The humble mushroom may reduce your risk of mild cognitive impairment.
Dementia, including Alzheimer's Disease, is an incredibly complex condition. We do not fully understand what causes it, nor do we know all the risk factors.
Unfortunately, we also cannot reverse it. Dementia remains one of the biggest incurable disease in medicine.
Recent research has shown that diet is correlated with dementia, showing that it may be possible to significantly reduce your odds of getting it by eating well.
Data on Mushrooms and Cognitive Impairment
A new study out of Singapore has linked mushroom consumption to a lower risk of Mild Cognitive Impairment.
Patients with Mild Cognitive Impairment have more memory or cognition problems than typical elderly individuals, but do not have the symptoms necessary for a dementia diagnosis. Many, but not all, patients with Mild Cognitive Impairment will develop dementia.
Researchers in this study followed 663 Singaporeans aged 60 and older to see how diet affects aging. They found that participants who ate more mushrooms had a lower risk of Mild Cognitive Impairment.
Researchers adjusted results to control for age, gender, education, smoking status, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and consumptions of meat and vegetables.
Even with these adjustments, researchers found that those who ate 3 or more servings of mushrooms weekly had about half the risk of mild cognitive impairment compared to those who did not regularly eat mushrooms. This was statistically significant.
Those who ate 1-2 servings of mushrooms per week had a non-significantly lower risk.
The size of the effect and the number of factors controlled for adds to the strength of the study.
However, as with all observational studies, the study only shows a correlation rather than causation.
We see good evidence that individuals who eat mushrooms also have a lower rate of mild cognitive impairment. But, we do not know for sure that it's the mushrooms causing it. It is possible that mushroom-lovers also have great lifestyles protecting them from cognitive impairment.
Mushrooms vs Vegetables for Cognitive Performance
These data were consistent with a Norwegian study looking at plant food and cognitive performance. Researchers asked 2,031 elderly Norwegians about their diets and then performed extensive cognitive testing to see how diet affects cognitive performance in the elderly.
The found that all plant-based foods, except for white bread, were associated with better cognitive performance in the elderly.
In the data above, they show the relationship between cognitive performance and the amount of mushrooms and vegetables you eat in a day.
The more mushrooms or vegetables an individual ate, the higher their odds of performing better on a cognitive test.
Mediterranean Diet + Alzheimer's Dementia
The Mediterranean Diet is another diet linked to a lower risk of dementia. In a study of 2,258 New Yorkers, researchers found that individuals who strongly adhered to a Mediterranean Diet had a significantly lower risk of Alzheimer's Disease.
Researchers estimated the difference to be around 40%. Individuals who had some adherence to the Mediterranean Diet had a non-significantly lower risk.
As you can see in the comparison above, both the Mediterranean Diet and Mushrooms show similar results when it comes to Dementia in the elderly.