- Results of a human study show statistically significant changes in attention, memory, concentration, processing speed and visuospatial skills.
- The trial carried out in the final phase of the Neurofood R&D&I project tested the functional food developed by Hifas da Terra and Cuevas y Cia.
- The mushroom extracts selected for this product provide active compounds such as the natural neurotransmitter GABA and ergothioneine, two substances which affect stress maintenance, cognition, and insomnia.
Hifas da Terra (HdT) and Cuevas y Cía announced the results of the trial carried out at the Foltra Health Centre (Foltra Foundation), which shows that the daily intake of a new functional food has a significant impact on critical aspects of neurological health such as memory and attention, and may also be useful in cognitive impairment associated with conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.
The presentation, “New functional foods and nutritional supplements aimed at neurocognitive development”, was delivered during a Zoom event by Dr. Esteban Sinde, the scientific director of Hifas da Terra; Tania Blanco de La Iglesia, the head of quality control at Cuevas y Cía; and, Dr. Aurora Camacho, medical director and Mr. Carlos Agra, head of Neuropsychology, on behalf of the Foltra Health Centre (Foltra Foundation). The event was also attended by representatives of the consortium formed for the Neurofood project, such as Sergio Baamonde López, technical R&D manager for Algas Atlánticas Algamar, S. L.
All study participants were assessed by neurological tests, before and after taking the product developed for the trial. These tests evaluated cognitive functions such as memory, orientation, recall, attention and processing speed, among others. The work also included tests related to the cardiovascular system and nursing needs.
Medicinal mushroom nutrients against neurocognitive decline
The product developed during the Neurofood project, “Mico-Neuro”, contains a selection of naturally occurring nutrients from Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus) and Shiitake (Lentinula edodes), medicinal mushrooms cultivated and processed by Hifas da Terra, which play an important role in cognitive development.
The initial phases of the Neurofood innovation project facilitated the selection of the most suitable mushroom species for the product, as well as the optimisation of cultivation processes, which ensure adequate levels of the natural neurotransmitter GABA and ergothioneine, both substances with proven effects on cognitive processes.
In addition, during the Neurofood project, Hifas da Terra researchers developed processes to increase the concentration of GABA in the final product, and were able to validate the functionality of some of their developments in vitro, with the collaboration of ANFACO.
Based on improvement indicators, it was concluded that the product developed by Hifas da Terra and Cuevas y Cia could be useful for the general population and for people who need to improve their neurocognitive function.
In addition, the Foltra Foundation professionals pointed out that this neurological research, “shows the validity of the clinical protocol proposed by the researchers in the short duration of the study”.
Memory and concentration
The authors observed that, after consumption of the Neurofood product, neurological tests showed a marked improvement in skills related to memory, recall, immediate recall and the ability to concentrate.
Attention and processing speed
In addition, study participants were able to process more items in less time after ingesting the product, resulting in better selective and sustained attention.
Another of the aspects highlighted in the conclusions of this study is the speed acquired by the subjects when executing the instructions given. Also, in general, the participants improved their ability to inhibit or block distracting stimuli.
According to Dr. Esteban Sinde and Tania Blanco de La Iglesia, the Neurofood product was formulated based on the conclusions of early phases of the project, which inspired the name, “Neurofood”. This functional food was created after evaluation to provide the optimum levels of bioactive mushroom compounds, their concentration and their bioavailability.
Foltra’s medical manager, Dr. Camacho added that the Neurofood product, “has no adverse side effects, which broadens the spectrum of application and safety”.
New research projects
The authors of the study agreed that these results suggest new avenues of research in which the composition of patients’ gut microbiota could be analysed before and after the intake of this functional food.
According to Dr. Sinde, Scientific journals such as the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Science Advances, among others, have recently published new evidence linking the gut microbiota with neurological diseases once again. He pointed out that a correlation has been established between intestinal microorganisms and the appearance of amyloid plaques in the brain, which is considered a biomarker of Alzheimer’s disease.
Details of the trial
- The trial was conducted with informed consent in 40 healthy volunteers aged 53 years on average, from the Foltra Foundation, a health centre specialising in neurological rehabilitation
- The centre’s medical management carried out the study in three phases in which neurological, cardiovascular and nursing elements were evaluated before and after ingestion of the product. During the study, patient experience and organoleptic impressions of the tested product were also collected.