Mushrooms are more than just a pizza topping! For centuries, they have been revered for their medicinal properties and used in traditional medicine systems like Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda. But did you know that mushrooms also hold the key to longevity and overall wellness? We already wrote about the anti-aging properties of magic mushrooms and mushrooms that fight cancer. In this post, we will explore the latest research and clinical studies on mushrooms in anti-aging and their role in longevity.
Yes, mushrooms! Those sometimes delicious, sometimes slimy things that grow in damp, dark places! Who knew they could hold the secret to the fountain of youth? Well, in fact, many cultures have.
Traditional Chinese medicine has long held the mushroom in high regard for its healing and longevity properties. But why exactly is the scientific and health community now stoked about them?
Recent studies have revealed the numerous benefits of mushrooms, particularly when it comes to combating the signs of aging. With their high antioxidant content, mushrooms help protect the skin from oxidative stress and free radical damage, promoting a youthful and radiant complexion. Certain varieties, such as the Ganoderma lucidum or reishi mushroom, are known for their remarkable antioxidant properties that contribute to skin rejuvenation and anti-aging effects. When it comes to overall wellness, incorporating mushrooms into your diet can also support cognitive function, longevity, and even disease prevention.
What is the role of mushrooms in anti-aging?
- Mushrooms contain various compounds that have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer effects.
- L-ergothioneine, an amino acid in mushrooms, may promote longevity by reducing telomere shortening.
- Specific mushrooms, like ganoderma lucidum or reishi, have powerful antioxidant properties for anti-aging benefits.
- They can boost skin health and combat the signs of aging, thanks to their high antioxidant content.
- Mushrooms can support cognitive function, brain health, and contribute to healthy aging.
- These nutrient-packed fungi may also help prevent diseases like diabetes and cancer.
What Antioxidants Can Be Found in Mushroom?
New research reveals that mushrooms are “without a doubt” the highest known single source of the antioxidants ergothioneine and glutathione, which are both associated with anti-aging properties.
Selenium is an antioxidant with a critical role in anti-aging. It can be considered a longevity indicator in elderly populations due to its role in health maintenance in aging individuals. Selenium is an important component of enzymes and proteins — known as selenoproteins — that play a key role in reproduction, thyroid hormone metabolism, and DNA synthesis.
Selenium in mushrooms offers several benefits. In addition to its role as an antioxidant, it also has antitumor and immune-regulatory properties.
A review, published in the Bulletin of the National Research Centre a few years ago, demonstrates the nutritional and antioxidant significance of Selenium-enriched mushrooms in anti-aging. It also discusses the methods of enriching mushrooms with Selenium and the resulting nutritional and antioxidant benefits, as well as the anticancer activity of Selenium-biofortified mushrooms.
Recent research has indicated that ergothioneine-rich mushrooms may act as a potential therapeutic strategy for the elimination of senescent cells in neurodegenerative diseases, further supporting their anti-aging potential.
What is interesting is that Ergothioneine is very heat-stable. It means that cooking mushrooms does not seem to significantly affect the compound.
The benefits of glutathione in mushrooms are significant, as they are a rich source of this important antioxidant. Glutathione plays a crucial role in preventing oxidative stress and cellular damage, thus contributing to overall health and potentially reducing the risk of chronic diseases, including cancer. Research has shown that certain mushroom species are high in glutathione, and its presence in mushrooms is considered to be a significant biological antioxidant.
Additionally, mushrooms containing glutathione can help the body make antioxidant enzymes, further supporting their role in preventing cell damage and supporting a healthy immune system. Therefore, the presence of glutathione in mushrooms contributes to their potential health benefits, making them a valuable addition to a healthy diet.
What is the difference between Ergothioneine and L-ergothioneine?
Ergothioneine and L-ergothioneine are two names for the same compound, which is a sulfur-containing amino acid derived from histidine.
Ergothioneine is found in some bacteria, fungi, and plants, as well as in some foods such as liver, kidney beans, oat bran, and… mushrooms.
L-ergothioneine is the most common form of ergothioneine that is available as a dietary supplement or in food. It is a natural thiourea derivative of histidine and exists in two forms: thiol and thione forms. It is a unique sulfur-containing amino acid that cannot be synthesized by the human body and is only available from certain dietary sources, such as edible mushrooms.
The compound has been linked to antioxidant activities, contributing to their potential health benefits, particularly in combating oxidative stress and related diseases.
How L-Ergothioneine Slows Down Time
L-ergothioneine, an amino acid found in mushrooms, has been identified as a potential agent in promoting longevity and reducing the rate of telomere shortening, a key factor in the aging process.
Delaying Aging by Slowing Telomere Shortening
L-ergothioneine can help delay the aging process by slowing the rate of telomere shortening. Telomeres are the protective caps at the ends of chromosomes, and their shortening is associated with aging and age-related diseases. By preserving telomere length, L-ergothioneine contributes to cellular longevity and overall health.
Cellular Protection Against Oxidative Stress
This amino acid provides efficient cellular protection against oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can accelerate telomere shortening and lead to various age-related conditions. By combating oxidative damage, L-ergothioneine aids in maintaining the integrity of cellular components, including DNA and telomeres.
Protecting the Brain
L-ergothioneine is high in several major regions of the brain, including those responsible for cognitive function, learning, and memory. It promotes nerve cell maturation, resulting in enhanced memory, and is protective against oxidative stress-induced deficits in learning and memory.
Low blood levels of L-ergothioneine have been noted in patients with mild cognitive impairment and dementia, as well as Parkinson’s disease and brain matter atrophy.
L-ergothioneine protects against oxidative and inflammatory damage to endothelial cells that form the inner lining of blood vessels and prevents the binding of monocytes to endothelial cells, an early event in cardiovascular disease.
Supporting Overall Health
In addition to its role in telomere protection, L-ergothioneine supports various aspects of health, including vision, heart health, and cognitive function. This broad spectrum of benefits contributes to its potential as a longevity-promoting compound.
L-ergothioneine is transported 100 times more efficiently by this transporter than other compounds, which is why it is considered a longevity vitamin. People who consumed mushrooms had a 16% lower risk of dying than those who didn’t.
L-ergothioneine is obtained through diet, with mushrooms being a rich source. As the body cannot produce this amino acid, consuming mushrooms or supplements containing L-ergothioneine can be an effective way to harness its anti-aging benefits.
Antioxidant Compounds from Edible Mushrooms as Potential Candidates for Treating Age-Related Neurodegenerative Diseases
Selenium Enrichment of the Edible Medicinal Mushroom Antrodia camphorata by Submerged Fermentation
Mushrooms: A rich source of the antioxidants ergothioneine and glutathione
Prospective study of dietary mushroom intake and risk of mortality
Development of Mushroom-Based Cosmeceutical Formulations with Anti-Inflammatory, Anti-Tyrosinase, Antioxidant, and Antibacterial Properties
Mushroom Cosmetics: The Present and Future
The Role of Mushrooms in Skin Health
Mushrooms offer more than just a tasty addition to your meals. They also play a significant role in promoting skin health and combatting the signs of aging. How exactly do mushrooms achieve this? It’s all thanks to their antioxidant properties.
Boosting Collagen with Mushrooms
Collagen is a protein that provides structure and elasticity to the skin. We already wrote about its versatile properties in our previous post.
As we age, collagen production decreases, leading to sagging and wrinkles. Mushrooms, however, contain compounds that can boost collagen synthesis in the body, helping to maintain firm and smooth skin.
One such compound is beta-glucan, a type of fiber found in mushrooms. Beta-glucan stimulates collagen production and improves the skin’s ability to retain moisture, resulting in plumper and more hydrated skin. Additionally, mushrooms are rich in vitamin D, which plays a role in collagen synthesis and can further support skin health.
Skin Brightening with Kojic Acid
Kojic acid is used in Chinese medicine as a natural face lightener for uneven skin color and discolorations. It inhibits the formation of tyrosine, which is an amino acid that’s needed to produce melanin.
Hydrating and Moisturizing with Ceramides
Mushrooms can help increase the moisture and hydration of the skin, making them beneficial for dry or dehydrated skin. They contain ceramides, which are naturally occurring fatty acids that strengthen the skin barrier and prevent moisture and water loss.
Balancing pH Levels and Reducing Breakouts
Some mushrooms can help balance the skin’s pH levels, contributing to overall skin health, while their anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties may help in reducing breakouts and fighting off bacteria that can cause acne.
Choosing the Right Mushrooms for Your Skin
Not all mushrooms are created equal when it comes to skin health and anti-aging. Some varieties, such as reishi and shiitake mushrooms, are particularly rich in antioxidants and other beneficial compounds. These mushrooms have been used in traditional medicine for centuries due to their skin-enhancing properties.
To incorporate mushrooms into your skincare routine, look for products that contain mushroom extracts, or try making your own mushroom-infused skincare treatments at home. You can also enjoy the benefits of mushrooms in anti-aging by adding them to your meals, ensuring a regular intake of these powerful antioxidants for overall skin health.
Mushrooms for Cognitive Function and Longevity
When it comes to promoting cognitive function and supporting healthy aging, mushrooms have emerged as a fascinating natural solution. Studies have shown that certain medicinal mushrooms containing antioxidants and other bioactive compounds can reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain. These factors are closely associated with age-related cognitive decline and diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Incorporating mushrooms into your diet may help support brain health and contribute to cognitive function as you age.
It is worth noting that not all mushrooms are considered medicinal. Medicinal mushrooms contain higher amounts of bioactive compounds called secondary metabolites, such as polysaccharide β-glucans, that have been shown to offer therapeutic and healing properties.
But it doesn’t stop there. Mushroom extracts have also been found to have anti-aging properties and promote longevity, as seen in animal studies. These findings suggest that mushrooms in anti-aging have the potential to not only benefit cognitive function but also contribute to overall health and wellness as you grow older.
The Power of Mushroom Extracts for Brain Health
- Mushroom extracts, especially those derived from reishi mushrooms, have shown promising results in reducing inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain.
- These extracts have also been linked to improved cognitive function and may help protect against age-related cognitive decline.
- Animal studies have revealed the potential anti-aging effects of mushroom extracts, further highlighting their role in promoting longevity.
Mushrooms for Disease Prevention
Mushrooms in anti-aging have also been studied for their potential disease-preventing properties. Some evidence suggests that mushrooms may have anti-diabetic effects, as they can help regulate blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity.
When it comes to diabetes, mushrooms may offer several benefits. They are low in carbohydrates and calories, making them a suitable addition to a diabetic diet. Some studies have suggested that mushrooms can help lower blood glucose levels, improve insulin sensitivity, and reduce markers of inflammation associated with diabetes. The anti-diabetic effects of mushrooms may be due to their high fiber content, as well as various bioactive compounds present in different mushroom species.
Recent studies have also demonstrated that mushrooms, with their particular bioactive compounds, can be used as supportive candidates for the prevention and control of diabetes in the future.
Additionally, certain mushroom varieties have been shown to have anti-cancer properties, with potential effects in inhibiting tumor growth, suppressing cancer cell proliferation, and boosting the immune system.
For example, shiitake mushrooms contain a compound called lentinan, which has been found to possess anti-tumor and immune-stimulating effects.
Reishi mushrooms have also been studied extensively for their potential anti-cancer benefits, including inhibiting the growth of cancer cells and enhancing the immune response against tumors.
These mushrooms contain compounds like triterpenoids and polysaccharides, which may contribute to their anti-cancer effects.
What are the Benefits of Mushrooms for Disease Prevention?
- May help regulate blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity in diabetes
- Potential anti-inflammatory effects associated with diabetes
- Possible anti-tumor and immune-stimulating effects against cancer cells
- Contain bioactive compounds such as lentinan, triterpenoids, and polysaccharides
A Stroll Through the Longevity Mushroom Forest
From the humble white button to the more exotic shiitake and porcini, every mushroom has its own share of unique health benefits. Let’s meet the medicinal seniors in the mushroom family who are believed to gift us with ‘youth in every bite.’
Shiitake: Ageless Allure from the East
Who said plates can’t stop your aging clock? For centuries, the East has been adding Shiitake mushrooms to their dishes for their appealing flavor and health benefits, including their potential anti-aging properties. High in that magic duo of antioxidants ergothioneine and glutathione, they have shown their might in the battle against oxidative stress, providing you with sumptuous dishes and ageless allure in return.
Reishi: The Mushroom of Immortality
Got a crown? Try putting on a Reishi mushroom instead – also known as the ‘Mushroom of Immortality’. Talk about royalty! Revered for its potential to stimulate cells’ longevity, Reishi indeed deserves its royal title. Now that’s something to toast to!
White Button: The Tiny Wonder
Don’t disregard this tiny wonder! The common white button mushroom is packed to the brim with the antioxidant selenium, which aids in boosting your immunity and slowing down the signs of aging. A handful of these, and you’re on your way to a strengthened defense against the ravages of time.
Incorporating Mushrooms into a Healthy Diet
To fully experience the potential health benefits of mushrooms in anti-aging, it’s important to include them in a balanced and nutritious diet. Mushrooms can be a versatile addition to various dishes, enhancing both flavor and nutritional value.
Consider adding mushrooms to salads, omelets, stir-fries, soups, or pasta sauces. They can even be grilled or used as a meat substitute in certain recipes, allowing for a creative and delicious way to enjoy their unique flavors and textures. We are putting below three revival recipes with mushrooms for your health benefits. You can find more recipes with mushrooms in our previous post as well as other delicious anti-aging dishes.
When purchasing mushrooms, look for firm caps with an even texture. Store them in the refrigerator until ready to use, ensuring their freshness and preventing spoilage.
While mushrooms offer many potential health benefits, it’s important to note that they should not be relied upon as a sole solution for health concerns. They should be part of a holistic approach to overall wellness and disease prevention. Incorporating mushrooms into a well-rounded diet, combined with other healthy lifestyle choices, can contribute to a healthier and more vibrant life.
So, why not harness the power of nature’s fungi and add a variety of mushrooms to your next meal? Below, there are three delicious dishes with benefitial anti-aging mushrooms.
Revival recipes for longevity
Longevity Noodles with Oyster, Shiitake, and Enoki Mushrooms
This dish is inspired by the Chinese tradition of cutting noodles to symbolize a long life. It also features a spicy and savory sauce made with soy sauce, sesame oil, doubanjiang (Szechuan chile bean paste), and rice vinegar. The dish is topped with scallions, cilantro, and furikake (Japanese seaweed seasoning) for extra flavor and color.
To make this dish, you will need the following ingredients:
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons doubanjiang (Szechuan chile bean paste)
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons neutral oil (such as vegetable oil), divided
- 1 medium-size yellow onion, thinly sliced (about 1¼ cups)
- 1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced (about 2 tablespoons)
- 1 ½ tablespoons finely chopped garlic cloves
- 4 cups torn and sliced mixed mushrooms (such as fresh enoki mushrooms, fresh oyster mushrooms, and rehydrated dried shiitake mushrooms) (about 11 ounces)
- 1 pound fresh lo mein noodles, prepared according to pkg. directions
- ½ chopped scallions (white and green parts)
- ½ chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
- Furikake (optional)
The instructions are as follows:
- Stir together soy sauce, sesame oil, doubanjiang, and rice vinegar in a small bowl; set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon neutral oil in a large wok over high until shimmering and fragrant. Add onion, ginger, and garlic; stir-fry until mixture is fragrant and onion begins to soften, about 30 seconds. Transfer mixture to a small bowl; set aside. Do not wipe wok clean.
- Add remaining 1 tablespoon neutral oil to wok over high. Add mushrooms; stir-fry until softened, about 1 minute and 30 seconds.
- Add cooked noodles, soy sauce mixture, and cooked onion mixture; cook, tossing and stirring constantly, until noodles have absorbed sauce, about 2 minutes.
- Remove from heat. Transfer to a large serving dish; top with scallions and cilantro if desired. Garnish with furikake if desired.
This recipe serves 6 to 8 people as an appetizer or a light meal. It takes about 35 minutes to make. It is rich in protein from the shiitake mushrooms, antioxidants from the vegetables, healthy fats from the sesame oil, vitamins from the onion, minerals from the ginger, garlic, soy sauce, rice vinegar, scallions, cilantro, furikake etc.
Shiitake Mushroom and Broccoli Sauté
This is a unique yet easy recipe with shiitake mushrooms for longevity.
- 6 oz / 170 g Shiitake mushrooms, stems cut, sliced
- Head of broccoli
- Olive oil
- Onion, diced
- Garlic, chopped
- Ginger, chopped
- Stock, chicken or vegetable, cube or fresh
- Fermented soy sauce, or tamari (gluten-free option)
- Red pepper flakes, or any other spice desired
- Quickly rinse the shiitake mushrooms or simply wipe the caps with a damp paper towel. If the stems are too tough to eat, remove and discard them. Slice the mushrooms.
- Cut the head of broccoli into small florets.
- In a saucepan, drizzle olive oil and add diced onions, chopped garlic, and chopped ginger. Sauté until the onions are translucent.
- If using a stock cube, add water to it. Stir in the mushrooms until soft and add the cooked broccoli. Season with fermented soy sauce, tamari, salt, and other spices to taste.
- Enjoy this nutritious and delicious sauté as a side dish or over a bed of rice or noodles.
This recipe incorporates the longevity benefits of shiitake mushrooms, known for their immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory properties, and the nutritional powerhouse broccoli, making it a perfect addition to a longevity-focused diet.
Reishi Mushroom Tincture
This is a simple and effective way to extract the benefits of reishi mushrooms into a liquid form that you can take daily. Reishi mushrooms are known for their adaptogenic properties, which means they can help your body cope with stress and balance your hormones. They also have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and immune-boosting effects that can support your overall health and well-being.
To make this tincture, you will need the following ingredients:
- 1/4 cup of broken or ground reishi mushrooms (you can use fresh or dried ones)
- 2 cups of high-proof alcohol (such as vodka or whiskey)
- A glass jar with a tight-fitting lid
- A funnel
The instructions are as follows:
- Fill the jar with reishi mushrooms and pour the alcohol over them until they are completely submerged.
- Seal the jar tightly and store it in a cool, dark place for at least two weeks. Shake it daily to mix the contents.
- After two weeks, strain the liquid through a cheesecloth or a coffee filter into another clean jar or bottle.
- Label the jar or bottle with the date and store it in a cool, dark place.
You can take this tincture by adding 1/4 teaspoon to a glass of water, juice, tea, or any other beverage of your choice. You can also add some honey or maple syrup for sweetness if you like. It is recommended to take this tincture once or twice a day, preferably before bedtime.
This recipe serves 1 person as an extract. It takes about 10 minutes to make.
What are the potential health benefits of mushrooms?
Mushrooms have been studied for their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer properties. They may help with skin health, cognitive function, and disease prevention.
Do mushrooms have anti-aging effects?
Yes, mushrooms contain antioxidants that can protect the skin from oxidative stress and free radical damage, which contribute to aging. They may also boost collagen production and promote overall skin health.
Can mushrooms improve cognitive function?
Some research suggests that certain mushrooms, like reishi, may have positive effects on cognitive function and brain health. The antioxidants and bioactive compounds in mushrooms can help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain.
Do mushrooms have any disease-preventing properties?
Yes, mushrooms have been studied for their potential anti-diabetic and anti-cancer effects. They can help regulate blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity. Certain mushroom varieties have shown promise in inhibiting tumor growth and boosting the immune system.
Are mushrooms used in traditional medicine?
Yes, mushrooms have a long history of use in traditional medicine systems such as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Ayurveda. Various mushrooms, like reishi, shiitake, and maitake, have been valued for their medicinal properties and overall health benefits.
How can I incorporate mushrooms into my diet?
Mushrooms are versatile and can be added to various dishes such as salads, omelets, stir-fries, soups, and pasta sauces. They can also be grilled or used as a meat replacement in certain recipes.
What is next?
New information on mushrooms and their benefits for longevity will be added periodically in upcoming posts. Be sure to check back!
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