In recent months everyone's gone nuts for coconuts; gym bunnies are seen quenching their thirst with coconut water every which way we go, Paleo diet followers are frying their food in coconut oil and it's even been hailed as the fat that can help you lose weight . But now it seems coconut oil could be doing more than slimming down our waistlines; there are claims it could help to treat the symptoms of Alzheimer's.
A family from Middlesex are now campaigning for a medical trial into the benefits of coconut oil after they believe it has helped their father, Vrajlal Parmar to overcome some of the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.
Appearing on Daybreak, Vrajlal's son Kal explained how hard it was to see his father change when he was diagnosed with the late stages of the disease in 2007. "Dad completely changed as a person… he wasn't a pleasant man," he told presenter Lorraine Kelly.
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Doctors told the family that the 68-year-old's condition was too advanced for any medication; he couldn't do anything for himself and needed watching around the clock. But when son Kal found a video on YouTube seven months ago, posted by Dr Mary Newport who had been treating her husband's Alzheimer's with coconut oil in Florida, the family gave it a go with dramatic results. They now give him three tablespoons of coconut oil twice a day, including putting it on his Weetabix.
"His opinions have come back. His wants have come back. His desire to be happy has come back… So we saw a negative human become positive," Kal Parmar told Daybreak. Kal's father can now even get the bus by himself when just seven months ago he could barely talk.
Dr Mary Newport describes the disease as 'a type of diabetes of the brain', whereby brain cells are unable to accept glucose, their main fuel; without it, they eventually die. However, the body can use energy from fat stores instead, in the form of ketones. It's the MCT (medium chain triglycerides) in coconut oil that can create this brain food, and therefore help to give the cells the energy needed to work correctly. The anecdotes follow the findings last August that Alzheimer's may be caused by the brain blocking insulin, in what scientists dubbed 'type three diabetes'. Dr Newport's husband reportedly showed incredible improvement; she told Daybreak he was even able to start running again.
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This isn’t the first time we’ve heard the benefits of coconut oil, with health and fitness leaders raving about it and nutritionists including our GTG expert Amelia Freer touting it as the best fat to cook with. Nathalie Schyllert of Bodyism says it’s a must. “We strongly recommend that our clients are consuming coconut oil. We even add [it] to our Bodyism Shakes. It tastes amazing and does wonders!”
It’s not just weight loss that’s given the oil its good name, either. “Coconut oil is a multi tasker,” explains Nathalie. “The fat is built up of medium-chain fatty acids and it is very easily digested. It also helps to speed up your metabolism and improves your skin quality.”
As yet there have been no studies or trials to confirm that coconut oil can help sufferers, and experts are keen to point out that even if it works for some, it might not work for others. But until we find out, there's no harm in incorporating the newly popular fat into your diet in small doses; just talk to your doctor first if you’re unsure. We're looking forward to finding out what else this natural wonder can do...
Coconut oil is available from Planet Organic , £4.69 for 200g.