By Deane Alban
Contributing Writer for Wake Up World
In the 1950s, research wrongly speculated that hydrogenated fat was the cause of heart disease and that butter, lard, coconut oil, and palm oil were the culprits.
Tariffs were even placed on coconut oil to encourage people to buy new partially hydrogenated oils like margarine and Crisco instead. Now it’s known that these highly processed vegetable oils contain dangerous trans fats that are so unhealthy they are banned in some places like New York City, and even in entire forward-thinking countries like Iceland, Sweden, and Austria.
Up until very recently, coconut oil was vilified as an artery-clogging, cholesterol-raising food that had no place in a healthy diet. But now the pendulum has swung the other way. So many people have turned onto the health benefits of coconut oil that demand has soared, threatening to raise prices or even cause shortages!
The Many Benefits of Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is one of the best oils for cooking. It’s high content of saturated fat (around 90%) makes it very stable. While monounsaturated vegetable oils like extra virgin olive oil are healthy to use “as is”, they become unstable at relatively low temperatures and burn easily. And unlike typical vegetable oils like canola, soy, and safflower, coconut oil doesn’t contain high levels of omega-6 fatty acids which encourage inflammation.
Coconut oil is 50% lauric acid which is antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal. It lowers risk of heart disease by increasing good cholesterol and boosts the immune system. Lauric acid naturally occurs in breast milk. Coconut is the only way to get it in your diet.
Coconut oil has a growing legion of enthusiastic fans who claim it can cure everything from tooth decay to cancer. (One website I visited listed 1,001 conditions it could treat!)
But one of the most intriguing claims is that it can be used to cure the most dreaded disease of our time – Alzheimer’s. But is this true or merely wishful thinking?
Where the Coconut Oil Cure Originated
The woman who popularized this idea was no quack. As a neonatal physician, Dr. Mary Newport was familiar with the use of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), the kind found in coconut oil, for feeding newborns. MCTs are administered to premature babies because they are easily utilized even before they have developed digestive enzymes. MCTs naturally occur in mother’s milk and are added to all infant formulas.
Because of her background, Dr. Newport understood how MCTs could supply energy to the brain. Her husband was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s and was getting rapidly worse so she decided to add coconut oil to his diet to see if it would help.
The initial results were quite amazing. His mental decline not only halted but measurably reversed much improving his quality of life.
In her book Alzheimer’s Disease: What If There Was a Cure? she details her husband’s progress, the science behind using coconut oil, and her frustration in trying to get her peers to consider her theories. Coconut oil not only halted but reversed the progression of her husband’s symptoms.
How MCTs Uniquely Feed the Brain
Your brain cells can’t store energy so need a continual supply almost always in the form of glucose from carbohydrates. The hormone insulin allows glucose to enter the brain cells.
Some researchers believe that Alzheimer’s is actually type-3 diabetes. A lifetime of too many carbohydrates can cause brain cells to becomes insulin-resistant so they no longer uptake the glucose they need. Eventually brain cells start to die leading to Alzheimer’s.
But our bodies have a back-up system for times when we can’t get enough energy from carbohydrates. The liver then kicks in to produce ketones that can be used as a substitute fuel during times of starvation.
But you don’t have to starve to access ketones as a source of energy! The medium-chain triglycerides in coconut oil can be broken down into ketones by the liver. Ketones can then cross the blood-brain barrier to provide instant energy to brain cells with no insulin spike.
It is this unique quality – it’s high MCT content – that makes coconut oil a potential Alzheimer’s treatment.
Scientific Interest in MCTs
Dr. Mary Newport publicized her husband’s story in hopes that it could help others and to bring attention of coconut oil as a possible Alzheimer’s treatment to both the public and the medical community.
Not surprisingly, the response to her story has been polarizing!
The medical community largely thinks her idea is a bunch of bunk, while some in the natural health community are claiming coconut oil to be an Alzheimer’s cure. (Dr. Newport’s husband for the record was not cured. He still has Alzheimer’s.)
As history has shown, new ideas can take decades to be accepted by the mainstream.
However, there are scientists, doctors, and researchers working on using coconut oil, MCTs, and ketones to treat Alzheimer’s. One drug company has come up with a prescription-only “medical food” called Axona that works by providing the brain ketones, similar to the kind provided by coconut oil.
Currently, the University of South Florida is conducting a clinical trial studying the benefits of coconut oil on people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s. The study will be using Fuel for Thought concentrated coconut-MCT oil beverage which can be purchased online without a prescription. A month’s supply of Axona costs $120 while a month’s supply of coconut oil costs $6.60. A month’s supply of Fuel for Thought will run slightly less than Axona but much more than coconut oil.
The Bottom Line
Alzheimer’s is a complicated disease. There is no conclusive way to diagnose it except by doing an autopsy after death and there is no effective medical treatment. There are many suspected causes and there almost certainly will be no single treatment that helps everyone.
Coconut oil is not a “magic bullet” but is definitely a viable treatment that shows great promise in halting and even reversing Alzheimer’s in many cases.
If you want to improve your mental function or prevent mental decline in the future, coconut oil is a healthy addition to any diet that anyone can safely start today. With 1 in 3 people in the US currently dying with Alzheimer’s it only makes sense to take this easy, inexpensive precaution.
- Why the Coconut Craze Isn’t Helping Farmers
- Alzheimer’s Disease: What If There Was a Cure? by Dr. Mary Newport
- Clinical Trial for Coconut Oil as an Alzheimer’s Treatment
- Taking Axona, MCT Oil or Coconut Oil for Alzheimer’s
About the author:
Deane Alban holds a bachelor’s degree in biology and has taught and written on a wide variety of natural health topics for over 20 years. Her current focus is helping people overcome brain fog, “senior moments”, and other signs of mental decline now, and preventing Alzheimer’s and dementia in the future.
The human brain is designed to last a lifetime, but modern life takes a greater toll on the brain than most people realize. Deane teaches the best ways to keep your brain healthy and stay mentally sharp for life at her website BeBrainFit.com.