Extra Virgin Olive Oil VS Covid-19


"Can extra virgin olive oil help fight Covid-19?" Lisa Radinovsky asked in an article on  greekliquidgold.com last July. Although no food has yet been proven to protect us from the coronavirus, however…

    Many studies have shown from time to time, that our everyday diet is one of the key factors in shaping our overall state of health. During this pandemic, statistics keep record of the highest rate of complications (or even mortality) due to pre-existing chronic health conditions. Diabetes, cardiovascular problems, high blood pressure, obesity, etc. are associated with a two-fold increase in mortality and potential disease severity. Science has also documented and proven that the adoption of an unhealthy diet and lifestyle is associated with low-grade inflammation and increased oxidative stress, which could lead to the development of the diseases mentioned above. Certainly, there is considerable evidence that the food and nutrients we consume affect how our immune system functions. And so simply, the most common question of the Greek housewife "-What should I cook today?" acquires another hue.

    In the same article, reference is made to the published scientific article of the Greek head of the Department of Biology at the University of Limerick, Ireland, Dr. Ioannis Zampetakis. With an extensive & scientifically substantiated presentation, Dr. Zampetakis negotiates the nutrition's key role as a long-term factor in shaping (or not) a strong immune system and in the challenge of "keeping healthy people healthy". The Mediterranean diet, is a synonymous with anti-inflammatory properties, due to relatively high dietary intake of minimally processed fruit, vegetables, legumes, olive oil, nuts, whole grain etc. Such a balanced diet, rich in these foods is associated with anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory compounds, including essential vitamins (C, D, E) & minerals (calcium, copper and zinc).

    Even beyond just vitamins and minerals, other bioactive compounds that the Mediterranean diet contains, are highlighted because of their potent anti-inflammatory, antithrombotic and antioxidant properties, including bioactive phenolic compounds. Vitamin E and bioactive phenolic compounds, are found among others in extra virgin olive oil. The antioxidant effect of this vitamin has already been proven. It is no coincidence that vitamin E is found in high concentrations in the immune cells of the human body. 

    In 2016 another scientific article was published, from Harri Hemilä, (Department of Public Health, University of Helsinki,) in Finland. In laboratory studies, the influence of vitamin E on the immune system was investigated. Dozens of animal experiments have found that vitamin E offered protection against infections caused by viruses and bacteria. Vitamin E supplementation reduced the incidence of pneumonia by 69-72% in male elderly humans, concluding to need for more research. So, although there is little evidence on the utility of vitamin E as a prophylactic or therapeutic agent against Covid-19, however -as claimed in both articles- it is worth investigating! After all, the scientific community has already suggested that a combination of vitamins C & E may be a useful antioxidant therapy for the cardia complications of Covid-19.

    In conclusion, along with the (always necessary…) proper hygiene, the (outside our temperament…) mandatory use of a mask & the (difficult for all…) measures of social distancing, it is self-evident that exercise and proper nutrition are equally necessary, offering to our body a fortress. We can’t afford to miss the opportunity to enhance our immune system with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory nutrients, bioactive phenolic compounds and vitamins. Until a cure or a vaccine is finally found for this global epidemic affecting all humanity, maintaining a high level of overall health seems to be the next best thing. Olive oil may not be the cure for the coronavirus, but one thing is certain: as the cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet & one of the richest sources of vitamin E, it continues to be a valuable health ally.

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