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How Extra Virgin Olive Oil Can Prevent Alzheimer's Disease

How Extra Virgin Olive Oil Can Prevent Alzheimer's Disease

Olive oil is a key component of the Mediterranean diet. New studies suggests that extra virgin olive oil may help protect the brain from Alzheimer’s disease symptoms.

Alzheimer’s disease affects over five million people in the U.S. the neuro-degenerative disease is progressive and can’t be reversed or cured. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal that the rate of this disease has increased by 55% between 2000 and 2014.

Those with Alzheimer’s have trouble handling money, suffer from memory loss, ask repeat questions, experience personality or mood changes, and take a long time to complete their daily tasks. Scientists are yet to discover the cause of the disease, although some believe it could be a result of lifestyle, environment, and genetic factors.

However, this new study aims at preventing and possibly reversing the effects of this disease by learning the effects of olive on brain health and cognitive performance of mice.

The Mediterranean diet mainly includes whole grains, nuts, vegetables, fruit, and most importantly, olive oil. A new study conducted by researchers from the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University in Philadelphia has discovered why olive oil, at the center of the Mediterranean diet, has multiple health benefits.

According to the lead investigator, Proffessor Pratico, extra virgin olive oil is better than vegetables and fruit alone. Moreover, it’s a mono-saturated vegetable fat which is more beneficial compared to saturated animal fats.

The Study on Effects if Olive Oil in Mice

The team at Temple University used a traditional Alzheimer’s mouse model to find out the effects of olive oil. The mice were modified to have certain characteristics of Alzheimer’s such as neurofibrillary tangles, a buildup of amyloid plaque, and memory impairment.

Amyloid plaque occurs when there is an excess production of beta-amyloid, a protein fragment. Those with Alzheimer’s have this build up between neurons.

Neurofibrillary tangles occur when there are wasted strands of protein known as tau. Tau aids in the transportation of molecules and other nutrients that the brain requires. Those with Alzheimer’s have tau protein tangled up inside the brain cells. This means that the important nutrients no longer reach the brain cells.

The researchers divided the rodents into two groups, where one was fed olive oil and chow and the other one was only given a normal chow diet.

It’s important to note that the oil was added to the diet before symptoms of Alzheimer’s appeared. To evaluate the mice’s cognitive abilities, the professor and his team administered tests for their working memory, learning skills, and spatial memory.

Olive Oil and Brain Cell Health

The results of this study were quite interesting. While there was no change in their physical appearance, there was a noted change in their cognitive ability. The mice that were fed on olive oil performed better in cognitive tests compared to those that were on a regular only-chow diet.

The team also analyzed the brain tissue and discovered a difference in the functioning and appearance of the nerve cells. The mice fed on olive oil had increased autophagy activation of the nerve cells. What’s more, brain cells that facilitate communication were preserved better on the group that was on olive oil. This led to a decrease in amyloid plaque and phosphorylated tau protein.

The autophagy activation preserves synaptic integrity and memory. What’s more, the pathological effects reduced significantly in animals destined to develop Alzheimer’s.

The research team at Temple University aims to introduce olive oil when symptoms of Alzheimer’s have already occurred.

According to Pratico, when someone comes in with symptoms related to dementia, the disease is already present. This research aims to find out whether olive oil used at a later stage could help reverse or stop the disease.

Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S. having affected over five million Americans. While there may be no cure or a way to reverse this degenerative disease, scientists hope to discover the root cause to help them come up with the right type of treatment. For now, all you can do is to ensure that your loved ones eat a healthy, well-balanced diet, participate in regular activity and exercise, and that they are given all the right care and attention they need.

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