Introducing the Olive Wellness Institute™
May 01, 2018
Introducing the Olive Wellness Institute™
Over the last few years we have seen a significant shift in the thinking around health and wellness. While there will always be a need for treatments and a search for a cure when people become sick, the growing field of lifestyle medicine has arisen from the stand of ‘prevention is better than cure’.
 
For dietitians, nutritionists, medics and all health professionals with roles to play in lifestyle medicine, this is a rewarding and optimistic field in which to work. Our challenge is to ensure we stay abreast of the latest research to ensure our advice is always evidence-based. That’s not always easy when there is such a wealth of information and numerous articles to try to find the time to source and read.
 
To that end I welcome you to a new and most welcome source of information, created specifically for health professionals, particularly dietitians and nutritionists. The Olive Wellness Institute™ is your go-to resource for published, evidence-based information on the Mediterranean Diet, extra virgin olive oil and other products derived from the olive tree such as olive leaf extract.

"The Olive Wellness Institute™ is your go-to resource for published, evidence-based information on the Mediterranean Diet, extra virgin olive oil and other products derived from the olive tree such as olive leaf extract."

 
The Institute is sponsored by Boundary Bend Limited, the company that owns the Australian brands of extra virgin olive oil Cobram Estate and Red Island. They have long been committed to helping consumers understand and benefit from this incredible and ancient plant, the olive tree, and I commend them on supporting such a fabulous and extensive resource for health professionals. The Institute has partnered with the True Health Initiative that many of you will also have joined and in doing so joins the global voice for lifestyle medicine.
 

"Reassuringly the Institute has engaged a highly qualified advisory panel of experts in the field, led by Professor Catherine Itsiopoulos, head of the School of Allied Health at LaTrobe University. Professor Itsiopoulos is renowned worldwide for her research on the Mediterranean Diet."


Reassuringly the Institute has engaged a highly qualified advisory panel of experts in the field, led by Professor Catherine Itsiopoulos, head of the School of Allied Health at LaTrobe University.
 
The Mediterranean Diet has been gaining increasing interest from researchers around the globe as dietary patterns, rather than individual nutrients, have been recognised as being key to health. This dietary pattern has been associated with a lower risk of most chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, several types of cancer and type 2 diabetes.
 
Extra virgin olive oil is central to this dietary pattern relating to its fat profile and its unique composition of bioactive compounds including biophenols, phytosterols, squalene and vitamin E. You’ll find a summary of the evidence linking both the Mediterranean Diet and extra virgin olive oil to chronic diseases here.  
 
The mechanisms by which this dietary pattern exerts its effects have been the subject of much research. So far the evidence indicates several potential mechanisms including improving the blood lipid profile, reducing inflammation, protecting against oxidative stress (including the oxidation of LDL-cholesterol), reducing platelet aggregation, and modifying various hormones and growth factors implicated in cancer development. Most recently the diet has been shown to have beneficial effects on the microbiome, in part due to the broad array of biophenols found in extra virgin olive oil and the other plant foods abundant in the diet.
 
The bioactive compounds are really what makes extra virgin olive oil so unique and unlike any other oil on the supermarket shelves. For example, the peppery kick in the throat, characteristic of robust flavoured extra virgin olive oil, comes from the presence of oleocanthal. This has an anti-inflammatory effect in the body, working in much the same way as a low dose of ibuprofen, making it helpful in managing inflammatory conditions such as osteoarthritis. Oleocanthal has also been shown to protect neurons in the brain and this may be the mechanism by which extra virgin olive oil rich diets reduce the risk of brain diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. You’ll find more on extra virgin olive oil bioactive compounds here.

"The bioactive compounds are really what makes extra virgin olive oil so unique and unlike any other oil on the supermarket shelves."

 
It’s a fascinating area and a shining example of the enormous impact our food choices have on our health and wellbeing. To help you to fuel your own reports, manuscripts, client advice, media writing and commentating, check out the Olive Science Database. Here you will find links to the key olive related areas and you can search the published literature base without having to trawl through Medline. 

"By using such evidence-based research as the basis for our advice, we can together not only spread the right information but bust myths that continue to abound."

 
By using such evidence-based research as the basis for our advice, we can together not only spread the right information but bust myths that continue to abound. One such myth is that you should not cook with extra virgin olive oil. This is not based on science at all and in fact, the evidence shows not only can we safely cook with it, there are health benefits from doing so. The bioactive compounds present actually protect the oil as it is heated and when combined with vegies the overall absorption and availability of the fat-soluble phytochemicals is substantially increased. Arm yourself with the right information and read up on the research here.

"One such myth is that you should not cook with extra virgin olive oil. This is not based on science at all and in fact, the evidence shows not only can we safely cook with it, there are health benefits from doing so."

 
The Olive Wellness Institute™ is essentially your go-to resource for staying abreast of the research surrounding the Mediterranean Diet, extra virgin olive oil and other products from the olive tree. It’s designed for health professionals and researchers, with the expertise and credibility of a renowned Advisory Board behind it. I for one will find it invaluable and hope you do too. 

For more information and to join, head to The Olive Wellness Institute




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