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New Vision (Kampala) NEWS January 12, 2005 Posted to the web January 12, 2005
By Titus Serunjogi Kampala
Seven year old Dorcus Adoko was admitted with a bad cough, which brought forth pus and blood. She had boils all over her skin and wounds on her gums.
She languished in Lira Hospital without healing. It was only in May 2002 that Kemigisha Beatrice, a botanist, visited the area and taught people about the virtues of mushrooms. Adoko was continuously fed with plain boiled mushrooms and within weeks, she had recovered!
"Wild mushrooms are excellent for malnourished children," says Kemigisha.
They contain proteins, which are easily absorbed by the tissues and used to boost immunity. It's no wonder that children suffering from measles were traditionally treated with boiled mushrooms.
The plants also contain vitamins, which facilitates the absorb and utilisation of nutrients from other foods. It is thus necessary to accompany every dish with mushrooms.
"Mushrooms contain micro-nutrients which relieve disorders ranging from constipation to heart disease and cancer," says Dr Kakudidi Esezah, a Senior lecturer at the Makerere University faculty of Science. Mushrooms also prolong the life span of people living with HIV/AIDS. They are the best plant sources of Vitamin B2 and they are rich in vitamin E, potassium, selenium and copper.
Our forefathers attached great importance to these tiny plants. Whole communities would gather to pick fresh-grown mushrooms and all would share the nutritious meal. Children, pregnant women and aged people were given especially large servings. 100-year-old Juma Katende says mushrooms, green leafy vegetables and fruits have made him outlive his grandchildren.
Mushrooms are so delicious when mixed with groundnut sauce and eaten with millet, sweet potatoes or cassava. No wonder it is widely eaten across the world.
This dish is an excellent source of proteins and carbohydrates. There is a saying among the Bakiga that one who eats mushrooms is better off than one who eats meat. Modern science has proved this right.
A recent study at the Harvard School of health sciences proved that the vitamin E in mushrooms neutralises free radicals in the body. It thus reduces the risk of breast and prostate cancer.
Mushrooms also slow down the progress of AIDS, hepatitis, asthma and arthritis.
A regular diet of mushrooms will keep the skin smooth and healthy. It also prevents wrinkling of the skin; at least until old age sets in. then, one can continue feeding on the fungi to improve energy and mental attitude.
Mushrooms are excellent for everybody. Their potassium regularises the heartbeat and improves oxygen supply to the brain. This relieves stress. Vitamin B2 prompts the body to burn stored fat into energy. It is essential for people who intend to shed excess weight. Alcoholics and smokers need to take mushrooms regularly as they clear toxins out of the blood stream.
Before the advent of modern medicine, mushrooms were boiled without salt and given to children to relieve constipation.
The health benefits of mushrooms are so many that scientists are yet to explain all of them. But all the layman needs to do is to include them at some of his meals.
Fortunately, most of the nutrients in mushrooms cannot be destroyed by sunlight. So whether you take them fresh, dried or ground you will benefit.
However, certain wild mushrooms should not be eaten because they may be poisonous. So if you go out picking wild mushrooms yourself, make sure you know the edible varieties.
Oyster mushrooms can be grown at home and they are also available in markets.