I have an exercise accountability group for people with mild cognitive impairment — it’s a great group — and recently one of the members said something really interesting.
He posted this, saying: “I increased my MCT from 10mg/day to 15mg/day last week, and my cognition notably increased after a few days . . . a great experience! I will keep you posted thru these weekly reports to see if my cognition remains higher than in prior months.”
So is that possible? Can someone with MCI take a little bit of MCT oil every day and see cognitive improvement?
The short answer is . . . yes. MCT oil is ketogenic and we’re seeing a lot of evidence that some people with MCI, not everyone, but a fair number, can see some improvement when they get ketones to the brain.
So that’s what I want to talk about today, and I have a very special guest to tell us all about it.
Hi, I’m Tony Dearing of GoCogno.com, the website for people with mild cognitive impairment.
My guest today is Dr. Nate Bergman, chief scientific wellness officer at Kemper Cognitive Wellness in Cleveland. He is one of the pre-eminent experts in the treatment of MCI, and the host of the “Evolving Past Alzheimer’s” podcast.
He was also kind enough to write the forward to my new book on MCI, “I Want My Mind Back: The Go Cogno Approach to Halt or Reverse Mild Cognitive Impairment” which just published and is available on Amazon.
Dr. Bergman joined me recently for a Facebook Live in a private group for people with MCI recently, to talk about ketones and ketosis. I invite you watch the full Facebook Live, and you can see that here. But today and next week, I want to share some outtakes from that discussion, and it begins with this question.
Tony: Do ketones and ketosis have the potential to benefit like most people with mild cognitive impairment? Some people?
Dr. Bergman: I don’t know how much in the weeds we want to get into MCI, but you know there’s an amnestic form, or forgetful form, and a non-amnestic form. But for people that are really on this trajectory of decline and are in the stages of neurodegenerative disease, as you well know, Tony, and probably most people that are joining us here know, mild cognitive impairment ,there’s nothing mild about it at all. It is really a profound amount of brain loss. But we think for many people there is still something to do about it, right? It’s not so far gone often that there’s nothing to do about it. Now, in terms of who can benefit from ketosis, so it’s pretty clear to me that some people that have especially amnestic or a kind of the prodromal pre-clinical Alzheimer’s forms of mild cognitive impairment and even cognitive impairment that relates to Parkinson’s or perhaps Parkinson’s related like Lewy Body dementia may have a benefit from ketones. For many, the ketogenic diet, a ketogenic approach or getting into nutritional ketosis can be helpful.
Dr. Bergman went on to explain why. It turns out that ketones can come to the rescue of the brain, as a form of back-up energy.
Dr. Bergman: Essentially what’s happening in Alzheimer’s and other kinds of neurodegenerative diseases is that there is an energy crisis, right? The brain becomes almost starved or very, very hungry for more energy and ketones appear to be able to kind of rescue or save the brain from an energy perspective. Kind of the 30,000 foot view is that certain regions of the brain start to falter. It’s like if you had a power wire network, there’s certain areas that are critical and the wires start to get faulty. It seems like ketosis is sort of a way that you can rescue this. So I think it’s worth a try.
One way to get that ketogenic benefit is by taking MCT oil, and that is a very timely topic right now, so I asked Dr. Bergman about it.
Tony: The other thing I wanted to talk about maybe before the full keto diet, there’s been a tremendous amount of attention in the last two or three weeks to Stephen Cunnane in Quebec and this research he’s been doing on MCT oil, and it’s specifically on people with MCI. And they’re taking for a period of six months roughly kind of the equivalent of two or three teaspoons of MCT oil in a milk-type drink twice a day and the evidence indicates cognitively they’re getting a good result. I don’t want to oversimplify it but it’s interesting research . Have you been following that? What’s your take on that, and particularly it’s bearing for people with MCI?
Dr. Bergman: Yeah, so, Cunnane’s work is important. I think obviously probably when it comes to the hard-core research in brain bio-energetics particularly related to ketosis, he is one of the major thought leaders there. I think it’s fascinating. And it does appear that giving the body ketones in some way, even if they are not necessarily eating a ketogenic diet, because I’ve had people who just can’t comply with the full nutritional ketogenic diet, but they are able to take MCT oil. These go straight to your liver, where they can basically be used as sort of like instant energy. It’s sort of an instant energy in that your body, your liver, changes the MCTs into ketones, and then the body is using then to . . . so fats can’t cross the blood-brain barrier, ketones can. So MCT oil is a quick way to kind of give your body ketones. So for those who haven’t experimented with MCT oil, medium chain triglyceride oil, which is not exactly the same thing as coconut oil, the coconut oil can be helpful too in some cases. But MCT oil is something that you really want to slowly build up to. I wouldn’t want to start with a few tablespoons a day or three teaspoons a day. I would start with like a half a teaspoon with some food and see how it goes.
Now in the Facebook Live, Dr. Bergman went much deeper on ketones and the keto diet and the KetoFLEX diet, and I really do encourage you to watch the full video. Again, it’s available here.
But when it comes to ketogenic energy, one simple, proven way to get that benefit can be MCT oil. It’s something you can consider and try, if you want to. For more information on Dr. Cunnane’s research and the benefit that MCT oil can offer people with MCI, I wrote a full article, which you can read here.
Of course, talk to your doctor before you try MCT oil or make any other changes to your diet that can affect your health.
But if you’re determined to defend your cognition, and give yourself the best possible chance of slowing, halting or reversing your cognitive decline, this is one option and I thank Dr. Bergman for discussing it with us.
I hope to see you again next week. Until then, as always, be kind to your mind.