Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Is Coconut Oil the New Miracle Brain Food?

I had a friend in the brain-building business recently send me this link to an article at NaturalNews.com  with the provocative headline of “Just one dose of coconut oil can tremendously boost brain function and cognitive performance. “ http://www.naturalnews.com/039811_coconut_Alzheimers_dementia.html

Do I need improved cognition? Absolutely! Am I hugely suspicious of such audacious claims? Absolutely!

According to the article, here’s what’s at the crux of the argument for the benefits of coconut:

“High triglyceride blood readings are red flags for obesity, diabetes, and heart health issues. Most dietary fats contain long chain triglycerides (LCT), which are not easily metabolized and can be stored as fatty deposits in one's body.

Long chain triglycerides contain chains with 14 to 18 carbon atoms. But coconut oil contains medium chain triglycerides (MCT) with shorter chains of 5 to 12 carbon atoms, which are easily metabolized by the liver to produce ketone bodies that can replace glucose as metabolic fuel.

As we age, the brain's ability to metabolize glucose for energy wanes, especially for those who have a metabolic disorder or insulin resistance. But MCT-created ketones can be used as cellular fuel in the brain when glucose is not available.”

Not being a scientist, that explanation didn’t help me at all. But the article went on to say that: “As far back as 2004, a study published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging determined that coconut oil MCTs improved cognitive function among older folks with memory problems and even Alzheimer's disease.

They took 20 subjects and randomly fed them coconut oil or placebos on different days. Some of the Alzheimer's group demonstrated improved scoring on a special Alzheimer's cognitive rating scale, and all of them demonstrated better paragraph recall shortly after taking each dose of coconut oil.

This wasn't a long term study. They got immediate positive cognitive and memory results from single doses of coconut oil compared to placebos.”

Yea! Should we all go out and coat our food with coconut oil?

Maybe not. I also found this Journal of the American Academy of physician Assistants article that states "A few people have reported that coconut oil helped ... but there's never been any clinical testing of coconut oil for Alzheimer's, and there's no scientific evidence that it helps.” See http://www.jaapa.com/can-coconut-oil-replace-caprylidene-for-alzheimer-disease/article/251425/

As always, with food-based claims regarding brain function, I retreat to Barbara Strauch and her nifty book entitled The Secret Life of the Grown-up Brain: The Surprising Talents of the Middle-Aged Mind in which she describes the difficulty of using food to impact brain function.

Does the JAAPA article mean that coconut oil can’t help or is dangerous?

Nope. And, just to be sure, I am starting to use of bit of coconut oil myself.

Image credit: <a href='http://www.123rf.com/photo_12756963_coconut-oil-on-a-bamboo-mat.html'>ckellyphoto / 123RF Stock Photo</a>


Anonymous said...

Challenging our old assumptions/learning is very hard to do especially when they are often reaffirmed by those we trust, the medical community, advertising, cultural habits, friends and family. The vast majority find it difficult or challenging to questions their beliefs. That said, with research we can claim new knowledge.

Here's a question. We have been using radiation since 1899, chemotherapy from chemicals used in the German concentration camps and surgery long before both. The facts for survival are played with in "cancer free years" and few survive cancer unless the cancer can be cut away as is done in lung cancer.

This history strongly suggests we are travelling the wrong road to healing from and preventing this terrible disease. These facts should be enough for one to willingly study and challenge ideas of old. As said before, it is difficult to impossible for the vast majority to challenge a life long of understanding. For those who can and do challenge their and societies conceptions, with effort they have a better chance of success.

Best wishes in your quest to healing.

Anonymous said...

High triglyceride blood readings are red flags for obesity, diabetes, and heart health issues. Most dietary fats contain long chain triglycerides... coconut water benefits

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The meaning of this is that you actually kill fat by consuming Coconut Fats (also coconut milk, coconut cream and coconut oil).

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