According to an exciting new study, coconut oil may rescue damaged brain cells - known as neurons - in patients with Alzheimer’s disease and help them to start working properly again.
This study provides scientific validity to a growing body of anecdotal reports that seem to show that coconut oil prevents some of the memory loss seen with aging, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.
In this study, medical researchers from the Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada looked at the protective effects of coconut oil on live rat neurons cultured in the lab and treated with amyloid-β (Aβ) peptide.
Aβ peptide is the main component of certain ‘deposits’ found in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's disease - and it is believed to contribute significantly to the progression of this disease.
Live rat neurons were exposed to either Aβ peptide alone or various combinations of Aβ peptide and coconut oil. Aβ peptide on its own was seen to reduce neuronal survival, while coconut oil protected neurons against Aβ-induced reduction in survival time.
According to the researchers, neurons damaged by Aβ peptide and treated with coconut oil appeared ‘healthier’. Also, coconut oil seems to prevent the damage caused to mitochondria in these neurons.
Mitochondria are the ‘power plants’ of our body’s cells and generate most of the adenosine triphosphate (ATP) that is used as a source of chemical energy by our body.
Health experts think that damage to mitochondria may play a role in aging, especially in aging-related diseases. Therefore, the finding that coconut oil prevents damage to mitochondria has great significance, since it is well known that mitochondrial function is often compromised in the brains of Alzheimer's disease patients.
Once consumed, coconut oil is believed to be converted to compounds called ketone bodies that provide an alternative energy source for neurons. This may be why coconut oil is able to compensate for mitochondrial damage.
Coconut products including coconut oil are used extensively in South Asia, especially in cooking. Given that there are no known side effects to regular coconut oil consumption - and possibly, some very real health benefits as this study shows - why not take the step of adding coconut oil to your diet today?