Photo by Dan Iserman
If you are interested in preserving your mental acuity, the following article may be of interest.
"Two Exciting Alzheimer’s Advances: A Novel Early Detection Test Using Peanut Butter, and a Study Evaluating Coconut Oil":
Three years ago, I published Dr. Mary Newport's theory that ketone bodies, an alternative fuel for your brain that your body makes when digesting coconut oil, might offer profound benefits in the fight against Alzheimer's disease.
At the time I said that, should her theory turn out to be accurate, it could be one of the greatest natural health discoveries in a long time. Now, Dr. Newport's research is being used to launch one of the first clinical trials of its kind to test her theory. The research is being done at the USF Health Byrd Alzheimer's Institute.
Sixty-five patients diagnosed with mild to moderate Alzheimer's have been enrolled to evaluate the effects of coconut oil on the disease, compared to a placebo. Dr. Newport hopes to have the results within a year.
This issue strikes close to home for Dr. Newport, whose husband has been battling the disease for years. As reported by CTV News:4
"While there is currently no clinical data showing the benefits of coconut oil on the prevention and treatment of dementia, Newport -- whose husband Steve was diagnosed with Alzheimer's at age 51 -- said she began to see improvements after starting him on four teaspoons of coconut oil per day.
'Before the coconut oil, he could not tie his shoes. His weird slow gait… That improved. He walked normally and he was able to start running again.
He was able to start reading again, his conversation improved dramatically and then over several months we saw improvements in his memory,' Newport said. Prior to starting him on coconut oil, Newport said none of the existing medications were working."...
...While your brain is quite happy running on glucose, there's evidence suggesting that ketone bodies may actually help restore and renew neurons and nerve function in your brain, even after damage has set in. Interestingly, the mechanism of this MCT-ketone metabolism appears to be that your body treats MCTs as a carbohydrate and not a fat. This allows the ketone energy to hit your bloodstream without the normal insulin spike associated with carbohydrates entering your bloodstream. So in effect, coconut oil is a fat that acts like a carbohydrate when it comes to brain fuel....
While searching for an update on this research, I found Dr. Mary Newport's website. Apparently her husband suffered a head injury from a fall after the above-referenced article was published. More details are at:
An UPDATED Note from Dr. Mary & How Steve is doing now!
It has been more than 6 years since Steve improved with coconut oil. He improved very significantly the first year and remained stable for 2 years. . He began having seizures in summer 2013 starting with a head injury from a fall and has not fully recovered. Although he has had some serious setbacks since then, I feel it was well worth the extra quality time that we have had together as a family. Although these setbacks have been discouraging, he remains in good spirits in our home, and has regained some strength and has been talking, smiling and being generally silly in recent weeks (much more like himself). I cannot help but think that ketones are playing an important role in all of this....(End excerpt)
More about ketone bodies can be found at:
Ketone bodies are three water-soluble molecules that are produced by the liver from fatty acids during periods of low food intake (fasting) or carbohydrate restriction for cells of the body to use as energy instead of glucose. Two of the three are used as a source of energy in the heart and brain while the third (acetone) is a degradation breakdown product of acetoacetic acid. Radioactive tracing of acetone determines that between 2% and 30% is excreted from the body. Ketone bodies are picked up by cells and converted back into acetyl-CoA which then enters the citric acid cycle and is oxidized in the mitochondria for energy. In the brain, ketone bodies are also used to make acetyl-CoA into long chain fatty acids, which cannot pass through the blood-brain barrier. The liver additionally produces glucose from non-carbohydrate sources other than fatty acids by a process called gluconeogenesis during starvation. In the brain, ketone bodies are a vital source of energy during fasting or strenuous exercise. Although termed "bodies", they are molecules, not particles....(End excerpt)
For those who may not yet have incorporated coconut oil in their food and body care, coconut oil eaten by the tablespoonful can be delicious. The mouth feel and scent can be pleasurable.
Photo by Piccolo Namek
Testing scent acuity with peanut butter is also discussed in the above-referenced mercola.com article.
At present, some 5.4 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease, according to the Alzheimer's Association's 2011 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures.1
By 2050, this is expected to jump to 16 million, and in the next 20 years it is projected that Alzheimer's will affect one in four Americans, rivaling the current prevalence of obesity and diabetes.
Since treatments are few and rarely effective, early diagnosis and prevention become all the more important.
Interestingly, simple tools like a tablespoon of peanut butter and a ruler could potentially be used to confirm a diagnosis of the disease in its early stages. As reported by Medical News Today:2
"Jennifer Stamps, a graduate student in the University of Florida (UF) McKnight Brain Institute Center for Smell and Taste, and her colleagues reported the findings of a small pilot study in the Journal of the Neurological Sciences.3
Stamps came up with the idea of using peanut butter to test for smell sensitivity while she was working with Dr. Kenneth Heilman, one of the world's best known behavioral neurologists, from the UF College of Medicine's department of neurology.
...The ability to smell is associated with the first cranial nerve and is often one of the first things to be affected in cognitive decline... She thought of peanut butter because, she said, it is a 'pure odorant' that is only detected by the olfactory nerve and is easy to access."
The pilot study tested the ability to smell of 24 patients diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment. To perform the test, the patient was asked to close their eyes and mouth, and hold one nostril closed while breathing normally through the other.
Using a ruler, the clinician measured the distance between the open nostril and the peanut butter, marking the distance at which the patient was able to detect the distinct odor. After a 90 second delay, the procedure was repeated with the other nostril.
They discovered that those diagnosed with early stage Alzheimer's (which was done through other clinical testing) experienced a significant difference in their ability to detect the odor between the two nostrils. According to the featured report:
"[T]he left nostril was impaired and did not detect the smell until it was an average of 10 cm closer to the nose than the right nostril had made the detection in patients with Alzheimer's disease.
This was not the case in patients with other kinds of dementia; instead, these patients had either no differences in odor detection between nostrils or the right nostril was worse at detecting odor than the left one."
Of course, it's too early to tell whether this test might be reliable enough to become widely used. More research needs to be done. But according to Stamps, the test can be used to confirm a diagnosis. The team is planning to study patients with mild cognitive impairment next, to assess whether it might help predict a future diagnosis of Alzheimer's....(End excerpt)