Regular consumption of mushrooms which act as functional food may enhance nerve growth in the brain to reduce or delay development of age-related neurodegenerative diseases like dementia and Alzheimer's, researchers, including one of Indian-origin, has suggested.
The prevalence of neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer's disease will continue to rise steadily and is expected to reach 42 million cases worldwide in 2020.
The findings showed certain edible and medicinal mushrooms contain bioactive compounds that offer neuroprotective and cognitive benefits to protect against neurotoxic stimuli such as inflammation that contribute to neurodegenerative diseases.
According to evidence, mushrooms exhibit antioxidant, anti-tumour, anti-virus, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulating, anti-microbial, and anti-diabetic activities, said Vikineswary Sabaratnam from the University of Malaya in Malaysia.
Mushrooms with anti-inflammatory properties can be used as functional foods to suppress inflammation, which contributes to many age-related chronic diseases, including neurodegenerative diseases.
Current drug therapy for neurodegenerative diseases is ineffective with many side effects, and it only provides a short-term delay in the progression of the disease.
It is, therefore, of utmost importance to find appropriate solutions to prevent or reduce the severity of neurodegenerative diseases associated with impaired neuritogenesis, Sabaratnam said.
The study might stimulate the identification of more food materials that are neuroprotective, the researchers noted in the Journal of Medicinal Food.