Coconut Oil and Alzheimer’s

Coconut oil contains a high concentration of the natural fats designed for healthy brain function.

Coconut oil contains a high concentration of the natural fats designed for healthy brain function.

You may remember my previous post about coconut oil, and the few reasons why I use this oil above all others. Well, there is another benefit to coconut oil that I didn’t mention so I could cover it in its own post. You wouldn’t know it, but coconut oil contains a fat that is showing promise for those suffering from Alzheimer’s.

What is Alzheimer’s?

Many of you who are reading this may be all too familiar with the disease, and some of you may not. Alzheimer’s disease is a dis-order of the the brain and how it functions. It affects memory, thinking and behavior, and generally worsens over time. Lifestyle factors do play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s, as the brain is essential plastic and changes constantly, yet there are times when a genetic link may influence the risk of developing the disease.

Coconut Oil and Alzheimers: Showing Promise in Treatment

Dr. Mary Newport and her husband Steve

In 2003, medical doctor Mary Newport found out that her husband, then only 53 years old, started showing signs of dementia, which was later diagnosed as Alzheimer’s. This started affecting his every day life–he wasn’t able to place a spoon in the correct drawer, or even cook dinner because it became to confusing.

After Mary’s husband was rejected for drug trials, she started researching the science behind Alzhemier’s disease and what happens in the brains of these patients. What she discovered was that brains cells in Alzheimer patients may have a hard time utilizing glucose as an energy source. All of our cells thrive on glucose as it major fuels for energy (which are derived from carbohydrates).

She found that these brain cells will die off if they cannot utilize the glucose, contributing to memory loss and dementia. What surprised her was that these brain cells can rely on another form of fuel, when glucose is not readily available. This fuel is called ketones, which are created in response to a low carbohydrate diet (with plenty of healthy fats).

A drug that was showing a tremendous amount of promise for patients for producing ketones was essentially a medium chained triglyceride oil. We know that coconut oil is mainly made up of MCT’s, and when combined with a low carbohydrate diet can help produce this alternative fuel for our cells. In fact, an extreme low carbohydrate diet might not even be necessary, as medium chained triglycerides are quickly used as energy by our cells than any other fat or oil (although a grain free, sugar free diet would still be ideal).

Mary started giving her husband two tablespoons of organic, unrefined coconut oil and started to see results immediately. Over a few weeks time, she tested his ability to draw the face of a clock. You can see his drawings in this article.

Can Coconut Oil Prevent Alzheimer’s?

My answer would be yes – BUT, I haven’t the ability to perform long-standing clinical trials on a large number of people. The fact that our cells can use ketones as an energy source when it can’t utilize glucose is very promising, in my opinion. Not only do I believe that pure, organic coconut oil can prevent dementia (along with a healthy lifestyle, like exercising, sunshine, relaxation and a grain free diet), I believe it can show a lot of promise in delaying the acceleration of the degeneration of the mind with current Alzheimer’s patients.

What are your thoughts on this? Of course there are other factors that contribute to Alzheimers, but do you believe coconut oil, and the medium chained triglycerides it contains, could help patients that are currently suffering? If adding coconut oil, and unrefined coconut products, to the diet is the only things that we do, why not? It’s worth a shot, and should harm any thing. If we don’t do something, we get nothing. Why not try?

Check out Dr. Mary T. Newport’s new book, Alzheimer’s Disease: What If There Was a Cure?

This is The Healthy Advocate.

If you like this recipe, you will love my new cookbook with brand new gluten-free and grain-free recipes, The Unconventional Gluten-free Cookbook, which you can download now instantly.

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3 Responses to “Coconut Oil and Alzheimer’s”
  1. J 13 February 2012 at 9:16 pm #

    I am a little confused. I had never heard of this link between coconut oil and Alzheimer’s. I know as a diabetic that producing ketones is not a good thing, and is a sign of high blood sugars. It makes me wonder how this actually works, and if there are any negative affects from this that are overlooked because it helps with brain function? I am new to natural living topics, and would love to know more about this.

    • admin 21 February 2012 at 12:26 pm #

      The science right now is unclear as to any ill health effects that might stem from using ketones as a primary energy source for the brain. Considering that those with Alzheimer’s are suffering at an older age, it would seem that any relief from this horrible disease would be far better than effects that may not be seen for another 10-20 years. Still, we just don’t know.

    • Dee 23 February 2012 at 3:14 am #

      I am a chemist and a nutritionist who just happened to be reading this post and wanted to offer some help here. A scientific study that has shown MCTs to be effective in treating Alzheimer’s does address the concern about “ketoacidosis,” which is what you are referring to with high blood sugars.

      Ketoacidosis results from a shortage of insulin, which usually occurs when blood sugar levels are too high. When this happens, the body switches to burning fatty acids and producing acidic ketone bodies that cause most of the symptoms and complications of ketoacidosis, including nausea, vomiting, excessive thirst, and the most serious being diabetic coma.

      The study states “The risk for ketoacidosis with MCTs is minimal. The symptoms of ketoacidosis are induced only when the level of ketone bodies in the bloodstream are sustained at high levels. Ketone bodies produced from MCTs are rapidly consumed under all nutritional and physiological conditions, so that sustained, high levels of ketone bodies do not occur. Because of these advantages, we explored the effects of MCTs in models of cognitive dysfunction and in patients with cognitive disturbances.”

      In other words, the ketone bodies from coconut oil do not build up in the blood stream like the ones that are formed from shortage of insulin. Coconut oil has also been shown to protect against diabetes, so you would benefit from it on many levels.

      You can read the scientific study on MCTs and Alzheimer’s at http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2202/9/S2/S16.

      If you want to learn more, you should check out coconutresearchcenter.org.

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