Coconut Oil Ketones And Alzheimers Disease
What does all of this have to do with coconut oil helping people with Alzheimers disease? Advocates believe that coconut oil provides an alternative source of fuel for brain cells. As the oil is digested, medium-chain triglycerides break down to form ketones, which are one of the few things that can be used to power brain cells when glucose isnt available or cannot be absorbed efficiently . Providing an additional energy source supposedly improves the brains ability to function correctly.
The human body doesnt typically produce many ketones on its own, unless a person is following a diet that is extremely low in carbohydrates. However, consuming coconut oil can create a temporary state of hyperketonemia where the number of ketone bodies in the blood stream is elevated.
What Does The Research Say About Coconut Oil And Alzheimers
The relationship between MCT and dementia is a new area, so there are only a handful of studies.
From what we have access to, experts believe its a very promising avenue for treating the disease .
One study on those with milder forms of Alzheimers found that MCT supplementation increased blood ketones, which then led to an immediate improvement in brain function .
Another study on 152 subjects with mild to moderate Alzheimers disease found that supplementation of direct ketones effectively improved cognitive function, over a 90-day period .
Both studies show promise, but are too small and too short to draw any strong recommendations from.
Studies looking specifically at intake of coconut oil and Alzheimers havent happened yet, however one new trial at The University of South Florida is currently in the recruitment process.
The study is to be 8 months and use coconut oil for the treatment group. Ill be awaiting the results of that one.
Summary: Preliminary studies show that supplementing MCT oil or ketones directly can improve brain cognition considerably. The first clinical trial to specifically use coconut oil is currently in the recruitment process.
Capric Acid Is Responsible For Anti
One experiment demonstrated direct control of seizures by decanoic acid alone. It was able to single-handedly block seizure onset within only 30 minutes of application. In that same experiment, ketones were not capable of producing this effect.43
Also of note is the ability of decanoic acid to raise the seizure threshold in models of electroshock. As it turns out, it performs this feat by directly inhibiting glutamatergic AMPA receptors. This is a very important nuance for our consideration here, because AMPA receptors play a key role in the seizure pathology, and decanoic is capable of blocking seizure at only micromolar concentrations! Does this sound familiar? It should be clear that extremely small levels of MCTs have powerful effects on multiple systems.44
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Lack Of Natural Sources
In nature, medium-chain triglycerides are not found in great quantity, with only a few exceptions. Coconut oil is the most common source, at around 60%, but MCT content in Bacuaçu palm oil has been shown to be as high as almost 80%. Such oil is not a frequent commodity, even in developed countries, but its cousin, palm kernel oil is well known, with an MCT content of around 50%. All other sources, such as goat and sheep milk, cows milk, butter, ghee, etc. all have only 10-20% MCT content.
Even human breast milk contains anywhere from 10-17% MCTs, depending on pregnancy term, with preterms being on the higher end. Once we go outside the realm of dairy and coconut / palm oils, incidence of MCTs in nature are quite scarce, indeed, with beef and chicken containing not much more than 0.15%. It is also important to note that these natural sources of MCT do not contain large amounts of C8 and C10 fatty acids. Coconut oil, for example, is 45-52% lauric acid, with only 10% caprylic / C8 and 8% capric / C10. Therefore, consumption of only C8 or C10 in large amounts would not be possible without human industrial intervention.
Mcts Cause Gi Disease
Perhaps the most troubling effect of MCTs are their ability to affect the localization of claudin which plays a crucial role in tight-junction integrity in the gut.345 The sodium salt of decanoic acid , for example, is a well-known enhancer of tight-junction permeability.
When decanoic acid comes in contact with tight-junctions, it changes the distribution of actin filaments and claudin proteins, specifically claudin-1 . Ordinarily, only ions, water, and water-soluble molecules are allowed through the tight-junctions of the gut. These junctions are comprised of occludin, claudin, and junctional adhesion molecule .346
Though occludin is important for organizing the structure of the tight junctions, it does not play a role in their assembly. Rather, it is the claudin family that is primarily responsible as the gate-keeper of the gut,347 and they can be regulated by various stimuli that include foods, drugs, and chemicals. In particular, decanoic acid has been shown to increase the passage of otherwise prohibited molecules across the tight junctions by contracting actin filaments.348349
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The Take Home On Mct And Coconut Oil
The research evidence illustrates that these folks may have the greatest likelihood of benefiting from supplementing the diet with coconut oil and/or MCT oil.
Food sources of middle chain triglycerides include palm kernel oil, ghee, coconut oil, and the milk fat of goat milk, cows milk and breast milk. Note that non-fat milk has had the MCTs removed. Supplemented MCT oil is a source for concentrated MCTs.
This is not to say that coconut oil is not a great nutritional food for everyone it provides a myriad of other nutritional benefits. As Dr. Newport suggests, what do we have to lose?
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Zheng X, Gessel MM, Wisniewski ML, Viswanathan K, Wright DL, Bahr BA, Bowers MT. Z-Phe-Ala-diazomethylketone disrupts and remodels early oligomer states of the Alzheimer disease A42 protein. J Biol Chem. 2012 Feb 24 287:6084-8.
Neal EG, Chaffe H, Schwartz RH, Lawson MS, Edwards N, Fitzsimmons G, Whitney A, Cross JH. The ketogenic diet for treatment of childhood epilepsy: a randomised controlled trial. Lancet Neurol. 2008 7:500506.
Reger MA, Henderson ST, Hale C, Cholerton B, Baker LD, Watson GS, Hyde K, Chapman D, Craft S. Effects of beta-hydroxybutyrate on cognition in memory-impaired adults. Neurobiol Aging. 2004 25:311314.
Caprylic Acid Reacts With Microbes In The Gut
According to the NOAA hazardous materials database, octanoic acid has been found to react strongly with multiple compounds, including those which are frequently found in the GI tract of individuals with dysbiosis.25 For example, octanoic acid can react with mercaptans, such as those generated from the digestion of foods containing raffinose, to generate gases like methanethiol .26 Together, caprylic acid and methanethiol further increase the toxicity of ammonia in the brain.27
Octanoic acid further reacts with sulfites, commonly used as a food preservative or enhancer, to generate another potentially neurotoxic gas, hydrogen sulfide. As I mentioned in my anxiety article, some bacteria, such as Pseudomonas, Citrobacter, Aeromonas, Salmonella, and Escherichia coli produce hydrogen sulfide, and though harmless at low levels, it can quickly lead to nausea, vomiting, and difficulty breathing at no less than 10-50ppm.28
Clearly, the problem here is not so much the way in which caprylic acid reacts with compounds in the digestive tract but more its ability to exacerbate the neurotoxicity of ammonia so we must consider the various reasons ammonia could become elevated.
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Blocks In Mct Metabolism Cause Brain Damage
Once again, Id like to point out that any degree of dysregulation in medium-chain fatty acid metabolism, regardless of whether or not it is full-blown MCAD, can increase the possibility of C10 accumulation in the brain. This is not to say that C8, alone, is not without issue, as should be apparent based on our discussion thus far about immune regulation. Nonetheless, it is important to understand what happens in the human brain, overloaded with C10, in contexts that do not involve epilepsy.
C10, in excess, has shown to have a wide range of neurological effects, not the least of which is the inhibition of mitochondrial cytochrome C activity by as much as 30% and complex II-III activity by 25%. These are core mitochondrial components for the production of ATP in neurons.163
Even when antioxidants such as reduced glutathione , ascorbic acid, or vitamin E are administered to MCAD subjects, they fail to prevent the inhibitory effect of decanoic acid on creatine kinase in mitochondria. As a matter of fact, ascorbic acid and vitamin E both the activity of creatine kinase, further exacerbating ATP / energy deficit.
Here, I will quickly list some of the ways in which the ACADM enzyme may be inhibited along with relevant references:
Birdseye View: How Mcts Cause Dementia
Many people have come to me the past several years with one or another problem that can be directly attributed to MCT consumption. Truly, I would not have known to recognize their symptoms had I not experienced many of them first-hand. One thing is quite certain to me now : capric and caprylic acids, in any amount, can produce unpredictable and potentially dangerous effects in the gut, brain, and immune system and do not produce benefits that can justify their risks. To summarize, C8 and C10 triglycerides:
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Coconut Oil And Alzheimers Disease Were A Hot News Item In 2012
2012 was the year that the news about coconut oil and Alzheimers disease started making it into the mainstream media. This is not surprising, as it coincided with news about the failure of drugs in treating Alzheimers also making headlines. In January 2012, drug companies Pfizer and Medivation admitted that the new drug they were developing for Alzheimers, dimebon, not only did not help patients in trials, but made patients worse. The expensive drug had already reached phase III trials. So as the development of this drug has now been abandoned, and so many other potential drugs have also failed, many are beginning to look at the role of diet in Alzheimers and focusing on prevention. People are also beginning to see positive results in using coconut oil to reverse the effects of Alzheimers.
Ketogenic Diet And Neurological Disorders
Yet the ketonogenic diet replacing glucose with ketone esters has been shown to help epilepsy and other nervous disorders among those who have difficulty processing ketones from foods such as breast milk or dairy milk.
Breast milk, for example, contains 10-17% medium chain triglycerides , which are converted to ketones in the form of Beta-hydroxybuterate. This is why MCTs are now added to any good baby formula.
Enter Dr. Samuel Henderson who patented a product called AC-1202, made up of primarily medium chain triglyceride oil processed from either palm oil or coconut oil.
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Coconut Oil For Alzheimers And Dementia: The Evidence
Coconut oil and the MCTs it contains are effective for Alzheimers and dementia. Adding coconut oil to your diet has protective benefits for brain health.
In the past few years, the health reputation of coconut oil has undergone a total reversal from unhealthy fat to superfood.
In countries of Asia and the South Pacific, where coconut is called the tree of life, it never went out of fashion.
Now, the rest of the world is finally coming around!
As a treatment for Alzheimers disease and dementia, however, the potential use of coconut oil is still up for debate.
There is convincing, but anecdotal, evidence that coconut oil can halt and even reverse the progression of degenerative brain diseases.
But can this claim withstand scientific scrutiny?
And, are there neuroprotective benefits for including coconut oil in your diet anyway?
Why Should You Use Coconut Oil For Alzheimers Disease
All of us consume some form of oil in our diets on a regular basis. All oil fats are rich in energy, which our bodies turn into glucose. Different kinds of oils have different compositions and structures they even function a bit differently from other types of oils. Coconut oil contains Caprylic acid, which is broken down to the ketone in our bodies and is used by the cells in our body for energy.
Our brain usually gets most of its energy from glucose. Coconut oil provides ketone bodies ultimately giving the brain the energy it needs to function correctly. Ketones are a natural way to fuel the brain when it can no longer use glucose. Researchers believe additional ketones could help improve symptoms in people with Alzheimer. Ketones produces from Medium chain triglycerides of which coconut oil has the highest percentage than any other food.
MCFA present in Coconut oil is unique in a way that they are easily absorbed and metabolized by the liver and can be converted to ketones.
Coconut oil is an alternative energy source capable of stopping the progressive neuronal death that occurs in this disease. Coconut oil, coconut water, and coconut cream as a dietary supplement can improve the symptoms of neurodegeneration.
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Coconut Oil For Alzheimers: Does It Fight Dementia
The food you eat has an enormous impact on your risk of developing Alzheimers disease or dementia. Recent studies hint that coconut oil can be a helpful element in the fight against dementia as part of an anti-inflammatory diet, along with healthy lifestyle choices.
Dementia is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects brain function. It can be hereditary or caused by environmental factors. The hallmark of dementia is cognitive decline. Dementia patients also display symptoms like memory loss and impaired judgment.
Alzheimers disease is one type of dementia, but not all dementia is Alzheimers. Alzheimers disease involves the formation of beta-amyloid plaques and tau tangles in brain cells . Over time, the plaques and tangles kill neurons, affecting cognitive function.
Emerging research is also pointing toward inflammation as a potential cause of Alzheimers. Many recent studies suggest that these tangles in the brain may be protective reactions against inflammation. These are just a few of many reasons to eat an anti-inflammatory diet.
These structures can only be definitively diagnosed by sampling and examining brain tissue directly. Thats why Alzheimers is almost exclusively diagnosed after the patient dies.
Lipid Peroxidation And Alzheimers Disease
Increased lipid peroxidation is also shown to be an early cause of Alzheimers disease. Liquid vegetable oils, the polyunsaturates, are highly prone to oxidation and rancidity, and it is now well known that in the form of trans fatty acids they are extremely toxic.
Dr. Raymond Peat has talked about the difference between polyunsaturated oils and saturated oils in their importance for brain tissue for years now.
Brain tissue is very rich in complex forms of fats. The experiment in which pregnant mice were given diets containing either coconut oil or unsaturated oil showed that brain development was superior in the young mice whose mothers ate coconut oil. Because coconut oil supports thyroid function, and thyroid governs brain development, including myelination, the result might simply reflect the difference between normal and hypothyroid individuals. However, in 1980, experimenters demonstrated that young rats fed milk containing soy oil incorporated the oil directly into their brain cells, and had structurally abnormal brain cells as a result. Lipid peroxidation occurs during seizures, and antioxidants such as vitamin E have some anti-seizure activity. Currently, lipid peroxidation is being found to be involved in the nerve cell degeneration of Alzheimers disease.2
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Incorrect Interpretation Of A Study
In 2008, one study made people think that coconut oil might be healthful. In this investigation, 31 people consumed MCT oil or olive oil during a 16-week weight loss program.
The team found that the body processes MCT oil, such as coconut oil, differently from other oils. They concluded that MCT could have the same impact on CVD risk factors as olive oil.
Some people interpreted this to mean that if MCTs can have a positive effect on HDL and total cholesterol levels, coconut oil must be healthful.
However, the original study did not use coconut oil, but a special oil that was 100% MCT. The MCT content of coconut oil is around 14% . Butter is about 9.2% MCT.
A person would have to eat 150 g, or 10 tbs, of coconut oil each day to get the benefits. Consuming this much oil would not be healthful.
The Dietary Guidelines recommend limiting the intake of saturated fats to 10% or less of total calories. For those monitoring their cholesterol, the AHA recommend a maximum of 5-6% .
Most studies that show positive health benefits use MCT oil, not coconut oil. Studies supporting coconut oil have often been short term, small scale investigations involving animals rather than humans. The results have not been significant enough to warrant advising people to switch to coconut oil.
Research supporting a switch to unsaturated fatty acids has produced more reliable results.
Here are some tips for buying, storing, and using coconut oil:
Dementia & Alzheimer’s Disease
On the quest to uncover options to cure and prevent dementia, numerous statements crop up one of them being about coconut oil and dementia.
Several studies suggest that people with dementia can use coconut oil to treat the illness.
The parties that brought this forward base this on the theory that the brain cells of persons with dementia cannot use glucose to produce energy resulting in the starvation of nerve cells effectively.
When the brain does not have enough energy, it will use energy from ketone bodies.
These bodies may offer an alternative energy source to the cells in the brain, moderating the damage that Alzheimers causes.
They believe that coconut oil can come in to help the brain with this alternative source of energy.
This is simply because the human body produces ketones by metabolizing coconut oil and other similar substances such as fatty acids.
The experts involved in explaining this connection between coconut oil and dementia have, however, not tabled adequate scientific evidence to back these claims.
This said it is not something that people should ignore. Especially if there is a possibility that the oil can be beneficial to individuals with dementia.
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