Got Milk? Fighting Alzheimer’s with a Milkshake?

Milkshake to help a disease; many say it’s so? Here’s a few thoughts on bypassing Dairy Queen the next time you feel the urge.

An estimated 5.4 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. The disease, which affects 1 in 8 people over 65, causes memory loss, decreased judgment as well as mood and personality changes. As the disease progresses, sufferers become unable to care for themselves and in its final stages, it is fatal. A number of prescription drugs are available to fight Alzheimer’s—including cholinesterase inhibitors that work to improve memory and thought but are not a cure.

The brains of Alzheimer’s patients don’t convert glucose into energy as efficiently as healthy brains, which can result in a decrease in cognitive function, according to Accera Inc., the Broomfield, Colo., company that sells the milkshake, called Axona. The shake contains caprylic triglyceride, a compound derived from coconut oil that is metabolized in the liver to produce ketone bodies, which serve as alternate brain fuel for Alzheimer’s patients, the company says.


A vanilla milkshake for Alzheimer’s patients provides energy to the brain, says the company that sells it. A company-funded clinical trial found short-term positive effects in cognition and memory, but scientists say so far there is insufficient evidence that the drink is effective.

Axona provides an alternative energy source to brain cells

Glucose is the primary source of energy for the brain. Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients exhibit a decline in the ability to metabolize glucose in the brain. Inadequate glucose leads to damage resulting in impaired memory and cognition and brain shrinkage. These metabolic defects in the brain often appear 10 to 20 years earlier than other Alzheimer’s symptoms.

Axona is converted by the liver into ketone bodies, which provide an efficient alternative fuel for brain cells. Ketone bodies are naturally occurring compounds that are produced mainly by the liver from fatty acids during periods of extended fasting. Ketone bodies have been demonstrated to protect neurons.

About Axona:

  • Axona is a specially formulated medical food* intended for the clinical dietary management of the metabolic processes associated with mild-to-moderate AD
  • Axona is a proprietary formulation of caprylic triglyceride
  • Caprylic triglyceride safely increases plasma concentrations of ketone bodies (predominantly BHB), which can provide an alternative energy source for the brains of AD patients
  • Caprylic triglycerides are metabolized differently than long-chain triglycerides and are not generally associated with increased blood cholesterol levels
  • Clinical trials have shown that Axona improves cognitive function in some AD patients
  • Axona is administered orally once a day, supplied as a powder to be mixed with water or other foods/liquids
  • Administer after a meal, preferably breakfast or lunch

Axona, which is available by prescription only, is a 217-calorie packet that should be mixed with any type of liquid using a shaker cup or a blender. Chocolate syrup is a favorite, says John Richard, a Lexington, Ky., family physician who has prescribed it to 30 patients and says most have had good results. Axona can be used either on its own or with Alzheimer’s drugs, the company says. Alzheimer’s researchers who reviewed the company’s data say more research is need before they would recommend it to patients.

All I have to say on this one is, “Everything in moderation!”

Greg Ryan is an accomplished author, personal trainer, life coach and owner of Resolutions Preventative Health Care through Fitness for Seniors and Diabetics in St. Matthews.