One in every two Australians have at least one prominent chronic condition1. Chronic disease accounted for 9 out of every 10 deaths in Australia in 2016, with cardiovascular disease, dementia, Alzheimer’s and lung cancer being the most common causes2.
Australia has become a society with an increasing aging population and a diverse range of factors that influence our health and wellbeing3. Such factors are attributes, characteristics or exposures that increase the likelihood of a person developing a disease or health disorder3. A number of these are within our control; behavioural factors such as poor diet and nutrition, physical and cognitive inactivity and biomedical factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, stress and glucose intolerance.
A growing number of scientific studies have shown that inflammation is the pre cursor to many chronic diseases4 and diet and lifestyle can have a huge impact on reducing inflammation in the body5
You and I can make a difference…..
A diet rich in polyphenols shown to prevent inflammation, might just be the answer.
A diet such as the Mediterranean Diet.
It was 1972 when the Mediterranean Diet came to light. Ancel Keys conducted the seven country study (US, Finland, Japan, the Netherlands, Italy, Yugoslavia and Greece ) in rural men aged 40-59, from 1958 – 1970 following WWII6,7. Regions in each country were chosen where the traditions of daily living (ie food consumed and the type of physical labour) were the same as they had been for centuries.The results of the study were astonishing! While Finland had the highest rates of heart disease at 171 deaths per 1000, the US 92, Italy 24 and Japan 13, the Greek island of Crete however had the lowest rates of only 3 per 1000.
So what was it about the subjects in Crete? Well it was a known fact that their diet was odd…. 40% of the total calorie intake came from fats. What kinds of fats? Extra Virgin Olive oil (EVOO). Not just any olive oil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO). Many farmers started their day drinking a shot or up to a cup of olive oil. So when we look back at the original research what do we see? We see consumption of foods based on what is in season. A natural rhythmic pattern of eating. A stress free pace of life, full of social gatherings, rest periods, physical activity and spirituality......
What did a 1950’s Cretan man consume?
Well, significant amounts of olive oil, olives, fruits, nuts, complex carbohydrates, legumes and vegetables, specifically wild greens. They consumed moderate amounts of fish, cheese, red wine and small amounts of eggs, meat and milk. A diet high in antioxidants, fiber, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin E/C, phytochemicals and selenium.
So what was in the Cretan diet that not only decreased heart disease but increased longevity with many living until the ripe old age of 100? The fatty acids in the olive oil? The ALA in the wild greens? Maybe the 9-12 servings of the fruits and vegetables per day?
Well it wasn’t until 2005 when Dr Gary Beauchamp whilst attending a meeting on molecular gastronomy in Sicily made a momentous observation. Whilst testing early havest extra virgin olive oil, he felt a sting in the back of his throat. Throat sensations that were remarkedly similar to taking ibuprofen. Something he had experienced whilst conduction observational studies on the sensory properties of ibuprofen8. That was just the beginning…….
Lab analysis revealed that the phenolic compounds in EVOO had similar anti-inflammatory properties to ibuprofen but with fewer side effects. This was the identification of what we now know as OLEOCANTHAL; OLEO=Olive, CANTH=Sting, AL=Aldehyde. A polyphenol only found in EVOO. A cardioprotective, neurprotective anti-inflammatory agent only found in HIGH POLYPHENOL Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Fast forward 12 years and a countless amount of scientific studies and clinical trials have been undertaken to identify the anti-inflammatory properties of OLEOCANTHAL in many chronic diseases; Cardiovascular disease, Hypertension, Alzheimer’s, Cancer, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Diabetes, Ulcerative Colitis, Stroke even Parkinsons9,10,11
So what do we now know about the Mediterranean Diet and Lifestyle?
Consumption of High Polyphenol Extra Virgin Olive Oil can make a difference to our health, an anti-inflammatory difference.
Join us on this journey as we discover the benefits of High Polyphenol Olive Oil and how we can all make a change for a healthier lifestyle together…..
Dr Dora Papamakarios BSc(Hons) PhD
1 Australian Institute of Health & Welfare 2016. Australian Health 2016. Austalian Health no. 15. Cat no. AUS 199. Canberra:AIHW
2Australian Bureau of Statistics 2016. 3303.0 – Causes of death, AUS. 2015 Canberra ABS. Access. 17 March 2017
3World Health Organization. Health Topics: Risk factors [Internet]. Geneva, Switzerland: WHO; 2016 [cited 5 January 2016]. Available from: http://www.who.int/topics/risk_factors/en/
4EMBO Rep. 2012 Nov; 13(11): 968–970
5Br J Nutr. 2015 Oct 14; 114(7): 999–1012.
7 Aravanis C Corcondilas A, Dontas AS, Lekos D, Keys A. Coronary heart disease in seven countries. IX. The Greek islands of Crete and Corfu. Circulation. 1970;41(4 Suppl):I88-100.
8 Beauchamp GK, Keast RS, Morel D, Lin J, Pika J, Han Q, Lee CH, Smith AB, Breslin PA. Phytochemistry: ibuprofen-like activity in extra-virgin olive oil, Nature , 2005, vol. 437 (pg45-46)
9 Moreno-Luna, R AM J Hypertension. 2012 25:1299
10 Covas, MI. Ann Intern Med. 2006, 145:333
11 Stefani M, Rigacci, S. Review: Nutraceutical Properties of Olive Oil Polyphenols. An itinerary from cultured cells through to animal models to humans, International Journal of Molecular Science, 2016, 17,843