Tonawanda News

May 5, 2013

NATURAL HEALTH: Coconut oil may impact Alzheimer's

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The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Coconut oil has enough benefits to fill a book — a very large book.

I am choosing to speak of coconut oil for its benefits in regards to Alzheimer’s disease because it is difficult to ignore all the buzz surrounding the topic.

Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and more than 5 million Americans live with the disease. In 2013, Alzheimer’s will cost the nation $203 billion. This number is expected to increase to $1.2 trillion by 2050.

Why the huge numbers? Some suggest it is a result of the low-fat way of eating that was highly recommended years ago. This type of eating sent the diabetes and heart disease numbers skyrocketing.Some say it is linked to the overly-prescribed statin drugs, which artificially lower cholesterol. What many practitioners fail to realize is that cholesterol has protective qualities. Cholesterol is a key component of our brain, actually, 25 percent of its mass. It is extremely important for cognitive function.

Research is showing that coconut oil, a highly saturated fat that is not prone to oxidation, will help to raise good cholesterol — HDL — which promotes longevity. In patients with Alzheimer’s, insulin resistance prevents the brains cells from accepting glucose, their primary fuel. Without this fuel, the brain cells die. A major advantage of coconut oil is that it provides the brain with another source of energy in the form of ketones. Ketones are high-energy fuels that nourish the brain.

Just a couple of tablespoons of virgin coconut oil daily, has improved cognitive function in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease in as little as a few days. This is food for thought — literally.

Insulin resistance doesn’t just affect people with Alzheimer’s but also those with dementia, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, Parkinson’s, ALS, even autism.

With many of the new trial drugs failing miserably, maybe the focus should now be on prevention — but for those already suffering from AD, there is more promise is using coconut oil than any other drug to date.

To incorporate coconut oil into your life, make sure you purchase “virgin” coconut oil. Because it is a saturated fat, it will be in solid form. Most local grocery stores sell it in the organic or healthy foods sections.

To incorporate coconut oil into your diet, I recommend adding it to smoothies, oatmeal, and you can even make salad dressing with it. It is a great choice for to sautéing or frying, as it has a high heat tolerance, unlike olive oil.

Some individuals use it as an alternative to butter and some just take it by the spoonful. Try adding it to your coffee or tea. The goal, especially for those who suffer from AD is at least two tablespoons per day.

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by incorporating this healthy option into your daily life.

Catherine Stack is a doctor of naturopathy and a certified nurse midwife. Her practice, Journey II Health, is located in Niagara Falls. She can be reached at 298-8603 or at her website at journeyiihealth.com.