Compounds in olives that promise to help treat obesity and diabetes

He elenolic acidA natural compound found in olives may lower blood sugar levels and promote weight loss, according to a new study in mice. According to the authors, the research could pave the way for the development of natural, safe and affordable products to combat obesity and type 2 diabetes in humans.

The researchers found that after just one week, obese diabetic mice were given elenolic acid orally. They weighed significantly less and were better able to regulate their blood sugar levels. (glucose) than before treatment, and compared with obese control mice that did not receive elenolic acid. The glucose-lowering effect was comparable to that of the injectable diabetes drug liraglutide and better than metformin, one of the most common oral drugs for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.

“Lifestyle modifications and public health measures have had limited impact on the rising prevalence of obesity, a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes,” said study leader Dr. Dongmin Liu, a professor in the Department of Human Nutrition, Food and Exercise at Virginia Tech.

Dr. Hana Alkhalidi, a postdoctoral fellow in Liu’s laboratory at Virginia Tech, will present the results at NUTRITION 2024, the main annual meeting of the American Society of Nutrition, June 29 to July 2 in Chicago.

Liu’s research group is searching for bioactive compounds from natural products to treat diabetes. Previously, they looked for specific molecular targets for natural compounds in parts of the body that actively help regulate metabolism, such as the pancreas, muscle, fat tissue and liver. However, since natural products typically have low bioavailability, they decided to see if they could instead target the secretion of metabolic hormones in the gut to indirectly regulate metabolic function.

For the new work, the researchers began by identifying natural compounds that act on L cells, which contain two metabolic hormones released during meals. These hormones, called GLP-1 and PYY, They work together to promote a feeling of fullness. and avoid overeating while controlling blood sugar and metabolism. The breeding process showed that elenolic acid, found in ripe olives and extra virgin olive oil, can trigger the release of these hormones in the intestines. They were able to obtain elenolic acid by breaking down its precursor, oleuropein, which is cheaper than extracting it directly from olives.

Testing the compound in obese diabetic mice showed that animals given elenolic acid orally experienced significant improvements in their metabolic health compared to obese control mice. After four to five weeks of treatment, the mice showed a 10.7 percent reduction in adiposity, as well as blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity, comparable to lean, healthy mice.

Elenolic acid also food consumption has been significantly reduced and contributed to weight loss. “Overall, the study found that elenolic acid in olives has promising effects on hormone release and metabolic health, especially in people with obesity and diabetes,” says Liu. “This compound appears to mimic physiological feeding conditions by directly stimulating the secretion of intestinal metabolic hormones, which helps regulate energy balance and metabolic health,” he adds.

The concentration of elenolic acid in olive oil or olives is very low, so the benefits observed in this study likely will not be obtained from olive products alone, warn researchers who are now working to understand how this compound generates metabolic benefits by analyzing it journey through the body to learn how it is absorbed, distributed, metabolized and eliminated from the body. This will also provide information on its safety for future clinical trials.

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