Scientists of the University of Jaen, members of the ‘Peptides and peptidases’ research group of the Faculty of Experimental Sciences, are working on the protective effects exerted by olive oil on an animal model of diabetes and on the role of the different components of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (SRAA). This is the first study of its kind that is carried out in Spain.
Diabetes is one of the world’s most serious health problems. This chronic disease occurs when the pancreas does not make enough insulin to meet your body’s needs. Insulin is a hormone whose main function is to transform the sugars contained in the food into energy. When this does not happen, the result is an excessive increase in blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia).
There are two types of diabetes- Type I, that occurs in childhood, and type II, which usually appears after the age of 40, and is generally associated with obesity. The development of the latter depends on genetic and environmental factors, one of them being food, as obesity is one of the main risk factors in this type of diabetes. Therefore, the diet plays a very important role indeed to help to control diabetes, and although until recently a complex carbohydrate and fibre-rich diet was recommended - thus avoiding simple sugars and fat-, the rich in olive oil Mediterranean diet is now becoming one of the best alternatives.
Many studies have now shown that an olive oil-rich diet prevents diabetes, as it reduces glucose levels, LDL cholesterol (bad) and triglyceride levels in blood. It is precisely due to its effect on cholesterol that olive oil also prevents a series of diseases that are very frequent in diabetic patients such as atherosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases. Most of the prevention strategies of these vascular disorders are focused on obesity and arterial pressure control. The latter is precisely achieved by using antihypertensive agents related to the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, which shows its essential role in the development of the atheroma plaques in diabetes.
The research group of the Department of Health Sciences of the University of Jaen is currently looking into more depth the basic biochemical and molecular mechanisms that cause vascular diseases in diabetic patients - the main reason of kidney and cardiovascular disorders- and how an olive oil-based diet can have a beneficial effect on these type of patients. This project is funded by the University of Jaen. The hypothesis is based on olive oil can change the balance of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system active components which, at least could partially explain its beneficial effect on diabetic patients. Indeed, previous studies conducted in animals reveal that different enzymes, that are part of the SRAA, alter their activity depending on the type of fat of the diet. Moreover, they show that the vasodilatant activity and nitric oxide metabolism are affected by the quantity and quality of the ingested fat.
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