A new study has shown that extra virgin olive oil is effective at staving off and possibly preventing the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Philadelphia’s Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University was where the research behind the study was conducted. The Temple University study, published in the open-access, peer-reviewed journal, Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology, suggests that if humans incorporate extra virgin olive oil into their diets, they could also benefit by having the effects of Alzheimer’s disease either slowed down, or possibly being prevented, altogether.
Science Times reported that the researchers were led by Professor Domenico Pratico. The study, involving mice, suggests that if humans incorporate extra virgin olive oil into their diets, it could slow down or even prevent them from getting Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, a diet incorporating extra virgin olive oil was also shown to help boost one’s memory.
News Medical reported that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers Alzheimer’s disease to be the most common type of dementia in America. The has not been found a cure for it, but the Temple University study’s researchers found that in the study they conducted, involving mice that had been genetically modified, the cognitive performance of the mice was boosted when they consumed extra virgin olive oil. The study’s findings also suggested that extra virgin olive oil could even prevent them from getting Alzheimer’s disease.
The genetically modified mice used in the study had all of the three components a person, or animal, has who develops Alzheimer’s disease. The three components are amyloid plaque buildup, memory impairment and neurofibrillary tangles. The mice were divided up into two groups, with one group fed a chow diet containing no extra virgin olive oil, and the other group fed a chow diet that contained the olive oil.
Pratico, the study’s lead researcher, stated that the extra virgin olive oil helped to preserve synaptic integrity and the memory of the mice through “autophagy activation.” He also mentioned that the “pathological effects” in the mice, who had been genetically altered to have the three components of Alzheimer’s disease in them, “were significantly reduced.”
After several months, the physical appearance of both groups of mice had not changed. The mice fed a diet rich in extra virgin olive oil performed better on cognitive tests when they reached the ages of 9 months and 12 months than did the other group of mice, fed a diet of regular chow. According to Blasting News, the cognitive tests the mice in the study were subjected to at the ages of 9 months and 12 months were ones involving working memory, spatial memory and learning ability.
According to USA Today, the Temple University study also showed that in mice, a diet incorporating extra virgin olive oil can successfully lessen the “conditions associated with Alzheimer’s disease.” After the experiment, when the brains of both groups of mice were analyzed, the neuron connections in the brains of the mice fed chow incorporating extra virgin olive oil “were better preserved,” than those in the other group of mice.
The extra virgin olive oil reduced the swelling in the brains of the mice, one of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, and it activated the autophagy process in their brains. The autophagy process removes toxins and intracellular debris from brains.
The presence of both are considered to be “firm markers” a person has Alzheimer’s disease. It is widely thought that a reduction in the autophagy process is a sign that a person has Alzheimer’s disease.
Cases of Alzheimer’s disease are on the increase. Four years ago, in 2013, their were five million people in the United States who were reported to have Alzheimer’s disease. By 2050, that number is predicted to almost triple, and rise to 14 million people. There are approximately 44 million people around the world who have Alzheimer’s disease or some other type of dementia.
The results of the Temple University study on Alzheimer’s disease and how a diet incorporating extra virgin olive oil can help stave off getting Alzheimer’s disease, or help prevent it entirely, are promising, though the study was conducted with mice, not humans. Next up for the Temple University researchers is to conduct further experiments and studies to attempt to determine if the performance of mice at cognitive tests can be improved when extra virgin olive oil is added to their diets later on in their lives.
By John Samuels