Olive Oil and the battle against Alzheimer’s disease

By Terriann

Olive Oil may one day prove to be crucial in the battle against Alzheimer’s disease!

Alzheimer’s disease, a form of dementia, is a degenerative brain disease that not only makes us forget basic information including our identity and the names of our friends and family, but it is also fatal. Alzheimer’s disease currently affects approximately 5.3 million people in the United States and is the 7th leading cause of death in this country. Unfortunately, there is presently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease and no way to predict how quickly the disease will progress. Alzheimer’s destroys brain cells, leading to memory loss and to altered behavior and thoughts, affecting social interactions and daily activities. However, even with such a dismal outlook, there is a universal endeavor to find improved treatments to deter the rise of this horrible illness.

In a recent study published in the medical journal Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, Dr Jason Pitt and colleagues from the Northwestern University, the University of Pennsylvania, Western Illinois University and Rutgers University in the US and the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro in Brazil explored the chemical called oleocanthal which protects brain cells and is derived from olive oil. This study explored the effects of oleocanthal on substances thought to be involved in the disease.

Oleocanthal has been shown in past studies to act as a natural anti-inflammatory that works like ibuprofen, and could be extracted along with other related molecules in the development of future drugs used to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease.

Research found that exposing nerve cells to oleocanthal better protected them from the effects of toxins that injure or obliterate nerve cells.

“One in 10 people over 65 [years old] has Alzheimer’s disease,” said neurologist and nanotechnologist William Klein, a Northwestern University professor of neurobiology and physiology.

He is also a researcher at the university’s Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center. Alzheimer’s disease “is a tragedy for the families who are involved, and it’s an extraordinary cost,” said Klein. “It is the third most costly disease, with an annual cost to the U.S. economy of over $150 billion. Families spend an average of $42,000 per year” for the treatment and care for someone coping with this illness.

Researchers at Columbia University in New York have also uncovered a connection between certain foods eaten daily and a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s. Yian Gu, a specialist in Alzheimer’s research, led a team of scientists who discovered that a diet full of Mediterranean foods such as olive oil, nuts, poultry and fish show remarkable results in protecting against this degenerative disease. Preventative measures are all the more crucial since no cure has been found yet. Gu commented on the research, saying, “Diet is probably the easiest way to modify disease risk.” Since over 26 million people globally are afflicted by the disease, making some simple dietary changes could make a vast difference to the frequency of this incapacitating condition.

It is still unclear what the direct implications of these findings are to prevent Alzheimer’s but it is certainly a step in the right direction. Adding olive oil, along with other heart-healthy foods, to your diet is a simple matter but one that could save you and your family the heartache that this devastating disease can cause.

I hope you enjoyed this article and as always STAY HEALTHY!