Recent research on Alzheimer’s disease is revealing that a diet chronically high in carbohydrates and low in dietary cholesterol is associated with the development of brain-based insulin resistance (now being called Type 3 Diabetes) which can lead to an imbalance in the cellular function and repair mechanisms of the brain.
The brain is extremely active metabolically, and it is in a constant state of maintaining a balance between the destructive aspects of burning sugar for energy and rebuilding its neurons (brain cells) from incoming cholesterol molecules.
If blood cholesterol levels fall too low, and blood sugar is chronically high, this delicate balance is upset, and the destruction of the brain cells begins to take the upper hand as oxidative stress increases.
Because the affected brain lacks enough cholesterol for rebuilding its neuronal cell walls, it substitutes beta-amyloid substances instead. This leads to the buildup of the amyloid plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease. For more information on this theory, see Alzheimer’s Solved: Condensed Edition by Henry O. Lorin, DMD.
Other Alzheimer’s disease research has found that cholesterol plays an essential role in the mechanisms of neuronal synaptic function, plasticity, and neuron degeneration and destruction.
Alzheimer’s and Coconut Oil
New treatments for Alzheimer’s disease include the potential use of medium-chain triglycerides (MCT oil) or ketone bodies (also called ketoacids) the end product of MCT metabolism. Ketones may not only treat but also prevent Alzheimer’s disease. MCTs are found in abundance in virgin coconut oil.
In 2001, Dr. Richard L. Veech of the NIH, and others, published an article entitled, “Ketone bodies, potential therapeutic uses.” In 2003, George F. Cahill, Jr. and Richard Veech authored, “Ketoacids? Good Medicine?” and in 2004, Richard Veech published a review of the therapeutic implications of ketone bodies.
Our cells can use ketone bodies as an alternative fuel when glucose is not available. Brain cells, specifically neurons, are very limited, more limited than other cells, in what kinds of fuel they can use to function and to stay alive. The body can produce ketone bodies from coconut oil and when on a very low carb diet. Ketones can serve as food for the brain and nervous system in the event that insulin resistance and a lack of glucose availability develops. Providing the ketone bodies appears to protect the brain cells from destruction.
Ketones and ketosis have gotten a bad reputation because of misinformation given during the debate over low carb diets. Dr. Veech has said publicly:
“Simply put, ketosis is evolution’s answer to the thrifty gene. We may have evolved to efficiently store fat for times of famine, says Veech, but we also evolved ketosis to efficiently live off that fat when necessary. Rather than being poison, which is how the press often refers to ketones, they make the body run more efficiently and provide a backup fuel source for the brain. Veech calls ketones “magic” and has shown that both the heart and brain run 25 percent more efficiently on ketones than on blood sugar.”
In addition, one study has shown that ketones trigger a cellular process called chaperone-mediated autophagy (CMA).
What is CMA? It is a cellular process that allows cells to remove junk proteins, organelles, and foreign bodies from the watery interior of the cell and deliver them to the cell’s waste disposal system for degradation. If this “junk” isn’t removed regularly from the cell’s interior, it eventually overwhelms and kills the cell.
This line of ketone research is also yielding answers for Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and other neurodegenerative disorders.
Resources for Further Reading
- Nutrition and Alzheimer’s disease: The detrimental role of a high carbohydrate diet. A paper published in the European Journal of Internal Medicine.
- The Myth that Cholesterol Causes Alzheimer’s by Chris Masterjohn
- Ketones to the rescue: fashioning therapies from an adaptation to starvation.
- Ketones and Alzheimer’s a physician’s personal case study.
- Ketone Bodies, Potential Therapeutic Uses
- Ketoacids, Good Medicine?
- Does cholesterol act as a protector of cholinergic projections in Alzheimer’s disease?
- Ketone Bodies Stimulate Chaperone-mediated Autophagy