Coconut Oil Dietary Fat for the Brain

Major functions of the human body including, memory, alertness, emotions, inflammation and defenses are regulated by brain. The brain represents only two percent of the total body mass but controls all body. Human brain contains 60 percent fat constituents including cholesterol. Therefore to control the whole body more energy is required by our brain for various metabolic activities. Fatty acids in our dietary fats are the crucial components that determine your brain’s integrity and ability to perform. Technically, some dietary fats fundamental constituents are important for various brain functions like thinking, learning and memory abilities, as well as resisting or repairing brain damage. Dietary fats have many fat soluble vitamins which otherwise are not available in our diet.

Even the minor constituents in some fats and oils like sterols and squalene have great role for rejuvenating brains nerve cells membranes and walls. Squalene and Sterols are minor components in some oils and fats but constitutes starting material for synthesis of sex hormones and for the artificial preparation of vitamin D. They are also supposed to be helpful in repair of brain cell membranes, tissues and neural net work in the brain. No doubt Squalene and sterols are a form of cholesterol but have healing and rejuvenating effect on brain.

Recent studies have shown that our Brain requires fats which include medium chain fatty acids, Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. Research on humans and animals suggests that optimal brain health is achieved when it is feed with right kind of fats. Some natural oils such as coconut oil, Apricot oil, olive oil have come up with their exceptional brain health properties.

Coconut oil’s healing and rejuvenating effect on brain: Coconut used in preparation of many ancient ayurvedic medicines and other alternative medicine systems but some recent studies have highlighted its unique benefits in diseases like alzheimer and dementia. Coconut is also called Nariyal in Hindi. When the fibrous covering of coconut are removed from the coconut the marks on its shell on the body look like human eyes and face. This shape may indicates that nature have gifted it to show its good health benefits to human face, eyes and brain, which we have not understood till now. Now research is going on to prove its secret benefits to human brain and nervous system. Coconut oil is obtained by pressing copra. It is a rich source of vitamin E and K also. In many countries like Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia , Tunisia and many south Indian states coconut oil is commonly used as cooking oil . It is reported that people using coconut oil are less prone to brain diseases like alzheimer and dementia.

Most of the characteristics that distinguishes coconut oil and other lauric acid oils, from ordinary oils may be traced to its high content of low molecular weight fatty acids. Over all 90-91.7% of the fatty acids of coconut oil is saturated; they consist of lauric, myristic and palmitic acids with lauric acid predominating. In some studies in the past coconut oil seems to be helpful in curing diseases as Alzheimer’s and Dementia etc. This may be due to its high content of lauric acid content, sterol content or Squalene contet. Sterols are minor in composition but constitutes starting material for synthesis of sex hormones and for the artificial preparation of vitamin D. They are also supposed to be helpful in repair of brain cell membranes, tissues and neural net work in the brain. Squalene and Sterol are a form of cholesterol in virgin Coconut oil which have healing and rejuvenating effect on brain. Almost 50% of the fatty acids in coconut oil is the 12-carbon Lauric Acid called the medium chain fatty acid or medium chain tri-glyceride (MCT). Coconut oil improves cognitive ability

As far back as 2004, a study published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging determined that coconut oil MCTs improved cognitive function among older folks with memory problems and even Alzheimer's disease. They took 20 subjects and randomly fed them coconut oil or placebos on different days. Some of the Alzheimer's group demonstrated improved scoring on a special Alzheimer's cognitive rating scale, and all of them demonstrated better paragraph recall shortly after taking each dose of coconut oil. This wasn't a long term study. They got immediate positive cognitive and memory results from single doses of coconut oil compared to placebos. Dr. Mary Newport discovered the benefits of using coconut oil to treat her husband. After feeding her husband coconut oil, he started making a remarkable comeback from almost total dementia to being able to start and finish tasks and remember people and events.

Coconut oil is known as a rich source of ketone energy:

Coconut oil supply the brain an alternate form of ketone energy to the brain when a portion of glucose energy is less available to brain under certain conditions. In other words the brain gets a portion of its energy from ketone bodies when glucose is less available . Other oils contain Long chains triglycerides with 14 to 18 carbon atoms but coconut oil contains medium chain triglycerides (MCT) with shorter chains of 5 to 12 carbon atoms, which are assimilated very well in the body’s systems. Medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil are metabolized differently. They go straight to the liver from the digestive tract, where they are easily metabolized and used as a quick source energy or turned into so-called ketone bodies, that can replace glucose as metabolic fuel, which can have therapeutic effects on brain disorders like epilepsy and Alzheimer’s. The medium chain triglycerides in coconut oil can increase blood concentration of ketone bodies, which can help reduce seizures in epileptic children.

This super fuel in turn provides energy to the brain as well as stimulates healing and repair. It is the chemical structure of the MCTs in coconut oil that allows them to pass the blood-brain barrier which ordinary food or oils cannot. Coconut oil does seem to be more effective in those who do not have advanced stages of Alzheimer’s and are still in the earlier stages, although scientists have seen a few testimonials for late-stage Alzheimer’s as well. Hydrogenated coconut oil is unhealthy for edible purpose and cooking. Coconut oil is still a highly saturated fat and thus not recommended by the British Heart Foundation. Still Coconut oil fans counter balance that by bringing up its lauric acid levels, which apparently both boost “good” HDL cholesterol and help to fight infection.

Coconut oil also kills bacteria and viruses:-

In older people with dementia, urinary tract infections can cause sudden behavior changes rather than the common physical symptoms. Coconut oil can help one get treated early, before the infection leads to serious health problems. When coconut oil is enzymatically digested it also forms a monoglyceride called monolaurin. Both lauric acid and monolaurin can kill harmful pathogens like bacteria, viruses and fungi. For example, these substances have been shown to kill the bacteria Staphylococcus Aureus and the yeast Candida Albicans, a common source of yeast infections in humans. Is Coconut Good or Bad “There’s a myth that saturated fats are bad for you,” says Jasmine Hemsley. “Natural fats like pure, cold-pressed coconut oils are great for you and really easy to digest. Like all saturated fats, coconut oil is heat-stable and therefore far better for you than any processed vegetable oil that’s manufactured for cooking. Most importantly it’s natural and makes food feel more satisfying while adding flavor.”

Coconut is kind of an “exotic” food in the Western world and many southern Indian states. An example of a population that eats a lot of coconut and remains in excellent health is the Kitavans. Another example of population using it is the Tokelauans, which live in the South Pacific. They eat over 60% of their calories from coconuts and are the biggest consumers of saturated fat in the world. These people remain in excellent health with no evidence of heart disease. There is a clinical trial being conducted in the US, which should provide some evidence as to whether coconut oil is safe to use in people with Alzheimer's disease and if it has any effects on thinking or memory for people with the condition. According to W.H.O. the number of people living with dementia worldwide is currently estimated at 47.5 million and is projected to increase to 75.6 million by 2030. The number of cases of dementia are estimated to more than triple by 2050. A new case of dementia is diagnosed every 4 seconds. The total number of new cases of dementia each year worldwide is nearly 7.7 million, implying 1 new case every 4 seconds. The number of people with dementia is expected to increase to 75.6 million in 2030 and 135.5 million in 2050. The American Heart Association recommends aiming for a dietary pattern that achieves 5% to 6% of calories from saturated fat. That means, for example, if you need about 2,000 calories a day, no more than 120 calories of them should come from saturated fats. That’s about 13 grams of saturated fats a day. This also, includes hidden fats in natural form in corn, pulses and other food constituents in your diet. One gram of any ghee, fat or oil gives 9 calories. Energy intake should be in balance with energy expenditure. According to W.H.O. evidence indicates that total fat should not exceed 30% of total energy intake to avoid unhealthy weight gain. Therefore for a normal person total intake of ghee, fat and oil should not be more than 1-2 table spoons, this also, includes hidden fats natural form in corn, pulses and other food constituents.

Finally for good health, it is always better to follow the healthy life style, proper exercise and good diet for overall good health and wellness of brain, body and mind. Coconut can be a rewarding oil for alzheimer, dementia and brain but still more research is needed .

P.C.S. (Rtd.)


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