JDC Gems

4. Olive oil to mitigate aging-related diseases

      It is a known fact that our diets play a significant role in almost all the cellular activities such as metabolism, phenotypic expression, process of ageing, prevention and control of a disease etc. In this line, researchers at the University of Minnesota Medical School discovered a potential new way in which the diet influences aging-related diseases.

      Doug Mashek, a professor in the Departments of Medicine and Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics, with his research team discovered that olive oil in Mediterranean diet may be the key to improve the lifespan and mitigate aging-related diseases. Early studies on the diet suggested red wine was a major contributor to the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet because it contains resveratrol that activate certain cellular pathways which helps to increase the lifespan and also to prevent age-related illness. The recent work from Mashek's lab published in Molecular Cell suggests that it is the fat in olive oil, another component of the Mediterranean diet, which is actually activating this pathway.

      According to Mashek, merely consuming olive oil is not enough to evoke all of its health benefits. His team's study proposes that olive oil intake when coupled with fasting, limiting caloric intake and exercising, the effects will be most pronounced. The way this fat works is that first it will get stored in microscopic lipid droplets which is exactly how our cells store fat and then when the fat is broken down during exercising or fasting, it’s potential benefits will be realized. The next steps for their research are to translate it to humans with the goal of discovering new drugs or to further tailor dietary regimens that improve health, both short-term and long-term.

      "We want to understand the biology, and then translate it to humans, hopefully changing the paradigm of healthcare from someone going to eight different doctors to treat his or her eight different disorders," Mashek said. "These are all aging-related diseases, so let's treat aging."

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