A new drink can reverse mild memory loss and possibly ward off Alzheimer’s Disease, and is to be released onto the market within weeks.

A researcher who has for years been looking into the benefits of ketones as a source of energy for the brain has developed a ketone drink that can significantly improve cognitive function in people at a high risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

In a small study, Professor Stephen Cunnane, a researcher at the Université de Sherbrooke in Canada, has shown that regularly drinking a ketogenic drink for six months significantly improves three areas of thinking: executive function, memory and language.

“We were able to observe the ketones used by the brain and to demonstrate improved cognitive performance in the participants who consumed the beverage,” he said in a statement released by the University. 

What are ketones?

Glucose is the main source of energy for the brain, but as we grow older our brains become less effective at processing the fuel. If brains aren’t getting enough energy, cognitive function, such as memory can decline. 

Dr Cunnane has been working for years on an alternate fuel for the brain – ketones.

Ketones are chemicals produced by the liver, which processes fat into a source of energy when it senses the body doesn’t have enough carbohydrates or glucose to power the body.

In 2019, Dr Cunnane told CTV News, “It was always thought that this energy problem was a consequence of the disease because the cells are starting to die… We showed clearly that that’s not the case, because they’re utilizing this alternative fuel. We’ve shown convincingly, as far as I’m concerned, that ketones definitely help the ageing brain work better.”

The trial

Dr Cunnane and his team tested his theory in a series of six-month trials.

After an earlier successful trial in 2019, this latest trial was conducted over six months with more than 80 participants. Thirty-nine participants took 15 grams twice a day of ketogenic medium chain triglyceride, which can be easily derived from coconut oil and encourages the body to produce more ketones. Forty-four participants took a placebo. 

The results have been published in the journal Alzheimers & Dementia, and show that those who consumed the ketogenic drink saw their memory function, verbal fluency and executive function improve by comparison to those who took the placebo.

Improved quality of life

The results could significantly improve the quality of life of people living with mild cognitive impairment, a condition that can precede Alzheimer’s disease and for which, until now, there has been no treatment.

Drink being released in Europe

Over the coming weeks, a formulation of the ketogenic drink used in Dr Cunnane’s study will be released in Europe for people experiencing mild cognitive decline. 

Nestlé Health Science, which helped to fund the research and is also assisting with distribution, will release the drink under the name BrainXpert. The product will also be available for sale online.

The drink comes in the form of sachets of powder that are designed to be dissolved in cold drinks and consumed with food in the morning, and then again in the afternoon.

Dr Cunnane recommends treating memory problems as soon as possible because Alzheimer’s can ‘lie dormant’ in the brain for years before the first symptoms appear.

 

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