150 g white button mushrooms a day help immune system recognise pathogens
If you eat 120 - 150 g white button mushrooms every day your immune system learns to recognise pathogens faster, and this makes vaccines more effective. An animal study published by the American USDA in the Journal of Nutrition suggests this.
Immunity & mushrooms
A white button mushroom-rich diet makes Natural Killer cells more active, USDA researchers discovered five years ago. That might mean that ordinary white button mushrooms have a protective effect against diseases such as cancer and infectious diseases.
The researchers also discovered that a white button mushroom-rich diet speeds up the development of dendritic cells. [J Nutr. 2008 Mar;138(3):544-50.] These cells are like the teachers in the immune system: they help the immune system to learn how to recognise pathogens.
In a more recent study, which was published in January 2014 in the Journal of Nutrition, the researchers wanted to find out whether supplementing mice's diet with white button mushrooms would improve the protective effect of vaccines. The researchers used a weakened strain of the Salmonella typhimurium bacteria as the vaccine in their experiment. This is a vaccine that gives protection against stronger and more aggressive strains of Salmonella typhimurium (see photo).
Under an electron microscope they look a bit like mouldy chocolate sprinkles.
The researchers divided their mice into four groups two weeks before administering the vaccine. The first group was not vaccinated and got no mushrooms either. This was the control group [C].
A second group was vaccinated, but got no mushrooms [C+V].
A third group was vaccinated and given food containing 2 percent mushrooms [2%WBM+V]. The human equivalent of the dose would be 2.2 g fresh white button mushrooms per kg bodyweight per day. So if you weigh 85 kg you'd need to eat 130 g mushrooms daily.
A final fourth group was vaccinated and given food containing 5 percent white button mushrooms [5%WBM+V]. The human equivalent of the dose would again be 2.2 g fresh mushrooms per kg bodyweight per day. So if you weigh 85 kg you'd need to eat 325 g mushrooms daily.
Four weeks after the mice had been vaccinated the researchers infected them with the aggressive strain Salmonella typhimurium SL1344. In the three weeks that followed nearly all the mice in the control group died [C]. In the group that had been vaccinated but had not been given mushrooms [C+V] thirty percent survived; in the group that had been vaccinated and had been given 2 percent white button mushrooms in their food [2%WBM+V] fifty percent survived.
The mice that had been vaccinated and had been given food containing 5 percent white button mushrooms [5%WBM+V] had only a slightly higher survival rate than the C+V group.
Just before infecting their mice the researchers extracted immune cells [T cells to be precise] from the mice and exposed them to Salmonella typhimurium in test tubes. The immune cells from the vaccinated mice that had been given mushrooms synthesised more cytokines than the immune cells from the vaccinated mice that had not been given mushrooms. This probably means that the immune cells reacted more aggressively to the virulent Salmonella typhimurium, and were more effective at destroying it.
NI = mice that had not been vaccinated; IM = mice that had been vaccinated; white bars: mice that had not been given mushrooms; black bars: mice that had been given mushrooms.
"These results suggest that white button mushrooms intake could be considered as a strategy to optimize the efficacy of some vaccines", the researchers conclude. "Future studies are needed to determine the impact of white button mushrooms on other vaccines and to validate the clinical relevance of current findings in humans".
The researchers' study was partly funded by their employer the USDA. Additional finance was provided by organisations in the mushroom industry.
J Nutr. 2014 Jan;144(1):98-105.
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