Eating Agaricus bisporus mushrooms may impact gut health, because they contain known prebiotics. This study assessed mushroom consumption compared to meat on gastrointestinal tolerance, short chain fatty acid (SCFA) production, laxation, and fecal microbiota. A randomized open-label crossover study was conducted in healthy adults (n = 32) consuming protein-matched amounts of mushrooms or meat twice daily for ten days. Breath hydrogen measures were taken on day one, and gastrointestinal tolerance was evaluated throughout treatments. Fecal sample collection was completed days 6⁻10, and samples were assessed for bacterial composition, SCFA concentrations, weight, pH, and consistency. There were no differences in breath hydrogen, stool frequency, consistency, fecal pH, or SCFA concentrations between the two diets. The mushroom diet led to greater overall gastrointestinal symptoms than the meat diet on days one and two. The mushroom-rich diet resulted in higher average stool weight (p = 0.002) and a different fecal microbiota composition compared to the meat diet, with greater abundance of Bacteroidetes (p = 0.0002) and lower abundance of Firmicutes (p = 0.0009). The increase in stool weight and presence of undigested mushrooms in stool suggests that mushroom consumption may impact laxation in healthy adults. Additional research is needed to interpret the health implications of fecal microbiota shifts with mushroom feeding.
Keywords: fiber; gut health; laxation; microbiota; mushrooms; prebiotic.