In olive oil there is a substance that rejuvenates the brain
A component of extra virgin olive oil, hydroxytyrosol has the ability to "rejuvenate" the brain of the elderly. These are the conclusions of a study by the Institute of Biochemistry and Cell Biology of the National Research Council (Cnr-Ibbc) and of the University of Tuscia.
This process called neurogenesis is indispensable for the formation of episodic memory, as recent research has shown: new hippocampal neurons are generated from stem cells and during aging there is a progressive decline of both, which is at the origin of a drastic reduction of episodic memory. Hydroxytyrosol, a compound naturally present in extra virgin olive oil, has strong antioxidant and protective properties on cells, and it is known that several factors, including diet, are able to stimulate adult neurogenesis. In particular, Italian researchers have shown in an elderly animal model that hydroxytyrosol reverts the neural aging process.
"Oral intake of hydroxytyrosol for one month keeps new neurons produced during this period alive, both in adults and even more in the elderly, in which it also stimulates the proliferation of stem cells, from which neurons are generated", explains Felice Tirone, CNR scientist who led the study. "In addition, hydroxytyrosol, thanks to its antioxidant activity, manages to" cleanse "nerve cells, because it also leads to a reduction in some aging markers such as lipofuscins, which are accumulations of debris in neuronal cells".
"We then verified, thanks to a marker of neuronal activity (c-fos), that the new neurons produced in excess in the elderly are actually inserted in the neuronal circuits, thus indicating that the effect of hydroxytyrosol translates into an increase in hippocampus functionality ", continues Laura Micheli, another Cnr researcher." The dose taken daily during the experiment is equivalent to the doses that a man could take with an enriched diet and / or with supplements. However the intake of hydroxytyrosol - he adds - would have an even greater efficacy if it occurred through the consumption of a functional food such as olive oil ". These results confirm the beneficial effects of the Mediterranean diet, in particular for the elderly, and they open to a potential ecological aspect.
"The highly polluting residues from olive processing contain a large amount of hydroxytyrosol: improving the separation procedures of the good components in the processing would allow to obtain hydroxytyrosol and reduce the harmful impact", concludes Tirone.
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