It is always comforting to find another tool in the arsenal to protect ourselves against devastating diseases like Alzheimer’s, isn’t it?
And it’s even better when that brain protection tool doesn’t involve risky drugs or expensive supplements. In fact, according to this new research, you don’t need to look any further than your kitchen cupboard.
According to a new study, extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) appears to help the brain in a few ways. First, it protects memory and learning ability. But even more impressive is the fact that it appears to reduce the formation of “tangles” (twisted fibers of tau protein) and beta amyloid plaque in the brain.
Why is that important? Because both of those are classic hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. They may not be the cause, as I’ve said before, but they’re certainly one of the ways we identify Alzheimer’s disease. Tangles form within dying nerve cells and can disintegrate the transport of nutrients and essential supplies through the brain. Plaques build up between nerve cells and can block cell-to-cell signaling at synapses.
Of course, while this research is exciting, but it’s also not all that surprising. We already know that the Mediterranean diet is very good for brain health. In fact, research has shown the Mediterranean diet can actually reverse brain aging and help ward off the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
And olive oil is a staple of the Mediterranean diet.
That’s one of the many reasons I’ve built my diets—first the Hamptons Diet and now, the A-List Diet—with the Mediterranean diet as the core. But I’ve taken the traditional Mediterranean diet a few steps further by including targeted amino acids for your individual needs. Plus, I’ve swapped olive oil for macadamia nut oil, which has everything olive oil has, but in higher quantities.
In the study, researchers tested the effects of EVOO on mice that were bred specifically to develop the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. And after 9 months and 12 months, the mice that were consuming more EVOO did better on tests that measured working memory, special memory, and learning ability.
The integrity of the brain was preserved better in the EVOO-fed mice too.
So, do these benefits translate if you’re not a mouse? I can’t say for sure, but there’s certainly no harm in upping your intake of healthier fats and oils. Nuts, seeds, avocado, macadamia nuts and of course, olives and their oils are an amazing part of a brain-healthy diet.
On the other hand, the standard Western diet — with its reliance on sugar, carbs, and processed foods — is the enemy of a healthy brain. In fact, some research suggests it’s a driving force behind any number of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s.
In addition to a healthy diet — lots of fresh veggies, high-quality protein, and plenty of good fats and low sugar — there are a few other proven, drug-free ways to keep your brain healthy as you age.
Research shows that regular, consistent exercise improves cognition. It also improves the anxiety and depression many Alzheimer’s sufferers’ experience.
Gut health is also linked to brain health. So be sure to support the bacteria in your digestive system through diet and a good probiotic supplement.
Lastly, protect yourself from environmental toxins like heavy metals and pesticides, which have been linked to Alzheimer’s. I also recommend quarterly detoxes to rid your body of the toxins you can’t avoid.