Is eating mushrooms helpful for sugar metabolism?

DW News reported this week on a paper published in the Journal of Functional Foods by Tian et al. at Penn State University. The news article claims that eating 1 serving per day of white button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus) can help to regulate blood sugar by influencing the bacteria in your gut. The study they base this claim off is a mouse model study, in which there were 6 groups of mice: conventionally raised wildtype or gut-sensing knockout mice with a control or powdered mushroom supplement diet (equivalent to one serving per day to a human) and gnotobiotic (without a gut microbiota) mice with the same two diets.

The researchers investigated multiple characters of the mice following their diets. These including gut microbe diversity, histopathology, enzyme production, glucose tolerance, metabolite in tissues and fluids, and expression of important genes. Some of the results leading to these finding included increased levels of propionate and succinate in mushroom-fed vs. control mice, as well as reduce glucose and glycogen in the livers of mushroom-fed mice. There were significant changes in some of the glycolysis-related intermediates and enzymes. The bacteria Prevotella became substantially more abundant in the guts of the mushroom-fed mice. Bacteria of this genus are known to produce succinate in the gut.

While the researchers did find some significant differences between the mice of the different diets, it is an early conclusion to say that eating button mushrooms can help with diabetes, as opposed to say insulin. However, it is an interesting avenue to study how mushroom in the diet after the gut microbiome and what impacts this may have on human health.

model of the affect of eating mushrooms on mice

Figure 1. Whole organism effects of diet in conventional and gnotobiotic mice. Red terms are higher or upregulated while blue terms are lower or downregulated.

News source:

Paper source:

Tian Y, Nichols RG, Roy P, Gui W, Smith PB, Zhang J, Lin Y, Weaver V, Cai J, Patterson AD, Cantorna MT. Prebiotic effects of white button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus) feeding on succinate and intestinal gluconeogenesis in C57BL/6 mice. Journal of Functional Foods. 2018 Jun 30;45:223-32.


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