The Mediterranean diet, rich in plant-based foods, is associated with numerous health benefits, including a lower incidence of dementia. Recently, the researchers from the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University They have shown that extra virgin olive oil, a major component of the Mediterranean diet, helps protect against cognitive impairment.
- 1 The benefits of olive oil for our brain
- 2 Experiment with mice
- 3 Conclusions
The benefits of olive oil for our brain
In a recent study published in the journal Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology, researchers show how the consumption of extra virgin olive oil protects memory and learning capacity and reduces the formation of beta amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain, classic markers of Alzheimer disease.
Temple's team also identified the mechanisms underlying the protective effects of extra virgin olive oil. They found that olive oil reduces brain inflammation and is able to activate a process known as autophagy. The autophagy It is the process by which cells break down and eliminate wastes and intracellular toxins, such as amyloid plaques and phosphorylated tau.
Experiment with mice
In the experiment conducted by Dr. Praticò and his collaborators, they used several mice suffering from Alzheimer's to examine the effects of a diet rich in extra virgin olive oil. The researchers studied three types of results, all associated with the onset of Alzheimer's: memory impairment, presence of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillar clews.
Mice that were biologically designed to develop Alzheimer's were used and separated into two groups. The olive oil group began to consume this product when they were six months old, before the symptoms of the disease began to appear. At 12 months, both groups of mice were tested designed to assess the working memory, spatial memory and learning ability. The results showed that the olive oil group did significantly better than the other group in all tests.
Apparently, the brain cells of mice fed diets enriched with extra virgin olive oil had higher levels of autophagy and reduced levels of amyloid plaques and phosphorylated tau, according to Dr. Praticò, principal investigator of the study. The last substance, phosphorylated tau, is responsible for neurofibrillar clews, which are suspected to contribute to the dysfunction of nerve cells in the brain that are responsible for the symptoms of memory loss in Alzheimer's.
Previous studies had already suggested that the usual consumption of extra virgin olive oil in the diet brings numerous health benefits. The theory is that consume Extra virgin olive oil is better than taking fruits and vegetables only, and as a monounsaturated vegetable fat it is healthier than saturated animal fats.
Subsequently, brain tissue studies of both groups of mice revealed significant differences in the appearance and function of nerve cells.
"One thing that stood out immediately was synaptic integrity," said Dr. Praticò. "The integrity of the connections between neurons or synapse, were best preserved in animals with the diet of extra virgin olive oil. In addition, comparing both groups of mice, the brain cells of the olive oil group showed a significant increase in the activation of autophagy of the nerve cells, which was ultimately responsible for the reduction in the levels of amyloid plaques and phosphorylated tau "
Thanks to the activation of autophagy, memory and synaptic integrity were better preserved, and the pathological effects in animals destined to develop Alzheimer's disease were significantly reduced.
Logically, this is a very important discovery, since the researchers suspect that a reduction in autophagy marks the beginning of Alzheimer's disease.
Apparently, the difference in diet is the only way to explain the beneficial effects of olive oil, at least in mice. Although with these studies there is always the necessary warning, and what works in mice may not work as well in humans, and the only way we will know for sure is to study the same in humans.
Since the results of this study were so encouraging, it seems likely that a study will be carried out in humans (although some of the factors will be different for obvious reasons, since we cannot know with certainty who will develop the disease or not).
So, this study and many others point to the general health benefits of consuming olive oil in our diet, and that will always be a great success, has already been related to keeping lower cholesterol and blood pressure, as well As a great help in weight loss.
Elisabetta Lauretti, Luigi Iuliano, Domenico Pratic. Extra virgin olive oil improves the cognition and neuropathology of 3xTg mice: role of autophagy. Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology, 2017; DOI: 10.1002 / acn3.431