Extra Virgin Olive Oil Can boost your immune system

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Extra Virgin Olive Oil Can boost your immune system

Olive Oil Immune System
Olive Oil Immune System

Studies show the positive effects of Extra Virgin Olive Oil on your immune response

Over the last year, the role of our immune system has been front of mind for most people but did you know that Extra Virgin Olive Oil is one of the best foods for boosting your body’s immune response?

Extra Virgin Olive Oil has high amounts of vitamins including vitamin E and K, and – crucially – is packed full of antioxidants to protect the body from oxygen-free radicals and help you fight off infection.  It does this in two main ways:

  1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil has anti-inflammatory properties

Due to the high levels of oleocanthal that are contained in Extra Virgin Olive Oil, it has been shown to perform similarly to anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen. Studies have shown that just four teaspoons of olive oil daily could help your body to combat conditions like arthritis, autoimmune diseases and even allergies. But, while Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Ibrufen have the same effect on treating inflammation, they have different effects on the body.

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil can aid disease prevention

Another component of Extra Virgin Olive Oil that is known to have hugely beneficial properties is oleic acid which has shown the ability to destroy certain breast cancer genes. In one recent study, researchers found that oleic acid can weaken a cancer gene found in 25 to 30 percent of all breast cancers.  It can also help you to manage diabetes and many cardiac conditions. Researchers have found that a Mediterranean diet with either extra virgin olive oil or mixed nuts can significantly reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease.

Recent global health events have led many of us to delve deeper into the science behind protecting our bodies from infection and there is an abundance of research to help us find the answers.  And, with people spending more time than ever preparing meals for the whole family at home, we want to understand how our dietary choices can affect our overall health.

And, in the case of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, it really is worth your time and research.

Consuming plenty of nutrients as part of a varied and balance diet is essential for the health and function of all cells, including immune cells. 

Polyphenols In Olive Oil
Polyphenols In Olive Oil

Infections or infectious diseases are caused by viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi and various other disease-causing agents. Once an infection is contracted, the human body relies on the immune system to fight the infection through a range of cellular, inflammatory, and immune reactions. Although there are medications to treat infection, naturally derived food sources such as EVOO also show promise in preventing and treating infection also.

Early in vitro studies showed that several polyphenols in EVOO have antibacterial properties against human pathogens, particularly oleuropein, tyrosol, and hydroxytyrosol. In a 5 minute room temperature test, hydroxytyrosol, and tyrosol decreased the activity of Listeria monocytogenes, the bacteria contracted from contaminated food that causes the bacterial infection known as Listeriosis.

Decarboxymethyl elenolic acid (EDA), p‑HPEA-EDA, and 3,4‑DHPEA-EDA have been shown to have greater antimicrobial activity than the commercial disinfectants glutaraldehyde and ortho-phthalaldehyde. The phenolic compound oleocanthal has been shown to inhibit the growth of Helicobacter pylori bacteria, a bacteria associated with peptic ulcer and gastric cancer development.

Hydroxytyrosol and oleuropein have been shown to have antiviral activity in a dose-dependent manner. They were shown to inhibit the main viral fusing protein in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1 target cells. Hydroxytyrosol has been shown to disrupt the influenza virus. Oleuropein has been shown to have anti-hepatitis B activity.

In recent times, researchers have begun to understand the role of intestinal microorganisms (gut microbes) in the overall health of the immune system. Therefore, protection against the growth of certain microorganisms can help in the treatment of some infectious diseases.

A study, published in Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 2016, established that changes in gut microbes in subjects with metabolic syndrome had immune enhancing effects. The authors concluding that “the consumption of a Mediterranean diet increased the abundance of the Bacteroides genus member B. thetaiotaomicron and F. prausnitzii, which suggest that the consumption of this diet may increase or maintain a microbiota with anti-inflammatory capability.”

With all this science to get to grips with, it’s worth remembering that sticking to just a few basic guidelines can help you fight off disease and infection.

8 Steps to Help Support a Healthy Immune System

  1. Eat a balanced diet with whole fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and plenty of water. A Mediterranean Diet is one option that includes these types of foods.
  2. If a balanced diet is not readily accessible, taking a multivitamin containing the RDA for several nutrients may be used.
  3. Don’t smoke (or stop smoking if you do).
  4. Drink alcohol in moderation.
  5. Perform moderate regular exercise.
  6. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep nightly. Try to keep a sleep schedule, waking up and going to bed around the same time each day. Our body clock, or circadian rhythm, regulates feelings of sleepiness and wakefulness, so having a consistent sleep schedule maintains a balanced circadian rhythm so that we can enter deeper, more restful sleep.
  7. Aim to manage stress. This is easier said than done, but try to find some healthy strategies that work well for you and your lifestyle—whether that be exercise, meditation, a particular hobby, or talking to a trusted friend. Another tip is to practice regular, conscious breathing throughout the day and when feelings of stress arise. It doesn’t have to be long—even a few breaths can help. If you’d like some guidance, try this short mindful breathing exercise.
  8. Wash hands throughout the day: when coming in from outdoors, before and after preparing and eating food, after using the toilet, after coughing or blowing your nose.

Source: Extract from Harvard School of Public Health: Nutrition and Immunity