Host Defense® utilizes freeze-drying to ensure we produce the highest quality product with the most optimal nutrition possible.* What is freeze-drying, though, and why does it matter?
Our Research & Development Director, Renee Davis, is here to answer your questions!
Why does Host Defense® utilize freeze-drying?
Host Defense utilizes freeze-drying to preserve the nutritional content of mycelium in the final product. Freeze-drying uses minimal heat to remove water to create a shelf stable product. Vitamins are heat sensitive and will degrade at higher temperatures. This applies to both water and fat-soluble vitamins, particularly Vitamins A, B, C and D. Phenolic compounds are also susceptible to temperature degradation. In order to create a shelf-stable product while preserving the maximum amount of nutrients found in fungi, we use freeze-drying.
What is the Host Defense® freeze-drying process?
We begin processing once the mycelium is finished growing and digesting its substrate. The mycelium is first frozen, then sent off to our organic freeze-drying contractor. The freeze-drying process begins there.
The mycelium is then exposed to another freeze cycle. Then, it’s mildly heated in a vacuum to remove the water in a process called sublimation, where molecules travel directly from a solid to gas phase, bypassing the intermediary liquid stage. This material is milled to a fine powder and encapsulated to make the final product.
What does freeze-drying offer that other drying methods don't?
The differentiating element of freeze-drying is the use of sublimation, particularly the minimal heat and assistance of a vacuum to remove water particles. Current research supports the use of freeze-drying for mushroom preservation. Several research groups have found improved antioxidant activity, polysaccharide profiles, as well as preserved color and structural integrity in mushrooms compared to other drying methods such as air-drying.*
How does freeze-drying preserve nutrients & other complex compounds lost via other drying methods?
Freeze-drying preserves nutrients more than air-drying because the material is exposed to less heat during processing. Heat and oxidation are the major drivers of vitamin degradation. When exposure to these 2 elements are limited, the nutrient profile in the final product is more favorable.
Why should freeze-drying matter to the consumer?
Consumers should be aware of how their supplements are processed, and what the potential impacts are for the final nutrient profile. Not all drying methods are created equal! We know that mushrooms and mycelium are important functional foods and contain a range of vitamins as well as key phenolic compounds that confer important antioxidant properties.* For a quality product, we want to utilize drying methods that can best preserve what the fresh material offers. Nature is the best chemist, and we want to conserve the optimal nutrient profile until our product reaches our customer.