Preventive and therapeutic effects in Alzheimer’s disease
In other sections, we have already described in detail the energetic undersupply of the brain and cerebral insulin resistance as a driving factor in Alzheimer’s disease. The fact that the medium-chain fatty acids in MCT or coconut oil are also capable of forming ketones and counteracting this energy crisis in Alzheimer’s disease has already been confirmed by several studies. This was demonstrated particularly impressively in the case of Steve Newport: His wife, the American physician Dr. Mary Newport, had shown for the first time a therapeutic effect of coconut oil on Alzheimer’s disease , by “treating” her husband, who was suffering from an early form of Alzheimer’s disease, with coconut oil. And with success: after only a few weeks, there was a tremendous improvement in his cognitive abilities. In addition, Steve Newport gradually improved his memory, word-finding ability, social participation and gait. Magnetic resonance imaging also showed no further brain atrophy over a long period of time .
This is not an isolated case, as shown by several other studies on Alzheimer’s patients in early and advanced stages: In almost all of them, an increase in cognitive functions, processing speed and/or memory performance of dementia patients was observed shortly after the administration of ketogenic oils or ketone preparations , .
Medium-chain fatty acids, such as those found in coconut oil and MCT oil, can also counteract the development of Alzheimer’s disease through other mechanisms: Intervention studies, for example, have shown that a diet containing a controlled amount of medium-chain fatty acids compared with the same amount of long-chain fatty acids resulted in a significant decrease in body fat. The reason for this is that medium-chain fats do not deposit in the bloodstream due to the lack of circulation, but the energy derived from their metabolism is efficiently converted into fuel for organ and muscle use . Thus, these fats tend not to contribute to fat depots, but are used for energy production.
Furthermore, lauric acid, the major fatty acid in coconut oil, supports the formation of beneficial high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, which is of health benefit because the HDL fraction may reduce the risk of hyperlipidemia and thus counteract the development of cardiovascular disease and also Alzheimer’s disease . Furthermore, lauric acid also has the potential to delay the rate-determining step in cholesterol biosynthesis, the conversion of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) protein to mevalonate, by inhibiting the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase in the body – thus it also has a cholesterol-lowering effect .
The latter mechanisms could thus be responsible for the fact that medium-chain fatty acids, in the right nutritional context, could also be helpful in the treatment of dyslipidemia, elevated LDL, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and hypertension, all of which are risk factors for cardiovascular complications but also for Alzheimer’s dementia. These findings should thus also invalidate concerns that coconut oil consumption is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease due to its saturated fatty acids – an assumption that is still held by the German Nutrition Society (DGE) and the German Federal Center for Nutrition (BZfE) and, as shown, is misleading.
It is also now known that medium-chain fatty acids, in particular caprylic acid (8 carbon atoms), possess antibacterial effects on a variety of pathogenic Gram-positive and Gram-negative microbes, including Campylobacter jejuni, Listeria monocytogenes, and Clostridium perfringens. Thus, this fatty acid has been successfully used as an alternative to antibiotics in animal studies. In addition, it has shown great potential to counteract dysbiosis (poor colonization) of the human gut by specifically keeping pathogenic germs in check. A lack of intestinal integrity in particular, which is strongly promoted by dysbiosis, is considered a risk factor in the development of Alzheimer’s disease (see also the fact sheet “Dementia and intestinal health” which is available to you free of charge in the download area of “Knowledge stops dementia”).
Furthermore, the antioxidant substances in coconut oil, such as the phenolic acids and vitamin E mixture, could also support the therapeutic effect of coconut oil against AD by inhibiting oxidative damage, a key factor in the pathology of AD . In animal studies, for example, they have shown a beta-amyloid-reducing effect and reduced cognitive deficits in Alzheimer’s mice .
The following figure illustrates all the effects of coconut oil and its ingredients in the context of Alzheimer’s prevention and therapy:
Figure 2: Therapeutic effects of coconut oil for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Ac: acetone; AcAc: acetoacetate; ßHB: beta-hydroxybutyrate (Modified from )