Diet Mushrooms Help Preserve Cognitive Function In Old Age

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Diet Mushrooms Help Preserve Cognitive Function In Old Age
Diet Mushrooms Help Preserve Cognitive Function In Old Age

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Diet mushrooms help preserve cognitive function in old age

Consuming more than two servings of mushrooms per week in old age reduces the risk of developing mild cognitive impairment (MCI) by 50%, according to a team of researchers from the Yong Lu Lin School of Medicine at Singapore National University.

Diet mushrooms help preserve cognitive function in old age
Diet mushrooms help preserve cognitive function in old age

Lei Feng and Irwin Chea. Photo: National University of Singapore /

Consuming more than two standard servings of mushrooms each week in old age reduces the risk of developing mild cognitive impairment (LCI) by 50%, according to a team of researchers from the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine at the National University of Singapore. The results are published online in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

A serving was defined as 3/4 cup of boiled mushrooms (about 150 g), hence the recommended weekly intake is over 300 g. Boiled shiitake mushrooms, golden mushrooms, oyster mushrooms and porcini mushrooms, as well as dried and canned mushrooms were mentioned in the study. But other mushrooms, according to scientists, also have a beneficial effect.

“This correlation is unexpected and encouraging. Apparently, a commonly available single ingredient can have a strong effect on cognitive decline,”said lead study author and assistant professor Lei Feng.

LCI is usually seen as the stage between normal age-related cognitive decline and the more severe cognitive decline, dementia. They are characterized by memory loss or forgetfulness in one form or another; impairments to other cognitive functions are possible - visual-spatial, speech and attention. However, the changes may be subtle and do not affect daily activities, unlike Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.

The study, conducted from 2011 to 2017, collected data from 663 Chinese people over the age of 60 living in Singapore. To determine the exact diagnosis, extensive interviews (demographic information, medical history, psychological factors and dietary habits) and neuropsychological tests (various aspects of cognitive abilities, presence / absence of depression, anxiety) were conducted with them. In addition, blood pressure, weight, height, hand dynamometry and walking speed were measured. Then there was a two-hour standard neuropsychological examination, in conjunction with the assessment of dementia.

Scientists believe that the reason for the decline in the prevalence of LCN may be due to ergothioneine (ET), a specific compound found in almost all types of fungi.

“ET is a unique antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent that humans cannot synthesize on their own. But it can be obtained from food sources, mushrooms are one of the main ones,”said Dr. Irwin Cheah, a member of the research team.

According to their earlier study, published in Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications in 2016, ET deficiency may be a risk factor for neurodegeneration, and increased ET intake from mushroom consumption promotes cognitive health.

Other compounds found in mushrooms are also helpful in reducing the risk of cognitive impairment. Some herikenones, erinacins, scabronins, and dictyophorins can promote the synthesis of neurogrowth factors. Biologically active substances in fungi can also protect the brain from neurodegeneration by suppressing the production of beta-amyloid and phosphorylated tau and acetylcholinesterase.

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