Extra virgin olive oil is not just a condiment, it is a food and a real medicine. In fact, as shown by a recent review published in the journal Nutrients (Vrdoljak et al, Nutrients, 2022), the polyphenols of extra virgin olive oil reduce inflammation, even those localized in the gut, helping to counteract the symptoms of colitis, ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.
Stress, poor diet and intestinal inflammation
Stress, poor eating habits and alteration of the intestinal microbiota, these are some factors that pave the way for inflammation of the intestinal tract, which can range from colitis to more severe and chronic forms such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. These conditions are constantly growing, affecting an ever greater number of people that are more and more young. For this reason, science is paying great attention to understanding the causes of these ailments and possible treatments. Certainly the most used remedies are medicines and in some more serious cases even surgery. However, the diet can become a precious ally to counteract inflammation of the intestinal tract. In particular, the review we are talking about today dealt with analyzing the beneficial role of extra virgin olive oil.
Extra virgin olive oil, a true superfood
Extra virgin olive oil is a concentrate of monounsaturated fatty acids, tocopherol and polyphenols, including hydroxytyrosol, tyrosol, caffeic, vanillic and oleuropein acids. Thanks to these characteristics, extra virgin olive oil shows powerful antioxidant, neuroprotective, cardioprotective, antitumor, antidiabetic and anti-inflammatory properties.
How extra virgin olive oil protects the colon
Now let's see the beneficial role of extra virgin olive oil in intestinal inflammation. Well, studies have shown that some polyphenols present in extra virgin olive oil have poor absorbability and, therefore, reach the colon unaltered, where they can be metabolized by the intestinal microbiota and exert their beneficial and anti-inflammatory action. Extra virgin olive oil has been shown to reduce the pro-inflammatory substances produced in the intestine and to attenuate the hyper immune response present in the case of inflammatory diseases. The intake of extra virgin olive oil has been shown to alleviate the symptoms of colitis, improving intestinal morphology and reducing weight loss, which often accompanies this condition. But extra virgin olive oil has been shown to be beneficial even in the case of more severe pathologies, such as ulcerative colitis. Its intake, about 50 ml per day for 20 days, has contributed, in fact, to reduce symptoms such as bloating and constipation. Not only that, extra virgin olive oil has also made it possible to improve the intestinal immune system and support the microbiota, stimulating the proliferation of good bacteria.
Extra virgin olive oil is the backbone of the Mediterranean diet, which is appreciated for its important anti-inflammatory action. And so, to take care of our gut and counteract chronic inflammation, which worsens the quality of life as well as increase, in the long term, the risk of degeneration, obesity, weak immune system and cardiovascular disease, we can resort to a varied and healthy diet. This type of diet should include, according to the dictates of the Mediterranean diet, a high intake of fruit, vegetables, dried fruit, whole grains, fish and, of course, extra virgin olive oil.