Coconut Oil has been a recent trend on beauty and lifestyle blogging sites for being a savior when it comes to dry skin, makeup removal, healing purposes, and most recently, dietary purposes. If you’re new to the game, and are unsure what the big deal is about the oil, then we’ll bring you up to speed. According to Webmd.com, coconut oil’s saturated fat is made up mostly of “edium-chain triglycerides, or MCTs. Some people say your body handles them differently than the longer-chain fats in liquid vegetable oils, dairy, and fatty meats.” This oil has been considered a miracle worker and has been recently used in skin care, hair care, weight loss regimes, yeast infection treatments, digestion regimes, and immunity boosting. This oil isn’t just used in the tropical countries where coconuts are abundant, but it is also used very often in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Australia, and it is gaining popularity throughout the world. However, there is one specific use in particular for this miracle oil that should be public knowledge.
After close scrutiny of the ingredients in coconut oil, it seems as though it can be used to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease, also referred to simply as Alzheimer’s, is a chronic neurodegenerative disease that usually begins at a slow pace and worsens over time. It is the cause of sixty to seventy percent of cases of dementia. According to a study done by Cambridge entitles, “The role of dietary coconut for the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease: potential mechanisms of action”, they have deduced that diet may play a large part in preventing Alzheimer’s. According to the study, “In particular, recent literature has suggested that the use of coconut oil (extra virgin/virgin), coconut water and coconut cream may have significant positive effects on the lowering of plasma cholesterol, blood pressure (BP) control and blood glucose levels, all of which are risk factors associated with AD.” However, it’ probably most important that we get down to basics and understand how fats and energies work.
Many of us consume oil in our diets, for example, many people use vegetable oil, sunflower or olive oil to cook their meals with. Oils are considered fats and our body turns these fats into glucose to use. According to dementiablog.org, “Different oils and fats have different structures and compositions. One component of coconut oil is caprylic acid. This is broken down into ‘ketone bodies’ which can also be used by our cells for energy. Glucose and ketone bodies aren’t the only energy sources for our bodies, but they’re the ones relevant here. Our brain usually gets most of its energy from glucose, but brain cells can also use ketone bodies.” By looking at the brain scans of those that are afflicted by Alzheimer’s, it’s seen that areas affected by the disease use less glucose. This could be due to expression of specific genes, oxidative stress, cell activation and inflammation, snaps loss, and or cell death. Hence, the thinking behind coconut oil’s use, could be that the ketone bodies given by the oil can give the brain the energy it needs to function properly. There are however, opposing arguments by other experts that claim, “if cells are dead or dying because of Alzheimer’s disease, giving them energy won’t help, it can’t protect them.”
Although this claim that coconut oil can prevent Alzheimer’s isn’t 100% proven, there has been significant research done to prove that there may be a direct relationship between diet and disorders such as Alzheimer’s. One way this study could be done according to Alzheimer.ca, is by a certain type of study called an “observational study”. An observational study attempts to understand cause-and-effect relationships. In order to do this, “they could identify a group of people and measure how much coconut oil each one consumes then follow them over time and compare the risk of developing dementia.” Observational studies can be effective, but there is susceptibility to bias. For example, each person in the study could have a different diet or lifestyle, or could be on certain medication that will effect the outcome of the study. Since there has been proof that coconut oil CAN possibly prevent Alzheimer’s, experts will continue to explore the possibilities this miracle oil has to offer.