Coconut oil is often touted as a wonder oil. It speeds up the metabolism, improves calcium and magnesium absorption, reduces inflammation, and is used in everything from cooking to natural health and beauty products.
But did you know that this heart-healthy oil is also being touted as a remedy to help treat and even prevent Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer’s is one of the most common forms of dementia and is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. Symptoms include memory loss, confusion, poor judgment, disorientation, and eventually being unable to speak or take care of yourself.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are approximately 5.3 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s; by the year 2050, over 16 million Americans are expected to be diagnosed with this form of dementia. This disease is also a leading cause of premature senility. One in nine Americans over the age of 65 has Alzheimer’s and one third of Americans over the age of 85 suffer from the disease.The alarming statistics show that the need for a solution or a better treatment has never been more apparent.
Coconut Oil and Alzheimer’s Prevention
In a study conducted by the University of Oxford, researchers discovered that Alzheimer’s and dementia patients have experienced positive short-term benefits from the use of coconut oil. The research supports a theory presented by author and coconut-oil activist Dr. Mary Newport. In her book, Alzheimer’s Disease: What If There Was a Cure? The Story of Ketones, Newport declares that her ailing husband saw improvement with his dementia after regularly incorporating coconut oil into his diet.Newport claims that ketones, which are byproducts of the breakdown of fats found in the body, play an important role in cognitive health. We can then improve our cognitive functions by boosting the level of ketones. (Ketone bodies can be found in coconut oil.)
Let’s look at it this way—when an individual has Alzheimer’s, the brain can’t effectively utilize blood sugar to produce energy. This essentially weakens the brain cells and its ability to withstand stress, causing the brain to degenerate and age rapidly.
When blood glucose levels fall, the brain needs another source of energy to function— ketones. Ketones are produced in the liver when the body burns fat for energy, or when there is not enough insulin to help your body use sugar for energy. Basically, as blood glucose levels decrease the production of ketones increase! In this case, the brain can rely on glucose or ketones.
Studies show that ketones appear to be a good “fuel” for the brains of Alzheimer’s patients and you can stimulate the production of ketones by consuming coconut oil. Newport‘s case study suggests that approximately two tablespoons of coconut oil daily can supply your body with 20 grams of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), a primary source of ketone bodies. These amounts can allegedly help prevent degenerative neurological conditions, like Alzheimer’s.
How to Add Coconut Oil into Your Diet
In order to reap the full health benefits of coconut oil, experts suggest that you consume organic, cold pressed, non-hydrogenated coconut oil:
1. Cook with coconut oil: The easiest way to incorporate coconut oil into your diet is by cooking with it. Substitute canola or vegetable oils with coconut oil, or add coconut oil to your baked goods. Follow Newport’s theory and try to incorporate two tablespoons of coconut oil per day into your diet.
2. Add coconut oil to smoothies and hot drinks: Melt the coconut oil first to prevent it from clumping in your beverage. Then add it to your smoothie, coffee, or tea; simply blend and enjoy!
3. Brush it over your vegetables: Coconut oil tastes delicious over roasted vegetables. Melt a tablespoon of coconut oil and toss it with your raw vegetables to marinade them before roasting.
Bonus: How Coconut Oil Affects the Body and Mind
1. Coconut oil will keep the heart healthy, because it is cholesterol-free and trans fat-free.
2. The MCTs found in coconut oil will increase your metabolism.
3. Coconut oil increases energy in the body by boosting thyroid function, which is responsible for the metabolism and the growth of the human body.
4. Coconut oil acts as an ultimate moisturizer for dry skin and hair.
Napoletan, A., “Can Coconut Oil Prevent Alzheimer’s?” Alzheimers.net, August 20, 2014; http://www.alzheimers.net/2013-05-29/coconut-oil-for-alzheimers/.
“10 Ways To Add Coconut Oil Into Your Diet & Daily Life,” The Coconut Mama web site, September 19, 2011; http://thecoconutmama.com/2011/09/10-ways-to-add-coconut-oil-into-your-diet-daily-life-2/.
“2015 Alzheimer’s Statistics,” Alzheimers.net; http://www.alzheimers.net/resources/alzheimers-statistics/, last accessed June 18, 2015.
Fonooni, N., “10 Ways to Add Coconut to Your Diet,” Girls Gone Strong web site, July 9, 2013; http://www.girlsgonestrong.com/coconut/.
Mercola, J., “Coconut Oil: Four Tablespoons of This ‘Brain Food’ May Prevent Alzheimer’s,” Mercola.com, December 13, 2010; http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/12/13/can-this-natural-food-cure-or-prevent-alzheimers.aspx.
Fife, B., “Conquering Alzheimer’s with Coconut Ketones,” Coconut Research Center web site, http://www.coconutresearchcenter.org/Conquering%20Alzheimers%20with%20Coconut%20Ketones.htm, last accessed June 18, 2015.