There has been some research that has pointed to Alzheimer’s Disease being a kind of diabetes of the brain. What this means is that the brain is not using glucose as it should, and it may be due to a problem with brain insulin signalling.
Insulin allows glucose to enter cells. Without good insulin receptivity, the glucose may be in the blood stream, but it can’t enter cells. As a result, cells are not getting fuel. Without some sort of fuel (and glucose is typically your body’s preferred fuel), the brain cells can die.
This mechanism could be behind the development of the distinctive Alzheimer’s plaques in the brain. The plaques are comprised of dead brain cells.
Here’s where the good news about coconut oil comes in. Coconut oil is an excellent source of medium chain tryglycerides (MCTs), which are a type of fat. MCT’s can be used by the brain as an alternate fuel – thus avoiding cell death when glucose cannot get into the cells.
Unlike sugar, MCTs can work independently of insulin. MCTs are converted into ketones in the liver, and those ketones can be used directly for energy.
Some people are afraid of ketones because of ketoacidosis. Ketoacidosis is dangerous. In this state, the body has a very high concentration of ketones, because of uncontrolled ketosis. It’s most often related to Type 1 Diabetes or alcoholism. This is not what occurs in a person who is eating coconut oil and producing ketones in a healthy manner.
The research on MCTs and ketones is promising, but is not yet conclusive regarding Alzheimer’s patients. However, patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s who were given ketones for 3 months showed a definite improvement in their brain functions.
Animal research is also promising. Elderly dogs given MCTs were shown to have better cognition, as well as reduced levels of amyloid plaque precursors.
To get more coconut oil into your diet, why not try making coconut bread? It’s a healthy alternative to grain-based breads, and you’ll add coconut oil to it directly.