Alzheimer’s and the Keto Connection

My dad was diagnosed with early-stage Alzheimer’s this spring. This was a devastating diagnosis. We all knew, my dad included, that something was wrong, but to have the doctor actually say it is Alzheimer’s was very painful. It’s a death sentence. There is no recognized cure. A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is a diagnosis of prolonged decline of one’s abilities and basic functions. It not only affects the patient, but all the caregivers who are most commonly family.

The doctor that diagnosed my father put him on Aricept, a very common medication designed to slow down the progression of the disease. But only in about half of people. And only for 6-12 months. When I heard this was all that was done for him, I was, I guess, angry, if that’s the right word. To me, this simply wasn’t enough, so I started researching Alzheimer’s. Because of the research I was doing into the ketogenic diet, I had noticed some links to Alzheimer’s, so I started chasing that.

Meanwhile, my mom had watched a YouTube video of Dr. Mary Newport, a neonatal physician, discussing her husband who was diagnosed in his late 50’s with early-onset Alzheimer’s. Then, I randomly overheard a fellow yogi, who is very much into ketones, mention Alzheimer’s, so I butted into that conversation. My yogi-mate was talking about Dr. Mary Newport as well. So I bought her book.

Mary Newport’s book, “Alzheimer’s: What if there was a cure?”, first tells the story of her and her husband’s journey. When he was diagnosed, she started researching clinical trials for him to participate in because she, like me, was dissatisfied with the current “treatment” options. Now, because she’s an actual medical doctor, and not a geophysicist like me, she had a headstart on me in researching clinic trials and treatments, etc. She found a patent pending for a drug, which later because a medical food, that used MCT oil as it’s primary ingredient. She was already familiar with MCT oil, being a neonatal specialist, since it’s used in infant formula, but hadn’t seen it used in adults. When she was researching MCT oil, it was not as readily available as it is today. Rather than put her husband on infant formula, she turned to the easier to find alternative, coconut oil.

You need to read the book, but the exciting results are that her husband started responding four hours after taking the coconut oil! He achieved a significantly higher score on the same mental status exam that he had taken the previous day. Over the course of months to years, he went from a state of needing constant supervision to being semi-independent. To be fair, his Alzheimer’s was quite advanced compared to my dad’s, so semi-independent is absolutely amazing!

Back to my dad, he is in the very early stages of Alzheimer’s. He forgets people’s names, his attention spans is very, very short, and he has lost his big smile and witty sense of humor. He is a very different person to me and my mom that who we knew. He is still completely independent and my primary goal is to maintain that level of ability and competence as long as possible.

The good news is that he agreed to try the oil, which is huge! He’s quite suspicious of supplements and alternative medicines, so I’m very excited he’s willing to try this. We started him on it about two and a half weeks ago by putting a teaspoon in his coffee. We have to be very slow in the dosing because he doesn’t have a gall bladder, so his body is learning to adapt to digesting the oil at a slower rate than someone who has that handy gall bladder. We’re up to close to a tablespoon now.

Here’s the best news: I talked to my mom last weekend and asked if she had noticed any changes in his personality, especially in the morning. He takes the MCT oil in his coffee, so his peak ketone levels would be about a hour or so after his coffee. She said he smiles more and cracks jokes!! THIS IS HUGE! This means the MCT oil is working!

We will continue to increase the dosage of MCT oil and hope for continued improvements. He’ll go back to the doctor in July and likely have another mental status exam, so it will be interesting to see those results.

How does MCT oil help Alzheimer’s patients

Alzheimer’s Disease is a condition where the brain cells are slowly dying off. Research is showing that some of the causes of this are related to an inability of the brain to consume glucose. Glucose is the main fuel source for the majority of people in the world that aren’t starving. All the carbohydrates that we eat are converted into glucose. As we age, Alzheimer’s or not, our brain starts becoming resistant to either glucose or insulin (which aids in cells turning glucose into energy).

Studies are showing that simply having ketones circulating in the body enables the brain to suck those ketones in and convert them into energy (here’s one: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4937039/). It is a much simpler chain reaction to convert ketones to energy than it is glucose. Thus, the link to the keto diet. Additionally, studies have also been showing that the brain preferentially consumes ketones over glucose. That means one does not have to be in ketosis, but simply have ketones circulating in the body in order to feed the brain. And the key, or one of the keys, to reversing the effects of Alzheimer’s seems to be feeding the brain.

So, to feed the brain, we’re starting my dad on the MCT oil and IT IS WORKING!!! Stay tuned, I’ll provide more updates as we increase the level of MCT oil my dad is getting and what other “alternative” treatments we try out.

Dr. Mary Newport’s dream is to get the word out about this treatment because it just might work and there are no real reasons not to try it (check out her website: www.coconutketones.com). It doesn’t have a host of side effects or long-term effects that one has to consider. I’m now reading her new book, “The Complete Book of Ketones”, where she’s making the argument that everyone over the age 30 should be consuming medium-chain triglycerides in order to maintain brain function into old age. Another reason to consider trying MCT oil in your coffee!

Thanks for reading! I welcome comments, questions and feedback. If you want to try MCT oil for yourself or a loved one, you can purchase it online at kissmyketo.com (promo code “kellykore” for 10% discout) or at Amazon. It is also available in health sections of some grocery stores.

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