In a recent study, Spanish researchers from the University of Seville observed a positive effect of extra virgin olive oil on colitis. Colitis is a condition characterized by inflammation of the large intestine causing many and often painful gastrointestinal symptoms. Ulcerative colitis is a form of colitis that affects the lining of the large intestine and its presence increases the risk of colon cancer. The cause of it is unknown but may be related to the immune system.
For this study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, the researchers tested the effects of extra virgin olive oil as well as extra virgin olive oil polyphenol extracts on laboratory animals induced with colitis that progressed to severe chronic colitis.
The researchers evaluated the Disease activity index (DAI) a series of measurements of symptoms, and also determined inflammation of the intestine by histological and biochemical analysis. The results showed that the EVOO and EVOO+ EVOO polyphenol extracts both had a significant positive effect on several proteins involved in the disease with less histological signs of damage compared to a standard diet. In addition, there was a much higher reduction of iNOS, an enzyme that is expressed during inflammatory reactions with the EVOO enriched with polyphenol extracts.
The researchers concluded that extra virgin olive oil and its polyphenol extracts could improve chronic colitis, but also could be used as a functional food for this disease.