Why Seniors Should Eat More Mushrooms!
Other than environment, lifestyle, and hereditary, the food we eat – the nutrients we consume is the biggest factor that can determine the speed of aging.
A research paper authored by a professor at Pennsylvania State University reports that certain mushrooms contain powerful antioxidants and medical compounds that offset aging and improve overall health.1
Graceful aging is every person’s dream. How can mushrooms help you live longer and healthier? Why should the elderly eat more mushrooms? Let’s find out together.
- Mushrooms Make You Feel Great in Your Senior Years
Before we get into the specifics, let’s be clear about one point – mushrooms help us look and feel young even after 65. This is largely due to the antioxidants in these functional fungi.
According to a report that emerged from Penn State, certain mushrooms are rich in glutathione and ergothioneine – two of the most powerful antioxidants that fight the oxidation process responsible for aging.
The body produces free radicals through oxidation when food is converted into energy. The number of free radicals determines the speed of aging. These free radicals damage cells, cell structure, DNA, protein, and various other vital elements.
The free radicals that accumulate over time are responsible for illness and chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, dementia, poor skin health, cardiovascular diseases, muscle and joint pain, etc.
The antioxidants in mushrooms scavenge the accumulated free radicals and prevent their onslaught on cells and cell structures.2
Interestingly, countries that eat more ergothioneine-containing mushrooms – like Japan, Italy, and France – report fewer instances of neurodegenerative diseases.
Simply put, taking mushrooms regularly can slow down the aging process and make you feel great in your senior years.
- Mushrooms Boost Your Memory and Overall Cognition
Each mushroom has its unique effect on the neurological system. But there is little doubt that certain mushrooms, particularly Lion’s Mane, have strong nootropic properties.
Researchers are upbeat about mushrooms as a nootropic food because of their unique mechanism of action.
Studies show that mushrooms can stimulate the psychological process and even reduce them to bring about certain desired results.
In addition, nootropic mushrooms contain several bioactive compounds that act alone and in tandem with others to influence brain chemistry.
The large swathe of compounds in nootropic fungi have the following effects on the brain:
- Lion’s Mane mushrooms stimulate the release of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) which is essential for neurogenesis (growth of new neurons) and to repair damaged brain cells (neurons). An abundance of NGF is known to boost memory, focus, mood, and overall cognition.3
- Reduces age-related cognitive impairment by attacking neuroinflammation. Certain compounds also prevent beta-amyloid proteins from forming plaques between neurons. Amyloid plaques are one of the main reasons for the development of Alzheimer’s and other dementia disorders.
- Improves cerebral circulation and utilization of nutrients and oxygen in the brain tissues. Studies show that higher cerebral blood flow (CBF) has a positive effect on memory, attention, cognitive functioning and performance. The reverse is also true; low CBF increased vascular risk factors and contributed to cognitive impairment and later dementia.4
- Influences the production of crucial neurotransmitters leading to a wide range of benefits including better memory (by increasing acetylcholine levels), improving mood and behavior (by mimicking serotonin), etc.
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- Mushrooms Protect the Brain as You Age
During a study, researchers were surprised that a commonly available food (edible mushroom) could be so effective in fighting cognitive decline.
The team studying the benefits of adding mushrooms to a regular diet found that just two portions of edible fungi every week can protect the brain and reduce the risk of Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) by 50% in seniors. That is amazing!
For this study, 600 people over the age of 60 were roped in. Their eating habits were regulated and closely monitored for six years (2011-2017).5
The researchers also devised special neuropsychological tests and interview questions to assess both groups (participants who ate two portions of mushrooms every week and those who didn’t).
The result was unambiguous; cases of mild cognitive decline were less in the mushroom-eating group. The researchers attribute this to a common compound present in all six mushroom varieties that the participants consumed.
The compound – Ergothioneine – is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that protects the brain from age-related cognitive decline.
The same team, in an earlier study, found significantly low ergothioneine levels in seniors with MCI.
They also found that mushrooms contain bioactive compounds (other than ergothioneine) that can help prevent cognitive degeneration by stimulating NGF. These compounds include dictyophorines, scabronines, erinacines, and hericenones.
- Mushrooms Reduce Fatigue and Boost Energy
Mushroom as nutritional and functional food improves energy levels and treats fatigue in the elderly.
As we get older, it becomes increasingly difficult to get vital nutrients from our regular diet. That’s because of dietary restrictions and digestive problems.
Seniors are advised to avoid foods that can increase bad cholesterol or that are difficult to digest. This increases nutritional deficiency resulting in fatigue and overall poor health.
Mushrooms are rich in vitamins, amino acids, minerals, and fiber. Plus, they are easy to digest. The body needs vitamins for energy production, to create red blood cells, for proper oxygen utilization, and various other functions.
Discussion on the energy-boosting properties of mushrooms is incomplete without Cordyceps. Also called the Olympic mushroom, it’s believed that Cordyceps helped many athletes break world records. It’s also widely used as a pre-workout supplement to train longer and harder.
Studies show a decline in ATP production (the compound that provides energy) and mitochondria respiration (the process responsible for generating cellular energy by converting substrates into ATP) in the elderly.6 Cordyceps boosts energy in seniors in two ways:
- The mushroom increases the production of ATP in the body.
- It improves the way the body absorbs and utilizes oxygen.
You can find a whopping 2,000mg of organic Cordyceps in our Mushie ENERGY gummies! Cordyceps isn’t the only mushroom that can increase energy levels. Shiitake has the highest concentration of vitamins of the B complex group! Shiitake can be found in our Mushie DEFEND 5 Super Mushrooms formula!
Vitamins in this group play an important role in the conversion of macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats) into usable energy.
- Mushrooms Improve Heart and Lung Health
Mushrooms are ideal substitutes for red meat for seniors. Most edible mushrooms are tasty and easy to prepare.
In a study published in Nutrition Journal, it was found that people who consumed one serving of mushrooms daily, instead of red meat, had a lower risk of mortality.
The risk of death decreased by 35% just by replacing red meat with mushrooms. Researchers believe the high nutritional and functional benefits of mushrooms are the reason for such an outcome.7
A meta-analysis of studies on mushrooms and heart health found that edible fungi reduce stroke and cardiovascular risk by improving metabolic markers such as triglycerides, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and others.8 Mushrooms are also known to help manage blood glucose levels and blood pressure.
While everyone is affected by the rising pollution levels, seniors are particularly vulnerable to toxins and particulate matter in the air.
In addition, chronic inflammation does serious damage to the immune system of seniors. The fewer immune cells in the elderly fail to effectively combat pathogens leading to frequent infections and visits to the doctor.
Also, the erratic immune system overreacts to harmless particles leading to allergies and respiratory problems.
Several studies show that mushrooms improve respiratory health by enhancing oxygen utilization and relaxing the bronchial walls.9,10,11
Researchers also found that mushrooms inhibit Thymic Stromal Lymphopoietin (TSLP) which activates the mast cells responsible for the production of histamine in the body.12
- Mushrooms Help You Manage Anxiety and Depression
Anxiety and depression are common in seniors. But, experts say that both mood disorders are not normal.
An occasional off day is normal, but the excess of free time often leads to loneliness which results in a higher rate of depression.
The problem is further compounded by changes in body chemistry (decline of mood-related neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin) and poor sleep.
Several functional mushrooms have adaptogenic properties that can reduce stress and regulate how the body responds to stress.
These mushrooms target the HPA axis which through a series of chemical reactions stimulates the release of the stress hormone cortisol. In an animal study, Lion’s Mane supplementation reversed the effect that stress has on neurotransmitters.13 Get your daily dose here!
Taking mushrooms regularly may also improve sleep patterns in people over 65. The active compounds in certain fungi calm the nervous system which sends messages to relax the muscles leading to longer and better sleep.
A 2021 study investigated 25,000 people who regularly consumed mushrooms. Researchers found that mushrooms help reduce the risk of depression by protecting the brain from oxidative stress. The author further mentions that the high potassium content in mushrooms helps decrease anxiety.14
- Mushrooms Help Maintain Muscle and Bone Strength
Sarcopenia or age-related muscle loss is part of the aging process. Doctors say there is a direct correlation between muscle mass and mortality from all causes.15
Our muscle mass begins to decrease once we hit 30 but the loss is quite drastic after 65 unless steps are taken to reduce it. Doctors suggest a few steps and mushrooms can help you follow these ideas effectively.
- Mushrooms are rich in proteins, fiber, and antioxidants. In addition, certain edible fungi also improve nutrient absorption from the food we eat.
- Mild aerobic and resistance exercises are known to preserve muscle mass in the elderly. But, many people over 65 don’t partake in healthy activities due to low energy levels and fatigue. Mushrooms like Cordyceps stimulate ATP production and improve oxygen utilization which can help seniors stay active.
Loss of bone density or osteoporosis is linked to aging and heredity. Women are more susceptible to this condition than men.
Vitamin D can delay or even prevent bone density loss by supporting calcium absorption. This ‘sunshine’ vitamin is vital for muscle protein synthesis. All of our Mushie organic mushroom gummies are formulated with 7,500IU of vitamin D per bottle! That’s over 30,000IU in each bottle if you purchase our top seller, the Power Bundle!
Unfortunately, after the age of 65, the body takes longer to absorb and process vitamin D from the Sun. Researchers say regular consumption of mushrooms is enough to meet the daily requirement of the ‘sunshine’ vitamin.16
- Mushrooms Promote Digestive Health
Mushrooms have been in use for thousands of years. Natives in the Americas and people in the Far East have been using functional fungi for treating a variety of health conditions, including the betterment of digestive health.
Several mushrooms are considered potent prebiotics. They nourish healthy bacteria and other microorganisms in our gut microbiome. These gut-friendly organisms are essential for normal digestion, absorption, and protection of the gut lining in the large intestine.17
Mushrooms such as Lion’s Mane, Chaga, Reishi, and Turkey Tail are rich in beta-glucans, polysaccharides, and other antioxidants that reduce inflammation in the digestive tract. Many of these mushrooms can be found in our Mushie DEFEND 5 Super Mushroom formula that provides over 25.8% beta glucans!
A large section of seniors suffers from inflammation in the gut. Chronic inflammation in the digestive system can cause IBD, IBS, fatigue, poor absorption, and various other conditions. Mushrooms can improve gut health by decreasing inflammation.
The adaptogenic effect of mushrooms can support your gut health. Stress is blamed for multiple GI-related problems, including loss of appetite, inflammation, bloating, and cramping.
Not just symptoms, conditions such as GERD, IBS, IBD, and peptic ulcer disease are blamed on chronic stress. Taking mushrooms can help seniors deal with stress effectively.
- Mushrooms Help Improve the Life of Cancer Patients
In China and Japan, as part of modern medicine, mushrooms were used as adjuvant therapy in cancer treatments.18
In the last few decades alone, hundreds of studies have focused on the medicinal benefits of mushrooms. Dr. Santhosshi Narayanan has spent a decade analyzing many of these studies and she has concluded the following:
- The immunomodulatory properties of mushrooms promote those areas of the immune system that suppress tumor growth. In addition to tumor suppression, the antioxidants in medicinal fungi inhibit those inflammatory compounds that aid cancer growth.
- Few studies found consuming mushrooms can improve the life span of cancer patients. Researchers claim the positive immune response from mushrooms enables cancer patients to tolerate chemotherapy with few side effects.
- Cancer treatment is hard on the patient. It can prolong life but with serious side effects such as fatigue, mood changes, impotency, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and many more. Although scientists are not 100% sure about the mechanism of action, mushroom supplementation appears to improve the side effects of cancer treatments. Compared to cancer patients not taking mushrooms, the ones that take medicinal fungi regularly report improvement in energy levels, appetite, and mental health.
Now you have not one but nine excellent reasons to eat mushrooms! It’s clear – because science says to – that functional fungi provide all-round health benefits. Consume mushrooms regularly – as food or supplement – to look, feel, and act young.
We live in a wonderful world. Mushrooms can help you live longer and healthier so that you can enjoy the gifts of nature, friendship, and relationships to the fullest.
- Kalaras, Michael D et al. “Mushrooms: A rich source of the antioxidants ergothioneine and glutathione.”Food chemistryvol. 233 (2017): 429-433. doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2017.04.109
- Swayne, M. (n.d.).Mushrooms are full of antioxidants that may have anti-aging potential. Penn State University. Retrieved January 16, 2023, from https://www.psu.edu/news/research/story/mushrooms-are-full-antioxidants-may-have-anti-aging-potential/
- Lai, P.-L., Naidu, M., Sabaratnam, V., Wong, K.-H., David, R. P., Kuppusamy, U. R., Abdullah, N., & Malek, S. N. (2013). Neurotrophic properties of the Lion's mane medicinal mushroom, hericium erinaceus (higher basidiomycetes) from Malaysia.International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms,15(6), 539–554. https://doi.org/10.1615/intjmedmushr.v15.i6.30
- Leeuwis, Anna E et al. “Cerebral Blood Flow and Cognitive Functioning in a Community-Based, Multi-Ethnic Cohort: The SABRE Study.”Frontiers in aging neurosciencevol. 10 279. 18 Sep. 2018, doi:10.3389/fnagi.2018.00279
- ScienceDaily. (2019, March 12).Eating mushrooms may reduce the risk of cognitive decline. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 16, 2023, from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/03/190312103702.htm
- Schniertshauer, Daniel et al. “Age-Dependent Loss of Mitochondrial Function in Epithelial Tissue Can Be Reversed by Coenzyme Q10.”Journal of aging researchvol. 2018 6354680. 5 Sep. 2018, doi:10.1155/2018/6354680
- Ba, D.M., Gao, X., Muscat, J.et al.Association of mushroom consumption with all-cause and cause-specific mortality among American adults: prospective cohort study findings from NHANES III. Nutr J 20, 38 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12937-021-00691-8
- Krittanawong, C., Isath, A., Hahn, J., Wang, Z., Fogg, S. E., Bandyopadhyay, D., Jneid, H., Virani, S. S., & Tang, W. H. W. (2021). Mushroom consumption and Cardiovascular Health: A Systematic Review.The American Journal of Medicine,134(5). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amjmed.2020.10.035
- Wang, Ningqun et al. “Herbal MedicineCordyceps sinensisImproves Health-Related Quality of Life in Moderate-to-Severe Asthma.” Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAMvol. 2016 (2016): 6134593. doi:10.1155/2016/6134593
- Chen, Mengli et al. “Protective roles of Cordyceps on lung fibrosis in cellular and rat models.”Journal of ethnopharmacologyvol. 143,2 (2012): 448-54. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2012.06.033
- Pal, M., & Misra, K. (2018). Cordyceps sp.: The precious mushroom for high-altitude maladies.Management of High Altitude Pathophysiology, 93–114. https://doi.org/10.1016/b978-0-12-813999-8.00006-9
- Yoou, Myoung-schook et al. “Cordycepin Suppresses Thymic Stromal Lymphopoietin Expression via Blocking Caspase-1 and Receptor-Interacting Protein 2 Signaling Pathways in Mast Cells.”Biological & pharmaceutical bulletinvol. 39,1 (2016): 90-6. doi:10.1248/bpb.b15-00631
- Chiu, Chun-Hung et al. “Erinacine A-Enriched Hericium erinaceus Mycelium Produces Antidepressant-Like Effects through Modulating BDNF/PI3K/Akt/GSK-3β Signaling in Mice.”International journal of molecular sciencesvol. 19,2 341. 24 Jan. 2018, doi:10.3390/ijms19020341
- Ba, D. M., Gao, X., Al-Shaar, L., Muscat, J. E., Chinchilli, V. M., Beelman, R. B., & Richie, J. P. (2021). Mushroom intake and depression: A population-based study using data from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 2005–2016.Journal of Affective Disorders,294, 686–692. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2021.07.080
- Luks, H. J., says, B., says, J. L., says, N. R., says, A. F., & says, A. C. M. (2021, September 23).Muscle mass, strength and longevity. Howard J. Luks, MD. Retrieved January 16, 2023, from https://www.howardluksmd.com/muscle-mass-strength-and-longevity/
- Keegan, Raphael-John H et al. “Photobiology of vitamin D in mushrooms and its bioavailability in humans.”Dermato-endocrinologyvol. 5,1 (2013): 165-76. doi:10.4161/derm.23321
- Woods, C. (2015, June 23).This mushroom might alter gut bacteria for the better, study finds. PBS. Retrieved January 16, 2023, from https://www.pbs.org/newshour/science/reishi-mushroom-can-alter-gut-bacteria-better
- Cancer Treatment options. MD Anderson Cancer Center. (n.d.). Retrieved January 16, 2023, from https://www.mdanderson.org/treatment-options.html