Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Practical suggestions for supporting restful sleep

An article by Peter Bongiorno in the March 2013 edition of Naturopathic Doctor News and Review offers a number of practical suggestions for supporting restful sleep including aiming to go to bed preferably by 10 PM.  This suggestion is based on maximum melatonin (which supports restful sleep) production occurring between 10 PM and 2 AM.  Another recommendation is to avoid bright lights at least 30 minutes prior to going to bed.  This includes bright lights from overhead lights or lamps, as well as bright lights from computer/phone/TV screens.  Building on this, it is important to create a night time ritual leading up to bed which can include dimming/shutting off room lights and considering a nervine tea, like chamomile, which helps to calm and relax the central nervous and supports restful sleep.  A person can also consider integrating a small nighttime snack (such as a slice of apple or banana with nut butter, a small piece of rice cake/bread with nut butter) to support healthy blood sugar balancing which also supports restful sleep.  Whether we have difficulty around falling and maintaining a restful sleep or not, these suggestions are easy to integrate and can result in a more balanced sleep for everyone.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Coconut oil and Alzheimer's Disease

An article by William Ware in the February/March 2013 edition of Integrated Healthcare Practitioners discusses the support that coconut oil (and medium chain triglyceride rich oil) can offer for people with mild to moderate Alzheimer's Disease (AD).  One theory behind AD is that there is impaired glucose metabolism and impaired insulin action in the brain which leads to decreased energy production in the brain and impaired cognitive function.  Coconut oil is rich in medium chain triglycerides (MCT's) which provide a source of ketone bodies which can compensate for the impaired insulin action and act as an alternative fuel for the brain helping to support healthy cognitive function.  Based on this theory/research, specifically designed MCT rich oils are also now available in health food stores.  MCT rich oil provides a higher level of ketone bodies than coconut oil, but these higher levels decline more quickly in the blood/body than the ketone bodies that are provided from coconut oil.  An American MD, Mary Newport, has worked extensively with coconut oil and MCT rich oil and has developed a protocol to offer optimal support for people with AD.  She suggests a 1:1 ratio of coconut oil and MCT rich oil and to dose a total of 3 tbsp with each meal and 2 tbsp before bed.  Newport does report that she has seen diarrhea with these high doses, but slowly increasing the dose does tend to prevent diarrhea.  These doses would be way too high for someone without AD, but this research does give a great insight into the important level of support coconut oil and MCT rich oil can offer for overall brain health.  Based on this, it is good to consider integrating coconut oil (and/or MCT rich oil) into our daily routine.