Olive Oil with Dr. Rick Mayfield: Rational Wellness Podcast 191
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Dr. Rick Mayfield speaks about Olive Oil with Dr. Ben Weitz.
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5:09 Dr. Mayfield got more interested in olive oil when he discovered that olives contain ingredients that help the body to produce glutathione, which is our master anti-oxidant and which helps to sweep our heavy metals and other chemicals out of the body. We also know that people in the Mediterranean basin who are eating and drinking olive oil have less heart disease and this is really the key to the Mediterranean diet. While the monounsaturated fatty acids, the omega 9 fats in olive oil are neuroprotective and promote brain health, it is the phytonutrients known as polyphenols in olive oil that provide most of the health benefits. There are 36 different phenols or polyphenols within olives. The most important one is Oleuropein, which is broken down by our gut bacteria into hydroxytyrosol and tyrosol.
8:09 There are different types of olives and when you look for which ones have higher levels of phenols like hydroxytyrosol, there are 3 or 4 that come up most frequently. You want to buy an olive oil that lists the type of olive it is made from and the products sold at the grocery store usually do not list this. Some of the most common are picqual from Spain, koroneiki from Greece, and coratina from Italy. Dr. Mayfield often buys his olive oil from Amazon or OliveOilLovers.com. One thing to keep in mind is that olive oils higher in polyphenol content may have a slight bitter, tangy test, rather than the very neutral tasting olive oil that many Americans prefer.
12:53 What is the best way to buy the healthiest olive oil? Dr. Mayfield mentioned that in the Twin Citires in Minnesota where he is from they have four different olive oil stores that sell olive oil in 3 to 5 gallon bines and they list the phenol content from 300 to 800. However, where I live in Los Angeles, I’m not sure we have any stores that only sell olive oil. Dr. Mayfield mentioned that one of his favorite olive oils in Hypereleon, which uses the Olympus varietal, and for four years in a row it has the highest recorded phenol content. It is also best to eat organic to avoid pesticides and because organic fruits and vegetables tend to have higher levels of phytonutrients, like polyphenols.
16:38 Some olive oil is sold that is not actually olive oil or is fake or has cheaper oils mixed in. Dr. Mayfield referenced a study conducted by UC Davis in California in 2011 in which they analyzed olive oil sold in stores and found that 73% did not contain what they claimed. Here is the report about the study with a link to the study: Imported Olive Oil Quality Unreliable, Study Finds. They found cottonseed oil, soybean oil, and other things that were not on the label mixed in. The California Olive Oil Council has developed a certification process in the last few years, and this does look like this is something that is improving the quality. Here is a link to the COOC certification process.
21:51 Olive oil much more so than red wine accounts for some of the benefits of the Mediterranean diet. In fact, some people in Mediterranean countries like Greece will drink a small glass of olive oil and Dr. Mayfield does this as well.
23:29 Cooking with olive oil.
Dr. Rick Mayfield is a Doctor of Chiropractic and he is double board certified in Functional Medicine, including through the Institute of Functional Medicine. He is the director of the Center of Well Being in Edina, Minnesota. Here is his office website: CenterForWellBeingpc.com.
Dr. Ben Weitz is available for nutrition consultations, including remote consults via video or phone, specializing in Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders like IBS/SIBO and Reflux and also specializing in Cardiometabolic Risk Factors like elevated lipids, high blood sugar, and high blood pressure and also weight loss, as well as sports chiropractic work by calling his Santa Monica office 310-395-3111 or go to www.drweitz.com. Phone or video consulting with Dr. Weitz is available.
Dr. Weitz: Hey, this is Dr. Ben Weitz, host of the Rational Wellness Podcast. I talk to the leading health and nutrition experts and researchers in the field to bring you the latest in cutting edge health information. Subscribe to the Rational Wellness Podcast for weekly updates and to learn more check out my website, drweitz.com. Thanks for joining me and let’s jump into the podcast.
Hello, Rational Wellness podcasters. Our topic for today is olive oil with Dr. Rick Mayfield. Many of us have heard that olive oil is healthy, it has a lot of benefits, it’s good for our heart health. We know that olive oil is an important component in the Mediterranean diet, and the Mediterranean diet has had an impressive amount of scientific studies showing that it’s associated with greater health. It has protection against cardiovascular disease. It’s beneficial for brain health. It even has anticancer properties. What is it about olive oil? Well, we know that olive oil contains primarily omega-9 oils, also known as oleic acid. There’s a certain amount of scientific data showing that this type of fat is beneficial. Then, depending upon how the olive oil is produced, it may have more or less polyphenols. Much of the recent research is indicating that these polyphenols, or some people refer to them as phenols, are responsible for a lot of the health benefits of the olive oil. Polyphenols are antioxidants, natural phytonutrients that are present in olive oil especially extra virgin olive oil.
We have many questions about olive oil. What is the best olive oil? I’d like to drill down a little more on exactly some of the health benefits and how olive oil promotes cardiovascular health, etc. We’d also like to know about the polyphenols and how do we determine if an olive oil has a lot of polyphenols? Is it okay to cook with olive oil? These are some of the questions we have.
I’ve asked Dr. Rick Mayfield to come on to help give us some additional information about olive oil. Dr. Rick Mayfield is a doctor of chiropractic and he’s double board certified in clinical nutrition. He’s also certified in functional medicine through the Institute of Functional Medicine. He’s currently the Director of The Center for Well Being in Edina, Minnesota. Dr. Mayfield, thank you so much for joining me today.
Dr. Mayfield: Thank you so much. It’s an honor to be here Dr. Ben.
Dr. Weitz: Great. Maybe you could tell us how olive oil became a topic of interest for you.
Dr. Mayfield: Well, it all started about 2009, 2010 when I was asked to join the Institute for Functional Medicine as a faculty member to teach detoxification and biotransformation. They gave me an open book to say, “Create your own deck and we want it to be science-based.” I spent six months creating my major deck. We had three major decks and one of the big decks was on phytonutrients. I’ve always been obsessed or somewhat quite interested in phytonutrients and phytochemicals because they’re the active ingredients in plants. All the research for the previous, I would say, 25 years have been exploding about phytochemicals in terms of what they do, how they benefit our health. We all know we should be eating our vegetables. Grandmother told us-
Dr. Weitz: By the way, for those who don’t know, phytochemicals are particular compounds found in plants that have important benefits and they’re beyond vitamins and minerals.
Dr. Mayfield: Yes. It’s like when you look at a vegetable and you see green, red, purple, orange, and so forth, those pigments are phytochemicals. When you look at a berry, that dark purple are called anthocyanins. There are different names for these chemicals and these are the active ingredients. We’ve known for centuries, well I’d say decades, that eating your vegetables and your fruits are really healthy for you even though most of us have not done that historically but we know that looking … Beginning in about the 1970s, they started looking at more about these phytochemicals. It’s evolved to the point now where most of the research that I read, which is about five hours a day is involved with phytochemicals because that’s where the action is. While we need our macronutrients like proteins and fats and carbohydrates and minerals and vitamins, it’s the phytochemicals that really make the cells healthy and anti-disease.
I got involved in olive oil because it kept coming up in my radar in terms of doing the research showing, well, these ingredients in olives are really strong agents to produce a protein called glutathione. Glutathione is our master anti-oxidant in all of our cells that sweeps out free radicals or oxidized agents. It also sweeps out heavy metals and other chemicals out of the body. I started looking at this a little closer and it evolved into a complete database search of everything that I could read about olive oil. Now, I’m definitely an olive oil kind of nut job now. I really love everything about olives because the science is there. Initially, the science came through what’s called epidemiology, looking at population based studies. People in the Mediterranean basin who are eating and drinking olive oil had less heart disease. That’s how it became known as the Mediterranean diet largely because it was cardio protective. It turns out that the chemicals within olives have these phytochemicals. They’re really the smoking gun.
Now, when you look at, say, neuroprotective or you mentioned helping your brain health, we know that the olive oil itself, the oil, the oleic acid, the monounsaturated fatty acid, actually stabilized the neuron membranes, your brain cells. That the walls of the cells become more stabilized with omega-9 fatty acids. That, in itself, is neuroprotective. Taking that a step further, it’s about these phytochemicals. There’s 36 different phenols, the polyphenols within olives. The master most important one is called oleuropein. Oleuropein, like most phytochemicals in our foods, is swallowed through our diets and our bacteria. Our flora in our gut then process this oleuropein into the metabolites. Then, we absorb these metabolites. When you eat a berry, for example, you absorb not the berry itself but the metabolites produced by these bacteria that break it down. Same thing with olives. When you ingest an olive oil that has phytochemicals, you’re actually ingesting oleuropein primarily and that’s broken down to what’s called hydroxytyrosol and tyrosol. Hydroxytyrosol-
Dr. Weitz: By the way, can you spell oleuropein?
Dr. Mayfield: Yeah. Oleuropein is O-L-E-U-R-O-P-E-I-N-
Dr. Weitz: Thank you.
Dr. Mayfield: Oleuropein. Hydroxytyrosol is H-Y-D-R-O-X-Y-T-Y-R-O-S-O-L. That is one of the key phytochemicals or phenols within olive oil or olives itself. Now, it turns out that hydroxytyrosol and tyrosol is providing most of the benefits. Not all of them, but most of the benefits that we’ll talk about further.
Now, there’s different kinds of olives just like there’s different kinds of grapes that produce different kinds of wines. There’s different kinds of olives that produce different flavors and different tastes and different constituents or content of olive oil. When you look in the database of what’s highest phenol content like hydroxytyrosol, there’s three or four varieties that come up the most frequently in the database. When I choose olive oils, I’m trying to find those olive oil products that have those kind of variety or varietals. Now, there’s well over 150 different olive oil varietals. Most labels will not identify what kind of olive this is coming from. It’s very few products will actually have it on the label. Except for those coming out of the Mediterranean basin, most of those will … Say from Spain, Spain has a very high concentration of a varietal called picqual. It’s P-I-C-Q-U-A-L, picqual. Picqual is very high in hydroxytyrosol. It’s very high for oleuropein. It’s very high in these highly concentrated active ingredients. I will choose an oil from Spain trying to find an orchard or a mill that will have right on the label 100% picqual or a very high percentage of picqual varietal. If I go to your local Walmart or your local Costco or even to a local health food store, you won’t find this on the label largely. It’s really rare to find this on a label here in the United States. I’ll come back to how we search out these oils. There’s other varietals as well that are very high in these phenols. One is from Greece. It’s also from Crete, the Island of Crete. Greece has a common oil varietal called koroneiki. That’s with a k. It’s K-O-R-O-N-E-I-K-I, koroneiki. Koroneiki and coratina from Italy, that’s with a c, coratina just like it sounds. Those three, koroneiki, coratina, and picqual from Spain are consistently high in polyphenol content. I’ll primarily look for oils that are coming from those countries that will label their bottle as such. Now, there are many other varietals as I mentioned. There’s another one from Spain that I use that I’ve come into and I’ll come back to that. That’s really exciting for neuron health and brain health. It’s a totally different variety. When we go to looking for the right kind of olive oil, I can go to a website like OliveOilLovers.com, that’s what it’s called, OliveOilLovers.com, I can even go to Amazon and type in the search words picqual, koroneiki, or coratina extra virgin olive oil and up comes a whole list of different oils that are ready to go for you. You can actually start reading about them. Some of them will not say picqual on the label but many of them do.
Dr. Weitz: Picqual is a type of olive, right?
Dr. Mayfield: It’s a type of olive, that’s correct. Just like koroneiki is a type of olive from Greece and Crete and the surrounding area.
Dr. Weitz: What about Tunisia as a country for olive oil because I know Dr. Gundry sells a high polyphenol olive oil that comes from … I think it’s from Tunisia.
Dr. Mayfield: Yes. There’s different countries. I buy one from the West Bank near Israel in Palestine area. It’s really high in phenol content. It’s not a koroneiki. It’s not a picqual. It’s not a coratina. There are different varietals in different Mediterranean basin areas. The strongest research we have are on those three varietals. There’s other countries that are producing like Tunisia. I like the Tunisian oils as well. They taste well. For me, a lot of it’s about taste. Many times the higher the phenol content, the more bitter it’s going to taste. It’s a little more pungent. It’s a little more peppery. You can tell when you put the oil in your mouth and just let it sit there. You can go, “Okay. Yeah. This has got a little bite to it.” That’s the phenols. That’s the chemical content. It’s not because of-
Dr. Weitz: I think Americans have a tendency to want their oil not to have any taste. We need to resist that tendency that we need to understand that high polyphenol, healthy olive oil is going to have a little bit of a pungency, a little bit of a kick to it, right?
Dr. Mayfield: That’s correct. That’s correct.
Dr. Weitz: Perhaps you can continue on how to buy the best olive oil that’s going to give us the most health benefits.
Dr. Mayfield: If you have a local store that’s an olive oil specialty store … I’m in the Twin Cities in Minnesota. We have four different olive oil stores. They sell olive oil that’s fresh in a large three to five-gallon bin. There might be 30 to 50 of these bins and you can go and they’ll list them by the number of potency of phenol from 300 to 800. The higher the number, the higher the phenol content. The International Olive Council Society is trying to standardize our olive oils based on the phenol content. That has not happened yet but we hope to see that at some time in the future. When you buy a bottle, it’ll have it right on there. Check your local area to see if there’s an olive oil store that will sell … They have a variety of olive oils based on their phenol content. Number two…
Dr. Weitz: Can you find out about the phenol content if you go to the website? I don’t know if most of these companies have website.
Dr. Mayfield: Some do. Yeah. Some will have it. One of my favorite olive oils is Hypereleon. It’s H-Y-P-E-R-E-L-E-O-N. Hypereleon is an award-winning Greek oil right near Mount Olympus. It’s a different variety. It’s called the Olympus varietal. On their website and in their literature, they’ll actually list the number of phenol content. This oil has, for four years in a row, the highest recorded phenol content. It’s extremely robust in flavor and there are three different varieties. They pick their olive early on. Actually, it’s a green olive before it ripens. The olive is maturing just like an apple or a berry. They go through various stages of development of phenol content. They pick their olives at the peak level of certain phenol content. This particular olive is grown at high altitude where it has a natural subsoil drainage. It has a lack of water so it stresses the plant. When the plant becomes stressed, it produces these chemicals. That’s how it is with all food. If you stress, say, a spinach plant, you’re going to create a better chemical content in that plant.
Dr. Weitz: Which is one of the reasons why you want to eat organic because the pesticides actually protect the plant from some of the stress it’ll undergo from being attacked by pests. Therefore, organic fruits and vegetables are more likely to have a higher level of phytonutrients. I’m assuming organic olive oil probably would have a higher level of polyphenols as well?
Dr. Mayfield: Very likely. Yes, because they’re under higher environmental stress. Depending upon where the olive is grown, the amount of water, amount of sunlight, and so forth, you’re going to get different levels of phenol content.
Dr. Weitz: Is getting organic olive oil important as well to void whatever chemicals might be sprayed on the olive tree?
Dr. Mayfield: Well, I prefer the organics. The only type of oil I buy is organic because I choose to buy organic produce and foods.
Dr. Weitz: I do as well.
Dr. Mayfield: Yeah. That’s really, to me, important. There’s many non-organic olive oils that are high in phenol content. They are there, I just don’t buy them. If I can avoid chemicals, then why not?
Dr. Weitz: We certainly heard reports that there’s olive oil being sold in stores that we go to that are fake or non-authentic or have cheaper oils mixed in. How do we avoid that?
Dr. Mayfield: Difficult because we don’t know because there was a study done, I think, in 2011. They went to California grocery stores and pulled 60 some different olive oils off the shelf and analyzed them. They found cottonseed oil, soybean oil. Things that were not olive oil but it wasn’t on the label. You don’t know. I choose not to buy generic non-labeled where this oil is coming from. That’s why I go to the Mediterranean basin to buy my oils. Not to say there’s not good … There’s probably good olive oils coming out of California and other countries but we just don’t know. I know there’s good olives coming out of South America now. There’s very little information on it but it looks interesting. Looks like they have higher phenol content, we just don’t know.
Dr. Weitz: I guess something I read said that in California they have this certification process that they’ll put this certification on the label and that’s something that can provide some trust. Is that true?
Dr. Mayfield: That’s true. Yeah. That’s fairly new in the last few years. The industry is stepping up.
Dr. Weitz: Where do you get these oils? You buy them through the Internet?
Dr. Mayfield: I do. I buy them off the net. I buy them off of Amazon.com. I’ll buy them off of special olive oil websites. I mentioned one, OliveOilLovers-
Dr. Weitz: You give your money to the evil empire?
Dr. Mayfield: Yeah. I buy quite a few from OliveOilLovers.com because they have great variety. You can buy them by country origin. You can buy them by types of olive oils. They don’t have necessarily by varietal content but they … If you type in the word coratina in that search engine base, up will come a bunch of Italian oils. I gravitate to those. It’s really that simple. If you buy it off Amazon, obviously, you get some free shipping if you have that type of Amazon account.
Dr. Weitz: What about some of the brand oils that we see all the time like Spectrum Oil or some of the other popular brands you see at say Whole Foods or I shop at our local co-op?
Dr. Mayfield: Well, we don’t know because they’re not labeled. I went to Whole Foods just a couple weeks ago to look at a particular olive oil that a patient told me about. There’s one out of 12 oils, only one had the word koroneiki on it. All the other oils had no source of variety. We didn’t know what kind of oil it was, just that it was organic olive oil. It might be fine as organic olive oil. I prefer to know where it’s coming from.
Dr. Weitz: What if it says it’s from a certain country?
Dr. Mayfield: Well, we still don’t know. I mean, in Spain, they have dozens of oils, different varietals and species of olives. They probably have very good oils and I’ve tasted many of them. I just prefer ones that are highest in phenol content. We know that the picqual from Spain is an example. It’s readily available. You can do a search. You can find these pretty readily. My patients do it every day off the Internet. We have a handout in our office. We type all this information up. It’s very simple. Type this into a search engine, here’s the websites, they find it.
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Now, back to our discussion.
Dr. Weitz: How much of the health content of olive oil’s coming from the omega-9 fats versus the polyphenols?
Dr. Mayfield: From what we can see with the science, much of it is coming from the polyphenols. That seems to be where the smoking gun is in the Mediterranean diet. For years, they thought, “Well, it’s because people are drinking wine with their meals. Yes, they eat more vegetables but it’s the wine.” No, no. I’ve actually talked to Mediterranean based scientists out of Spain and so forth, they’re going, “No, no, no. It’s not about the wine.” Many of us don’t even drink wine but we were consuming massive amounts of olive oil. I did a lecture for the Institute of Functional Medicine here about five years ago and I talked about 30 minutes on olive oil. I mentioned about the lifestyle of Grecians, Greek people, and how they eat and what they eat and how much. This doctor came up at the break and said, “You’re the first person that’s ever really described my lifestyle in Greece. We actually drink the olive oil. We actually drink it like a beverage.” I’ve gotten into the habit myself where in my morning breakfast, I’ll have a little shot glass full of very high phenol content olive oil and I’ll drink it like a drink. That’s how a lot of people in the Mediterranean basis, that’s how they do. When you have a salad, it’s not just drizzled with oil. That’s actually soaked in oil. I was having dinner with somebody at one of these meetings and she actually just ate her salad and then … Maybe it wasn’t very socially nice, but she lifted up the bowl and actually drank all the olive oil right out of the salad bowl. I was like, “Go for it.”
Dr. Weitz: What about cooking with olive oil? I’ve heard people say, “No, you should never cook with olive oil. The oil will get damaged. Cook with another oil and then use the olive oil just to put on the food afterwards.” Then, you look at the smoke point of extra virgin olive oil, it’s 375.
Dr. Mayfield: Exactly.
Dr. Weitz: For a while, I stopped using olive oil for cooking. I would only add it afterwards. Now, I’ll make my eggs in olive oil. When I cook things on the stove top, I try to use a lower or medium heat and I use olive oil. Is that a good thing to do?
Dr. Mayfield: Yes. In fact, that’s what I do as well. This information that it shouldn’t be cooked at all is really misinformation. You look at the lifestyle of people living in Greece and Crete and Tunisia and so forth, they are cooking with their olive oil, maybe not at high heat. Anything that’s cooked at high heat is going to be oxidized and damaging. Cooking your eggs with your olive oil at lower to moderate heat is fine. There’s nothing wrong with that at all. People can argue, “Well, I use a saturated fat like ghee from butter or coconut oil, it’s more stable.” Yeah, theoretically. It’s not necessarily necessary to actually cook with that. When I cook our vegetables, they’re not going to be mushed out. They’re going to be crunchy. They’re using olive oil when I cook with it but it’s not going to be high heat. You don’t want your vegetables to be soft because you’re losing the phytochemical content. The longer they cook, the more you lose your nutrients.
Dr. Weitz: What is considered high heat?
Dr. Mayfield: Well, I’d say anything over beginning above 300 degrees, you’re moving towards high heat.
Dr. Weitz: Okay. Olive oil, extra virgin, should be stable till what temperature?
Dr. Mayfield: I don’t know if we have an exact number on that but typically a low to moderate heat setting on your stove should be fine. I’m cooking my broccoli, I’ll bring the heat up, put the broccoli on there and I’ll cook it for about two to four minute and that’s it with the olive oil in there because anything beyond that, you’re going to just basically just cooking the heck out of the phytochemical content.
Dr. Weitz: Do you ever bake your vegetables?
Dr. Mayfield: I have, yes.
Dr. Weitz: What temperature do you use for that?
Dr. Mayfield: Typically, about 200 to 250. It’s a lower heat.
Dr. Weitz: Okay. Yeah. That’s a lot lower than most people use.
Dr. Mayfield: Yes, that’s true. You’re going to get a much more healthy vegetable content as far as chemical content when you eat your food raw. Some vegetables are not really tasty or people don’t like eating certain raw vegetables. They bake them or saute them. You can still taste … They bake or saute at a lower temperature, it retains the healthiness of that food. If you want to be hardcore, you can be a raw vegan, sure but it’s a little challenging for most people to comply with that. They just get tired of chewing, chewing, chewing.
Dr. Weitz: Let’s talk about the health benefits of olive oil. Why don’t we start with cardiovascular health?
Dr. Mayfield: Sure. Well, we know that it helps inhibit our platelet cells from aggregating or clumping. Our platelets are our cells that create clotting. When you inhibit to make your blood more thin, there’s less tendency towards stroke in [inaudible 00:27:08] or clogging of the arteries. It helps reduce the cholesterol itself. It does reduce cholesterol. More importantly, there’s a bad cholesterol called LDL, low-density lipoprotein. It reduces the oxidation of LDL, that’s the key thing. If you can reduce LDL oxidation inhibiting the platelets from aggregating or clumping, it also helps inhibit oxidation as … These phenols act as anti-oxidants. What they do is they go around and they scavenge free radicals like superoxide and hydroxyl radicals. There’s also a type of [inaudible 00:27:47] called induced nitric oxide. Nitric oxide has a two-edged sword. It could be really healthy but unless it’s induced by oxidizing agents, that creates more inflammation in the vessels of the circulatory system. The phenol content in olive oil reduces this oxidation or peroxidation of fats and also free radicals themselves. When you look at a lab test and you can measure these oxidized molecules, you go by the abbreviations of MDA and TBARS, you can actually measure these in your blood. People who are ingesting higher levels of olive oil have lower levels of these oxidizing agents. That creates a better cardio protective effect.
Dr. Weitz: Same thing if we measure oxidized LDL on our cardiovascular panel?
Dr. Mayfield: Yeah. Correct. That’s right. We also know that extra virgin olive oil has an antihypertensive antiblood pressure effect. There’s many studies showing us that if consumed say 1,000 milligrams of this oleuropein or these phytochemicals for six weeks, you can beat your blood pressure by 10 points or 10 millimeters or mercury.
Dr. Weitz: Wow, that’s pretty impressive.
Dr. Mayfield: That’s very impressive within six weeks. There’s been other studies that go as long as two years showing the same benefits. One of the other benefits of olive oil is that actually it acts as an anti-inflammatory. There is an enzyme inside all of our cells called NRF2. The enzyme creates a gene expression to create anti-inflammatory proteins. Things that fight inflammation throughout the whole body. It turns out the phenol content in olive oil, specifically hydroxytyrosol, activates NRF2. It also inhibits an enzyme called LOX or lipoxygenase. This LOX enzyme is … If you have arthritis, your LOX enzyme is quite active and quite high. There should be things in plants, including olive oil, that inhibit that enzyme. There isn’t any other kind of molecules like that but I’ll stop there. We know that with the disease called atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, olive oil has been shown to be antiatherogenic. It prevents clogging of the arteries with plaques. Those are the key primary current effective benefits of olive oil for heart disease.
Dr. Weitz: I understand it raises HDL as well.
Dr. Mayfield: It does to a certain degree. Yes. It’s got that benefit. It definitely does.
Dr. Weitz: Good. What about cancer prevention? Is olive oil play a role in reducing our risk of cancer or helpful as part of a healthy diet to somebody who’s dealing with cancer?
Dr. Mayfield: I could answer that by looking at … We have cell culture studies that shows it helps reduce what’s called cell apoptosis or program cell theft. We know they’re in animal studies it does the same thing. A [inaudible 00:30:54] mix of cancer cells die off faster if they’re elevating too high. We know that the olive oil phenol content from an epidemiology or population-based studies, has been correlated with less cancer incidents. That doesn’t necessarily show that’s the reason why there’s less cancer but it’s a strong correlation just like with heart disease. We have fewer studies with humans with olive oil showing anticancer as far as direct human studies. Most of it’s with animals. Cell culture studies and epidemiology but there is a strong evidence-based, the answer to your question is yes.
Dr. Weitz: Right. Certainly, olive oil should be part of health promoting diet including one that is designed to help reduce cancer risk.
Dr. Mayfield: Definitely so. What I’m most excited about is the neuron effect on the brain. It’s very neuroprotective. It’s anti-Alzheimer’s. There’s a study done here called the Seven Countries Study. They looked at different countries and looked at what their disease patterns were. They found, “Oh, these people have fewer levels of Alzheimer’s disease and neurodegenerative diseases. They are consuming higher levels of olive oil.” When we look into the science of it, we find that there is a protein in our nerve cells that if it becomes too high, it creates problems and it’s called amyloid beta or AB. When it becomes high amyloid beta, it gets stuck together and it inhibits the nerves from working correctly because they can’t transmit neurotransmitters properly, the cells degenerate. Then, the cells become tangled. There’s little fibers called neurofibrons that become tangled. Well, it turns out that the phenol content of olive oil inhibits amyloid beta and these neurofibral tangles from happening. That’s not only true for olive oil, it’s true for a lot of different vegetables and fruit contents like in berries. We know with olive oils, it’s really very specific. There are some benefits, as I mentioned earlier, is that the olive oil fatty acids, the monounsaturated fatty acids, oleic acids, does stabilize the neuron membranes. There’s some other benefits that we don’t understand. The reduced risk of age-related cognitive decline is one of the things that I’m most curious about in those cultures that are ingesting higher olive oil content. Those are primarily the biggest factors. There’s some other [crosstalk 00:33:29].
Dr. Weitz: You mentioned that famous Seven Countries Study of Ancel Keys which has been highly criticized by some of the functional medicine world.
Dr. Mayfield: I know. They all have an opinion. That’s okay. There’s a road to every pile of information so I look for the benefits. I can take apart the most highly acclaimed study and I can critique it. A study just came out here about four weeks ago on fish oil called the Strength Study showing, “Oh, this shows that high doses of three fatty acids, EPA, ghee and fish oil, actually create higher levels of cardiovascular risk.” Well, if you dig into the study, there’s actually some really good positive things out of the study they didn’t talk about in the media. There’s actually some issues with the study itself. The problem with these studies, the media gets hold of it and they twist it [inaudible 00:34:26]. The authors tend to [inaudible 00:34:28] the significance in a certain way to meet their definition of what they’re trying to show. That’s going to go on forever probably with research studies.
Another area that I’m pretty excited about with extra virgin olive oil is the antiaging effect and we call it cellular senescence. Cellular senescence is where the cells age too fast. Well, we’re early on in the science but there’s an enzyme in all of our cells called AMPK. This AMPK, it delays the aging of the cells. Turns out the hydroxytyrosol and its phenol content activates this AMPK. We need more data on this but it’s an up-and-coming new area of science.
Just like with bone loss, there’s very good data in animals and now in humans showing that ingesting adequate levels of extra virgin olive oil helps prevent the loss of bone mass. It does this by activating our cells called osteoblasts. Osteoblasts create new bone. They do this through a variety of gene expression pathways and a variety of enzymes and creating new proteins. Bones are not just hard calcium. It’s actually active enzymes and proteins and collagen and content. It turns out that extra virgin olive oil activates this whole process. There was a study done for 24 months where they ingested 50 mls or extra virgin olive oil. That’s about three and a half tablespoons of olive oil. They followed the different levels of these compounds called osteocalcin and pro-collagen type one. Things that you can measure in the blood. In urine, they found that the levels are much more higher than the group that was ingesting extra virgin olive oil. They actually had lower loss of bone mass. People who are having osteopenia or osteoporosis, they should be ingesting high olive oil in their diets as one component. It’s not just about taking your calcium. It’s much more as you know than just calcium.
Dr. Weitz: Yeah. Interesting you mentioned antiaging, we just did a podcast about a new way to measure aging using a methylation clock.
Dr. Mayfield: Yes.
Dr. Weitz: Yeah. That’s some of the newest cutting edge way to try to figure out how well we’re aging is by looking at the extent to which our DNA is methylated or not.
Dr. Mayfield: Right. That’s correct.
Dr. Weitz: Cool. I also saw some information that olive oil maybe beneficial for autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis as well.
Dr. Mayfield: Yeah. Some early on information that’s still … We don’t have hard data but as with most plant chemicals in our food, it modifies our microbiome. If our microbiome is healthy, there’s going to be a reduced autoimmune response. Largely, autoimmunity partially is about modifying your microbiota. We know that extra virgin olive oil, people ingesting that on human levels but for sure in animals, you can actually improve our microbial diversity in a healthier way. We know that these hydroxytyrosol and other phytochemicals in extra virgin olive oil has a direct effect upon our immune cells itself. There are various types of immune cells in the gut. I won’t go into that, it’s a long discussion. Basically, you can improve the healthy proportion of, say, natural killer cells versus dendritic cells how this immune system is communicating with the rest of the body. I’d like to say if you could just drink olive oil and your Hashimoto thyroiditis would go away. No, we don’t have that kind of data yet but it’s going to come. We’ll see it in time if we keep doing research.
Dr. Weitz: Cool. Good. I think those are most of the questions that I had on my mind. Any other topics you’d like to mention?
Dr. Mayfield: Probably the last one would be something I use quite a bit in my practice is we focus quite extensively on the microbiome in our functional medicine practice. We use a lot of antimicrobial agents that are plant-based whether it’s berberine or oregano and so forth. The extra virgin olive oil polyphenols are very antibacterial against bacteria like H pylori or helicobacter pylori which is correlated with acid reflux and GERD. We know that certain other bacteria lower downstream called [inaudible 00:39:16], salmonella, e coli and so forth. These unhealthy bacteria can be inhibited by extra virgin olive oil ingestion. No, I should also say you can get some of this oleuropein content through olive leaf extract.
Dr. Weitz: I was just going to mention that. Exactly. I’ve seen that recommended for immune support.
Dr. Mayfield: Exactly. Olive leaf extract is quite high in oleuropein so that’s another option for people who rather take a pill than eat their olive oil. I always recommend food first, supplements second but it’s an option. We don’t know the dosage but there was one study showing that about 1,200 milligrams of oleuropein per day was very antibacterial in the gut. We know it even kills staphylococcus or staph MRSA, this antibiotic-resistant strain of the bacteria that can be quite [inaudible 00:40:10]. It has super benefits. The olive leaf extract which has been known for years to be antiviral because of its oleuropein content. The oleuropein with an olive leaf and olive oil, they will go against say hepatitis or herpes or mononucleosis and a whole bunch of other strains of viruses. It has other immune system benefits. I use a lot of extra virgin olive oil and actually olive leaf extract just from an immune system component.
Dr. Weitz: Which product do you like for olive leaf extract and what dosage?
Dr. Mayfield: I use a brand from Bio-Botanical Research called Olivirex. Typically, it’s going to be-
Dr. Weitz: That’s the company that makes the Biocidin, right?
Dr. Mayfield: That’s right. I think their brand is nothing special. I use Biocidin, I also buy other products from their company. It’s convenient to buy that. I’ve used other brands. There’s a brand called N-O-W, Now, very inexpensive. Their oleuropein product works good too. There’s olive leaf extract. There’s other 500 milligram capsule like six percent oleuropein content. I tell people taking four of them three times a day is therapeutic when there’s a virus infection.
Dr. Weitz: 2,000 milligrams three times a day?
Dr. Mayfield: Correct, for therapeutic [crosstalk 00:41:37].
Dr. Weitz: That sounds like fairly high dosage.
Dr. Mayfield: It is but you need to really go after this. If you got an infection, you can’t be half stepping it in through it. You need to be more therapeutic.
Dr. Weitz: You use that along with other antimicrobials like you mentioned berberine and oregano or will you use one product at a time?
Dr. Mayfield: No, I always use at least two, if not three, products at the same time because I found over the years that many of these bacteria and other microbial strains where there’s yeast or viruses, they seem to become somewhat resistant after a few days to a few weeks of taking the same ingredients. You need to up the dosage even higher. If we added multiple different ingredients whether it’s berberine or a [inaudible 00:42:22] leaf or some other product, that’ll give you more clinical benefit as a double and triple bang all taken together. I tell people just remind this is short-term. This is not for months and months and months.
Dr. Weitz: What is short-term? How long do you-
Dr. Mayfield: Between two to six weeks depending on how bad they … What’s going on. If [crosstalk 00:42:42]-
Dr. Weitz: What if they still have symptoms after that? Will you rotate different herbs or what will you do?
Dr. Mayfield: Well, usually I’m seeing my patients every three to four weeks for a consultation for functional medicine so I’m going to be checking in. They often will tell me, “Oh, I still got all this bloating” or “I’ve still got all this discomfort.” I say, “Okay. Get some garlic or get some high-end oregano oil type stuff.” Rotate to a different product to see if that makes a difference because everybody’s got a different microbiome so we’re finding we do often need to rotate consistently just like in the pharmaceutical world if you just use the same antibiotic all the time with the same patient, you’re going to find antibiotic resistance. You’re going to rotate to a different antibiotic. Same thing in the plant world, same thing.
Dr. Weitz: Cool. Great. How can listeners and viewers find out more information about you or get a hold of you?
Dr. Mayfield: They can go to our website. It’s called Center for Well Being PC, centerforwellbeingpc.com.
Dr. Weitz: Great. Thank you, Rick.
Dr. Mayfield: You [crosstalk 00:43:49].
Dr. Weitz: I appreciate you giving us quite a bit of detailed content about olive oil in a reasonable period of time. Thank you.
Dr. Mayfield: You’re welcome.
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