What is the immune
The immune system defends
the body against invasion by foreign substances (toxins, microorganisms,
parasites, tumour processes, etc.) by coordinating specific and non-specific
The non-specific or innate defences are the front-line
protection against microorganisms. They are made up of the skin, mucous
membranes, the complement system (the complement, a group of some 20 proteins
manufactured in the liver, helps to destroy micro-organisms) hormonal factors,
etc. and their action is not affected by prior contact with the foreign
Specific mechanisms occur following exposure to the substance
and they require the involvement of the B-lymphocytes (humoral system) and the
T-lymphocytes (cell system).
Innate immunity responds in a similar way
to the majority of microbes whereas the specific immune response varies
according to the type of microorganism in order to eliminate it as effectively
Olive oil and the immune
It has been documented that
olive oil intake bolsters the immune system against external attacks from
microorganisms, bacteria or viruses.
It has been known for some time
that mineral and vitamin deficiencies can have an adverse effect on the immune
Recent research has concluded that the fatty acids in the make-up
of olive oil are good allies in lowering important immunological parameters such
as the proliferation of lymphocytes induced by specific mitogens of both B- and
These fatty acids have been reported to play an important part
in various immune functions. They are involved in regulating inflammatory
processes and they may be effective in the treatment of some autoimmune diseases
and in the regulation of the immune system in general.
Olive oil and rheumatoid
Rheumatoid arthritis is a
chronic inflammatory immune disease of unknown causes that affects the joints.
Genes, infective factors, hormones and diet have been suggested as possible
associates in its onset. Although some studies had suggested that olive oil
could help to alleviate its symptoms they did not provide confirmation of such a
Now, the results of a recently published study suggest
that regular consumption of olive oil may reduce the risk of developing
According to the authors of the study, the people
on diets containing high levels of olive oil had less risk of suffering this
disease. The study found that the people who consumed less olive oil had 2.5
times more possibility of developing rheumatoid arthritis than those who
consumed it more frequently.
Although the mechanism involved is not yet
clear, antioxidants are suspected to exert a beneficial effect.