Steve Newport was diagnosed with severe Alzheimer’s in 2007. When asked to draw the face of a clock, “He drew circles and several numbers in a very random pattern.” Galvanized by the diagnosis, she began learning everything she could about her husband’s disease. “It appears to be a type of diabetes of the brain, and it’s a process that starts happening at least 10 or 20 years before you start having symptoms. It’s very similar to type 1 or type 2 diabetes in that you develop a problem with insulin.” In this case, insulin problems prevent brain cells from accepting glucose, their primary fuel. Without it, they eventually die. But there is an alternative fuel: ketones, which cells easily accept. Ketones are metabolized in the liver after a person eats medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) like those found in coconut oil. Coconut oil (raw, nonhydrogenated, without transfats, or in a refined form known as MCT Oil) is the most efficient way to get MCTs into the body.
Just 2 weeks after Dr. Newport added coconut oil to the diet of her husband, Steve demonstrated stunning improvement on the clock test, and in just 3 weeks after that he not only continued to improve the clock
drawing but he could run again. At four weeks he said, “I think the lights are coming back on.” And after two or three months, he was able to read, pop out of bed in the morning with energy, talkative and joking, and make his own breakfast.
The Science behind Ketones
Coconut oil contains some omega-6 but no omega-3 fatty acids, so Mary also added a combination of fish oil and cod liver oil (rich in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins A and D). She had learned that people with Alzheimer’s disease as a group are deficient in DHA (an omega-3 fatty acid), a large component of the brain and crucial to its normal functioning. One possible reason for that deficiency, she learned, is that Alzheimer’s patients may be deficient in an enzyme in the liver that converts the shorter vegetable form of omega-3 fatty acids found in soybean and flax oils to the DHA and EPA forms of omega-3 fatty acids the brain needs. Those who have trouble taking a marine source of omega-3 fatty acids can substitute an algae form, widely available in health food stores. Flaxseed, soaked and freshly ground, is also a rich source of Omega-3s.
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