Coconut may be key to keeping our brains young. A new Danish study suggests that coconut oil postpones signs of premature aging in the brains of mice, a finding that may lead to future treatments for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
As we age, our DNA repair system doesn’t work as well as it did when we were young. A team of researchers from the Center for Healthy Aging, University of Copenhagen and the National Institute of Health conducted a study using mice with a defect in their DNA repair systems that, in humans, would cause Cockayne syndrome. Children with Cockayne syndrome age prematurely and die between the ages of 10 and 12 years.
Researchers found that the placing mice with the rodent version of Cockayne syndrome on a high-fat diet of coconut oil appeared to postpone signs of aging in the brain. It also postponed other aging processes such as impaired hearing and weight loss.
"The study is good news for children with Cockayne syndrome, because we do not currently have an effective treatment,” said the study’s lead researcher, Professor Vilhelm Bohr from the Center for Healthy Aging, University of Copenhagen and the National Institute of Health, in a university release.“Our study suggests that a high-fat diet can postpone aging processes. A diet high in fat also seems to postpone the aging of the brain. The findings therefore potentially imply that patients with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease in the long term may benefit from the new knowledge."
Researchers believe that additional fuel provided by coconut oil, a medium-chain fatty acid, may arm the brain against an overly active cell repair system, which eats into the cells resources and causes it to age. Past research has suggested that omega-3 fatty acids may also protect against Parkinson’s.