A new study has found that Ganoderma lucidum—a medicinal mushroom—is associated with weight loss and reduced inflammation in mice. This mushroom, known commonly as lingzhi or reishi, is rich in prebiotic polysaccharides, which are compounds that promote the growth of colonies of healthy intestinal bacteria. Published in the journal Nature Communications, the study involved six groups of five to seven mice: group one was fed a high-fat diet (HFD, 60% energy from fat) only; group two was fed the HFD plus a 2% water extract of G. lucidum; group three was fed the HFD plus a 6% extract of G. lucidum; group four was fed the HFD plus an 8% extract of G. lucidum; group five was fed a standard diet (13.5% energy from fat) only; and, group six was fed a standard diet plus an 8% extract of G. lucidum. Researchers studied the mice for eight weeks and found that:
While all of the HFD-fed mice experienced weight gain and liver fat accumulation, those receiving G. lucidum gained less body weight and had less liver fat accumulation than those on the HFD alone. Protection against weight gain and liver fat increased with increasing dosages of G. lucidum, so that the mice receiving the 8% solution gained the least amount of weight of all the HFD-fed mice.
While the HFD alone was associated with increased levels of markers of inflammation, the addition of G. lucidum was associated with lower rises in inflammatory marker levels. Again, higher doses of G. lucidum had stronger protective effects, so that mice receiving the 8% solution had levels that were similar to those seen in mice on the standard diet.
Mice on the standard diet were not significantly affected by the addition of G. lucidum, indicating that G. lucidum may only be effective in individuals eating diets that promote inflammation, weight gain, and fat accumulation in the liver.
This study is important because the findings suggest that G. lucidum may support weight loss and adds to the growing body of research suggesting that prebiotics may be associated with reduced body weight and inflammation. However, more research will be needed to repeat these results in humans.
Source: Nature Communications