Ketone formation through coconut oil or MCT oil
It is now also known that a diet that is not quite so drastically carbohydrate-reduced, but instead is supplemented with coconut oil or MCT oil (MCT = Middle Chain Triglycerides), also leads to ketone formation under certain conditions. These medium-chain fatty acids contain 6 to 12 carbon atoms and, due to their shorter structure, do not take the detour via the lymph but, after being absorbed in the intestine, reach the liver directly with the portal blood, independently of bile acids and fat-splitting enzymes, where they are rapidly converted into ketones via ß-oxidation. Coconut oil contains about 16% ketogenic medium-chain fatty acids, whereas MCT oil consists entirely of fats containing medium-chain fatty acids. It should be noted, however, that food fats are never composed solely of these fats and their consumption levels are also individualized, preferably by an experienced nutritional therapist, as both coconut oil and MCT oil are saturated fats.
A therapeutic effect of these medium-chain fats on Alzheimer’s disease was first impressively demonstrated by the American physician Dr. Mary Newport : she initially treated her husband Steve, who was suffering from an early form of Alzheimer’s disease, with coconut oil (35 ml daily). After this showed positive effects in the clock test after a short time (see Figure 2), she gradually increased the dose with MCT oil to a 4:3 mixture (MCT to coconut oil) until finally 165 ml/day, divided into 3 to 4 servings, was reached. The surprising result was that after 2.5 months, there was a tremendous improvement in 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 .
Figure 2: Clock test according to Shulman, drawn by Steve Newport . 1: Before coconut oil intake, 2: After 14 days intake, 3: After 37 days intake. The clock test is a common psychometric test in Alzheimer’s diagnosis. The patient has to draw a clock, i.e. a circle with 12 digits, and enter a time according to the instructions with the hour and minute hands. This task is only successful if the patient still possesses the necessary mental abilities (memory, retentiveness, visual orientation, etc.) to a sufficient degree.
That this is not an isolated case is also shown by several other studies on Alzheimer’s patients in early and advanced stages: in almost all studies, an increase in the cognitive functions, processing speed and/or memory performance was detectable already a short time after the administration of ketogenic oils or ketone preparations .
In short, scientific findings for ketone-producing diets, although still in their infancy due to small patient numbers and short intervention periods, are already leading the way for many affected individuals and their families: ketogenic diets, whether through carbohydrate restriction and/or supplementation with coconut or MCT oils, appear to be extremely effective prevention and treatment strategies for Alzheimer’s that are both feasible and, above all, free of side effects, and thus represent another important weapon in the fight against this relentless disease.
We now know that the damaged brains of insulin-resistant Alzheimer’s patients are in an energy crisis despite the flood of sugar in their bodies. However, despite their impaired glucose utilization, the brain cells are still fully capable of utilizing alternative fuels such as ketones as an energy source. Therefore, these substances are thought to have great therapeutic potential in Alzheimer’s disease. The liver forms ketones from fats as soon as the body runs out of glucose as fuel. This state, known as ketosis, occurs physiologically in starvation metabolism, but also during severely carbohydrate-reduced (ketogenic) diets. However, the production of ketones can also be stimulated by consuming oils containing medium-chain fatty acids (e.g., MCT oils and coconut oil).
The therapeutic potential of ketones was impressively demonstrated in a recent study: In this randomized crossover study, already after a 12-week ketogenic diet, the performance of daily activities, cognitive performance and quality of life improved in Alzheimer’s patients, compared to a usual low-fat diet. And all this without side effects! The results of other studies are also more than promising: ketone-forming diets, whether through carbohydrate restriction and/or supplementation with coconut or MCT oils, have proved to be effective, viable and, most importantly, side-effect-free prevention and treatment strategies for Alzheimer’s, thus representing another important weapon in the fight against this relentless disease.
Therefore, our tip to you: reduce your excessive sugar and sweets consumption today, avoid highly sweetened beverages, avoid excessive consumption of starchy (highly processed) foods in the form of white flour, pasta, chips, etc., and integrate coconut oil or MCT oils into your diet – it’s worth it, and not just for your brain health!