Health

Role of Olive Oil in the Hallmarks of Aging

Feb. 1, 2016
By Sukhsatej Batra

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In their search to find the cause of aging and pos­si­ble ways to decrease, stop or even reverse aging, sci­en­tists have iden­ti­fied nine “hall­marks” that con­tribute to the normal aging process.

These processes include genetic insta­bil­ity, telom­ere attri­tion, epi­ge­netic alter­ation, loss of pro­teosta­sis, dereg­u­lated nutri­ent sens­ing, mito­chon­dr­ial dys­func­tion, cel­lu­lar senes­cence, stem cell exhaus­tion and altered intra­cel­lu­lar com­mu­ni­ca­tion.
See more: Olive Oil Health Benefits
The aging process encom­passes sev­eral changes that occur at the cel­lu­lar and mol­e­c­u­lar levels that bring about a pro­gres­sive decline in phys­i­o­log­i­cal func­tions.

Of the sev­eral approaches taken to deter the aging process, the role of diet has been exten­sively inves­ti­gated. It is no wonder that the EVOO-rich Mediterranean diet, which has been asso­ci­ated with increased longevity as well as to low­ered risk to dis­eases such as cancer, heart, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s is of spe­cial inter­est.

A review arti­cle, pub­lished on January 29, 2016 in the jour­nal Molecules, looks specif­i­cally at the role of monoun­sat­u­rated fatty acids and polyphe­nols in EVOO on the aging process at the cel­lu­lar and mol­e­c­u­lar levels.

According to the paper, EVOO com­po­nents may have a direct effect on human cells due to their antiox­i­dant prop­er­ties or indi­rectly, by their abil­ity to mod­u­late gene expres­sion.

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Oxidative damage to the DNA can be brought on by exter­nal phys­i­cal, chem­i­cal, and bio­log­i­cal agents, or by inter­nal processes, such as DNA repli­ca­tion errors, that can cause genetic insta­bil­ity. In an animal study, the level of DNA damage in the group fed with virgin olive oil (VOO) was one-half of the damage in the sun­flower oil-fed group.

Olive oil phenol extracts may be effec­tive in pre­vent­ing DNA damage caused by hydro­gen per­ox­ide in human cells, accord­ing to some stud­ies. This could be due to the metal ion chelat­ing and free rad­i­cal-scav­eng­ing prop­er­ties of olive oil phenol extract. However, other stud­ies pro­pose that VOO phe­nols could pro­tect APEX1, a DNA repair gene.

The length of telom­eres, which are nucle­o­pro­tein struc­tures that pro­tect ends of chro­mo­somes, short­ens during the normal aging process. A short telom­ere is asso­ci­ated with decreased life expectancy and increased sus­cep­ti­bil­ity to age-related chronic dis­eases.

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Although largely influ­enced by genetic fac­tors, envi­ron­men­tal and lifestyle fac­tors such as diet, cig­a­rette smok­ing, and age also influ­ence telom­eres. While a pos­i­tive rela­tion­ship between leuko­cyte telom­ere length and adher­ence to the Mediterranean diet was reported in one study, the effect was not observed across all pop­u­la­tion groups as it was found to be effec­tive in whites but not in Hispanics and African Americans.

Age-related dis­eases like Alzheimer’s dis­eases and Parkinson’s dis­ease are caused when pro­tein home­osta­sis or pro­teosta­sis is dis­turbed, result­ing in unfold­ing, mis­fold­ing or aggre­ga­tion of pro­teins. In vitro stud­ies show that EVOO phe­nols may reg­u­late pro­tein home­osta­sis and could be used to pre­vent or treat these dis­eases.

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EVOO phe­nols can also cause epi­ge­netic changes, reg­u­late nutri­ent sens­ing alter­ations and stem cell func­tion asso­ci­ated with aging. Additionally, olive oil phe­nols have anti-inflam­ma­tory prop­er­ties that may be ben­e­fi­cial in pre­vent­ing dis­eases such as ath­er­o­scle­ro­sis.

Based on a review of the lit­er­a­ture, the authors of the paper con­cluded that olive oil has a ben­e­fi­cial effect on all the hall­marks of aging at the cel­lu­lar and mol­e­c­u­lar levels and sug­gest fur­ther research in this area.