Alzheimer’s Awareness Month – Mushrooms for Brain Health
November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. It’s time to remind ourselves that cognitive degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) are not an inevitable part of aging.
I learned in my M.S. Nutrition program that scientists believe it’s possible to prevent or delay dementia cases by 40% if precautionary measures are taken now and not later. This percentage was so astounding to me, that it prompted me to write my entire thesis on the prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease.
What Is Alzheimer’s and How Big Is the Problem?
Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that’s progressive with no cure available so far. Although it’s not considered a normal part of the aging process it can’t be denied that the risk of developing the condition increases with age.
A meta-analysis of previous research on this subject found that the risk doubles every five years after you cross 65 and by the time you reach 85 years, the chance of contracting AD becomes 50%.
What’s more, even after decades of research, scientists are yet to discover its root cause. Scientists know that neurodegeneration is caused by several factors including the formation of beta-amyloid protein between neurons leading to dementia and at a later stage Alzheimer’s.
In November, each year, a few Alzheimer’s awareness events are organized, the doctors share their knowledge and seniors share their experiences.
Some media channels discuss the dangers of Alzheimer’s for a few minutes before switching to their main political news. Come December, Alzheimer’s is forgotten and the general public has something else to discuss.
Alzheimer’s is a serious issue. It’s deadlier than prostate and breast cancer put together. In the US alone, over 6 million people over 65 suffer from the disease and experts fear more than 50 million known cases of AD around the world.
Alzheimer’s disease affects families and the economy too. In the United States, under Medicaid, the government spends billions on long-term care of senior citizens who need nursing home-level care or help with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs).
In addition, 11 million people, mostly family members, and friends act as unpaid caregivers to those suffering from the disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is severely debilitating. Some of its symptoms are:
- Forgetfulness, misplacing objects, and memory loss
- Irritability, anxiety, and depression
- Mood, behavior, and personality changes
- Forgetting places and directions, and getting lost
- Poor judgment and trouble handling money
- Difficulty performing activities of daily living including taking medicines on time
If you think you’re too young to get Alzheimer’s or dementia, then you should know that cognitive decline begins years or even decades before the symptoms of AD appear.
Mild Cognitive Impairment and the Aging Population – The Ticking Time Bomb
Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) is the first stage of cognitive decline. The individual and/or people around the person may notice lapses in memory like misplacing keys, forgetting an important document at home, difficulty remembering important names, dates, etc., and issues with language, judgment, or spatial orientation.
Some of the other symptoms might go unnoticed. The affected individual may also suffer from a lack of interest, mood changes, anxiety, and depression.
Most people tend to ignore the subtle signs because the symptoms are not serious enough to prevent them from leading fully functional life. But without timely intervention, MCI may eventually develop into dementia disorders.
Even the best treatments against Alzheimer’s can only help improve the symptoms and slow the progress of the disease. If you want to reduce the risk of getting Alzheimer’s then you need to take steps to prevent MCI.
Scientists believe nature has the best solution for cognitive decline. As a researcher once said, mushrooms have no leaves, buds, or flowers, yet they form fruit. Plus, this precious creation can be used as food, tonic, and medicine.
The Effect of Mushrooms on Cognitive Decline – Encouraging Results
Researchers and myself rightly call mushrooms the superheroes of the fungus kingdom! In addition to the vitamins and amino acids, mushrooms also contain powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents which are vital for healthy cognition.
The active molecules in mushrooms help fight oxidative stress and chronic inflammation which are major contributing factors to cognitive decline, cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, infections, and more.
In the lab, scientists found one of the commonest food sources – edible fungus – had a dramatic impact on Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI).
Experts at the National University of Singapore set out to study the association between mushrooms and cognitive function in seniors.
The study involving 663 participants, all aged 60 and above, was carried out for six years, from 2011 to 2017. The researchers monitored the dietary habits of the participants.
During the final stages of the study, the researchers conducted the cognitive evaluation, random interviews, and measured various aspects of physical and psychological functioning.
Furthermore, researchers assessed the neuropsychological health of the people and rated them on Dementia Signs and Symptoms (DSS) Scale.
Participants who took small portions of mushrooms, at least twice a week, performed better in cognitive tests. How amazing is that?
Researchers also noticed an improvement in processing speed. In the 43-item DSS scale, the mushroom group achieved a better ranking than the other half.1
How Do Mushrooms Support Cognitive and Mental Health?
While the heart sustains life, the brain is the command center that’s responsible for the actions we take. It’s the most important organ in the body. It weighs just a few ounces yet consumes 20% of the energy produced. Mind blowing!
The brain supports mood, memory, behavior, focus, attention, and all other cognitive faculties. Scientific studies show that the right kind of food helps boost various cognitive faculties.
In addition, what you eat influences oxidative stress and neuroinflammation – factors that increase the risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia, Alzheimer’s, etc.
Although there is a genetic component to Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and several other health conditions, epigenetics experts say that environmental factors such as our diet can influence gene expression.
Mushrooms have an exciting role to play in how your brain and body function. Take them as supplements or cook them to add to soup, pizza, or your favorite dish, but make mushrooms an important part of your life. It’s important to cook them because mushrooms have these aminopolysaccharide polymer walls called chitin, which is like a lobster shell. Cooking mushrooms releases their beneficial compounds and helps us digest them properly. We created the most convenient and tasty way to obtain all these benefits without the hassle of cooking or ingesting pills, tinctures or powders. Adding Mushie Organic Super Mushroom Gummies to your daily routine takes less than one second and the benefits are for life.
Why make mushrooms a staple in your life?
Mushrooms as a Nutritional Food
Mushrooms are low-calorie, high-fiber food which makes them an excellent choice for your Keto Diet. The high fiber content helps maintain a healthy digestive system.
Some mushrooms have antimicrobial properties which can support your gut microbiome. Mushrooms can also relieve constipation which has become a modern lifestyle disease.
Mushrooms as Functional Food
Mushrooms are also packed with vitamins, minerals, and proteins. They contain vitamin B5, which is essential for brain health and the production of vital hormones.
The copper and niacin in these superfoods keep the nervous system healthy. In addition, selenium promotes immunity, healthy thyroid, and nail and hair health.
They are also rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. Mushrooms are both conventional and modified functional food. Lately, mushrooms are cultivated in special conditions to improve their nutritional and medicinal value.
Mushrooms as Adaptogens
For centuries, mushrooms such as Lion’s Mane, Cordyceps, and Reishi were used therapeutically to reduce stress and the effects of stress on the body.
Mushrooms help maintain the normal functioning of the body and mind during intense chemical, physical, and mental situations.
The compounds in adaptogenic mushrooms influence the HPA axis (the main system in charge of the stress response) to curtail the release of stress hormones. This helps the body effectively respond to stress and even recover from stress to homeostasis.2
Mushrooms as Nootropics
Mushrooms have numerous nootropic properties that can improve the cognitive abilities of humans.
Mushrooms have choline, a precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine which is responsible for memory and learning functions. It’s also vital for synaptic plasticity, synaptic transmission, and neuronal excitability.
In addition, the antioxidants in mushrooms scavenge free radicals and reduce inflammation in the brain. Some mushrooms also stimulate the release of brain chemicals that aid neurogenesis.
The 3 Best Mushrooms for Brain Health
Your journey to better brain health starts with choosing the right mushroom species that offer the maximum cognitive benefits. We make your task easier by listing the three top nootropic mushrooms:
Lion’s Mane Mushroom
Lion’s Mane is a large, shaggy mushroom with powerful cognition-enhancing properties. For centuries, tea made with lion’s mane helped Buddhist monks focus, remember mantras, and concentrate on meditation for a long time.
The aging brain gradually loses its ability to produce neurons, form synapses, and repair damaged brain cells. The increase in free radicals, depletion of antioxidants, and rise in low-level chronic inflammation also contribute to cognitive decline.
Lion’s Mane is one of the very few mushrooms that stimulate the release of the nerve growth factor (NGF).
Erinacines and hericenones – the two active compounds in lion’s mane – are key to maintaining brain health as we age.
These compounds produce NGF which is vital for the growth, survival, maintenance, and proliferation of brain cells (neurons).
Neurogenesis and neuron regeneration, supported by NGF, prevents dementia, Alzheimer’s, etc. In those already suffering from these conditions, NGF improves symptoms such as memory, focus, mood, etc.
Lion’s mane also supports brain health by influencing the release of neurotransmitters that support learning, memory, recall, and mood.
Lion’s mane is effective as well as fast acting. Erinacines in the mushrooms easily cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB) to influence the release of enzymes that produce NGF.
According to one study, researchers observed an increase in NGF levels after just 7 days of supplementation.3 Incredible!
In another study, researchers tested the effect of lion’s mane in mice with Alzheimer-like conditions. Lion’s mane mushroom and peptide were injected into mice with beta-amyloid peptide deposits (the type of plaque buildup seen in Alzheimer’s).
After nearly four weeks, the result showed significant improvement in visual memory and slowing down of short-term memory loss.4
In another study, lion’s mane extract reversed damage to the gluteal nerve. The regeneration of the damaged nerve enabled the disabled rat to walk again.5 We have so much respect for this powerful mushroom of the mind! So much so that we've created gummies with a whopping 2,000mg of organic lion's mane in each serving! Get your organic lion's mane BRAINY gummies!
Reishi is equally popular with practitioners of traditional medicine. It is given as an anti-stress tonic to treat anxiety and depression.
According to one study, supplementation of this mushroom reduced anxiety, supported adrenal health, and calmed the overactive nervous system. It also helped reduce fatigue and improve quality of life.
Supplementing with reishi for two months, reduced fatigue and improved general well-being in people with neurasthenia.6
The mushroom also mounts an effective fight against oxidative stress, which increases free radical production. In addition, stress can promote neuro-inflammation and inhibit the normal production and functioning of neurotransmitters.
Reishi slows down neurodegeneration and reduces the risk of dementia by blocking proinflammatory pathways. Plus, the mushroom also inhibits the formation of beta-amyloid plaque in neurons.7,8
Like lion’s mane, reishi has strong neurogenesis and neuroprotective properties, due to its ability to influence NGF production. It truly is interesting how many medicinal mushrooms have synergistic qualities. Take advantage of these synergistic qualities and add our organic reishi UNWIND gummies to your daily routine!
In one animal study, researchers investigated the neuroprotective properties of reishi. In their report, the researchers concluded that the mushroom improved NGF levels, reduced cognitive dysfunction, prevented neuronal apoptosis, and reduced oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction in the hippocampus.9
These findings clearly show that reishi could be used as a potential option to prevent and slow down Alzheimer’s disease.
Cordyceps is a natural energy booster used as a pre-workout supplement. It’s also known to help muscle recovery after intense training. That is why we formulated our organic cordyceps ENERGY gummies to have 2,000mg of cordyceps power per serving!
In addition to improving athletic performance, the caterpillar-like mushroom is an amazing adaptogen and neuroprotective agent.
Cordyceps improves brain health by decreasing inflammation and free radicals which are responsible for several diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s.
In one experiment when human cells were exposed to the mushroom extract, researchers observed a reduction in proteins that promoted inflammation10.
Earlier we mentioned that the brain consumes 20% of the energy produced in the body. As Cordyceps promotes ATP synthesis and boosts blood circulation, the brain becomes the biggest beneficiary of energy production.
According to one study, enhanced blood circulation nourished every part of the brain and improved cell activity. This resulted in improved memory, focus, and motivation. Increased blood circulation will also alleviate MCI symptoms such as mental fog, fatigue, and lack of interest.11
The nootropic compounds in Cordyceps influence those neurotransmitters that regulate mood and emotions. The antioxidants and other powerful components in Cordyceps influence gene expression related to brain health. Plus, the antioxidant properties prevent oxidative damage, curtail free radicals, and protect the overall nervous system.12
Experts are optimistic that Cordyceps ability to regulate glucose and oxygen metabolism can slow down or even prevent cognitive decline. In one study they also found sustaining ATP levels may reduce neuronal dysfunction and loss.13
Medical advancements have increased the life expectancy of people. But it’s also true that cases of dementia and Alzheimer’s are on the rise.
There is no need to panic. A simple, proactive approach can keep the brain young and healthy even as you age.
Mushrooms have all the right ingredients to make you a super-ager. You can harness the power of vitamins, amino acids, antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and other healthy compounds in our Mushie organic gummies to keep your body and mind in the best shape possible! Reap all of these benefits with our top seller, the Mushie Power Bundle!
- Feng, Lei et al. ‘The Association Between Mushroom Consumption and Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Community-Based Cross-Sectional Study in Singapore’. 1 Jan. 2019 : 197 – 203.
- Liao, Lian-Ying et al. “A preliminary review of studies on adaptogens: comparison of their bioactivity in TCM with that of ginseng-like herbs used worldwide.”Chinese medicine 13 57. 16 Nov. 2018, doi:10.1186/s13020-018-0214-9
- Mori, Koichiro et al. “Nerve Growth Factor-Inducing Activity of Hericium Erinaceus in 1321n1 Human Astrocytoma Cells.”Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin, vol. 31, no. 9, 2008, pp. 1727–1732., https://doi.org/10.1248/bpb.31.1727.
- Mori, Koichiro et al. “Effects of Hericium erinaceus on amyloid β(25-35) peptide-induced learning and memory deficits in mice.” Biomedical research (Tokyo, Japan) 32,1 (2011): 67-72. doi:10.2220/biomedres.32.67
- Wong, Kah-Hui et al. “Peripheral Nerve Regeneration Following Crush Injury to Rat Peroneal Nerve by Aqueous Extract of Medicinal Mushroom Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr) Pers. (Aphyllophoromycetideae).” Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine. eCAM 2011 (2011): 580752. doi:10.1093/ecam/neq062
- Tang, Wenbo et al. “A randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled study of a Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide extract in neurasthenia.”Journal of medicinal food 8,1 (2005): 53-8. doi:10.1089/jmf.2005.8.53
- Naufal, Kushairi et al. Modulation of neuroinflammatory pathways by medicinal mushrooms, with particular relevance to Alzheimer's disease. Trends in Food Science & Technology. Volume 104. 2020. Pages 153-162. doi.org/10.1016/j.tifs.2020.07.029.
- Sun, Xin-Zhi et al. “Neuroprotective effects ofganoderma lucidum polysaccharides against oxidative stress-induced neuronal apoptosis.” Neural regeneration research 12,6 (2017): 953-958. doi:10.4103/1673-5374.208590
- Yan Zhou et al. Neuroprotective effect of preadministration with Ganoderma lucidum spore on rat hippocampus. Experimental and Toxicologic Pathology. Volume 64, Issues 7–8. 2012. Pages 673-680. doi.org/10.1016/j.etp.2010.12.011.
- Kim, Ki-Mo et al. “Methanol extract of Cordyceps pruinosa inhibits in vitro and in vivo inflammatory mediators by suppressing NF-kappaB activation.” Toxicology and applied pharmacology 190,1 (2003): 1-8. doi:10.1016/s0041-008x(03)00152-2
- Hirsch, Katie R et al. “Cordyceps militaris Improves Tolerance to High-Intensity Exercise After Acute and Chronic Supplementation.” Journal of dietary supplements 14,1 (2017): 42-53. doi:10.1080/19390211.2016.1203386
- Yuan, Guangxin et al. “Improvement of Learning and Memory Induced by Cordyceps Polypeptide Treatment and the Underlying Mechanism.” Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine. eCAM 2018 9419264. 15 Mar. 2018, doi:10.1155/2018/9419264
- Owen, Lauren, and Sandra I Sunram-Lea. “Metabolic agents that enhance ATP can improve cognitive functioning: a review of the evidence for glucose, oxygen, pyruvate, creatine, and L-carnitine.” Nutrients 3,8 (2011): 735-55. doi:10.3390/nu3080735