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Ketones and Alzheimer’s

Via Peter at Hyperlipid, an article about how a wife treated her husband’s Alzheimer’s by introducing coconut oil to his diet. Why coconut oil? The wife, who happens to be a physician, had been trying to get her husband involved in a clinical trial that used a drug primarily composed of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). MCTs, which make up most of the fat in coconut oil, are sent straight to the liver from the stomach to be digested. This digestion process produces ketone bodies, which are used as energy by the brain (as well as other organs, like the heart).

The results of this experiment? Look at this picture from the article:

Those drawings are three attempts to draw a clock:

After two weeks of taking coconut oil, Steve Newport’s results in an early onset Alzheimer’s test gradually improved says his wife, Dr. Mary Newport. Before treatment, Steve could barely remember how to draw a clock. Two weeks after adding coconut oil to his diet, his drawing improved. After 37 days, Steve’s drawing gained even more clarity. The oil seemed to “lift the fog,” his wife says

Note how the first drawing looks like random numbers on a page. The second clock still gets the numbers wrong. The last clock, though not pretty, nails it.

Think about this: in less than two months, this man went from being unable to draw a clock to drawing one correctly simply by adding coconut oil to his diet!

Remarkable! Any scientists looking for a good experiment? Please look into this!

Final note: I don’t take this as any reason to start downing coconut oil (Though I cook with it all the time), rather I see it as more evidence of the correlation between health and diet. And of course, score one for eating saturated fat since MCTs are nothing but shorter length saturated fats!

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More on Coconut Oil

Before I go into the details, here are my big takeways:

  • Cook with coconut oil — try it instead of olive oil for sauteing fish, beef, pork, etc.
  • The medium-length saturated fats in coconut oil are good for “quick energy” because they require little digestion before being quickly absorbed into the body. I cooked with coconut oil at lunch today and was sort-of jazzed all afternoon. Further testing will be required. Addendum: Found this abstract of a study on medium-chain triglycerides: the study showed a 12% rise in basal metabolism on MCTs as compared to only a 4% rise for LCTs.
  • Once again fats win out over carbohydrates. And with even more tasty fats to choose from, its only that much more compelling to jettison the crummy carbs from my diet.

The Details

I picked up some coconut oil from Wal-Mart yesterday. Mind you, it was hardly the uber-natural, ultra-low-processed stuff I should be buying, but I only realized that today. I’ll work on getting the good stuff later; in the meantime, the Louana brand will do just fine.

As curious as I am, after reading the afore-blogged glowing review of oils high in saturated fats, and coconut oil in particular, I had to learn more. Some basic googling led me to this page, which ugliness aside, is pretty informative. Here’s a hearty snippet, as emphasized or edited (…) by me:

Coconut oil is one of the most stable oils you can buy. It does not turn
rancid easily. … coconut oil was one of the foods Weston Price studied in his journeys. He discovered that the coconut was considered, by the local populations, a medicine food. He found that those civilizations that consumed coconut regularly had no knowledge of cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes.

Let’s take a look at the healing properties of coconut oil:

  • Coconut oil is antiviral, antifungal (kills yeast too) and antibacterial. It attacks and kills viruses that have a lipid (fatty) coating, such as herpes, HIV, hepatitis C, the flu, and mononucleosis. It kills the bacteria that cause pneumonia, sore throats, dental cavities, urinary tract infections, meningitis, gonorrhea, food poisoning, pneumonia, and many, many more bacterial infections. It kills the fungus/yeast infections that cause candida, ringworm, athletes foot, thrush, jock itch, diaper rash and more.
  • Coconut oil is called the “low fat” fat. … It boosts one’s energy and endurance. Many athletes use it blended into their drinks. It also supports thyroid function and increases your metabolism (great if you want to lose weight).
  • Coconut oil improves digestion and absorption of fat soluble vitamins, minerals (especially calcium and magnesium), and amino acids. It improves the body’s use of blood glucose and improves insulin secretion and absorption (great for type II diabetes). In fact, many diabetics (type I and type II) use it to reduce their symptoms. One’s risk of diabetes decreases with regular use of coconuts and coconut oil. And as we already mentioned, cooking with coconut oil does not create any harmful byproducts.
  • Coconut oil helps the body heal and repair faster. It aids and supports immune function, protecting us from a variety of cancers.
  • Coconut oil, contrary to much hubbub, is good for your heart. It keeps our blood platelets from sticking together (and causing dangerous clots). Regular users of coconut oils have a much lower chance of atherosclerosis (clogging of the arteries), arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), and strokes. Coconut oil can lower your blood pressure.
  • Coconut oil is a natural antioxidant. It protects the body from free radical damage and prevents premature aging and degenerative diseases.
  • Finally, coconut oil is the best massage oil on the planet. What it does to your skin, you simply have to witness. It forms a barrier against infections, softens and moisturizes your skin, and prevents wrinkling, sagging, and age spots. It promotes healthy hair and complexion, protects from any damaging UV rays. …


These are some pretty extravagant claims. And unfortunately, they were not footnoted or referenced. A book by Bruce Fife was mentioned (See the nearest match available on Amazon, to the right), which might go into detail on some or all of these claims.

Setting aside some of the more panacea-esque claims, its hard to miss the correlation between consuming coconut oil and preventing metabolic syndrome (A.K.A. “diseases of civilization”), which may be linked to loss of insulin sensitivity or the damage of abundant insulin, which we know is linked to eating carbohydrates. Though I can only speculate as to cause-and-effect, its reasonable to assume that cultures whose diets have a higher percentage of fats in them relative to carboyhdrates are less likely to succumb to the problems associated with insulin (hypertension, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, etc. — metabolic syndrome).

The bacteria-destroying aspect of coconut oil is intriguing, as well. I understand why saturated fats naturally have a longer shelf-life (Lack of easily broken, carbon=carbon double-bonds), but I can’t help but wonder if another reason coconut oil takes so long to go rancid is some anti-bacterial trait of the oil, itself.

Some extracurricular reading:

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All about oils, Coconut milk and Whiskey

Just found an informative read about fats and oils over at Mark’s Daily Apple written by guest poster Scott Kustes of Modern Forager.

In the post, Kustes explains that the molecular bond stability of saturated fats makes oils high in saturated fats ideal for cooking.

Amongst the four types of fats, saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and trans, (trans being the only unequivocally bad fat), the lack of double-bonds in a saturated fat molecule makes it less prone to degenerating / breaking down when left sitting around or cooked.

On the other hand, monounsaturated fats have one double bond (See this graphic, bottom molecule for an example of a monounsaturated fat) and polyunsaturated fats have multiple double bonds. Double bonds are easier to break, so mono- and, even moreso, polyunsaturated fats are more unstable.

The big takeaway? When reaching for oils for cooking, coconut and palm oils as well as animal fat are all ideal choices as they consist of mostly saturated fats and monounsaturated fats (more of the former than the latter, at that).

Another interesting takeaway was that the the short chains of saturated fats found in coconut milk (or oil) are immediately absorbed into your blood via your stomach, resulting in a boost of energy which can noticeably raise body temperature, metabolism, etc. I might have to try that one out and see what happens. Makes me wonder if coconut milk might be an ideal beverage for endurance athletes who need an energy boost.

One other thing I learned whilst scanning Mark’s Daily Apple: apparently, whisky, gin, vodka, scotch, and 100% agave tequila all have zero carbohydrates. I was immediately a little skeptical as I find Maker’s Mark to be a bit sweet — but upon checking it out, yep, zero carbohydrates (I consider Maker’s Mark my reasonably affordable whiskey of choice).

Tequila shots anyone?