What if somebody told you there's a versatile food you can eat every day that would improve memory, reduce menopausal symptoms, and help you lose weight? You'd add it to your shopping list pronto, right? Well that's exactly what I did after talking to Dr. Larry McCleary about the health benefits of coconut oil.
Dr. McClearly is a retired pediatric neurologist who now studies and writes about how diet affects our brains and our waistlines, and his latest book is titled Feed Your Brain, Lose Your Belly. He explained that as women age and go through menopause, it becomes more difficult for our bodies to nourish our brains. This not only results in mental issues like memory loss and general brain fog but also can contribute to weight problems as our undernourished brains trigger us to overeat. His explanation for the mechanism behind it is fascinating, and although I can't do justice to it here I want to share what he had to say about coconut oil: "Your brain loves the medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil, because they're rapidly converted into energy your brain can use," says Dr. McCleary. "And unlike energy from glucose, which only lasts for twenty minutes, the energy from coconut oil lasts a long time. That keeps you satisfied and prevents insulin spikes and energy dips."
He also says that the fatty acids DHA (the one found in cold water fish) and ALA (found in flax seed and nuts) are essential brain food, and I'll write more about that soon, but I really fixated on the coconut oil part of our conversation because it was news to me. For years heart health authorities have been telling us to avoid coconut oil because it's high in saturated fat, but now that evidence is mounting that consuming cholesterol probably isn't the culprit behind heart disease, I suspect that they'll start to back pedal on that one. I also came across this article about a doctor, named Mary Newport who believes that coconut oil has reversed her husband's Alzheimer's disease (Dr. Newport also has a blog on the subject).
I'm definitely buying coconut oil at the store tomorrow, and will see if using it in a morning smoothie will help me get through to lunch without a lot of snacking. I'm tempted to send Dr. McCleary's book to my parents, but am going to think it over first because I don't want to seem pushy or imply that I think there's anything wrong with their brains (or bellies) just the way they are.