Mushroom cloud

Studies are increasingly indicating that almost any change you make to the diet changes your gut microbiota. Those changes might be slight, and in fact difficult to predict from person to person, but they are there.

Now new research seems to indicate that eating white button mushrooms daily can act as a prebiotic by improving the microbial community in the gut, leading to improved regulation of glucose in the liver; a finding that could one day pave way for new diabetes treatments, although one wonders why anyone would wait for Pharma to make some sort of drug out of things, when you can just eat the darn mushrooms. The researchers reported their findings in a recent issue of the Journal of Functional Foods. [1]

Image: Wikipedia

The study found that feeding white button mushrooms to mice changed the composition of their gut microbes (microbiota) to produce more short chain fatty acids, and specifically speed the conversion of one fatty acid, propionate, to another, succinate. These acids can change the expression of genes that are key to the pathway between the brain and the gut that helps manage the production of glucose, or gluconeogenesis. Consuming the mushrooms set off a chain reaction among the gut bacteria, expanding the population of Prevotella, a genus of bacteria that produces both propionate and succinate. Managing glucose better has implications for diabetes, as well as other metabolic diseases.

The mushrooms, in this case, serve as a prebiotic, which is a substance that feeds beneficial bacteria that are already existing in the gut. Probiotics are live beneficial bacteria that are introduced into the digestive system. The researchers fed the mice about a daily serving size of the mushrooms. For humans, a daily serving size would be about three ounces.

What the researchers may well have been unaware of is the prior connection between the lectin found in white button mushrooms (agaricus bisporus lectin) and it’s ability to actually induce growth of pancreatic beta-cells (the cells that produce insulin) leading to an increase in the production of insulin. In a 2012 study a significant decrease in blood glucose concentrations, an increase in glucose tolerance and expanded beta-cell mass were observed in the mushroom lectin treated mice. The expression of several insulin related genes in the pancreas were also increased in the lectin-treated mice. Their findings demonstrated that white button mushroom administration could partially reverse the impaired beta-cell growth and suggested that the mushroom lectin has therapeutic potential in preventing and/or treating diabetes.[2]

If that wasn’t good enough, research has also shown that white button mushroom lectin appears to have a potent anti-cancer effect against cells known to induce colon cancer, actually causing the early mutated cells that are beginning to loose their healthy architecture (undifferentiated) to slowly go back to normal (re-differentiate). [3]

Mushrooms and lectins in general have a mixed reputation in nutritional circles. Some less sophisticated sources claim that silver dollar mushrooms can aggravate existing fungal problems such as candidiasis (they can’t) whilst others claim that lectins are destroyed by our digestion before they can exert any biological effects (most are not) or that lectins are uniformly bad for us (they are sometimes helpful, sometimes harmful, and sometimes quite innocuous).

1. Prebiotic effects of white button mushroom ( Agaricus bisporus ) feeding on succinate and intestinal gluconeogenesis in C57BL/6 mice. Journal of Functional Foods, 2018; 45: 223

2. Agaricus bisporus lectins mediates islet β-cell proliferation through regulation of cell cycle proteins. Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2012 Mar;237(3):287-96. doi: 10.1258/ebm.2011.011251. Epub 2012 Mar 5.

3. Edible mushroom (Agaricus bisporus) lectin, which reversibly inhibits epithelial cell proliferation, blocks nuclear localization sequence-dependent nuclear protein import. J Biol Chem. 1999 Feb 19;274(8):4890-9.

11 comments on “Mushroom cloud”

    • Bekki Shining Berheart Reply

      I too am curious about the cooking.

      And it is interesting to me that all my life I have tended to crave mushrooms. I have tweaked the types of mushrooms I ate according to the ones that were supposed to be good for me vis-a-vis the BTD/GTD (and for a while I avoided these because I thought I was Explorer/non-secretor). Currently (SWAMIed/OPUSed with Dr Brody last year), I am O+ secretor Gatherer and these are beneficials for me– good– because my most favorite breakfast is sauteed button mushrooms, garlic and onions in scrambled eggs, a bit of meat protein and a vegetable. My day always goes better with this!

      Diabetes “runs” in my family. Mother and grandmother. Though oddly no one else seems to have had it.

    • Peter D'Adamo Reply

      Would probably still be active with light cooking/ braising. Raw would work as well.

  1. Erica Fletcher Reply

    The Typebase lists White silver dollar mushrooms. Are they the same as button mushrooms? Our supermarkets (Australia) usually sell button and flat mushrooms. Can you please add flat mushrooms to the Typebase?

  2. sherilyn Reply

    Yes, does it matter if they are coojed?
    is it possible that other common mushrooms at the oroduce store provide similar benefits?

    • Peter D'Adamo Reply

      This is the classic ‘supermarket mushroom.’ Not sure about other varieties.

  3. Lea Aurore Sednaoui Reply

    Interesting article. I was always told to steer away from the button mushrooms because they are mass farmed and cultivated with plenty of chemicals.
    What are your thoughts on this?

    • Peter D'Adamo Reply

      Depends on the quality and trustworthiness of the source of the information. I’m sure one can find healthy version of these mushrooms.

      • Bekki Shining Berheart Reply

        I buy organic mushroom from our co-op, but Wegmans, our local chain, carries organic ones as well.

  4. Debbie D'Amico Reply

    Hello Dr. D’Adamo, Excellent article on one of my favorite foods to add while cooking. I am curious re: blood type diet and ethnic cuisine with respect to native cuisine, have you or anyone ever noted a correlation between blood type dominance in geographic regions and percentage of the diet that consists of blood type friendly foods? We know for example that the tomato and corn for that matter are not originally from Italy but, of the cookbooks I have representing Sicily and the mainland of Italy, there is a broad variety of blood type A friendly food with plenty of neutral and scattering of non-A such as nightshade family eggplants, pistachio nuts, garbanzo beans. Am I wrong to think that in healthy persons with family history of longevity that food preference leads to greater accuracy of choosing the type friendly foods say for example 80% of the time with a ‘scattering’ of eating foods that ‘fit’ other blood types?
    PS: I tried finding if there were any physical characteristics ‘tells’ that visually might show a person’s blood type but nothing beyond a bunch as regards Rh negative. What do you think? Also, the first time I saw your book and photo I showed it to my family because physically you have many of the same facial features as my brother and could pass for a relative! I wonder if the apostrophe in our surnames hints at close geographical lineage!

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