According to researchers, certain edible and medicinal mushrooms contain bioactive compounds that may enhance nerve growth in the brain and protect against neurotoxic stimuli such as inflammation that contribute to Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
The study, published in Journal of Medicinal Food supports the potential role of mushrooms as functional foods to reduce or delay development of age-related neurodegeneration.
The researchers from University of Malaya in Malaysia discussed the scientific findings related to the health benefits of edible and culinary mushrooms.
It is estimated that as many as 5.1 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease and, worldwide, 42 million cases are expected by 2020.
Despite the advancement of medication, the management of these diseases has remained largely ineffective.
The authors focus on the activity of bioactive components of mushrooms that may offer neuroprotective and cognitive benefits.
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“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,” explained study author Sampath Parthasarathy from University of Central Florida.
They found that each mushroom increased production of the Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) – a molecule primarily involved in regulating growth, maintenance, proliferation and survival of certain nerve cells in the brain.
“The current study might stimulate the identification of more food materials that are neuroprotective,” Parthasarathy added.