Seniors can keep their brain strengthened well into their golden years if they develop a love of mushrooms. Seniors eating two servings a week in the fungus may be half as likely to develop mild cognitive impairment (MCI). These are the results of a study by the Department of Psychological Medicine and the Department of Biochemistry and the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine in Singapore, recently published in Journal of Alzheimer's Disease .
"This correlation is surprising and encouraging. It seems that a commonly available single ingredient can have a dramatic effect on cognitive decline," said Assistant Professor Feng Lei of NUS Psychological Medicine and the lead author.
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MCI is the scene between the normal cognitive decline in aging and the more severe decline in dementia, a condition where memory and mental function have been missed, but one can still continue with day-to-day activities.
When it comes to eating the mushroom, a serving means 3/4 of a cup of mushroom cooked. However, the studies showed that even a small amount of fungi per week could still be beneficial in reducing the chances of developing MCI.
The survey examined over 600 Chinese seniors over 60 living in Singapore from 201
Six different fungi, all of which were eaten in Singapore, were used in the study. They included shiitake and white button mushrooms, dried mushrooms and canned mushrooms. It is likely that other fungi outside the six will also have beneficial effects.
It is the composition found in almost all fungal varieties that scientists believe to be the magic bullet that helps prevent MCI.
"We are very interested in a connection called ergothionein (ET)," says Dr. Irwin Cheah, Senior Research Fellow from NUS Biochemistry. "ET is a unique antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that humans are unable to synthesize alone. But it can be sourced from dietary sources, one of the most important being fungi."