Meet your new best friend… The coconut! This friendly nut has nothing but goodness in store for you and your body. Let me start you off with a few fabulous facts on what coconut can do for you to get you interested in this rich, buttery, tropical oil that can change your health:
- · They improve digestion and absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and amino acids.
- · They are valuable to the immune system as they contain healthy antiviral, antifungal, and antimicrobial saturated fatty acids, helping to naturally fight off viruses, bacteria, and fungal overgrowth (more about this below).
- · They improve the utilization of blood sugar and can lessen the symptoms of hypoglycemia.
- · They improve the absorption of the right kinds of calcium and magnesium ions.
- · They consist of 90+ percent raw saturated fat – a rare and important building block of every cell in the human body. Unlike long-chain saturated animal fats (that have been associated with creating poor health), the saturated fat in coconut oil is in the form of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs). MCFAs support the immune system, the thyroid gland, the nervous system, the skin, and provide fast energy.
- · They contain powerful antioxidants in the form of raw saturated fats and oils. Coconut oil contains the most lauric acid (a powerful antiviral substance) of any plant source (the closest second is palm kernel oil).
- · They help the body use the essential fatty acids (omega-3, omega-6) and other fatty acids and phospholipids (e.g. choline, lecithin, etc.) more efficiently (coconut oil and omega-3 fatty acids are twice as effective when taken simultaneously).
- · They help regulate and support healthy hormone production.
- · They are a nutritional precursor to the anti-aging hormone compound known as pregnenolone.
- · They increase the speed of the thyroid, thus allowing the body to drop excess weight and accumulated toxins. Contrary to some previously held beliefs, coconut cannot be stored in the body as fat; it actually needs to be burned up on the spot, which helps fire up our excess fat-burning metabolism instantly!!!
- · They help displace toxic hydrogenated trans-fatty acids (e.g., partially hydrogenated soybean oil).
- · They restore natural saturated fat levels to the skin, subcutaneous fat layers, and to the individual cell membranes. The saturated fats in coconut products are also vital for the health of growing nervous systems in children… so eat up pregnant/breastfeeding Mama’s!).
- · They increase metabolism and help with weight loss due to the presence of medium-chain saturated fatty acids. Farm animals fed coconuts and coconut oil never become obese. When fed partially hydrogenated soybean oil and other rancid fats, the animals gain weight rapidly.
- · They contain no appreciable levels of cholesterol and actually support cardiovascular health.
- · They support healthy cholesterol formation in the liver. This high-density lipoprotein (HDL) is the kind of cholesterol we want and that is essential to healthy hormone production.
Interested in my friendly little nut yet? You should be! And all these benefits above are just from coconut oil! I’m not going to get into coconut water in this blog, but let me give you a couple of highlights from the benefits of coconut water here:
- · An excellent nutrition source for infants.
- · Great for rehydration.
- · Contains organic compounds possessing growth-promoting properties- coconut is excellent for improving muscle size and general physical growth in children.
- · Helps to calm urinary tract infections (struggling with these in your pregnancy?)
- · Effective in helping to alleviate the pain of kidney and urethral stones. Coconut water helps to fight nanobacteria and the production of bad calcium in the kidneys.
- · Used as blood plasma substitute because it is sterile, does not produce heat, does not destroy red blood cells, and is readily accepted by the body.
So how does this all work? Well the part I’m super interested is the effects against all kinds of viruses and bacteria for our immune system. The part of coconut oil mainly responsible for this is Lauric Acid. According to Bruce Fife, C.N., N.D. in his book, The Coconut Oil Miracle (I highly recommend this read! It is responsible for most of the info in this blog) our bodies convert the coconut oil into a form that is “deadly to troublesome microbes yet remains harmless to us.” He goes on to explain that the triglycerides in coconut oil are nothing more than three fatty acids hooked together to a glycerol molecule. When we ingest the oil, the triglycerides break apart into diglycerides, monoglycerides, and free fatty acids. It is the monoglycerides and free fatty acids that have the antimicrobial properties. The most active being lauric acid and capric acid and their monoglycerides –monolaurin and monocaprin., The monoglycerides and free fatty acids are active, and the diglycerides and triglycerides are inactive. The antimicrobial properties of coconut oil (which consists of tryglercides), therefore, become active ONLY when ingested or otherwise converted into free fatty acids or monoglycerides. Lauric acid is amazing! “When coconut oil is consumed, the body makes the disease fighting monolaurin, the monoglyceride of lauric acid. Kabara and co-workers have shown as early as 1966 that lipophilic compounds had an adverse effect on lipid coated viruses. Later it was found that simple lipids could inactivate bacteria, yeast, fungi and enveloped viruses by disrupting the lipid membranes of the organisms. The antimicrobial effects of added and endogenous fatty acids and monoglycerides are additive and total concentration is critical for inactivating viruses. Among the saturated fatty acids, lauric acid has the maximum antiviral activity.
Kabara, although a professor emeritus from Michigan State University, continues to promote the practical aspects and the potential benefit of nutritional support regimen for individuals infected with genital herpes and other herpetic viral problems using medium chain lipids.”[i]
Here are some examples of lipid-coated microorganisms that lauric acid is effective at fighting off (according to Fife; Note –It is not suggested that lauric acid alone will “cure” any of these diseases):
- · HIV
- · Measles virus
- · Herbpes simplex virus
- · Herpes viridae
- · Sarcoma virus
- · Syncytial virus
- · Human lymphotropic virus (Type 1)
- · Vesicular stomatitius virus (VSV)
- · Visna virus
- · Cytomegalovirus
- · Epstein-Barr virus
- · Influenza virus
- · Leukemia virus
- · Pneumonovirus
- · Hepatisis C virus
- · Listeria monocytogenes
- · Helicobacter pylori
- · Hemophilus influenza
- · Chlamydia pneumonia
- · Staphylococcus aureus
- · Streptococcus agalactiae
- · Groups A, B, F, and G streptococci
- · Gram-posistve organisms
- · Gram-negative organisms (if pretreated with chelator)
(These bacteria are responsible for such illnesses such as stomach ulcers, throat infections, pneumonia, sinusitis, earache, rheumatic fever, dental cavities, food poisoning, UTI’s, TSS, ringworm, Candida, thrush and giardiasis.)
Now you Mom’s must be wondering why I am fixated on coconut as it pertains to us… well, we all know about how important breastfeeding is, so let me share with you one of the components of breast milk that is so crucial for our little ones!
The fatty acids that make coconut oil so effective against germs are the same ones nature has put into breast milk to protect children. Human breast milk (and the milk of other mammals) all contain small amounts of MCFAs (medium-chain fatty acids). These MCFAs are what protect the newborn baby from harmful germs at his/hers most vulnerable time in life –just after birth, while their immune systems are still developing. This is exactly why (if you look at the ingredients list of your infant formula, if you use it) these MCFAs are added to infant formula. Unfortunately most brands add a substitute, not actual coconut oil. They ad MCT oil which is more cost effective for them, and although it is not as good as coconut oil, it is still okay. MCT oil contains about 75% caprylic acid and 25% capric acid, with little or no lauric acid, which we know to be the most important antimicrobial MCFA. As a mother, if you consume coconut oil, you will have even more MCFAs in your milk to help add protection and nourish your baby even better. MCFA’s not only help infants with the absorption of much needed fats, but it increases their ability to absorb fat-soluble vitamins, minerals and protein.
The most important component once again is lauric acid. This is the primary saturated fatty acid found in coconut oil as well as breast milk. Lauric acid is the most abundant MCFA found naturally in mother’s milk, so if you are breast feeding, baby is getting plenty. The ration of lauric acid to other MCFAs in coconut is closest to that in mother’s milk than any other source. Our bodies naturally do not produce a large amount of MCFAs. However, if you begin to add MCFAs to your diet, you will consequently begin producing breast milk richer in MCFAs as well. “When nursing mother’s eat coconut products (shredded coconut, coconut milk, coconut oil, etc.) the levels of MCFAs in their milk increase significantly. For instance, eating 40 grams (3 Tbsp) of coconut oil in one meal can temporarily increase the lauric acid in the milk of a nursing mother from 3.9% to 9.6% after 14 hours. The content of caprylic and capric acids is also increased. If the mother consumes coconut oil every day while nursing, the MCFA content will be even greater.”
Ladies, this is why I am so strongly advocating the consumption of coconut oil!!! I personally consume anywhere between 3-6 Tbsp per day. In addition I drink coconut oil, eat lots coconut in my superfood snacks, and my favorite “take-out” is Thai food, because I can order coconut curry dishes with vegetables. There are so many great ways to ingest coconut, but don’t get carried away and think that by ordering a case of Almond Joy’s from Costco is going to do the trick. Get organic, raw, coconut oil and consume that (www.sunfood.com; www.nutsonline.com; www.ultimatesuperfoods.com) and use organic, unsweetened shredded coconut in all your recipes. Buy organic, raw coconut milk (when possible) and purchase pure, unsweetened coconut water. These products are a sure-fire way to get the right kind of MCFAs into your diet. I use only coconut oil in all of my cooking and baking. I use it as a spread on my gf toast (when I am eating grains) instead of butter, with a little bit of raw honey. I put it into my smoothies, and warm beverages. If the day is closing and I realize I haven’t had enough, I just take a tablespoon of it. Either way, I get it in, and you can too.
Coconut oil is not only safe for us it is safe enough for a newborn baby. It is so complex that it can kill off all kinds of bacteria, microbes, viruses and germs, yet is gentle enough for the newborn digestive system. How amazing!
Nature made MCFAs to nourish and protect us against infections illnesses. Coconut oil is much better than riddling our bodies with synthetic drugs that come with so many negative side effects and toxins, right? Coconut oil is nature’s own antimicrobial weapon. Regularly ingesting coconut oil will greatly reduce your chances of being infected with so many illnesses and diseases. What a simple thing we can do for our bodies and our babies.
If you are not a pregnant or breastfeeding Mom, you still need coconut products! Men, women, children, we all need to up our intake. If you are planning on becoming pregnant, start now with the coconut products. The kind of fats you consume and store in your body now are the same ones that will be used later in the making of your breast milk. These stored fats along with whatever fats you consume daily are what will be used to nourish your baby. “If you ingest plenty of MCFAs, especially lauric acid and capric acid (coconut products), your milk will be at its maximum nourishment level for your baby. You can have as much as 18% of the saturated fatty acids in your milk in the form of lauric and capric acids” if you do so. Mothers who do not ingest these MFCAs will only produce approximately 3% lauric acid and 1% capric acid.
If you are struggling with weight loss postpartum, then coconut oil is your ticket out. Farmers began feeding their livestock coconut oil at one point to promote fast weight gain for economical purposes. But what they discovered is that the livestock began losing weight while maintaining muscle mass! What?! Yes! The farmers found that “the high polyunsaturated oil content of corn and soybean quickly did what the coconut oil couldn’t. Animals fed corn and soybeans packed on the pounds quickly and easily. The reason these oils worked so well is that their oils suppressed thyroid function, decreasing the animals’ metabolic rate (soybeans are particularly bad because of the goitrogens [antithyroid chemicals] they contain). They could east less food and gain more weight. How awful! Many people are in a similar situation. Every time we eat polyunsaturated oils (soybean and other vegetable oils), our thyroid gland is assaulted and loses its ability to function normally. Weight gain is the unhappy consequence.” Coconut oil is amazing because the instant your body digests it is used to produce energy and stimulate your metabolism vs. sabotaging it. Many athletes therefore use coconut oil to enhance their performance. The thermogenic effect of coconut oil doesn’t last a mere hour or two after ingesting it, studies show that after eating a single meal containing these MCFAs, metabolism remains elevated for at leaset 24 hours! During this time you will have a higher energy level and will be burning calories at an accelerated rate. I could go on and on here, or you could just buy the books… I’ve already had to edit this blog down significantly, ha! Either way, who doesn’t want all of these amazing benefits from this seemingly unreal nut?!
Scientists are jumping all over coconut oil in their research against these diseases, weight loss and more, and you should be too! There is nothing but goodness in store for you in adding coconut oil to your daily diet. Prevention is always the best medicine, and coconut oil can certainly help prevent so many illnesses, promote healthy weight, and optimally nourish our infants and more. I don’t have enough room to get into all the details of coconut oil and its beneficial properties here, but I am available for questions if you have them, feel free to email me. Also, I would strongly encourage you to read David Wolfe’s book, Superfoods: The Food and Medicine of the Future, Bruce Fife, N.D.’s book, The Coconut Oil Miracle, and the report on coconut oil published by Dr. Kabara, for more information on this amazing little nut. That is where I have gleaned most of my knowledge which I have regurgitated in small part here for you.
[i] HEALTH OILS FROM THE TREE OF LIFE (NUTRITIONAL AND HEALTH ASPECTS OF COCONUT OIL) By Jon J. Kabara, Ph.D.
Other sources for blog information:
The Coconut Oil Miracle, by Bruce Fife, C.N., N.D.
Superfoods: The Food and Medicine of the Future, by David Wolfe