Blogs and websites, touting coconut oil to be helpful for memory and a cure for Alzheimer’s disease,have recently flooded the internet. The book Alzheimer’s disease: What If There Were a Cure – The Story of Ketones by Dr. Mary Newport is probably the reason behind the craze for coconut oil. No clinical trials have been performed that confirms and verifies the coconut oil helps with memory. However, Dr. Newport claims that coconut oil helped in relieving her husband’s Alzheimer’s disease symptoms.
Dr. Newport’s theory is based upon the science behind Ketasyn, an experimental drug. Ketasyn helped in improving memory in forty-seven percent Alzheimer’s patients, in a pilot study. While the research on Ketasyn was eventually abandoned but its main ingredient was later marketed as Axona, a medical food. Caprylic was the key ingredient in Axona, which comes from coconut oil. To achieve the same MCTs as Axona, Dr. Newport substituted her husband’s diet with coconut milk, MCT oil, pure non-hydrogenated coconut oil and other coconut food products. Her book accounts the dramatic improvement and the healing journey her husband went through.
The nerve cells in the brains of patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease are insulin resistant, which means they do not effectively use glucose as a fuel. This is why Alzheimer’s disease is sometimes regarded as Diabetes of the Brain by some medical researchers. The bloodstream’s ketone bodies can be increased by going on a ketogenic diet, but the diet is not easy to follow and is very unpleasant. On the other hand, coconut oil contains a large amount of MCTs like caprylic acid and once ingested; the liver converts the caprylic acid into ketone bodies. These ketones serve as an alternate fuel for the brain.
Despite this basic evidence, the fact that patients in the original Ketasyn studies were taking typical drugs of Alzheimer’s disease has been overlooked in all the hype. Also, during those studies, rather than coconut oil, a really purified form of caprylic acid was used by the researchers. Also, another reason behind the hype about coconut oil is that the improvement of symptoms has been confused with prevention. A preventative effect of coconut oil or MCTs on Alzheimer’s disease or dementia has not yet been proven by any research. However, the improvement of memory in a general sense is certainly one of benefits of coconut oil and the MCTs contained in it.
Coconut oil does not oxidize upon heating, which means it is an extremely stable oil. Coconut oil has a palatable taste and can be used as an alternative to butter in cooking. Many other health benefits are offered by coconut oil and it is safe to use it as a part of a healthy diet. The addition of coconut to the diet of someone suffering from Alzheimer’s disease might prove to be beneficial, but there is not enough research to support that it actually works. However, when talking about memory in general, coconut oil, especially the MCTs like caprylic acid in it, seem to be beneficial for memory.
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