Over the past several decades, age related neurodegenerative diseases like Dementia and Alzhiemer’s have shown a significant increase. In fact, some latest reports even go on to suggest that the prevalence of these ailments will show a steady growth over the next few years and by 2020 and estimated 42 million people are expected to have been affected by them. Sadly, the existing drug therapy available for these ailments has proven to be mostly ineffective besides having several side effects. In addition, these therapies are not able to prevent the onset of the disease for a significantly long period of time. That is why researchers have been trying to find alternative methods that can help delay the development of these diseases amongst individuals.
A New Ray Of Hope
A recent study published in the Journal of Medicinal Foods has opened up new avenues in the direction of preventing or even reducing the risk of such chronic diseases. The study conducted by a team of scientists from the University of Malaya in Kaula Lampur, found that regular consumption of certain edible and medicinal mushrooms can help in suppressing inflammation, which has been identified as a major contributor in the development of age-related neurodegenerative diseases. The researchers also came to learn that these specific fungi contain bioactive compounds that are known to offer neuroprotective and cognitive benefits to protect the brain against the effects of neurotoxic stimuli by enhancing nerve growth.
Mushrooms, which have been categorized as super food, are known to provide a wide range of immunity-boosting benefits besides having anti-cancer properties. They are known to exhibit antioxidant, anti-virus, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulating, anti-microbial, and anti-diabetic functionality. The research team comprising of Chia Wei Phan, Pamela David, and Vikineswary Sabaratnam, took inspiration from this very fact and studied the results of feeding different types of mushrooms to rodents and humans.
The team focused on studying the neuroprotective and cognitive benefits of this super food and their effectiveness in reducing the severity of impaired neuritogenesis.
This study led the researchers to identify 11 types of fungi from hundreds of different species of mushrooms to act as great natural medicines for preventing diseases like Dementia and Alzhiemer’s. The team found that these 11 species of mushrooms helped in stimulating the production of NGF (Nerve Growth Factor), while most other species did not offer any specific benefits for improving the brain functionality. The researchers especially identified NGF as the molecule that helps to regulate the growth and maintenance as well as the increase and survival of certain nerve cells within the brain and this could go a long way preventing the ailments.
The findings further suggested that the bioactive compounds might prove effective as a preventive function against the development of Alzheimer’s disease. They may also prove efficient in preventing memory loss by delaying the neuronal cell death. Both these aspects can prove extremely critical in delaying or even preventing the effects of neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s and Dementia. The study helped establish these specific mushrooms as highly beneficial functional foods that can ensure the enhancement of brain functionality in a significant manner.
The Next Step
The fact that the bioactive compounds found in mushrooms are not present in plants. The researchers further established that the further option of mushrooms in delaying neurodegenerative ailments required extensive animal and human clinical trials. However, the study surely presented the possibility of developing a functional food or even therapeutic drugs that can help mitigate the effects of the age-related disease resulting from nerve degeneration. But since that objective is still too far to be achieved, individuals can stick to including this delicious edible fungus as a part of their everyday diet, to put off the risk of becoming a victim of these chronic ailments.