What if you started noticing the mental decline of a loved one? Would you try everything, including a drastic change in diet, to prevent or reverse the symptoms? Mary T. Newport, M.D., did precisely that after her husband Steve was diagnosed with early-onset dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) at the age of 51. Her book, The Complete Book of Ketones: A Practical Guide to Ketogenic Diets and Ketone Supplements, chronicles her experience learning about and using ketones as an alternative fuel for compromised brain cells, like Steve’s.
About the Author
Dr. Mary T. Newport, M.D., had 30 years of experience as a neonatologist (a pediatrics subspecialty focused on the medical care of newborn infants), but after her husband, Steve’s, diagnosis with Alzheimer’s disease, she switched her focus to caring for him and researching ways to alleviate his symptoms. Her important discoveries on the positive effects of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) from coconut oil were unprecedented.
As a result, Dr. Newport is now considered a pioneer in the research of using coconut oil, MCT oil, and ketones for the prevention and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases like AD. She’s written two previous books, Alzheimer’s Disease: What If There Was A Cure? The Story of Ketones (2011) and The Coconut Oil and Low-Carbohydrate Solution for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Other Diseases (2015).
The Complete Book of Ketones begins with Dr. Newport detailing Steve’s declining mental state, his eventual AD diagnosis, and her attempts to get him into trials for upcoming AD drugs to slow the progression of his disease. She admits that she learned almost nothing about nutrition during medical school but found herself focusing intensely on how diet affected Steve’s condition. This brought her to the world of ketones and MCT oil. After Steve’s incredible story, Dr. Newport delivers:
- The story of her first-hand experience with the healing powers of MCT and coconut oil on someone with AD. It’s quite a story. Dr. Newport was familiar with MCT oil since it’s typically added to formula for at-risk babies in her Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), so she decided to see if it could help her husband. She heard of trials using MCT oil for patients with AD but could not get Steve into them, so she began experimenting by supplementing Steve’s Mediterranean diet with a 4:3 ratio of MCT oil – 100 percent MCTs – to coconut oil, which contains 50 to 60 percent MCTs. Ultimately, this had dramatic positive results.
- A brief rundown of research on how ketones (and MCTs) work. Dr. Newport interviewed 16 researchers in the ketone field, including experts like Dr. Theodore VanItallie, M.D., and Dr. Sami Hashim, M.D., who have been studying ketones since the 1950s, to current rising stars like Dominic D’Agostino, Ph.D., and Thomas Seyfried, Ph.D. She not only covers all the science behind how ketones work but also highlights the best and most groundbreaking results discovered in these expert case studies.
- A Q&A about coconut oil, MCT oil, and exogenous ketones. This helps readers learn what exogenous ketones are, what they do, whether to add them to your diet, what to look for, and what to expect when supplementing with them. (Hint: Dr. Newport believes supplementing with them may be preventative and keep you in better health – ketones are anti-inflammatory, after all. She supplements with coconut oil herself and is a strong advocate for adding coconut oil to your dog and cat food too.)
- Information on how to start a ketogenic diet or add more ketones to your current diet. Readers will learn how to calculate their daily macros, find the right amount of coconut oil to take daily, and build meal plans. You’ll find over 60 keto recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and dessert, plus Newport’s famous MCT oil and coconut oil mixture she used successfully with her husband.
What You’ll Learn
Dr. Newport calls The Complete Book of Ketones Steve’s “legacy to the world,” so it focuses heavily on how ketones work to power brain cells, both healthy and those affected by Alzheimer’s. There are two main takeaways in the book worth noting:
- Glucose uptake issues in the brain may cause AD, but ketones feed starved brain cells. Dr. Newport explains that people with AD and dementia experience insulin resistance in their brains. Consequently, their brains struggle to process sugar as fuel. Neurons starve and stop working correctly, then they eventually die. This causes memory loss, cognitive decline, and trouble performing everyday routines. Brain cells may struggle with insulin resistance ten to 20 years before symptoms of cognitive decline even appear. Insulin resistance is a classic symptom of type 2 diabetes (T2D), and over half of people with T2D later develop AD, so many experts now call Alzheimer’s “type 3 diabetes.”However, Dr. Newport’s research shows that brain cells may “wake up” when they receive a different source of fuel: ketones. This alternative energy source is produced by the body when it’s deprived of glucose (i.e., carbs and sugar). Ketone bodies can cross the blood-brain barrier, so they’re a direct line of fuel for brain cells. Besides a keto diet, the best ways to increase the body’s ketone levels is to directly consume MCTs and take exogenous ketones.
- Exogenous ketones may also benefit people with AD. Steve’s results with coconut oil and MCT oil garnered the attention of prominent ketone researchers. Dr. Newport got Steve into a trial for exogenous ketones, or those made outside of your body, which, when ingested, can raise ketone levels. Although he gained ground with coconut and MCT oil, the exogenous ketones further reversed the adverse effects of her husband’s disease in profound ways. Dr. Newport saw improvements in Steve’s thinking, speech, and memory immediately. He was able to shower, dress, and shave on his own, thanks to higher ketone levels. Steve’s experience with exogenous ketones was published in the Alzheimer’s and Dementia journal, a prestigious collection of research focused on neurodegenerative diseases.
What We Like
Dr. Newport’s guide to ketones comes from a unique perspective. For many years she wore doctor, researcher, and caregiver hats simultaneously. She’s able to easily explain how Steve responded to the extra ketones in his diet and the science behind why it works as she shares his miraculous story. Steve lived for 15 years with Alzheimer’s symptoms when the average lifespan after a diagnosis is just seven.
Room for Improvement
The Complete Book of Ketones includes recipes, but they do not contain photos. Also, astute readers will notice a few typos.
The Final Word
Dr. Mary Newport has been studying ketones, coconut oil, and MCT oil for the last 10 years. She’s eager to share what she’s learned about how ketones provide an alternative fuel for brain cells to use, which is invaluable if you or someone you love has a family history of Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other neurodegenerative conditions like Parkinson’s, epilepsy, and autism. Steve said it was like a “light switch had come on” in his brain after supplementing with coconut oil, MCT oil, and exogenous ketones. Don’t be surprised if you feel similarly after finishing The Complete Book of Ketones.
Check out our Q&A with Dr. Mary T. Newport, M.D. and learn more about her story, and Steve’s, here!
Shop for The Complete Book of Ketones: A Practical Guide to Ketogenic Diets and Ketone Supplements here.