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Olive Oil Can Help Preserve Memory And Prevent Alzheimer's

Olive oil, a key ingredient of the Mediterranean diet and a healthier medium of cooking than regular oil can also preserve memory and prevent Alzheimer's disease, new study says.

Olive Oil Can Help Preserve Memory And Prevent Alzheimer's

Extra virgin olive oil prevents brain plaque and preserves memory.

HIGHLIGHTS

  1. Extra Virgin olive oil is a key ingredient of mediterranean diet
  2. Olive oil can protect your memory and your ability to learn new things
  3. Olive oil reduces brain inflammation and activates the autophagy process
Alzheimer's disease (AD), is a chronic neuron-degenerative disease that usually starts slow and worsens over time. It is the cause of 60% to 70% of cases of dementia.The most common early symptom of Alzheimer's is difficulty in remembering recent events (short-term memory loss). As the disease advances, symptoms can include problems with language, disorientation (including easily getting lost), mood swings, loss of motivation, not managing self care, and behavioral issues. According to Alzheimer's Disease International, nearly 44 million people have Alzheimer's or a related dementia worldwide but only 1 in 4 people with Alzheimer's disease have been diagnosed.

This neurodegenerative disease is progressive and cannot yet be cured or reversed. But new research has moved us closer to a preventive measure and a potential reversing strategy. This has happened by studying the effects of extra-virgin olive oil on the cognitive performance and brain health of mice.

Extra-virgin olive oil preserves memory and protects the brain against dementia, according to the new research published in the journal Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology. The oil is a key ingredient of the Mediterranean diet, which is popular for a variety of health benefits, including a lower dementia risk. Adding extra-virgin olive oil is better than eating fruits and vegetables alone, and as a monounsaturated vegetable fat it is healthier than saturated animal fats.

In order to understand the association of dementia and olive oil, the new study, carried out by a team of researchers from Temple University in Pennsylvania, considered what in the diet protects the brain from Alzheimer's and how the key ingredient works to prevent cognitive decline and preserve memories.


Lead researcher Professor Domenico Pratico, said: "We found that olive oil reduces brain inflammation but most importantly activates a process known as autophagy." Autophagy is the process by which cells break down and clear out unwanted debris left in the body, it's a way by which our body cleans itself.

For the study, the researchers took a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease known as the a triple transgenic model. These mice develop three key characteristics of the disease;

  • memory impairment
  • amyloid plagues
  • neurofibrillary tangles

They added olive oil to the first group's diets when the mice were six months old, before they had Alzheimer's. There was no difference in overall appearance between the groups, at age 9 months and 12 months, mice on the olive oil-enriched diet performed significantly better on tests that evaluated working memory, spatial memory and learning abilities, researchers said.

When the team studied the brain tissue from both groups of mice, they noticed "dramatic" differences in nerve cell appearance and function. As compared to the mice that didn't consume the oil, the brain cells of rodents in the oil group showed a dramatic increase in nerve cell autophagy activation.

Mice with induced Alzheimer's who were fed a diet of olive oil had higher levels of autophagy in the brain, according to researchers.

Professor Pratico said: 'Brain cells from mice fed diets enriched with extra-virgin olive oil had higher levels of autophagy and reduced levels of amyloid plaques and phosphorylated tau.'

Studies of brain tissue from both groups of mice revealed dramatic differences in nerve cell appearance and function.

One thing that stood out immediately was synaptic integrity. The integrity of the connections between neurons, known as synapses, were preserved in animals on the extra-virgin olive oil diet.

"This is an exciting finding for us," explained Dr. Pratico. "Thanks to the autophagy activation, memory and synaptic integrity were preserved, and the pathological effects in animals otherwise destined to develop Alzheimer's disease were significantly reduced. This is a very important discovery, since we suspect that a reduction in autophagy marks the beginning of Alzheimer's disease."

Dr. Pratico and colleagues plan next to investigate the effects of introducing extra-virgin olive oil into the diet of the same mice at 12 months of age, when they have already developed plaques and tangles. "Usually when a patient sees a doctor for suspected symptoms of dementia, the disease is already present," He added. "We want to know whether olive oil added at a later time point in the diet can stop or reverse the disease."



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