Clearly Keto with author Dr. Mary Newport

July 8, 2023

Today we have a very special show planned for you: we have invited Dr Mary Newport, author of Clearly Keto, to share her knowledge about the use of a high fat/low carb diet to help not only her husband, but thousands of others for the management of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease. For well over a decade, Dr Mary Newport has played an instrumental role in advancing the field of nutritional neuroscience by expanding the role of the ketogenic diet. Listen in to learn what you can do to prevent dementia and to support your brain as you age.

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MELANIE: Welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition, brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. Today we have a very special show planned for you. We have invited Dr. Mary Newport, author of Clearly Keto, to share her knowledge about the use of a high fat, low carb diet, to help not only her husband, Steve, but thousands of others for the management of the symptoms of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.

Our longtime listeners may remember when Dar, the founder of Nutritional Weight and Wellness, interviewed Dr. Mary in April of 2016 about her book, The Coconut Oil and Low-Carb Solution for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and Other Diseases, and again, in February of 2019 for her book, The Complete Book of Ketones. It is an honor to have Dr. Mary Newport join us to discuss her new book, Clearly Keto. Before we start asking Dr. Mary questions, I want to introduce ourselves.

I'm Melanie Beasley. I am a Registered and Licensed Dietitian for about 30 years, and I've implemented a high fat diet to support brain function in various clients. I'm so excited to learn more. And her book was very informative. You know, in the past there's been a derogatory term called “fathead” that people have used, but it's actually an accurate term because more than 60% of the brain matter is made up of fat. So fat is critical to support brain health. Later in the show, Dr. Mary will share other important nutrients needed for good brain function. Joining me as our cohost is Leah Kleinschrodt. Good morning, Leah.

LEAH: Good morning. Mel.

MELANIE: Also a Registered and Licensed Dietitian. Recently, Leah has worked with clients from a local medical clinic who specialized in helping people with seizure disorders and memory loss to follow a brain healthy diet. So I'm excited to be in the studio today with two brilliant practitioners on brain health.

LEAH: Oh, you're too sweet, Mel. Yeah, and it's, I mean, it's such a learning experience for me as well learning from my clients of what actually, especially with these clients with a seizure disorder or memory loss, like what actually works the best for them. Some people can really just go more of our balanced eating route and kind of clean up what they're eating and see wonderful improvements, and other people need to go a little more extreme. I've definitely worked with clients who needed more of that ketogenic approach, and that works really well for them.

So we kind of find where they need to be on that spectrum of good balanced eating and nutritious food, and we roll with it from there. So let's turn it over to our guest. So, Dr. Mary, welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition, and we have, you know, it's been a couple of years since you've been on with us, and we have a lot of new listeners who may not have know a whole lot of your background or know your story or Steve's story. So let's just start off with sharing with our listeners how and why you got started with a ketogenic diet, because you're actually a pediatrician specializing in neonatology, which is the opposite end of the spectrum.

DR. MARY NEWPORT: Right. Good morning Melanie and Leah and everyone out there listening. I really appreciate the invitation. So as you mentioned, I'm a newborn specialist. I practiced for 30 years in the Tampa Bay area of Florida, a hospital based in newborn intensive care units. And my husband, Steve was an accountant and he was able to work from home as an accountant and manager for my practice, which allowed him to be home to take care of our children, which was perfect for our situation.

Dr. Newport’s husband’s story with Alzheimer’s

But and he, he was not somebody who you would ever expect to get Alzheimer's. He was a very physically active man. He read constantly. He was on a computer all day, either playing or working on it. And you know, he just, you just wouldn't expect that to happen. But when he was 51, he started having some memory issues; just forgetting appointments. Even if I'd call him a half hour ahead of time, he'd forget to take the children to an appointment, that type of thing.

But then it, it started getting a little more serious when he started forgetting if he'd been to the bank and the post office. And, you know, at age 51, that's, you know, that's not typical. And it continued to worsen. And a doctor at the time, a neuropsychiatrist, felt that he most likely had depression as a cause of his memory issues; mentioned dementia but it continued to worsen. And when he was 54, he was officially diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease. I wasn't even really aware that that was a problem. It's about 2% of people with Alzheimer's, or if this happens before age 65. And he was quite young.

So it was as you can imagine, it completely changed our outlook on life. And, and you know, I was constantly looking for things that might help him, clinical trials or whatever, and, you know, but he continued to progress in the meantime. When he was 56, so a couple years after his diagnosis, I happened on a study about the Mediterranean diet that people with Alzheimer's who ate the most Mediterranean-like diet lived on average four years longer than people who ate the least Mediterranean like diet. And that was my first inkling that nutrition could have anything to do with Alzheimer's.

LEAH: Mm-hmm.

DR. NEWPORT: Or could affect it in any way. And, you know, so we switched over rather quickly from our convenience food diet, which was pretty bad. I thought it was a good diet, but it was actually, looking back, it was terrible and to a Mediterranean diet. And he still progressed. It's hard to know if it slowed it down, but he continued to progress. I benefited quite a bit from it. And, you know, but when he was, you know, 58 in 2008 he was really going downhill quite quickly.

I really thought I wouldn't have him for more than two or three more years. And two clinical trials opened up in our area, and there hadn't been any for quite a while. And I signed them up to try out for both of the clinical trials. And the night before, I was looking on the internet for the risks and benefits of these two new drugs. And I happened on a press release about a medical food that was going to come out in about a year after that that had done studies showing that nearly half of the people with Alzheimer's who took this, they called it AC-1202, that they had improved memory and cognition.

And that is not something you ever hear about Alzheimer's drugs. Even the new recent drugs that come out, they don't claim to improve cognition. They claim to slow it down: the decline. So this kind of piqued my interest and it didn't really say what it did in the press release or what it was, but I found their patent application and I learned that it was medium chain triglyceride oil, and I was familiar with that because I'm a neonatologist, a newborn specialist.


DR. NEWPORT: Yeah. We used to add it to the feedings of our tiniest preemies under two pounds to help them gain weight faster and they would get home faster. And one of the things I learned was that breast milk has medium chain triglycerides in it. So it's, it's very important for the newborn brain. I, I figure, you know, pretty much anything in breast milk that's natural is there for a reason.

MELANIE: Absolutely.

Background on medium chain triglycerides and ketones

DR. NEWPORT: And yes. So I, you know, found out that, and, and it, it helped me recall really from biochemistry class that medium chain triglycerides are converted to ketones in the liver, and that ketones are an alternative fuel for the brain during starvation. This was studied in the 1960s. I had learned this in medical school biochemistry class too, that after you have been fasting for 36, 48 hours, that you deplete the glucose that's stored in your liver and your muscles. And basically you start breaking down fat, and part of that fat is converted to ketones, and the brain can use ketones as an alternative fuel to glucose in that situation. It just, the cells can quick, immediately switch over to using ketones as a fuel. So this was intriguing and I thought, okay, there's a sound basis for this, you know, that could explain, you know, if the neurons get more energy, they're going to work better.


DR. NEWPORT: And that includes neurons in involved with memory and learning. So I, you know, this was about 1:00 AM. He was scheduled in at 9:00 AM in the morning to, you know, try out for this clinical trial. So I didn't really have time to do anything about it that first day. And we went on for the screening, and he needed to score at least 16 points on a 30 point memory test called the Mini Mental State Exam or MMSE. And he only scored 14 points. So he didn't get in. He didn't get accepted.

MELANIE: Devastating.

DR. NEWPORT: It was very devastating. And the doctor had him draw a clock, and he drew a few little random circles, not even a big circle, few little random circles and four numbers that were scattered. And she said, you know, this is very disorganized. He's on the verge of severe Alzheimer's. And, and I kind of knew that, but it really hit home. And on the way home I thought, well, I know coconut oil, they mentioned in the patent application that MCT oil is extracted from coconut oil, and I knew I could get coconut oil on the shelf. So we stopped at a health food store and picked it up. And when I got home, I refreshed my memory from the internet of which were the medium chain triglycerides, and was able to calculate how much coconut oil to give him that would be equal to the dose of that medical food that wouldn't be out for another year.

MELANIE: Wow. you were on it. Dr. Mary, we're going to take a real quick break.


MELANIE: This is fascinating. I can't wait to hear the rest of the story.

DR. NEWPORT: Yeah. Cliffhanger, cliffhanger.

MELANIE: Cliffhanger. Well, you are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness, and today we have the privilege of interviewing author Dr. Mary Newport, sharing her very personal story. And I think you will find her most recent book, Clearly Keto, a wonderful resource guide to help you maintain healthy brain function. We'll be right back to hear the rest of the story.


Avoid excess sugar to prevent dementia & healthy aging

LEAH: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. This morning we are talking with Dr. Mary Newport, author of Clearly Keto, and in her book, she includes a whole host of things that readers can do to prevent dementia and enjoy healthier brain aging. And of course, one of those first things, one of those big overarching topics is to avoid excess sugar and sugar sweetened drinks. And so when I'm counseling clients, I'll talk about these as being the liquid sugars, so the soft drinks, fruit drinks, sweet tea and coffee drinks, and especially the drinks that have high fructose corn syrup in them.

Steve’s improvement in Alzheimer’s with taking therapeutic doses of coconut oil (MCT’s)

So hopefully we will get to that little piece a little later in our interview with Dr. Mary. But Dr. Mary, I want to bridge us back into your wonderful, amazing story about Steve. You were just, we kind of left you with a cliffhanger there as you were, you were describing. You read in a, in a press release about a product to create ketones, but Steve was going to do this clinical trial in the morning. He ended up not getting into that. And then on your way home, you're like, well, I know I can get ketones or get some of these good fats in through coconut oil. So you stopped on the way home, grabbed some coconut oil, and I think this is where you, you take the story from here.

DR. NEWPORT: Yes. Yes. So I calculated that a little over seven teaspoons would equal the dose of the medical food. Because coconut oil doesn't have nearly as much as 100% MCT oil as the MCTs.

LEAH: Right.

DR. NEWPORT: So the next morning he was scheduled again to try out for a different clinical trial in a different location at, in that early afternoon, which was fortunate. And I gave him the, that amount of coconut oil in oatmeal for breakfast and he ate it. He liked it. I took some too. I got indigestion. But I got over that pretty quickly afterwards. And we proceeded to Tampa to try out for the clinical trial. And this time he scored four points higher, which is amazing.

MELANIE: That is amazing.

DR. NEWPORT: In one day on that 30-point test. And he qualified and we were just shocked. I mean, and I, you know, at the time I thought, okay, maybe we got really lucky, but there's maybe something to this and I'm gone keep it going. And so every morning from that point on, I started giving him a little over two tablespoons, seven teaspoons of coconut oil. But then I thought, you know when I, one thing I read in the patent application was that for the MCT oil was that the ketones peak at 90 minutes and they're gone at three hours. I thought, well, what about the other 21 hours of the day for his brain?

LEAH: Mm-hmm.

DR. NEWPORT: So I started cooking with it. I got, you know, cookbooks, recipes and started cooking with it throughout the day. And we had coconut milk, which is loaded with coconut oil. And and he improved. Every day, there were improvements. He said it was like a light switch came on and his head, the day he started the coconut oil. He told me that many times. His mood improved. He started, you know, whistling and being more talkative and more active, and he could walk faster.

MELANIE: And the only change you had made was incorporating this coconut oil.

DR. NEWPORT: Yes. Right. That was the only change. And after four or five days was so, you know, pronounced and he was aware he had Alzheimer's, you know, we could talk about it. And we both agreed that something had changed something for the better. And, you know, so we kept it going and I started researching everything I could to get, you know, get my hands on about ketones, coconut oil, MCT oil. And I started speaking with Dr. Richard Beach at the NIH, who is an expert on ketones. And he was developing a ketone ester at the time. And he gave me great encouragement, sent me all kinds of information, hooked me up with other ketone researchers to talk with. And Steve kept improving. He, by about two months, he could tie his shoes again. Can you imagine not being able to tie your shoes?

LEAH: Mm-Hmm.

DR. NEWPORT: Yeah. And he started walking normally. He, he had been kind of stiff and slow, and he was able to just walk normally and pick up his feet and run again. And he had a visual disturbance that went away. He said it was like the words would shake on the page. And that disappeared after about three and a half or four months.

MELANIE: To be able to read again.

DR. NEWPORT: Yes. And then he was able to remember what he read. Around nine, 10 months, he would start remembering what he had read several hours earlier and tell me about it, which was amazing. And he improved so much that he was able to start working as a volunteer at the hospital two days a week in their supply warehouse, which was quite amazing. And it, it just made the biggest difference in his life and both of our lives really, you know? I mean, I felt like I got my husband back.

MELANIE: Oh, I was just going to ask you, did you feel like you got your husband back? I remember one of my, one of the things that you said, which I thought must have been so joyful for you, was that he was a good whistler and that you, he started whistling again. So he was more joyful.

DR. NEWPORT: Yeah. He had these medleys of beautiful songs. He was a beautiful Whistler. Yes.

MELANIE: So great.

DR. NEWPORT: And he was more joyful. I always knew he was happy when he was whistling.

MELANIE: Yes. Which in turn makes you happy.


LEAH: Yeah, absolutely.

DR. NEWPORT: Indeed.

LEAH: Yeah. And so, so many, so many great benefits. And, and again, you, there was motivation to kind of keep going, especially since you saw some of those things right away. And so you, you noticed a lot of these improvements. You said you went, he even got back to work and was able to do some volunteer work a couple of days a week. And it's just, I mean, again, it's, this is unheard of when you talk about, especially at this point, because we are talking now, what, 15ish years ago or so? Especially back then, unheard of. Usually it's trying to maintain or slow the decline versus improve.

DR. NEWPORT: Right. And there's still nothing, no approved drugs that improve Alzheimer's even years later.

Understanding brain chemistry: excess sugar vs. a high fat diet

MELANIE: The power of the coconut oil, the MCT oil is amazing. So understanding brain chemistry and functioning. It's a very complicated topic for our listeners. Dr. Mary, if you would just explain to the listeners why sugar and excess processed carbs confuse the brain while following a high fat diet, especially with the coconut oil or MCT oil or coconut milk supports the production of ketones, which in turn feeds the brain the energy it needs to function. So what gives the brain energy to remember glucose or ketones?

DR. NEWPORT: Okay, so you know, basically there's an energy molecule, ATP, that virtually all cells in our body need, including brain cells. And it's, it is produced from, it's called the PCA cycle. So glucose and ketones can both enter the same cycle to basically to freight ATP. And ketones actually enter much more efficiently. It, it's six fewer steps to get to, to ATP when you are using ketones entering the cycle instead of glucose.

The insulin resistance connection to Alzheimer’s

So all of the brain cells, the, well, the, the neurons at least are able to switch over immediately from using glucose to ketones if, if glucose isn't available. And the reason it's not available in many of these neurons in people with Alzheimer's is because of a problem called insulin resistance, which is very much like type two diabetes. So you know, over time, and this is a problem that starts happening 10 to 20 years before you even have symptoms. They have all documented this in people's brains. And even some people in their twenties who are at risk for Alzheimer's already have decreased glucose uptake into their brain.

LEAH: Yeah. So would you, would you say, would you kind of liken it to a hybrid car almost, where…?


LEAH: People, usually their brains run on glucose most of the time, but then when you start thinking about some of these neurodegenerative diseases, they have a hard time running on glucose or like that gasoline. So then when you provide the brain and provide the body with a different source of fuel, so say like electricity. In this case, this is the ketones, like now the brain actually has an alternate fuel to run off of, and now you can, that car can keep moving along.

DR. NEWPORT: Exactly. It's like having a nice new car and well-maintained, but no fuel in the tank. You know, so you put fuel in the tank and it can operate again. And they used to think those cells were all dead in those areas that didn't take up glucose, but now it looks more like they're dormant. You know, many, well, some cells probably are dead, you know, maybe, but, but there are many others that are just dormant and they're just, they just need fuel to operate.

LEAH: Yeah, absolutely. And you know, we, you brought up a a, you really opened a can of worms here and talking about insulin resistance and and, and I know, and you mentioned this in your book, like Alzheimer's is being described as type three diabetes of the brain.

DR. NEWPORT: Exactly.

LEAH: So insulin resistance is a huge topic that, I mean, we talk about this all the time on our show, but especially when it comes to the brain and keeping the brain healthy, this is going to be something that we're really going to dive into. We do have to take our second break really quick, but I think this is our, where we're going next is into that insulin resistance topic.

DR. NEWPORT: Okay. Great. Thank you.

LEAH: Yeah.

MELANIE: You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. We're interviewing Dr. Mary Newport, author of Clearly Keto. For well over a decade, Dr. Mary Newport has played an instrumental role in advancing the field of nutritional neuroscience by expanding the role of the ketogenic diet. And we'll be right back.


Sleep is critical for good brain function

LEAH: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. As I was paging through, Clearly Keto, excuse me, Dr. Mary Newport emphasized many of the lifestyle habits we have that we can help people with daily. One particular thing that she emphasized was the need for seven and a half to eight hours of sleep nightly. She encouraged people to have a sleep study done to determine if they need a CPAP machine or need assistance breathing at night because lack of sleep is associated with memory loss.

And we have many shows that we've done on sleep. So those are other great places to start. Clearly Keto is another great resource, especially if you're worried about your brain and what that sleep/brain connection is. But for some people who are thinking either I'm already struggling with memory loss, or this is something I want to prevent, you may want to think about a program to a, a sleep program to support good brain function.

More on the insulin resistance connection to Alzheimer’s disease

Okay. So before we went to break again, we left a little teaser out there, but Dr. Mary, we're going to dive into that insulin resistance discussion. In your book, Alzheimer's Disease, which is now in its third edition and fully updated. That'll be coming out a little later on this year. You have a whole chapter on insulin resistance, again, which is a familiar topic here on the show and Alzheimer's disease. And one of the quotes from that book was on page 205 was, “I was taught in medical school that insulin is only made in the pancreas and that it does not cross the blood-brain barrier. It turns out that neither idea is correct.” So please tell us a little bit more about the connection between high blood, sugar insulin resistance and Alzheimer's.

DR. NEWPORT: Yes. So as people age they're more likely to develop insulin resistance. And by age 75, something like three quarters of people have either prediabetes or diabetes, which are insulin, you know, resistance. Metabolic syndrome is another name for prediabetes. People have high blood pressure, large waist, that type of thing along with the insulin resistance in that case. But three quarters of people have this by age 75. And at that point, Alzheimer's, the rates of Alzheimer's is climbing, and if you get to reach age 85, the odds are about one third or so that you will develop Alzheimer's.

So this insulin resistance in the brain was discovered in around, in 2005. It was kind of known before that, but it was proven from brain autopsies of people that did not have type one or type two diabetes by Dr. Suzanne De La Monte and her associates. And they, you know, basically found that insulin resistance and insulin deficiency, meaning that insulin’s made in the brain but it was deficient were key features of Alzheimer's in all of these brains. In, in the, you know, areas affected by Alzheimer's and that as the Alzheimer's progressed, that this was also progressing throughout the brain and spreading throughout the brain, the insulin resistance and insulin deficiency. And there are studies now showing that, that there is insulin made in the brain. Insulin does cross blood brain barrier. The levels in the brain are lower than in our blood, but there are insulin receptors all throughout the brain to receive insulin.

MELANIE: Interesting.

DR. NEWPORT: And yeah. And insulin directly, you know, affects or indirectly affects glucose getting into various cells, but also crossing the blood brain barrier. And these glucose transporters that transport glucose into the cell basically based on the direction of, of insulin are decreased in Alzheimer's and including one that allows insulin to cross the blood brain barrier and get into the brain. So these are, are big problems in Alzheimer's disease and they do worsen, you know, as the disease progresses. So overcoming insulin resistance can be done with diet. It is possible to do that with diet.

MELANIE: Yes. Yes. And as currently there are 6.2 million people affected by Alzheimer's. Also, 29 million people have been diagnosed with diabetes. So looking at these numbers, about a fourth of people with diabetes are likely to have Alzheimer's. I think that's staggering to think about. It seems…

DR. NEWPORT: It's at least a quarter. It's like six times the average. The average is 5%, about 5% of people on average will develop it. And people with diabetes are six times more likely to develop Alzheimer's or other dementia than, than the average population.

MELANIE: So I always encourage our listeners this morning, know what your blood sugar's doing. It's important it seems, it seems very important to just to keep those blood sugar numbers in a normal range.


LEAH: And Dr. Mary, maybe that's a good question for you also, because you don't often, you don't feel insulin resistance necessarily.


How do you know if you are insulin resistant?

LEAH: So how might someone know? Especially if some of this is starting to kind of set in, like you said, maybe 10 or 15 years before some of the symptoms of Alzheimer's are showing up. Like how might somebody know if they have some of this insulin resistance?

DR. NEWPORT: Well the glucose monitoring kits are very inexpensive. You could actually check your fasting blood sugar in the morning. If it's under a hundred, you're probably okay. Even better under 95 or so milligrams per deciliter. If it's creeping up over a hundred, then there may be cause for concern and I wish physicians would screen more you know, in a better way for insulin resistance because there is a test called the hemoglobin A1C. It's used to monitor, diagnose people, you know, with diabetes and monitor them. But I don't see it being used enough as a screening tool. And along with the fasting blood sugar, the hemoglobin A1C, it gives you an idea of your average blood sugar over about a three month period.

LEAH: Yes.


DR. NEWPORT: So this can be extremely helpful in screening and then also a fasting insulin level. If your insulin level is high in the morning before you've even eaten, that's a, a good sign that you may have insulin resistance. And there's a calculation that can be done called the HOMA-IR for insulin resistance with that factors in the blood glucose and the insulin levels.

LEAH: Yeah, absolutely. So, yeah, like you said, so there are some things that you can ask for from your doctor. Again, fasting glucose, that's a pretty common one, but kind of asking for that hemoglobin A1C could be another thing because that gives you an overall kind, a bigger picture over the course of three months what those blood sugars are doing. You could ask for a fasting insulin number. So just to kind of see what your insulin is at kind of baseline after you've had an overnight fast.

And then there is a, a special calculation that that HOMA-IR score that, that people could potentially look at as well. And so, and but you said even basic, even if someone were to go out to the local CVS, Walgreens or like a local drug store and get a glucose monitoring kit and just testing their blood sugar, prick their finger real quick every morning and just see what that morning blood sugar looks like. If that morning blood sugar number is under a hundred or ideally under 95, that's kind of the goal. If we're over that, like we might be starting to get into a little deeper water.

DR. NEWPORT: Mm-Hmm. Yes.

Practical advice to apply in the diet

MELANIE: So in practical terms, I'd like to hear understanding with the understanding that we're, we're giving our listeners what are some practical terms that our, our listeners can apply in their diet?

DR. NEWPORT: Mm-Hmm. Right. So I think the easiest thing to do is to try to cut down on, well, we've already talked about this: obvious sweets.


DR. NEWPORT: Obvious sweets and sugary drinks. That's a great way to start cleaning up the diet. And then you know, getting away from processed foods, which tend to contain fructose, which we'll talk about I think shortly. And, you know, for a long time they also contained hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats.

LEAH: Yes.

DR. NEWPORT: That type of thing. But they're just an abundance of chemicals to help preserve and to help keep down bacterial growth and different things like that, that are in these foods that we may not necessarily want to factor into our metabolism. So it's just a really good idea to try to get away as much as possible from overly processed foods and especially processed meats. They they contain a lot of things. I think we may talk about that a little bit more later too.

But so reducing carbohydrates. So these are the starchy foods: rice, bread, pasta, cereals. I suggest that people cut their portion in half, what they usually eat in half, start there, start adding some more healthy fat. And when you're used to that, cut it in half again. You know, cut it down to a quarter.

MELANIE: Great advice.

DR. NEWPORT: And then, right. And then use whole grains, whole grain rice. for example, if you're going to have rice, make it whole grain. I think it's tastier. I like the consistency.

MELANIE: The nutty flavor.

DR. NEWPORT: Yeah, the nutty flavor. And you know, for a full-blown ketogenic diet, you would eliminate all of those foods basically.


DR. NEWPORT: And your main carbohydrate intake would be from vegetables and some low sugar fruits, maybe some berries and that type of thing. And, and that's really, I think emphasizing more vegetables in the diet and a variety of vegetables and colors will help you acquire the, the micronutrients that you need as well.

MELANIE: That's good advice. So not only removing..

DR. NEWPORT: That’s where the Mediterranean diet comes in.

MELANIE: Yes. And so not only are we removing foods that are nutrient void, but we're, we're replacing them with the foods that are nutrient dense so that we're feeding the brain.

DR. NEWPORT: Exactly. Exactly.

MELANIE: So I love that. In, in 2022, you authored another book called Clearly Keto. Dr. Mary, how long has the ketogenic diet been used to treat brain dysfunction? Is it, is it a new treatment? Has it been around?

Is the ketogenic diet a new concept for treating brain dysfunction?

DR. NEWPORT: No, it's been around for over a hundred years.


DR. NEWPORT: So, yeah. So this was discovered, they, they used to use fasting as a treatment for epilepsy, for people that had frequent seizures or were having a continuous seizure called status epilepticus. They would do a period of fasting and it would often stop the seizures. And right around 1921, it was discovered that eating a very high fat diet could also stop seizures. It was reported at the Mayo Clinic. There were several patients that had been treated this, this way. I believe it was eight patients that had a huge reduction or completely stopped having seizures while they were eating a high fat diet.


DR. NEWPORT: And yes. And this was, we're talking 90% fat.

MELANIE: That is amazing. We have to go to break really quick. Always seems to catch a cliffhanger here. You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. And Dr. Mary also supports getting group support for emotional lifestyle habits. Because of the pandemic, people are feeling lonely and need a group to connect with weekly. We have that group; it's called Ongoing Support and Education. And you can take this class after you've been in our foundations class and you meet once a week for an hour, and the cost is $25 per session. We recognize the need. So we provided the service. Here's some feedback we received. “I feel so connected and supported. It is just what I needed.” So you can call us at (651) 699-3438, and we can get you signed up for a group that meets your needs. We'll be right back.

Sign Up for Nutrition 4 Weight Loss-Ongoing Support and Education


LEAH: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. This hour always goes by so fast when we have a guest. So we encourage our listeners, if you really jived with the information that Dr. Mary has, has explained to us so far, or you want to learn a little bit more, or you have kind of a personal connection here, you can order Clearly Keto at you know, Amazon, most of the major retailers out there. And we really, truly hope that you enjoyed today's topic.

And Dr. Mary before, before we run out of time, and we have, you know, about nine or 10 minutes to talk here still, but just wanted to really express our appreciation for you coming on, especially so early in the morning. I know it's a little later in, out on the East Coast where you're at, but we really appreciate you being on for the third time in the show and just sharing your expertise and, and, and the dedication that you've had to not only helping your husband, Steve, but now you really are just trying to help as many other people as you can in getting that message out there.

MELANIE: It's such a devastating disease, and so it's so timely to have you on the show.

DR. NEWPORT: Oh. And, and I thank you for having me on and helping me to spread this message.

LEAH: Yeah, very good.

MELANIE: It's a vital message.

LEAH: Yes.


More on the origin of the ketogenic diet in the treatment of epilepsy (& later other uses)

LEAH: Yeah. So, Dr. Mary, you, we did have to cut you off again earlier, but you were just telling us a little bit more about the kind of origin story of the ketogenic diet. And it started a hundred years ago, but then you were bringing us up into the 1920s. So just tell us a little bit more about that background, and then we have one, really one more question that we want to hit after that.

DR. NEWPORT: Right, right. Yeah. So the ketogenic diet was used to treat epilepsy. It became very popular, very well studied in the 1920s and thirties. And then some anticonvulsants came along that helped an awful lot of people. And it went a little bit on the back burner, but there were hospitals like Johns Hopkins and, and actually University of Cincinnati where I trained, we, we had children that were on the ketogenic diet for epilepsy.

But it, it gained a resurgence in the 1990s spearheaded by the Charlie Foundation who Charlie was a, a little child that, that responded to this. His father had read about in the library, and, and he took him to Johns Hopkins and he completely stopped having seizures. He was having a hundred seizures a day.

MELANIE: Oh my goodness.

DR. NEWPORT: Yes. And so it gained a resurgence in the 1990s. And then this interest came along related to Alzheimer's, but also fitness. People probably remember the Atkins diet. It had a it was a big it had a big following and then it kind of died out for a while and another resurgence and, you know, but people were losing a lot of weight with the Atkins diet. And then this idea of using it for Alzheimer's resurfaced or I should say, surfaced as an idea for Alzheimer's, that perhaps ketones could help fill in this brain energy gap left by insulin resistance, you know, sugar not being able to get into cells.

And it's had, had started also being used for people with diabetes, type two diabetes. This was around 2000, Dr. Eric Westman at Duke University. He still practices, I mean, he still has years to practice, actually. But he started using the Atkins diet for people with type two diabetes and has had tremendous success. More than 4,000 people he has helped get into remission, completely normal blood glucose, hemoglobin A1C that had type two diabetes, off insulin, off their medications.

MELANIE: And so, Dr. Mary, when you're talking about the keto, we're talking whole food keto. Right?

DR. NEWPORT: Right. Whole food keto.

MELANIE: Not this messy dirty keto that a lot of people are jumping on the bandwagon for.

DR. NEWPORT: Yeah. There's a junk food keto and junk food keto is very bad. I don't like to, I, I, my favorite is the Mediterranean style diet, which is what I teach in the book, Clearly Keto, and go into detail about the whole, the Mediterranean diet, each of the food groups, why they're important, and and, you know, adapting it to different lifestyles. I have a, a section on what the Mediterranean diet would look like in Japan, where, where the foods look very different, but they have, you know, basically all cultures have these same food groups to derive from. So it can be adapted to all cultures. It's not strictly around the Mediterranean. So I call it a Mediterranean style diet. But yes, the whole foods are very important.

And, and basically there's a whole spectrum of ketogenic diets. You know, how deeply do you want to get into ketosis? And that is determined by how much you're willing to reduce your carbohydrate intake and increase your fat intake. But you know, people who use the classic, the strictest ketogenic diet, 90% fat, are mainly people that have drug resistant epilepsy. And it's also being used as an adjunct to cancer, cancer treatment.

MELANIE: Yes. Yes.

DR. NEWPORT: Cancers thrive on sugar. They thrive on sugar, and if you can reduce the sugar, you might be able to slow it down. And there are a number of studies going on right now for different types of cancer where they're using it in conjunction with their standard treatment. So it, it'll be interesting to see how those studies turn out.

LEAH: Yep.

DR. NEWPORT: So many uses for the ketogenic diet. And then you know, there have been studies also with Alzheimer's. There was a study in Australia that of people, they, well, first they did a study with people with Parkinson's, and they improved with a ketogenic diet. And then another study of people with Alzheimer's. And the interesting thing that I liked about this study, it was a very whole food diet, and almost every recipe had coconut oil in it.


DR. NEWPORT: So they, they got the, the double benefit of the medium chain triglycerides from the coconut oil and virgin coconut oil also has anti-inflammatory compounds, polyphenols that are, many of which are also in olive oil, extra virgin olive oil. So they're anti-inflammatory antioxidants. So there are other benefits to eating the coconut oil in addition to the ketones that, that they produce.

Coconut oil dosage recommendations & further benefits

MELANIE: So for our listeners, would you recommend that they incorporate coconut oil just as a practice?


MELANIE: 1-2 tablespoons a day?

DR. NEWPORT: Right, right. And virgin coconut oil, virgin unrefined will retain the most of those special nutrients, you know, that can help reduce inflammation that act as antioxidants. So yeah, lauric acid is half of coconut oil and it's highly antimicrobial. And there's a lot, a whole lot of studies, hundreds of them now implicating certain viruses like herpes simplex virus that people that's in causes fever blisters, you know for example chlamydia, fungus like candida, Lyme disease, the spirochete that causes Lyme disease have been implicated for as possibly causing or in some way contributing to Alzheimer's. But lauric acid kills those microbes.


DR. NEWPORT: It kills it, it dissolves the capsules around viruses, you know, for example. And it and it kills COVID virus too.

MELANIE: It really is, it, it's kind of a miracle food.


MELANIE: And it's reasonably priced for our listeners to pick up.


MELANIE: So what would you say would be you know, with the couple minutes that we have left, what would you say would be the most critical for our listeners to start to protect their brains? What would be the most critical three steps?

Recapping steps to take to protect the brain

DR. NEWPORT: I think, well, yeah. I think the first step is to basically reduce the sugar, the excess sugar in the diet. Get rid of fructose, which is highly inflammatory, for example. And another step would be to get away from overly processed foods, including processed meats. You know, there are bacon, sausages, certain processed cheeses scotch, and certain beers that have nitrosamine compounds that can, can cause insulin resistance in the brain. This has been shown in animal studies. So eliminating some of those foods. There are, you know, bacons and things that say nitrite free, so you might, if you're keen on that, you might look for that. And then increasing the healthy fat in the diet. And, you know, those to me include extra virgin olive oil, butter.

LEAH: Yes. We're fans of butter over here.

DR. NEWPORT: Yeah. Yeah. And and coconut oil, virgin unrefined coconut oil for all of these benefits. And it you know, there is a gap in brain energy, even in cognitively healthy, normal people, it's about seven or 9%. There is some, apparently some insulin resistance related type thing going on, even in normal healthy brains. And filling in that gap with ketones, which you can do with these ketogenic oils, coconut oil and MCT oil, you know, could help I think, you know, really help with brain aging, you know, healthier brain aging.

MELANIE: And just a caution for our, our listeners. We don't want to run out and start guzzling MCT oil. You have to start very slow if you want to incorporate that or you'll get some digestive issues.

DR. NEWPORT: You can get diarrhea. Yeah. I had indigestion. I was lucky I wasn't in bathroom for an hour.

MELANIE: It has been such a joy. I cannot tell you how much… I know our listeners appreciated all the wisdom that you, you've given us, Dr. Mary. I can't wait to have you back. I recommend Clearly Keto to all of our listeners.

DR. NEWPORT: Thank you.

MELANIE: You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. And our goal at Nutritional Weight and Wellness is to help each and every person experience better health through eating real food. It's a simple, yet powerful message. Eating real food is life changing. Thank you for joining us today.

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