‘EVERY age has its own way of dying,” wrote Lev Grossman in an article, which appeared in the Time. “The 19th century had consumption, the 20th century had the heart attack, and the 21st century will be the age of Alzheimer’s disease.”
They say memory is the first thing to go. More precisely, it’s the first thing doctors consider in an evaluation. Generally, it starts with subtle changes in memory function. “What comes first gets out last with the most recent memory getting lost first,” explained Dr. Simeon Marasigan, associate professor at the department of neurology and psychiatry of the University of Santo Tomas.
In some instances, the patient may exhibit abnormal behavior. “People suffering from Alzheimer’s may be unreasonable,” said Dr. Victor Chong, a neurologist with special interest in dementia from the University Malaya Medical Centre in Kuala Lumpur. “For example, a husband with Alzheimer disease may often accuse the wife of infidelity.”
But as the disease progresses, language skills diminish, along with the ability to perform calculations or planning activities. A person who used to be very good at giving his opinions on certain topics, solving problems, and painting, may not be capable of doing them now.
In his book, Doctors’ Health Tips and Home Remedies, Dr. Willie T. Ong—with his wife, Dr. Liza Ong as coauthor—said Alzheimer’s disease affects 5 percent of the population age 65 to 74 years, and 30 percent of the people above 85 years.
Since the disease has been described by Dr. Alois Alzheimer in 1907, it continues to baffle medical science. Until now, the cause of Alzheimer’s disease remains a mystery.
“We are still not sure but experts theorize that it’s a combination of hereditary factors [your genes], poor lifestyle habits [overeating] and possibly environmental factors that can affect the brain,” Dr. Ong wrote. “In less than 5 percent of cases, there is a specific genetic culprit for the disease.”
According to Dr. Ong, the brain cells of those with Alzheimer’s disease get damaged and die. “The normal interconnections between the nerve cells of the brain are destroyed, similar to a computer with faulty wiring,” he said. “This scenario causes a progressive loss of memory and thinking ability.”
Science, however, has discovered that the gradual loss of brain function that characterizes Alzheimer’s is due to two proteins, beta-amyloid and tau. “These two are the possible culprits,” said Pro. Edmund Chiu, a psychiatrist at St. George’s Hospital in Melbourne University.
Beta-amyloid protein accumulates in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease, activating immune cells that try unsuccessfully to remove it. That triggers the release of poisons that ultimately kill nerve cells, leaving behind a trail of plaques and tangles—the remains of nerve cells and fibers, clogged up with beta-amyloid.
Many of the nerve cells that are destined to die show abnormal deposits of a protein called tau, which is assumed to be toxic to nerves. Tau formation is related to the severity of disease. “The more severe the disease, the more tau is found within the brain,” informed Dr. Adrian Tan, a neurologist who works at the Paragon Medical Centre and the Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre in Singapore.
Most medical scientists agree that the biggest risk for Alzheimer’s disease is age. But aside from increasing age, genes almost certainly play a role in the disease. Take the case of Ronald Reagan, whose mother and brother died from the disease. “Usually, Alzheimer’s is not transmitted from family member to family member, although there is a higher risk if two or more family members are affected,” said Dr. Tan.
Diet may also play a part. Scientists from Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center in Chicago—who examined 815 people aged 65 and older over a four-year period—found that the risk of developing Alzheimer’s was highest (2.3 times more likely) among those who consumed the highest levels of saturated fat. Conversely, people whose diet contained high levels of unsaturated fat were up to 80 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
Now, there’s a good news: virgin coconut oil (VCO) may play an important role in treating the neurological disease. That’s according to Dr. Mary Newport, a resource person during the Philippines’s first World Coconut Congress held last year.
In her presentation, “Combining coconut oil and low carbohydrate, higher fat diet for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other diseases,” she cited the use of coconut oil for therapeutic ketogenic diet.
The VCO is a recognized source of beneficial fatty acid metabolized in the liver as ketones in ketogenic diets. Dr. Newport, a neonatologist, shared her own success in using VCO to treat Alzheimer’s disease.
In a press release dispatched by the Growth Publishing, Dr. Newport has been known in her fight against Alzheimer’s disease after achieving milestones in helping her husband battle the disease at its early onset.
She took after the early studies of Dr. Samuel Henderson who recommended medium chain triglyceride (MCT) oil—derived from coconut oil, which has 65 percent MCT—as treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.
“Dr. Samuel Henderson whose mother died from Alzheimer’s disease had this brilliant idea of using MCT oil, perhaps providing mild ketosis from consuming MCT oil that could help people with the disease,” she said during the congress.
Steve Newport had achieved significant improvement from early onset Alzheimer’s disease after taking VCO. After a few doses, he passed the cognitive test for candidate patients of a clinical trial for potential Alzheimer’s drugs—after previously failing such cognitive tests.
Just four to five days from first intake of coconut oil, Steve advanced to having a lifted mood, was more alert than before, and began conversing normally. After two weeks, he was able to draw a clock better with a clock’s numbers and letters in a test given for clinical trial candidates.
“His physical symptoms started to disappear, his tremor eliminated,” Dr. Newport reported. “He had stiff [limbs like in] Parkinson’s disease and he couldn’t run—we saw these disappear in two months. He was able to sleep normally.”
After three to four months, he could read again. “Before words were shaky and he couldn’t focus on the words. That stopped in three to four months,” the doctor related.
A more significant progress was when he was able to remember what he read a few hours ago. “After nine months, he could remember what he read several hours earlier. Before we started coconut oil, he couldn’t finish a sentence reading,” she said.
Having been admitted to a clinical trial, he improved even more by scoring 14 points out of a 78-point cognitive test while other patients on placebo lost a score of six points.
“Although Steve eventually died in 2016 after having seizures, his mental progress since 2008 has caused recognition of coconut oil as potential treatment for early onset of Alzheimer’s disease,” the press release said.
Dr. Stephen C. Cunnane of McGill University has also conducted studies on people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and those with Alzheimer’s disease. He was able to show in Alzheimer’s disease that there are areas in the brain with poor glucose uptake. But those areas of the brain take up ketones more easily.
Surprisingly, the normal brain needs more fuel than is usually available. People with normal cognition were found to have 7-percent gap between the energy the brain needs and the energy it gets. This gap is worse in those with mild MCI and even worst in those with Alzheimer’s disease.
“Taking MCT oil at 45 ml per day would fill in that gap for the energy the brain needs for somebody with mild cognitive impairment. That gives hope we may possibly prevent Alzheimer’s occurrence and help those with MCI and those with glucose uptake problems in the brain—Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases,” Dr. Newport said.
According to the press release, the human race’s brain apparently survived because of ketones. But these days, people don’t worry about hunger and famine. In the past, when human had to hunt and explore for food, hunger was real. Yet, ketones are able to sustain the energy the brain needs in times of famine.
“If a typical diet is rich in carbohydrates, glucose is the predominant fuel for the brain. But humans [in history] had periods of feast and famine. Our ancient ancestors did worry about famine, there’s no grocery store before. They would try to find food, but there’s no food. Thanks for ketones that we can use as fuel for the brain during fasting and starvation,” Dr. Newport explained.
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