As the result of swimming at the Pointe Claire pool, I’m learning the secret to ageing well is staying healthy and watching one’s diet closely. One of our discoveries: coconut oil. We use it as we would oil, margerine and butter and we’ve noticed a difference in our metabolisms. More lean muscle mass, less fat, fewer aches and pains.
We’re not alone in our respect for coconut oil. This column ran in the Gazette Vaudreuil-Soulanges back in June, 2012
Coconut oil and NOVA
Back in February, I read a piece by Dr. Joe Schwarcz in the Montreal Gazette about coconut oil and Alzheimer’s. Dr. Joe was cautiously optimistic there might be a scientific basis to the use of medium-chain fatty acids to overcome the inability of the Alzheimer brain to metabolize glucose.
I didn’t give it another thought until Maureen Young dropped by the office to get a copy of her mom’s obituary. We got to talking about Lorna, who taught many of us either in Grade 1, in music class or in the choir at Wyman.
The obituary said Lorna Bell Chadwick Young passed at home May 15, surrounded by her family and that all who knew her are invited to a celebration of her life Canada Day weekend. What it didn’t tell us was how coconut oil gave Lorna’s family their mother back for the last three months of her life.
Alzheimer’s has been described as a living hell from which death can be a merciful release for both victim and family. Lorna had been going steadily downhill for some time. There’s a family joke about how they’re all ‘forever Young,’ but the radiant woman with the incredible voice who gifted her family and so many others with music was being gradually robbed of everything in life.
Maureen’s story begins in a hospital ER, where her failing 87-year-old mother spent four days in a hallway last year. “Everyone that went to touch her, she thought she was defending herself and when she couldn’t anymore, she just checked out. It was just horrible…it took us six months to recover from that, so we knew we could never do that again.”
With the help of NOVA Hudson’s nurses, the family brought Lorna back to Maureen’s home to spend her last days. “Even so, she kept deteriorating,” Mareen recalls. Between Christmas and February, Lorna forgot how to eat out of a spoon or drink from a glass. “She’d bite the glass. Her eyes were vacant…it was really, really….sad. She was threatened by anybody who tried to change her, or anybody who came near her.”
Then Maureen got an e-mail from former Hudson resident Stevie Stephenson, whose dad Hugh was principal at Mount Pleasant Elementary. He’d been reading about Dr. Mary Newport, a neonatal pediatrician whose husband Steve had begun developing symptoms of Alzheimer’s in 2004. In 2008, Newport had an epiphany — certain fatty acids transformed by the liver into ketones might be able to replace the missing blood sugars. She fed Steve two tablespoons of coconut oil and saw a dramatic improvement.
The next day, Maureen began feeding Lorna coconut oil, a tablespoon in the morning and another in the evening. She swears the results were immediate, but within a week, there was absolutely no question. “She started to wake up. She was present in her eyes. She started moving, she started eating, she started co-operating, she started laughing and smiling and walking! I could walk her by holding her hand. It was a miracle and it kept getting better!”
Maureen said the NOVA Hudson nurses told her they’d never seen anything like it. “We had mom for three months. And it was her again. She would smile and say think you and ‘that’s delicious.’ It was absolutely remarkable. Little Lolobelle, Coral’s little daughter, could sit in her lap and watch cartoons with her.”
One day, while Maureen and Karen were changing their mother’s diaper, Karen started to sing a sacred choral piece. “Mom started to sing with her in harmony. It would just make us cry, it was so beautiful.”
Another milestone — Lorna was watching an old Abbott and Costello movie. “She was laughing, enjoying it, interacting with it, telling the girl to watch out for Dracula behind her.”
When Rosalie, Doug and Isobel’s youngest would come over and play the piano for her grandmother, Lorna would conduct her with her hands. “She’d put a little pressure on her hands to show the nuances… she was right there with her. She’d clap and clap afterwards…she so appreciated the music right to the end, when she hadn’t even been able to hear it before.”
When Lorna passed, it was beautiful and easy. “She was present and she knew she was loved, she wasn’t frightened, we sang to her right through her last breath, Dougie, Karen and I, and we just held her and sang her out. That was such a gift to us — the coconut oil and NOVA.”
Maureen tells Lorna’s story for others struggling with Alzheimer. “It’s terrible that we don’t have her now, but we did have her. That’s what I’m so grateful for. It made it possible for me, Karen and Dougie to keep her here, where she was happy, where the cats could sit on her lap, and be happy, rather than stuck somewhere all on her own.”
I followed up with this in September 2012:
A followup on my column a couple of months back about how several spoonfuls of coconut oil a day gave Lorna Young’s family their mother back: A Brown University Medical School research team has added compelling new evidence to support the theory that Alzheimer’s is a metabolic disease and unhealthy eating habits are a root cause.
The researchers found that insulin and its related proteins are produced by the brain as well as the pancreas. Their hypothesis is that a new form of diabetes (they labelled it type 3 diabetes) is the result of a drop in brain insulin levels. Unlike types 1 and 2, it doesn’t affect blood sugar, but the team found that many type 2 diabetics have protein deposits in their pancreas similar to those found in the brain tissue of Alzheimer sufferers.
The findings strengthen the evidence that people with diabetes have up to 65 percent more chance of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. A Sept. 10 article on the study in The Guardian notes: “About 35 million people suffer from Alzheimer’s disease worldwide; current projections, based on the rate at which the population ages, suggest that this will rise to 100 million by 2050. But if, as many scientists now believe, it is caused largely by the brain’s impaired response to insulin, the numbers could rise much further.”