Examines: Eating mushrooms can protect us from Alzheimer's

Study examines the effects of fungi on Alzheimer's disease
Alzheimer's is a very common problem in today's society. More and more older people get this form of dementia. Doctors have been looking for ways and means of more effective treatment or prevention of the disease for a long time. Researchers have now found that consuming mushrooms can protect against Alzheimer's.

Scientists at the University of Malaysia found in an investigation that regular consumption of certain mushrooms can lead to a reduction or delay in the development of Alzheimer's. The reason for this seems to be a contained bioactive compound. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "Journal of Medicinal Food".

Bioactive compounds in fungi appear to delay Alzheimer's
Fungi contain bioactive compounds that seem to delay the development of Alzheimer's. The disease affects approximately 5.1 million Americans alone, the authors say. Around 42 million cases of Alzheimer's worldwide are expected in 2020. Despite promoting the development of drugs for Alzheimer's, the management and treatment of the disease remains largely ineffective.

At best, consuming certain mushrooms can prevent neurodegenerative diseases
Certain edible mushrooms seem to increase the so-called nerve growth in the brain. This can protect those affected from the causes of age-related diseases, say the doctors. Consuming these mushrooms can delay or even prevent neurodegenerative diseases.

Positive effects of mushroom consumption
Earlier investigations made it clear that fungi contain so-called antioxidants. The fungi also protect against, for example, tumors, viruses, cancer, inflammation and diabetes. The authors explain that fungi with anti-inflammatory properties can be used as functional foods to combat high blood pressure. High blood pressure leads to many age-related chronic diseases, including some neurodegenerative diseases.

Possible effects and consequences of Alzheimer's
The scientists selected eleven different types of mushrooms and studied their effects on the brains of mice and rats. Alzheimer's disease is a progressive brain disorder. The disease slowly leads to dwindling or erroneous memories, influences thinking ability and the ability to perform simple tasks, the researchers explain. Alzheimer's disease accounts for around 60 percent to 70 percent of dementia. Most sufferers are older than 65 years.

Signs and symptoms of Alzheimer's
- Difficulty remembering newly learned information
- disorientation
- mood and behavior changes
- Increasing serious memory loss
- Difficulty speaking, swallowing and walking

Stages of Alzheimer's disease
Early stage: Sick people can live independently and cope with everyday tasks. Nevertheless, they already suffer from memory problems.
Middle stage of the disease: Usually the longest phase of the disease. Affected people are often confused when choosing words, react frustrated or angry and suffer from sudden changes in behavior.
Late stage: In the final stages, affected individuals lose the ability to respond to their surroundings, have a conversation, and may have difficulty controlling their movements.

Ways to prevent Alzheimer's
There is no known cure for Alzheimer's, but experts recommend exercise, social interaction, and an increased intake of omega-3 fats in your diet. This is how the development of the disease should be prevented or its progress slowed down, the authors say.

In rats, fungi promoted peripheral regeneration of the nerves
Fungi can increase the production of nerve growth factor (NGF). This molecule is primarily involved in the regulation of growth, maintenance, proliferation and survival of certain nerve cells in the brain, the scientists explain. Its effects promoted peripheral nerve regeneration in rats. This network of motor and sensory nerves connects the brain and spinal cord.

Certain mushrooms and their impact on our health
Because the fungi stimulate the production of NGF, this could protect existing neurons from chemical substances that later lead to cell death, the scientists suspect. Specific fungi have also been found which have been shown to be useful for brain health. For example Cordyceps, a medical mushroom in classic Asian pharmacology. The fungus prevents neuronal cell death and memory loss due to its antioxidants and anti-inflammatory effects, say the doctors. The so-called Reishi mushroom has long been considered a herbal remedy and can lead to an improvement in cognitive abilities and increased longevity.

More research is needed
The effects of fungi on Alzheimer's are still poorly understood. Further research is urgently needed in this area, the authors say. Previous research has focused particularly on two herbs, periwinkle and ginseng, both of which have been shown to increase cognitive function. Scientists have also discovered that one of the active essential oils in rosemary improves the speed and accuracy of performing certain mental tasks. (as)

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