Only someone living with diabetes knows how important it is to make healthy food choices, watch your weight, move more every day and take medications even when you feel all right. Taking care of your sugar levels can help you feel good not only today but can have significant benefits for the future.
Eating certain foods and limiting others can help diabetics manage their blood glucose levels. That's why we are going to talk about one such diabetes-friendly food: Lion’s mane mushroom!
Surprised that Lion's mane mushroom and diabetes are interlinked? Well, they do help lower blood sugar levels by several mechanisms like combating inflammation, making the immune system stronger, and protecting against nerve damage.
Keep reading below to explore how this fuzzy-looking mushroom can help lower your blood sugar. Let’s dive in!
Lion's Mane Mushroom Diabetes Benefits
Several animal studies have looked into Lion’s mane diabetes benefits. Hericium erinaceus may help in the treatment of both types of diabetes as well as prevent type 2 diabetes. Here are some of the key ways the mushroom can help with your diabetes.
Lowers Blood Sugar Levels
Several studies have explored Lion’s mane and diabetes, with the results suggesting the blood sugar lowering potential of the mushroom.
For instance, a 2013 animal study evaluated the anti-hyperglycemic effects(1) of Hericium erinaceus extracts. Diabetic rats were given the mushroom for 28 days and its effects on glucose and insulin (the hormone which lowers blood sugar) were assessed.
Results demonstrated that the fungus significantly decreased blood glucose levels and increased insulin levels.
One of the ways that the mushroom lowers blood sugar levels is by blocking the activity of the enzyme alpha-glucosidase(2). This breaks down sugars in the small intestine, preventing them from getting absorbed. This, in turn, prevents the sugar spike.
Regulates The Immune System
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder in which an overactive immune system mistakenly attacks the pancreatic beta cells and destroys them. This leads to a deficiency of insulin, causing diabetes.
Lion’s mane mushrooms are known to modulate the immune system, which means that they can temper an overactive immune response. The immunomodulatory activity(3) of Hericium erinaceus has been explored in rodent studies, thereby indicating its possible role in the prevention of type one diabetes.
Long-term inflammation in the body causes cellular damage due to oxidative stress. When the cell's DNA gets damaged, they undergo apoptosis or spontaneous death. Now, the cells that die are not easily replaced, and so their functions are lost. The insulin-secreting pancreatic beta cells are one such type of cell that gets affected by chronic inflammation. So, you end up with not enough beta cells to make insulin, causing diabetes to develop.
Lion's mane mushrooms are known for their anti-inflammatory effects(4). Studies have shown that Hericium erinaceus can help reduce chronic low-grade inflammation that is the underlying driver of several metabolic diseases like diabetes. It inhibits several factors involved in the inflammatory process which may help prevent the development of diabetes.
Protects Against Diabetic Neuropathy
In addition to lowering blood sugar levels, Lion's mane diabetic neuropathy benefits have also been reported. Diabetic neuropathy is nerve damage that can occur in people with diabetes.
We already know that Lion's mane has a chemical known as Hericenones. These promote(5) the synthesis of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) in the body, which helps the growth and survival of the nerve cells or neurons. Apart from boosting brain function and helping recover from nervous system injuries, NGF also has a key role to play in diabetes and its related complication.
Persistently high and uncontrolled blood sugar damages the nerve. Lion's mane mushroom helps repair the nerves and aid in its regeneration.
The protective effects of alcoholic extract of Lion's mane mushroom on diabetic neuropathic pain(6) were evaluated in a 2015 animal study. After 6 weeks of treatment with Hericium erinaceus, the diabetic animals showed significant improvement in pain. Results also revealed a decline in blood and urine glucose levels. The improvement in diabetic symptoms was attributed to its antioxidant activity.
Role In Type 2 Diabetes
The insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas also naturally secrete NGF. The cells also require the chemical for their survival. When these cells of the pancreas no longer receive NGF, they are less likely to survive and can undergo cell death.
Recent studies have revealed(7) that a deficit of beta cells is an essential component in the development of type 2 diabetes. Now, we already know two bioactive compounds (hericenones and erinacines) of the fungus have a stimulatory effect on NGF. This could potentially indicate Lion’s mane mushroom type 2 diabetes benefits.
Stress can raise your blood sugar. When stressed, the body prepares itself by ensuring that enough sugar is readily available as energy. This causes insulin levels to fall and more glucose is released from the liver resulting in increased blood sugar. Over time, it may lead to the development of diabetes.
Lion’s mane mushrooms are adaptogens that help the body adapt to stress. Rodent studies have shown the extracts of Lion's mane may help reverse stress-related changes and the inflammatory markers(8) that increase in response to stress.
Is Lion's Mane Good For Diabetes?
The polysaccharides in Lion’s mane mushrooms are known to reduce blood sugar levels, thereby being good for people with diabetes.
Is There A Mushroom That Helps With Diabetes?
Several medicinal mushrooms are known to be good for people with diabetes, like Lion’s mane, Chaga, Reishi, Turkey Tail, and Shiitake.
There are several known Lion's mane diabetes benefits. The mushroom has been known to reduce blood sugar by inhibiting the activity of an enzyme that helps absorb it. It also regulates the immune system; decreases inflammation and stress, all the while playing an important role in type 2 diabetes.
Additionally, the mushroom protects against the development of diabetic complications like neuropathies. Lion’s mane holds promising benefits for diabetes, however additional human studies are required.
Antihyperglycemic and antihyperlipidemic activities of aqueous extract of Hericium erinaceus in experimental diabetic rats, (1) https://doi.org/10.1186/1472-6882-13-253
Antidiabetic and antioxidant activities of eight medicinal mushroom species from China, (2)https://doi.org/10.1615/intjmedmushrooms.v17.i2.40
Immunomodulatory effects of Hericium erinaceus derived polysaccharides are mediated by intestinal immunology (3) https://doi.org/10.1039/c7fo00071e
The Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Lion's Mane Culinary-Medicinal Mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) in a Coculture System of 3T3-L1 Adipocytes and RAW264 Macrophages (4) https://doi.org/10.1615/intjmedmushrooms.v17.i7.10
Chemical constituents from Hericium erinaceus and their ability to stimulate NGF-mediated neurite outgrowth on PC12 cells,
Protective Effect of Ethanol Extracts of Hericium erinaceus on Alloxan-Induced Diabetic Neuropathic Pain in Rats, (6) https://doi.org/10.1155/2015/595480
- β-cell dysfunction: Its critical role in prevention and management of type 2 diabetes, (7) https://doi.org/10.4239/wjd.v6.i1.109
- Erinacine A-Enriched Hericium erinaceus Mycelium Produces Antidepressant-Like Effects through Modulating BDNF/PI3K/Akt/GSK-3β Signaling in Mice, (8) https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19020341