Ketones to fight Alzheimer’s

There has been decades of effort to develop a synthetic drug to cure or simply prevent Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). Recent research suggests that a treatment may already exist in the form of dietary change. An increasing number of reports show that the improvement of metabolic health can alleviate symptoms and reduce overall brain pathology associated with AD.

Similar to our bodies muscles, the brain requires a significant amount of energy to function properly. Both muscles and neurons have the ability to metabolise ketones as a source of energy when glucose is short supplied, for instance during a phase of fasting or low-carb diet. 1920’s scientists discovered high fat diet based on ketogenesis controlled epilepsy and ketosis still remains one of the most effective treatments for this. This lead to the study of the possibility that ketones may then also be neuroprotective against other diseases such as AD and since then the research has highlighted that ketones do alter brain metabolism in ways that reduce neuropathology and do relieve behavioural symptoms.

Proof of Ketosis easing AD

A 2004 study of 20 people with AD were treated with medium chain triglycerides (type of saturated fat found in coconut/palm oils) and a placebo. The treatment for those taking the triglycerides increased ketone levels and those individuals with higher ketone levels were found to have a greater memory improvement. In addition to the support of Ketosis a 2012 study tested whether memory could be improved simply through a low-carb diet, rather than the previous study using supplements. 23 individuals partook in the program and those following the low-carb diet over six weeks showed a significantly improved memory compared to those on a high carb diet.  Furthermore, the ketogenic diet was found to help a 63-year-old man with advanced AD through an increased consumption in coconut oil and medium chain triglycerides, both known to help the ketone levels. His cognitive function was tested and from extremely low test scores, he went from a 12 to 20 out of 30. Then after two years his cognitive and daily functions both improved and his MRI displayed no further brain atrophy.

The compelling support for the therapeutic potential of ketosis offers hope that a dominant weapon in humanity’s battle against AD may already exist and exist so in the form of a spoon of coconut oil or as an avocado mousse.