Researchers also found the mechanism that brings the protection offered by olive oil. “We’ve found that that olive oil reduces inflammation in the brain and more importantly it activates ‘autophagy’ a process in which the brain destroys unnecessary cells and toxic deposits such as amyloids.”
Earlier studies found that the high consumption of olive oil was one of the contributing factors to the benefits attributed to a Mediterranean diet. To check if there’s a correlation between olive oil consumption and lower risk of dementia researchers used mice with a genetic disposition to develop Alzheimer’s. From the age of 6 months before showing any signs of reduced cognitive function the researchers divided the mice into 2 groups.
One group continued a regular diet and the other group received a diet high in olive oil. At 9 months age and 12 months the mice were tested for cognitive ability and the mice which had the olive oil in their diet always scored far higher. In addition, tissue test of their brains showed dramatic differences. The cells and synapses of the mice that had the olive oil were in far better shape than those who didn’t have it. Likewise, amyloid deposits were far smaller in those mice which consumed olive oil which demonstrated effective autophagy taking place in their brains.
The researchers say: “This is a very dramatic finding because we’re talking about an animal with a genetic disposition to Alzheimer’s that was stopped in its tracks-probably because Alzheimer’s is cause by poor autophagy and waste cell disposal.”
The researcher’s next step is to mix olive oil into the diets of 12 month old mice which already display signs of cognitive damage. “When a person comes to the doctor because of dementia symptoms the disease is already there. We want to see if olive oil consumption will halt the progress of the ailment or perhaps even reverse it”, say the researchers.
We believe the results will be positive as the Talmud says: “Rabbi Yochanan says just as the olive helps a person forget his learning of 70 years, olive oil and retrieve learning of 70 years.” (Horiot 13b)