February 27, 2012

154 The Coconut Oil Diet [27 February 2012]

Last week I shared how Dr. Mary Newport discovered that MCT and coconut oil improved her husband Steve’s symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Several years after starting the MCT program, Steve has maintained the improvements: he can accurately recall events from days or weeks ago, he can read again, he is happier and smiles more, his taste has returned, he can stick to jobs like vacuuming or mowing the lawn, and his sense of humor is back. In short, Steve’s quality of life (and that of his wife!) has improved significantly. What exactly is he taking?

Steve takes a 4:3 ratio mix of MCT oil and coconut oil – 3 tbs at each meal and 2 at bedtime. He eats a low-carbohydrate whole-food diet and also takes vitamins and a fish oil supplement. Despite the high fat diet, Steve has dropped 10 pounds and has healthy blood lipid levels. (As I’ve explained in several earlier columns, coconut oil does not increase the risk of heart disease).

Dr. Newport learned of other ketone research that showed that ketones not only provide fuel to the brain cells but also promote the growth and development of nerve cells including the brain. This was exciting because it showed that ketones had the potential to not only ameliorate symptoms of dementia but possibly even reverse the damage. Thus the word “Cure” in the title of her book is not an over-optimistic exaggeration.

In her book “Alzheimer’s Disease – What If There Was a Cure?” Newport shares tips for adding coconut oil in your diet.
• start slowly as it can cause intestinal upset and diarrhea
• select virgin unrefined coconut oil and MCT oil
• MCT Coconut Salad Oil with Chia (for omega3 efa) has the ideal ratio
• add it to foods, substituting for other fats in cooking and baking
• take it with each meal as the ketones stay in the blood about 3 hours with MCT oil and 6-8 hours with coconut oil
• be patient if you don’t see results immediately, sometime it takes longer to work.

See my previous post for links.

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

February 20, 2012

153 Alzheimer’s and Coconut Oil [20 February 2012]

A chance discovery by a pediatrician researching her husband’s mental illness has brought hope and relief for people (and their families) who suffer from Alzheimer’s. Dr. Mary Newport was searching for something to help her husband Steve who had been diagnosed with this devastating disease. In 2008 she discovered research showing memory improvement in Alzheimer’s patients with medium chain triglycerides (MCT). As a neonatology specialist, Newport knew about MCT as an ingredient in most baby formulas, especially for premature newborns, because it is so easily digested. She learned that MCT oil has been used for decades by bodybuilders for energy and to increase muscle mass and that coconut oil is 60% MCT.

One of the problems with Alzheimer’s (and some other neurological disorders like Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and ALS) is that the insulin receptors in the brain cell walls malfunction. This prevents glucose, the brain’s primary fuel, from entering the cells which then die of starvation. Fortunately an alternative fuel, ketones, can also cross the blood-brain barrier to supply the brain cells with needed fuel. This normally occurs when carbohydrates are unavailable (during a famine or low carb diet) and the body begins to burn stored fat. Exercise also increases ketones. MCT is metabolized in the liver to ketones which enter the blood stream.

The day after taking his first dose of coconut oil, Steve’s Alzheimer’s screening test improved 4 points. He continued to improve over the following weeks and months as long as he had his coconut oil. Even his taste returned. And Mary decided to share her discovery with the world. When she failed to interest Alzheimer’s researchers in her findings, she took her story to the media, on her website coconutketones.com and blog coconutketones.blogspot.com, and in her 2011 book “Alzheimer’s Disease – What If There Was a Cure?” Here is an interview with Dr Newport from October 2009 and a more recent one on CBN from January 2012. More on this topic in next week’s column.

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

February 13, 2012

152 Micronutrient Triage Theory of Aging [13 February 2012]

A theory of aging developed by Dr. Bruce N. Ames of U.C. Berkeley in 2006 explains why many people who eat an unhealthy diet and eschew (rather than chew) supplements appear to be in good health. The micronutrient triage theory of aging is based on the same process that a busy hospital emergency room uses to determine who gets treated first. When resources are inadequate to meet all needs, priority is given to the most urgent.

Aging is a result of DNA damage and a decline in mitochondrial energy production. DNA damage occurs continually but given enough of the right nutrients, particularly antioxidants, it is quickly repaired. DNA damage left unrepaired accelerates the aging process.

Dr. Ames’ theory explains why many vitamin and mineral deficiencies cause long-term DNA damage with no noticeable short-term effects. He observed that many people with suboptimal nutrient intake seem to get by fine with no signs or symptoms of poor health for years only to be suddenly hit with serious health problems down the road. According to the Triage Theory of Aging this is explained by the body allocating limited nutrients to critical short-term functions at the expense of long-term health (an analogy might be paying your power bill instead of fixing a leaking roof if you couldn’t afford to do both – you’ll be comfortable today but eventually your house will collapse). One nutrient example is the vitamin K family where it takes a severe deficiency of K1 to interfere with the clotting process but only a slight deficiency of K2 to increase the risk of osteoporosis and atherosclerosis, two common degenerative diseases of aging.

This theory exposes the short-sightedness of conservative RDAs (Recommended Dietary Allowance) for essential nutrients. They are set at the smallest amount to prevent acute deficiency symptoms but often far short of the optimum for preventing the many degenerative diseases of aging.

Source: Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox by Kate Rheaume-Bleue, Bsc. ND, John Wiley & Sons, 2012. See also Ames original 2006 article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

February 6, 2012

151 Vitamin K2 Supplementation [6 February 2012]

As discussed previously, there are two different vitamin Ks – K1 and K2. K1 – the clotting factor – should be adequate in our diets if we eat lots of leafy green vegetables. K2 – the important one for preventing both atherosclerosis and osteoporosis – is more likely to be deficient and is difficult to get in our modern diet, so supplementation is required.

There are two main forms of vitamin K2 – MK4 and MK7. Both forms work well at ensuring our dietary calcium goes into our bones and teeth instead of our arteries. But there are critical differences which affect their suitability as supplements.

MK4 is the form made by mammals and is found in goose liver, egg yolk, butter and fat from grass-fed birds and animals. It lasts only a few hours in the body so needs to be taken in divided doses throughout the day. A therapeutic dose for bone and artery health is 45g (4,500mcg). Unfortunately Health Canada’s regulations haven’t kept up with the latest research and the largest allowed dose of any K vitamin in a supplement is 120mcg. While this is an appropriate limit for K1, for MK4 you would need to take nearly 40 pills a day.

Fortunately MK7 comes to our rescue. The MK7 form of K2 is produced by certain bacteria and is the form found in natto. It lasts several days in the body so needs to be taken only once a day. And only 1 or 2 of the 120mcg capsules fulfils our daily requirement, so is perfect for Canada.

Anyone taking an anti-coagulation prescription (e.g. Warfarin) is advised to avoid dietary sources of K1 and all K supplements. As well as controlling K1, Warfarin also inhibits K2, increasing risk of osteoporosis and atherosclerosis. Fortunately a small daily dose (less than 50mcg) of MK4 (not MK7) will ameliorate some of the K2 deficiency side effects without interfering with its blood thinning effect. Talk to your doctor before attempting this if you are on an anticoagulant prescription.

Source: Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox by Kate Rheaume-Bleue, Bsc. ND, John Wiley & Sons, 2012.

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.