When thinking of Olive Oil, most people think of Italian cuisine first since it's one of the staple ingredients there. We are already well aware of its many health benefits. Mediterranean diet is widely recognized and appreciated as healthy and the fact that extra-virgin olive oil is consumed a lot comes as no surprise. The new Study suggests this oil can affect our brain positively and keep us safe from Alzheimer's.

Getting rid of poisons

Our brain can stay healthy thanks to autophagy. It's a cleaning process that olive oil helps activate. Poisons and waste can accumulate in brain cells and be one of the signs of Alzheimer's.

In this process, cells break down poisons and waste between them and remove them from the body. Amyloid Plaques and tau tangles are two substances in the brain linked to Alzheimer's.

What are amyloid and tau?

The presence of the protein called amyloid in our body is normal. However, if it grows out of proportions, it accumulates outside the neurons, creating plaque and killing the cells.

We commonly find tau proteins in the central nervous system. Its fibers can twist and create tangles inside dying neurons. Neurons normally contain long neuron fibers which help the neuron stay in its proper shape and get enough nutrients. In the case of Alzheimer's disease, the fibers tangle, the neuron loses its shape and can't transport nutrients.

Eventually, it dies.

Temple University study

The study included two groups of mice. One group was on a diet rich in extra-virgin olive oil while the other one didn't include it. The result showed that brain cells of mice fed the oil had fewer amyloid plaques and tau tangles and higher levels of autophagy.The study involved mice with the following traits of Alzheimer's: memory loss and the aforementioned tangles and plaque.

Mice were given the oil at six months old, before the onset of the disease. At 9 months and 12 months, their memory and learning ability were tested and the mice from the olive group performed much better. Differences in the brain tissues were spotted as well. A much higher level of autophagy was present in the olive group, which resulted in the lower level of aforementioned poisons.

Connections between neurons, synapses, were much stronger in the olive group.

What's next?

The researchers plan to see what happens when mice are given olive oil at 12 months when signs of dementia start to set in. Patients usually visit a doctor when they already have dementia. Those researchers now want to investigate whether it's possible to stop or reverse the disease by adding olive oil at a later time in the diet.

Whether or not olive oil can really improve our brain function is still not clear, but its many health benefits cannot be denied and it should be used in people's diet as much as possible. Besides, we can't imagine our pizza without it, can we?