We all worry at least occasionally about what the future will bring. As we get older, one of the scariest threats is the possibility of developing dementia and losing many of our precious memories. While there is no surefire way to guarantee that we won’t experience cognitive decline in our later years, there are steps we can take that will reduce its likelihood. New research now suggests that one potential form of brain protection could come from something you might already enjoy eating—mushrooms.
The study, which took place at the National University of Singapore, found that consuming mushrooms—and yes, that includes white button mushrooms—more than twice a week is associated with a lower risk of cognitive problems such as mild memory loss and language difficulties in older adults.1Feng, Lei; et al. “The Association Between Mushroom Consumption and Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Community-Based Cross-Sectional Study in Singapore.” Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. 12 March 2019. Accessed 24 March 2019. http://content.iospress.com/articles/journal-of-alzheimers-disease/jad180959. These results are based on an investigation that included 663 Chinese men and women, all of whom were at least 60 years old. Their dietary and lifestyle habits were tracked for a six-year period between 2011 and 2017.
The subjects answered questions about the frequency of their consumption of six varieties of mushroom, which included dried, golden, oyster, shiitake, canned, and white button. Then, the researchers compared this information with the results of several different cognitive tests each participant took.
Those who ate mushrooms regularly achieved higher scores on average in the testing and were noted to have greater speed in processing, which is related to the ability to complete tasks in a shorter duration of time. And more mushroom eating was definitely shown to be better, with a positive correlation in test performance especially associated with those who consumed more than two servings of mushrooms a week, or the equivalent of more than 10.5 ounces or 300 mg when compared to their peers who consumed mushrooms less than once a week.
We do have to consider that the design of the study has some limitations, including self-reporting of mushroom consumption by the volunteers, a failure to assess other potentially influential eating habits, and not pinpointing which mushrooms might be more beneficial than others. Yet despite that, the results are convincing and it isn’t really surprising to find that mushrooms may offer a boost to our brains. All varieties of the fungi are rich in ergothioneine, which is an amino acid with anti-inflammatory effects that may prevent free radical damage to the brain. Mushrooms are also good sources of vitamin D, selenium, and spermidine. Spermidine is known to help clear debris that accumulates in the body’s cells.
What’s more, this is not the first research to show that mushrooms can benefit the brain. A 2017 study at the University of Malaya in Kuala found that regular consumption of mushrooms may be associated with brain changes that reduce the risk of developing dementia.2Chia Wei Pfan et al, “Edible and Medicinal Mushrooms: Emerging Brain food for the Mitigation of Neurodegenerative Diseases.” Journal of Medicinal Food, Jan;20(1):1-10. http://spfito.pt/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/2017_mushrooms_and_neurodegeneration.pdf
Therefore, it certainly could not hurt to increase your intake of mushrooms to two or more servings a week if you are not already there. Any of the six kinds examined in the study would likely be good for your brain, but you might want to eat more oyster mushrooms in particular, since that was the only variety that appeared in both the current study and the above mentioned 2017 study of mushrooms for boosting brain health. Then again, that study singled out lion’s mane and cordyceps mushrooms (neither of which were included in the current study) for their special benefits. With that in mind, a regular dose of Jon Barron’s immune boosting formula will provide you with a daily dose of cordyceps.
Finally, don’t forget that staving off cognitive decline is about more than just mushroom consumption. It’s important to eat a varied diet that offers a lot of fruits and vegetables full of antioxidants and nutrients that can help protect your brain. Blueberries and leafy green vegetables are also good food options that have been shown to provide some protection from dementia as we age. Supplementing with L-Carnosine, DMAE, and Acetyl-L-Carnitine can help maintain the health of brain cells. And exercise is another essential factor that has been found to give our brains a boost and prevent memory loss.
And all that being said, remember, dementia is also a side effect of many medications—especially psychopharmaceuticals when used in combination. The more you take, the greater the risk.
|Feng, Lei; et al. “The Association Between Mushroom Consumption and Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Community-Based Cross-Sectional Study in Singapore.” Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. 12 March 2019. Accessed 24 March 2019. http://content.iospress.com/articles/journal-of-alzheimers-disease/jad180959.
|Chia Wei Pfan et al, “Edible and Medicinal Mushrooms: Emerging Brain food for the Mitigation of Neurodegenerative Diseases.” Journal of Medicinal Food, Jan;20(1):1-10. http://spfito.pt/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/2017_mushrooms_and_neurodegeneration.pdf