Since more and more research is indicating that Alzheimer’s is “diabetes of the brain,” managing one’s blood sugar level becomes even more important, and gives us even more of a reason to utilize supplements like medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) as fuel sources. While sugar is the preferred source of fuel for the brain, MCTs are a great secondary source of brain food when glucose metabolism is impaired due to physical injury/trauma, or in functional diseases like Alzheimer’s.
MCTs are found in coconut & palm oil. When you ingest MCTs they are broken down to produce medium chain fatty acids (MCFs) which are easily absorbed across the wall of the small intestine into the bloodstream and delivered straight to the liver. Here, they are converted to ketones and quickly burned for energy (ATP). Unlike carbohydrates, MCFs don’t require insulin to be utilized by cells. In neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, brain injury or epilepsy, the brain’s ability to utilize glucose is impaired. This causes neurons to be deprived of energy and they can die. MCTs give the brain an alternative source of fuel in the form of ketones, thus improving cognitive function and memory.
Other good nutrients that support brain and proper glucose metabolism include:
- Chromium – helps with receptor sensitivity to insulin.
- B-vitamins; especially Benfotiamine (a fat soluble form of B1-Thiamine) – Great for supporting overall nerve health. Good for people with nerve pain, also known as neuropathy. (This form of B1 can be found in Xymogen’s B-Activ)
- L-Carnitine or Acetyl-L-Carnitine – amino acid that is a potent antioxidant. Transports fatty acids into the mitochondria and counteracts physical and mental fatigue. It can also protect our nerves.
- Alpha Lipoic Acid – a potent water- and fat-soluble antioxidant. Protects against nerve cell injury. Strengthens memory and stimulates nerve growth. Also increases intracellular glutathione and CoQ10 levels, other important antioxidants.
- Turmeric – my favorite herb! Not only does it help support proper digestion, but it is an inflammation modulator, improving circulation not just to the brain but throughout the entire body.
Don’t forget the oldies-but-goodies of daily exercising, proper rest and sleep, and eating real foods that will nourish you from the inside out!
by Blake Gordon, ND*. Blake is available for consultations at the Westlake location.
*Naturopathic doctors are not currently licensed in the state of Texas.