EVOO may help prevent Alzheimer’s!
Whoa! What? What is EVOO? Extra Virgin Olive Oil!
Now, this may sound weird, but this might be one of the most useful Alzheimer’s research outcomes to date! Why? It has shown remarkable success in an animal study. This also mirrors success in decades of human studies into the incidence of Alzheimer’s.
It is so easy, available, and practical that even an imperfect effort yields a positive result. And hey – delicious and affordable, who can argue with that?
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We know from recent data on the MIND Diet. As well as decades of results with the Mediterranean Diet. What we eat matters a LOT to our brain health and the delay or prevention of dementia.
The Alzheimer’s Association
At the most recent international Alzheimer’s Association meeting in Toronto, Canada, scientists stated that there are no hopeful cures or interventions in the next to five to ten years. There has not been a new medication for the disease in the past 10 years. But new re-combinations and patches have been introduced. These interventions can, in some cases, help manage symptoms for up to three years, but none have any effect on the actual progression of the disease.
The Good News:
Due to the dearth of positive news on the treatment front, a lot more attention and research have been focused on prevention and early detection. Enter the EVOO study from Temple University in Philadelphia, PA.
Researchers used mice who had been “genetically modified to have the three main characteristics of Alzheimer’s disease. Memory impairment, the buildup of amyloid plaques, and neurofibrillary tangles.” The plaques clog the spaces between the brain cells and prevent communication cell to cell. The tangles build up inside the neurons and cause cell death by interfering with the transport of nutrients. Memory impairment is the result of these two killer processes.
Two groups were fed a mouse chow diet, one with EVOO, and the other without the oil. The mice were then tested for spatial memory, working memory, and learning skills. (IQ tests for mice! Who knew?)
“A striking difference in the appearance and functioning of the nerve cells.” This was observed in the mice with the added oil. This demonstrated as “better integrity of the synapses, and a dramatic increase” in the capacity of the nerve cells. This helps to eliminate the toxic debris between cells.
Finally, the clearing out of the toxic accumulation showed a decrease in the plaques and tangles. The two ruinous saboteurs of brain cells in Alzheimer’s Disease – incredible! This is something that scientists have been trying to accomplish since the earliest understandings of and lab research into Alzheimer’s. Also, one of the most exciting things about this finding is that the success is possible without any of the disappointing or dangerous side effects. That scientists have experienced in the lab and in human trials, using experimental synthetic substances to accomplish the same end.
This work by Temple University scientists suggested the preventive nature of EVOO. It was used early in the life cycle of the mice. They will be looking deeper into the possibility of positive outcomes with more advanced brain disruption as we see in people with the actual diagnoses of Alzheimer’s or dementia. The goal would be to stop or reverse the damage. But that is tomorrow’s goal. (Remember, the damage begins 10-20 years before symptoms appear.)
Today, if you are reading this, your goal is prevention! So back to the facts. The two diets mentioned: MIND and Mediterranean, are both simple and do-able. Research has demonstrated that all efforts matter. Highly compliant eaters had the lowest incidence of Alzheimer’s and dementia. But even those who made some effort with these diets had a lower incidence that those who made no effort. The Standard American Diet is called the SAD Diet and, for good reason!
There are many ways to enjoy this delicious elixir. You can cook with it, dress salads with it, drizzle it on bread, etc. And if you have priced EVOO and realize that it is definitely more expensive than the other oils on the shelf, consider it an investment in what you value most in your life. Because you will only continue to enjoy it if you maintain your brain.
Bonus fact: The long-lived Sardinians, one of the much studied “Blue Zone” Mediterranean groups who live long as well as live well into those late years, sip. Like a fine wine. A jigger of EVOO every day. I’m not recommending it, but just sayin’ . . . they’re onto something!