Cooking with Olives | Nutritional Therapy & Neuronutrition

Olives are great for your gut microbiome. In fact, olives have even been argued to be one of the healthiest foods that you can eat. The health benefits of olives go back to Mediterranean diets that are rich in antioxidants and other anti-inflammatory processes. The largest population of microorganisms on the human body resides in the gastrointestinal tract, known as the gut microbiota, this complex ecosystem is comprised of microorganisms including bacteria, fungi, and archaea from over 60 genera (Falony et al., 2016). Understanding ways that we can regulate the co-occurring systems of both the gut and the brain will aid in helping regulate our emotional responses and prevent neurobiological psychiatric disorders.

Acute and chronic states of stress modify ANS system efferents, which alter gut motility, secretion, and immune function (Aggarwal et al., 1994). What this point to are psychiatric disorders being a consequence of immunoregulation.

Implementing Neuro-Nutrition Into Your Diet:

As science progresses in understanding the hereditary and neurobiological development of mental health issues, more research is pointing towards the connected nature of our neurobiology increasing our susceptibility to disease. Neuronutrition is not a complete cure for psychiatric illnesses, however, can help with preventative measures before a crisis emerges.

Fortunately, healthy neuro-nutrition can help improve your brain’s neuroplasticity (its ability to change) as well as neurogenesis (its ability to create new neurons).

According to The PTSD Association,

Healthy neuro-nutrition also helps to balance inflammation, which some researchers have linked to depression. “The brain is such an active organ, there is glucose flowing, a lot of oxygen flowing, it’s a tissue that is hard working. Like any tissue in the body, the brain can be potentially inflamed,” says Powell. “It’s not that you don’t want any inflammation, that’s how your body defends itself from things such as viruses, but you want to balance the inflammation. Western diets lean towards foods that are pro-inflammatory.”

The Health Benefits of Olives:

What’s New and Beneficial About Olives

  • While there are trade-offs that occur during olive ripening and olive curing—for example, decreased oleuropein with advanced stages of ripening yet increased amounts of anthocyanins—it’s impossible to rule out any single type of olive as being unworthy of consideration as a uniquely health-supportive food, particularly in terms of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.
  • Hydroxytyrosol, an olive phytonutrient that has long been linked to cancer prevention, is now regarded as having the potential to help us prevent bone loss as well. Several recent laboratory animal studies have found increased depositing of calcium in bone and decreased the loss of total bone mass following the consumption of this olive phytonutrient (as well as oleuropein, another key phytonutrient found in olives). These findings are fascinating, since consumption of a Mediterranean Diet has long been associated with decreased risk of osteoporosis, and olives often find themselves on center stage in Mediterranean Diet studies.
  • In traditional herbal medicine practices, preparations from olives and olive leaves have often been used in the treatment of inflammatory problems, including allergy-related inflammation. New research may help explain how olives work to provide us with anti-inflammatory benefits, especially during circumstances involving allergy. Olive extracts have now been shown to function as anti-histamines at a cellular level. By blocking special histamine receptors (called H1 receptors), unique components in olive extracts may help to lessen a cell’s histamine response. Because histamine is a molecule that can get overproduced in allergy-related conditions and can be a key player in the inflammatory process, it’s likely that the anti-inflammatory benefits we get from olives involve this anti-histamine pathway. It’s also possible that olives may have a special role to play as part of an overall anti-allergenic diet.

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