Part 4 of 5: A Catholic university in Spain discovers improvements in Alzheimer’s patients using a natural oil…
In the last blog post, we discussed the positive effects that the herb turmeric has demonstrated in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. This time, we turn to Spain and Australia for more insights into positive developments for patients.
Seven researchers in the Catholic University in Valencia in Spain decided to do a study on patients with Alzheimer’s disease. All patients were given a MMSE to establish a baseline measurement for their memory. (You’ll recall from the previous blog post that this is an assessment used to establish how good someone’s memory is. The higher your score, the better your memory.)
The next step the researchers took was to split the patients into two groups. One group were given a daily dose of coconut oil, and the other group did not receive any.
What happened? After the study was finished, the researchers reassessed the each group on the MMSE. The group that got no coconut oil had no change in their MMSE scores. The group that took the coconut oil had a statistically significant improvement in their MMSE scores. The latter group also demonstrated an improvement in their cognitive status, which is the term used to describe a patient’s ability to recognise people and things.
Interestingly, in the coconut oil group, three categories of patients demonstrated the best improvements:
- Women improved more than men.
- Patients with more severe Alzheimer’s disease improved more than patients with less severe presentations.
- Patients without diabetes improved more than patients with diabetes.
This study was published in 2015 in a Spanish medical journal called Nutrición Hospitalaria.
There has been some controversy about coconut oil, because of it being a saturated fat – let’s look at that in a little more detail. Coconut oil does not contain long-chain fatty acids, which may be of more of a concern from a health perspective. In Australia, the Centre of Excellence in Alzheimer’s Research and Care also studied coconut in relation to Alzheimer’s disease. They concluded that coconut oil is safe because it contains medium-chain fatty acids and that these are easily digestible by the liver, and are then converted into ketones.
Incidentally, the health researchers suggest that these ketones may explain the beneficial effect of coconut oil on the brain. They suggest that nerve cells may die in the brain because they may not have access to energy via the normal glucose mechanism. However, the ketones can provide an alternative source of energy nerve cells, and thus allow them to continue to function. That Australian research was published in the British Journal of Nutrition in 2015.
This blog post series has highlighted three foods that have been found to have great promise in the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease; fish oil, turmeric and coconut oil. Our next and final blog post ties the whole blog post series together, and offers advice on how best to take the three foods, or how to take them in supplement form if you so choose.
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Here are the links to all the blog posts in this series: