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It seems that every week, there is a new superfood being publicized as a miracle cure-all, making it hard to distinguish what is true from what is being overly exaggerated. One such food,  Medium Chain Triglyceride (MCT), has recently found its way into the spotlight. Fortunately, its health benefits do not seem exaggerated, as they are supported by hundreds of studies. MCTs are a form of natural dietary fat, found abundantly in coconuts. They are smaller than the most common dietary fat, long-chain triglycerides (LCT), so they are quickly digested and absorbed into the bloodstream as fatty acid monomers (MCFA). MCFAs are sent directly to the liver where they are oxidized to produce ketone bodies, which are immediately used for energy. Usually, the brain’s main fuel is glucose, but MCTs can be used as an alternative energy source. For people with impaired brain function from diseases like Alzheimer’s, this is great news. Their brain cells can’t use glucose for energy, so MCTs are a potential alternative.

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that affects mostly elderly people and causes dementia, memory loss, deterioration in thinking and language skills, and behavioral changes. Current pharmaceutical treatments are controversial, with debatable efficacy. Several studies (1,2,3) support the use of MCTs to treat symptoms of AD. One study conducted in 2004 found that patients with AD experienced improved cognitive brain function almost immediately after supplementation with MCTs according to their performance on Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive Subscale (ADAS-cog). This result was attributed to increased beta-hydroxybutyrate (beta-OHB) ketone body levels, which occurred only 90 minutes after ingestion of MCT oil.

 Coconut oil is a great source of MCTs!

Source: Russ Rohde

Other studies have corroborated these results. Researchers at the University of South Florida launched an interesting ongoing study, pushed for by Dr. Mary Newport, that investigates the effects of MCTs from coconut oil on AD. Newport used coconut oil and MCT oil to treat her husband Steve’s Alzheimer’s. The treatment effectively halted the disease’s progress. She reported that Steve’s short-term memory improved, his depression alleviated, his walking and vision problems reduced and that an MRI showed that his brain stopped shrinking. His scores on the Alzheimer’s rating scale also improved dramatically from 12 out of 30, severe AD, to 18, indicating mild AD. Such results cannot be ignored, as they show that treatment with MCTs can greatly improve the quality of life of those with AD.

Natural remedies are often dismissed in the professional medical community in favor pharmaceutical; however, MCT oil is definitely a promising treatment for Alzheimer’s. Additionally, because MCTs are naturally occurring, there are significantly fewer side effects associated with them than with pharmaceutical drugs, not to mention the many other health benefits of MCTs. It is indeed a “superfood” to watch.

Feature Image Source: Patient Care Technician

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