Medicinal Mushrooms Could Protect Against Dementia

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25 Jan 2017 --- New research has found that certain edible and medicinal mushrooms contain bioactive compounds that could enhance nerve growth in the brain. Researchers say that the mushrooms may be able to protect against neurotoxic stimuli such as inflammation that contribute to neurodegenerative diseases like dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

The evidence supporting a potential role of mushrooms as functional foods in reducing or delaying development of age-related neurodegeneration is presented in an article published in Journal of Medicinal Food, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.

The study comes at a time when the world is facing an exponential increase in global level dementia in old age because of increasing life expectancy. Furthermore, the prevalence of neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer's disease (AD) continues to rise steadily and is expected to reach 42 million cases worldwide in 2020.

The researchers state that despite the advancement of medication, the management of these diseases remains largely ineffective. Therefore, there is a need to explore novel nature-based nutraceuticals to mitigate AD and other age-related neurodegenerative disorders.

Mushrooms and their extracts appear to hold many health benefits, including immune-modulating effects. A number of edible mushrooms have been shown to contain rare and exotic compounds that exhibit positive effects on brain cells both in vitro and in vivo.

The report sees researchers Chia Wei Phan, Pamela David, and Vikineswary Sabaratnam from the University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia summarize the scientific information on edible and culinary mushrooms with regard to their antidementia/AD active compounds and/or pharmacological test results.

The authors focus on the activity of bioactive components of mushrooms that may offer neuroprotective and cognitive benefits.

“In contrast to the body of literature on food ingredients that may benefit cardiometabolic diseases and cancer, very few studies have focused on food that may benefit neurodegenerative diseases,” says Journal of Medicinal Food Editor-in-Chief Sampath Parthasarathy, MBA, PhD, Florida Hospital Chair in Cardiovascular Sciences and Interim Associate Dean, College of Medicine, University of Central Florida.

“The current study might stimulate the identification of more food materials that are neuroprotective.”

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