Mushrooms are mysterious creatures. Neither plant nor animal, these fungal organisms have served various functions in maintaining the balance of the ecosystem. We may be familiar with the use of mushrooms in cooking as well as in herbal medicine.
But today, with rapid advancements in the field of mycology, new technologies are being developed to harvest the full potential of mushrooms, and how they can further benefit human life. Here are three new fungi tech tidbits that you might be interested to learn about:
Pretty soon, we may be seeing our mobile devices powered more efficiently by batteries derived from mushroom additives. Scientists at the University of California Riverside have developed battery anodes using mushrooms as replacement for synthetic graphite. In the lithium ion battery industry, graphite is widely used to improve conductivity, but to produce it involves additional costs as well as excessive energy in the manufacturing process. The porosity of the mushrooms and their potassium salt content also helps to increase electrical conduction and even improve battery life. Using natural materials for battery production can very well reduce eco-waste and save on energy, too.
MUSHROOMS HELPING TO GROW BRAIN CELLS
In early 2014, the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms published a Malaysia-based study on the potential of fungi in growing brain cells. They found that an extract from the Lion’s Mane mushroom variety can induce nerve cells in the brain to produce a hormone called the Nerve Growth Factor (NGF). The NGF then allows cells to regenerate and create new connections across the nervous system. Such findings are still being validated as to their impact on treating disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.
MUSHROOM SWEETENER AS HEALTHY SUGAR SUBSTITUTE
MycoTechnology, a startup from Denver, Colorado, has found a healthier way to make coffee and tea sweeter – without the use of sugar. Plus, their mushroom processing factory and farms are proud to be organic and GMO free. According to this group, mushrooms have the ability to decompose unwanted compounds from soil, thereby making plants like crops grow healthier. At the same time, this decomposing ability of mushrooms can remove the bitter or unpalatable taste compounds in food like coffee. They are still working on their mushroom-based sweetener that can very well be the next big thing in healthier and more natural sugar substitutes.
As you can see, there is more to the mushroom than meets the eye. Thanks to science and tech, going natural with the help of these fungi can truly improve our quality of life.