hot water and alcohol to make them bio available. If you wish to gain benefits from using mushrooms, it is important to use a big enough dose of these well prepared products.
- One of the Content #greenbeautyteam experts would like to know: would they have topical benefits if we mix them with honey and use them as face masks?
Definitely! Especially Chaga and Reishi mushrooms can actually be found in some face creams etc. Great anti-aging cure! Give it a try and I'd be happy to hear results. Also, one customer did make a face scrub from the Superfood Mushroom Coffee and said it felt amazing!
The mushroom products are versatile for sure! One next level for the adventurous ones out there could be mushroom coffee enema… Coffee enemas are quite commonly used to detox the body really effectively.
- Do you have a favourite mantra/quote to live by?
"Time is money - but it is much more because once you spend it, you can never get it back"
- In some countries medicinal mushrooms are used alongside chemotherapy to boost the immune system - which ones would you recommend?
About chemotherapy - there seems to be most research done about the effectiveness and safety with reishi, chaga and shiitake mushrooms. In Japan for example shiitake is one of the official recommendations for cancer therapy. In these cases though of course we are not able to make recommendations and I suggest one to consult health care professional before starting any protocol.
There are nowadays also a lot of high quality essential oils that are safe to use internally. Medicine flower extracts are amazing too. Just a drop or two of these to any kind of warm elixir will instantly take it to next level and give medicinal properties!
- What is your favourite product from the whole range and why?
After all these years it is still the Reishi Mushroom Drink: most potent dose of strong Reishi extract with an pleasant licorice taste. I love to have my evening cup of Reishi to help sleep like a baby. Quality sleep, after all plays such a big role in our health.
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