Updated: Sep 8, 2022
While most link dementia and frailty with “old people”, 30-64 year olds have seen a 3X increase in early onset of dementia in recent years! Please pause and read this again: there has been a 3X increase in dementia among those in the 30-64 age group!
Clearly we all should be doing everything we can to strengthen our immune systems against early age-related diseases like dementia and frailty now! Many are becoming aware that Ergothioneine (ERGO), an amino acid that is found in abundance in certain mushrooms such as Lion’s Mane, is a potent antioxidant that supports the body’s immunity strength against dementia and other chronic age-related diseases.
Dr. Robert Beelman from Penn State University has studied ERGO since the 1970s and has found there to be a strong relationship between the health of a global society and in the levels of ERGO found in the diets of those in the society. Dr. Beelman’s decades of research is quite compelling in that he has consistently found that diets rich in ERGO are associated with longer, healthier lives across the world; both in terms of lower chronic age-related disease rates and in terms of longer overall life expectancy.
Let’s take a closer look at two of the most prevalent age-related conditions: Frailty and Dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.
Frailty is most often measured in terms of a person’s abilities spanning five key categories: Weakness, Slowness, Weight Loss, Exhaustion, and Low Physical Activity. When someone is highly immobile, is unable to stand or grip things tightly, moves slowly with rapid exhaustion and loses weight, then that person is at risk of being classified as “frail” according to Johns Hopkins University and represents one in ten people over the age of 65.
While the aging dimension obviously cannot be controlled, the single most important aspect of avoiding frailty can be directly controlled for most: “Eating Well.” Eating well enables one to stay active and aids against cognitive decline. Eating well means avoiding pesticides in foods as much as you possibly can by choosing the right foods in order of priority:
Choose Certified Organic ingredients to help one avoid the deadly Round-Up pesticide. Though it must be noted that not all Certified Organic products are truly 100% Round-Up free, because these deadly toxic sprays can and do drift and wash down from neighboring fields at higher elevations.
Choose Project Non-GMO Verified as the next best choice for food since farmers use GMOs in order to allow the plant to accept the spraying of Round-Up against weeds. By avoiding GMOs, one is again increasing her chance of avoiding having deadly Round-Up her food.
Choose Non-Processed foods. Always avoid “foods” that contain chemicals, preservatives, artificial ingredients, colors, bleaches, sugars, etc. The more chemicals that one puts through his body, the more stress that is put on the kidneys and liver to filter and remove as many of the toxins as they can. Unfortunately, when bombarded consistently with processed foods or pesticide-laden foods, significant stress accumulates for these vital bodily organ filters and they cannot keep up; resulting in a variety of health issues.
Dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, is a mental disorder associated with a rapid decline in cognitive function, memory, mental processing capability and reasoning, and often a change in personality. The word dementia is a general term for this sort of degenerative brain disease, while Alzheimer’s is a specific type of this brain disease that represents over half of dementia cases.
With the average age for the onset of dementia being 83.7 years old, most younger adults don’t pay a lot of attention to it unless they have seen it in their families before. However, as we have seen the rates of early onset of dementia have exploded among those 30-64 with over a 3x increase in recent years!. All of us should be paying attention to how health and nutrition choices can strengthen the immune system against early dementia.
While the power of immediate gratification and peer pressure with food choices is quite strong, the risk of making bad food choices is quite real. Demonstrating its link to diet and nutrition, Alzheimer’s Disease is referred to by many as Type III Diabetes due to associated insulin dysregulation in the brain. As evidenced by one in ten Americans having Diabetes according to the Center for Disease Control, many are clearly not aware of the critical importance of nutrition. Many people simply eat and drink for enjoyment and/or to “fill up” at the cheapest possible cost without concern or thought that we really are what we eat.
Healthy Aside: One easy way to evaluate your nutritional choices is to begin to put two and two together when it comes to your “number two”. While not a great dinner conversation, if your poop is not solid, then you should consider giving up wheat for a few weeks just to see what happens. But wheat must be truly and completely eliminated for this test to be effective. Try it, what do you have to lose?
Given its link as Type III Diabetes, it's no surprise that there is a high rate of comorbidity with Diabetes and Dementia. It’s clearly never too late to start making the right nutritional choices like increasing ERGO consumption by eating and drinking mushrooms.
Mushrooms Strengthen Immune Defense Against Early Dementia
Our immune systems are fully capable of holding off age-related diseases like frailty and dementia, if we take care of, power and strengthen them with the right nutritional choices.
As Dr. Beelman has documented, the amino acid Ergothioneine (ERGO) is a powerful antioxidant that is directly correlated across the world in numerous studies with higher ERGO consumption consistently showing lower dementia, frailty, and death rates. In fact, ERGO is now considered to be a biomarker for both frailty and dementia.
While ERGO can be found in certain plants and in animals that eat plants from the ground, ERGO presence is highest in some types of mushrooms, such as Lion’s Mane, Shiitake, and Oyster mushrooms. However, in order to get the most ERGO and other beneficial nutrients from these mushrooms, one should make sure to cook or brew the mushrooms in order to break down their thick cell walls and release the ERGO and other nutrients.
While correlation does not always imply causation, according to the studies of Kondoh, Teruya, Kameda, and Yanagida, lower ERGO levels are significantly correlated with cognitive decline observed with frailty, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease patients. While not full proof, this research when combined with the extensive work done by Dr. Beelman seems to indicate a mountain of evidence is building that suggests we should all be adding more brewed Lion’s Mane tea, and/or cooked Shiitake and Oyster mushrooms to our diets.
It is worth noting that supplementing ERGO levels in animal studies has been shown as an effective therapy to alleviate cognitive impairment and oxidative tissue damage. While mushroom powders are a great mushroom supplement innovation, it is best to cook or brew mushroom powders in order to release the nutrients from the thick cell walls rather than using them directly in smoothies.
Online tea store Packed with Life offers one of the best immune booster teas with its delightful ImmuneATea product. Delicious either brewed hot, or over ice after brewing, tea manufacturer Packed with Life created a product that makes it easy to get the nutrition and natural, decaf energy of Lion’s Mane, Chaga, Reishi, and Cordyceps mushrooms in one delicious, hydrating beverage. Each box from tea supplier Packed with Life contains 16 individual tea bags packed with the great tasting and alkaline-friendly adaptogen and mushroom rich blend ready for brewing.
How ERGO Works
Humans get ERGO from their foods and beverages such as cooked or brewed Lion’s Mane, Shiitake and Oyster mushrooms. Foods that are grown in the ground and meat from animals that eat foods that grow in the ground historically also contained ERGO. However, current herbicides/pesticides and tilling practices destroy the underground mushroom mycelium networks that supply ERGO and other nutrients to foods grown in the ground (and animals that eat them). The movement toward regenerative farming practices and organic farming will ensure healthy mycelium networks and ERGO rich grasses, vegetables and animals.
ERGO is extracted by the body and transported via its own OCTN1 transporter system to be stored throughout the body in various tissues such as the brain, liver, kidneys, red blood cells, skin, etc. ERGO is then utilized by the body as an antioxidant to remove toxic free radicals which damage our bodily tissues and lead to cancers and many age-related diseases such as frailty and dementia including Alzheimer’s disease.
In fact, ERGO acts as an extremely potent antioxidant. Consider the comparison to the strong antioxidant glutathione.
Glutathione is produced naturally by the liver and acts against free radicals, makes chemicals and proteins that are critical to proper bodily and immune system function, and aids in building and repairing bodily tissues.
Avoiding early dementia starts with paying close attention to what you eat and drink on a regular basis. By taking care of your body by eating well as outlined here, one's odds of having a strong immune system and avoiding early dementia are enhanced.