A mushroom, not an apple, may keep the doctor away, according to a new study. For a while now, scientists have been aiming to understand the causes, consequences, prevention, and the treatment of obesity. After intensive research, obesity has been defined as a complex disease associated with reduced life expectancy and several health problems, such as chronic low - grade inflammation, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obstructive sleep apnea, and fatty liver disease. It is mostly caused by an accumulation of fat where energy intake exceeds energy expenditure.
Recently, emerging research revealed obesity-induced inflammation and insulin resistance to be associated with a decline in the population of “good” gut bacteria lining the intestine. Gut bacteria is required to maintain normal body functioning as it augments the immune system, regulates nutrients and energy, helps digest certain foods in the stomach and intestine, and produces some vitamins (such as B and K).
The secret to healthy bacteria is what you feed them – and that perfect meal could actually come from a humble mushroom!
Anti–Obesity Mushroom Extract
There are different types of mushrooms that exist: the edible, the toxic, and those used for medicinal purposes. A recent study done on mice revealed the role of a mushroom known as Ganoderma lucidum (more commonly known in China as lingzhi, and in Japan as reishi) on obesity treatment. Ganoderma lucidum is a bitter, hard mushroom widely used in traditional Chinese medicine in the belief that it boosts health, enhances longevity, and lowers the risk of allergies, lung problems, liver disease, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. So, what’s the magic ingredient in this exotic mushroom? Harvested widely in the wild since the 1970s, the fermentation of this mushroom appears to boost the production of polysaccharides, the active ingredient required to treat obesity.
How Does It Work?
In research, scientists in Taiwan found that mice given a high fat diet along with the Ganoderma lucidum extract for eight weeks significantly lost weight when compared to those who were given the same diet with no extract. This mushroom’s anti-obesity effect modulated the “good” gut bacteria composition, bringing about health benefits. Those given the extract showed low levels of inflammation in the bloodstream, whereas those who didn’t receive it developed insulin resistance and high levels of inflammation. Consequently, the mushroom extract was able to maintain intestinal integrity in mice and reduce inflammation, glucose levels, fat deposits, and thus overall weight gain. It was also able to boost immune response and the capacity of antioxidants in the blood.
Is This The Ultimate Weight Loss Solution?
Those findings definitely shed light on a new discovery in which mushrooms may affect physiology by supporting the good bacteria in the gut, and thus cause weight loss. However, believing that this is the key to weight loss is false. It’s important to keep in mind that it doesn’t necessarily mean if something is “natural” then it is always safe to consume.
Obesity in humans is a far more complex disease than that of lab mice that are overfed. The results suggest a possible use for the extracts in animals; however no studies have been made on humans in order to determine its safety and effectiveness for preventing weight gain. One side effect of using this extract includes thinning of the blood, which might be dangerous for people with high blood pressure. It may also interact in adverse ways with medications.
What is the ultimate solution to combat obesity? Follow a healthy diet by making better food choices, focusing on portion sizes, and just being active!