RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Alzheimer’s disease affects nearly 5 million Americans and has no cure. Now, a new study published in the journal Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology suggests that consumption of extra virgin olive oil may actually help prevent or reverse the disease.
1. What exactly is Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. It is a progressive disease that affects memory, thinking and behavior. Scientists have identified characteristic changes in the brains in patients with Alzheimer’s disease that limit the brain’s ability to function properly.
2. Tell us about this latest study—how did it work?
The study was conducted in mice—the researchers took mice that were genetically modified to develop symptoms and brain changes consistent with Alzheimer’s disease. They then split them into two groups: one group was fed a chow diet with extra-virgin olive oil, and the other group received a regular chow diet. In the olive oil group they found that the mice that had been fed the extra-virgin olive oil diet performed much better in the cognitive tests and the brains of the mice given the olive oil diet did not have the characteristic changes of Alzheimer’s that would be normally expected.
3. What are the best current treatments for Alzheimer’s?
While this study is promising, it was done in mice and not in humans. Currently, there are limited treatments for the disease. No treatment has been found to reverse symptoms or cure the disease. There are some medications that can slow progression and behavioral therapies have been shown to lessen symptoms from time to time. However, much more work needs to be done. A good resource on Alzheimer’s is the Alzheimer’s Association.