SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

December 25, 2010

Brain help with Coconut Oil

(Dr Mercola’s post in his newsletter of December 13, 2010 has a hugely interesting and important message regarding the use of Coconut Oil in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.  The subject is well covered and scientifically addressed by Dr. Mary Newport in her efforts to help her own husband who has been afflicted with this disease.   She was endeavoring to get him into clinical trials, but he was unable to gain entry due to his advanced stage.  Determined, she pursued with Coconut Oil and by upping the daily dosage to 4 Tablespoons daily, was rewarded to learn that the reputed advantage of this oil was  in fact, valid.   Overjoyed, he improved so much that he was allowed into the trials.   This is very encouraging news indeed.  Please go to Dr Mercola’s site and watch and listen to this specific post.  It is very large, so I have only excerpted it here.

I have used this for years as it is versatile and delicious with many known advantages.    Jan.)

“Brain Starvation” is a Hallmark of Alzheimer’s Disease

One of the primary fuels your brain needs is glucose, which is converted into energy.

The mechanism for glucose uptake in your brain has only recently begun to be studied, and what has been learned is that your brain actually manufactures its own insulin to convert glucose in your blood stream into the food it needs to survive.

As you may already know, diabetes is the condition where your body’s response to insulin is weakened until your body eventually stops producing the insulin necessary to regulate blood sugar, and your body’s ability to regulate (or process) blood sugar into energy becomes essentially broken.

Now, when your brain’s production of insulin decreases, your brain literally begins to starve, as it’s deprived of the glucose-converted energy it needs to function normally.    This is what happens to Alzheimer’s patients — portions of their brain start to atrophy, or starve, leading to impaired functioning and eventual loss of memory, speech, movement and personality.

In effect, your brain can begin to atrophy from starvation if it becomes insulin resistant and loses its ability to convert glucose into energy.    It is now also known that diabetics have a 65 percent increased risk of also being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and there appears to be a potent link between the two diseases, even though the exact mechanisms have yet to be determined.     It seems quite clear however that both are related to insulin resistance – in your body, and in your brain.

Alternate Brain Food Can Stop Brain Atrophy in its Tracks

Fortunately, your brain is able to run on more than one type of energy supply, and this is where coconut oil enters the picture.

There’s another substance that can feed your brain and prevent brain atrophy. It may even restore and renew neuron and nerve function in your brain after damage has set in.    The substance in question is called ketone bodies, or ketoacids.

Ketones are what your body produces when it converts fat (as opposed to glucose) into energy. And a primary source of ketone bodies are the medium chain triglycerides (MCT) found in coconut oil!    Coconut oil contains about 66 percent MCTs.    The benefits of ketone bodies may also extend to a number of other health conditions, according to Dr. Newport:

“Further, this is a potential treatment for Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclero­sis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease), drug resistant epilepsy, brittle type I diabetes, and diabetes type II, where there is insulin resistance.

Ketone bodies may help the brain recover after a loss of oxygen in newborns through adults, may help the heart re­cover after an acute attack, and may shrink cancer­ous tumors.”

Medium chain triglycerides (MCT) are fats that are not processed by your body in the same manner as long chain triglycerides. Normally, a fat taken into your body must be mixed with bile released from your gallbladder before it can be broken down in your digestive system.

But medium chain triglycerides go directly to your liver, which naturally converts the oil into ketones, bypassing the bile entirely. Your liver then immediately releases the ketones into your bloodstream where they are transported to your brain to be used as fuel.

In fact, ketones appear to be the preferred source of brain food in patients affected by diabetes or Alzheimer’s.

“In Alzheimer’s disease, the neurons in certain areas of the brain are un­able to take in glucose due to insulin resistance and slowly die off, a process that appears to happen one or more decades before the symptoms become apparent,” Dr. Newport states in her article.

“If these cells had access to ketone bod­ies, they could potentially stay alive and continue to function.”

The Ketonic Diet – Why Avoiding Grains Also Protects against Neurodegeneration

Another way to increase ketone production in your body is by restricting carbohydrates.

This is what happens when you go on a high fat, high protein, low carbohydrate diet: Your body begins to run on fats instead of carbohydrates, and the name for this is ketosis.

This is also why you don’t starve to death when you restrict food for weeks at a time, because your body is able to convert stored fat into ketones that are used as fuel instead of glucose.

Consuming medium chain triglycerides such as coconut oil is a better option, however, because the ketones produced by ketosis are not concentrated in your bloodstream, but are instead mostly excreted in your urine.

(Dr Mercola goes on to explain why, what and how this happens. . . .the parts he has recommendations on and a few cautions as well.    This is well worth your time. )

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