Most medical professionals and nutritionists advise their patients and clients to eat enough seafood, berries, and leafy green vegetables to promote a more robust memory at any age. However, intriguing new research suggests that mushrooms may also significantly improve memory.
Eating mushrooms for dementia? While it may sound too good to be true, research has found that bioactive compounds in certain medicinal mushrooms may protect against dementia and diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Let’s explore the link between mushrooms and dementia and how this superfood can reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
What Causes Dementia?
Dementia is caused by damage to or alterations in the brain. The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer's disease. Other causes are:
- Parkinson's disease.
- Vascular dementia in people with persistently high blood pressure, severe artery hardening, or multiple small strokes.
- Traumatic head injury.
- Dementia with Lewy bodies which might impair short-term memory.
- Frontotemporal dementia, including Pick's disease.
Less frequent causes include:
- Huntington's disease.
- Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a fatal and rare illness that destroys brain tissue.
- Leukoencephalopathies which impact the deeper, white-matter regions of the brain.
- Some cases of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or multiple sclerosis (MS).
- Multiple-system atrophy a group of progressive brain disorders that impair speech, motor function, and autonomic function.
- Infections like late-stage syphilis.
Now, onto mushrooms dementia benefits, and the best mushrooms for dementia.
Medicinal Mushrooms For Dementia
Mushrooms have been researched for their role in decreasing the risk of dementia and cognitive impairmnet. For instance in a study from 2021(1), researchers suggested that ergothioneine, an amino acid found in certain mushrooms and other foods, may help prevent dementia and cognitive impairment. In the blood samples taken from memory clinics and the community, dementia patients had the lowest ergothioneine levels and higher in those who were not experiencing cognitive decline.
This means that supplementing the diet with mushrooms increases ergothionine levels, which can lower the risk of cognitive impairment.
Likiewise, in a six-year study(2) from 2011 to 2017 researchers discovered that individuals' odds of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) decreased by as much as 50% when they ingested more than two standard pieces of mushrooms each week. The study identified six varieties of mushrooms often consumed in Singapore, including oyster, golden, shiitake, white button mushrooms, and dried and canned varieties. However, scientists think that other mushrooms could also be beneficial.
Fibers from mushrooms helps maintain gut health by nourishing the "good" bacteria in the intestines. It has been discovered that these bacteria produce neurotransmitters, or chemicals, which send messages between nerves. These neurotransmitters support cognitive function, mental clarity, brain health, and emotional stability.
Lion's mane mushroom, or Hericium erinaceus, which is recognized by its long, white, fluffy top, has received a lot of attention in relation to brain health and dementia. Early studies indicate Lion's mane may help patients with Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease, two major causes of dementia, by preventing neurological damage and encouraging the formation of nerve tissue.
Now, let’s look at the top mushroom for dementia – Lion’s mane!
Lion’s mane mushroom: The Brain Food
In a pre-clinical trial(3), the study team at the University of Queensland revealed that recently identified active compounds in Lion's mane mushrooms improved memory and brain cell growth.
The research revealed Lion's mane mushroom considerably affected the growth of neurons and memory enhancement. Surprisingly, researchers discovered that the active compounds from Hericium erinaceus enhance neuron projections, expanding and connecting to other neurons. This resulted from laboratory tests measuring the neurotrophic effects of isolated compounds on cultured brain cells.
Twenty-nine people with mild cognitive impairment, aged 50 to 80, participated in a second, smaller double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial(4).The HDS-R cognitive test was administered over 16 weeks, and the outcomes revealed that the group that took 3 grams of Lion's mane extract in pill form every day outperformed the placebo group.
FAQs About Mushrooms For Dementia
What Are The Side Effects Of Mushrooms For Dementia?
Medicinal mushrooms are generally safe when used in the recommended dosages. Nevertheless, some people may experience dry mouth, dizziness, itching, stomach upset, nausea, and rashes.
What Is The Dosage Of Mushrooms For Dementia?
For dementia prevention, 1000 to 2000 mg per day of Lion's mane mushroom is recommended. For dementia patients, a higher dosage of up to 5000 mg per day is suggested.
Who Should Not Take Mushrooms For Dementia?
Mushrooms may interact with blood thinner and potentiate the effects of anti-hypertensives and anti-diabetic medication. Therefore, people taking these drugs should avoid mushroom supplements for dementia.
Research has shown the benefits of mushrooms for dementia. They contain ergothioneine, which helps protect against cognitive impairment and dementia. In addition, active compounds in Lion's mane mushrooms promote neuronal growth, improving memory. Speak with your healthcare provider if you or your loved one has dementia and want mushrooms' benefits.
- Low plasma ergothioneine levels are associated with neurodegeneration and cerebrovascular disease in dementia (1)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34673145/
- The Association between Mushroom Consumption and Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Community-Based Cross-Sectional Study in Singapore, (2)https://content.iospress.com/articles/journal-of-alzheimers-disease/jad180959
- Hericerin derivatives activates a pan-neurotrophic pathway in central hippocampal neurons converging to ERK1/2 signaling enhancing spatial memory, (3)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36660878/
- Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial, (4)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18844328/
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