The coconut, a seemingly indestructible brown ball of goodness- filled with a tasty water like liquid and a sweet, tangy and tropical meat that is densely packed with health benefits. For years we were taught that coconut is a useless treat composed of basically sugar and saturated fat. Doctors and nutritionists alike described the coconut and its derivatives as a dietary bane that harms your health especially heart health. Not surprisingly, western medicine and American dietary habits have been proven wrong, recent research into the coconut has revealed some astonishing findings-
- Coconut oil has the ability to:
- Kills viruses that cause influenza, herpes, hepatitis C, HPV and other illnesses.
- Kills bacteria that cause ulcers, urinary tract infections, gum disease and cavities, pneumonia, and other bacterial diseases.
- Kills fungi and yeasts that cause candidiasis, ringworm, athlete’s foot, diaper rash, and other fungal infections.
Much like the human biosphere that is being invaded by these pathogens, viruses and bacteria have a supple, mucous like membrane that is comprised of a mostly fatty substance. Underneath this protective coat is the home of the organism’s DNA.
The Fatty acids found in Coconut oil are analogous to the organism’s skin, only smaller. The fatty acids are attracted to and assimilated rapidly by the invader. Once the medium chain fatty acids are absorbed, they begin to build up and break apart the outer membrane of the pathogen. This weakens the mostly fluid membrane effectively causing death by rupture of the offending organism.
As an Antifungal – A 2004 study looked at 52 different Candida species in vitro. The study looked at both coconut oil and the drug fluconazole. Coconut oil surprised the audience… in fact, Candida albicans was found to be the most susceptible to the coconut oil at 100%.
This action, ridding the body of unwanted bacteria, also aids in digestion and absorption of other nutrients including vitamins, minerals, and amino acids and improves bowel function as well as:
- · Relieves symptoms associated with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and stomach ulcers.
- · Reduces problems associated with malabsorption syndrome and cystic fibrosis.
- · Expels or kills tapeworms, giardia, and other intestinal parasites.
There are two major categories of parasites:
- Worms like roundworms and tapeworms
- One-celled organisms called Protozoa
The medium chain fatty acids found in Coconut oil have demonstrated the ability to defeat most parasites that invade the human body. Even Giardia which is a single cell organism that is resistant to chlorine, which allows it to survive most of city water treatment. Many cultures use dried coconut fiber as a vermifuge to help dispel parasites that have taken hold in the intestines.
Coconut oil Contains lauric acid. This beneficial saturated fat makes up nearly 50% of the oil which after conversion by the body creates a substance known as monolaurin, a monoglyceride that efficiently kills parasites, yeasts, viruses, and pathogenic bacteria in the gut.
“Lauric acid has been found to increase total cholesterol the most of all fatty acids. But most of the increase is attributable to an increase in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) “good” cholesterol. As a result, lauric acid has “a more favorable effect on total: HDL cholesterol than any other fatty acid, either saturated or unsaturated”; a lower total/HDL cholesterol ratio suggests a decrease in atherosclerotic risk.”
Mensink RP, Zock PL, Kester ADM, Katan MB
The above statement makes Coconut oil heart healthy; as it improves cholesterol ratio, protects arteries from injury that causes atherosclerosis and thus reducing risk of heart disease.
- Marked Increases in Mitochondrial function and Energy production.
Mitochondria are unique cell structures found within the body’s cells. The principal role of human mitochondria is energy generation from consumed nutrients also known as adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production. ATP is the main source of energy for all of our cellular processes. We are constantly expending ATP, with every activity we do, resting or vigorous. Any physiological process you can think of requires ATP. The Mitochondria can be thought of as the Energy centers or power plants for the human body.
The fatty acids found within coconut oil (MCTs) are the fatty acids best utilized by the mitochondria. They are easily absorbed and broken down, and quickly turned into usable and efficient energy for your body, thus increasing energy levels throughout your bodies systems. Overtime the utilization of essential fatty acids improves, which in turn reduces the amount of oxidative stress inflicted upon cells. Another benefit from increasing the productivity of the mitochondria while simultaneously reducing the oxidative burden, one could help decrease the prevalence of symptoms from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
- Benefits on the pancreas and enzyme systems of the body and diabetes prevention
Long chain fatty acids- the most common fatty acids we consume, require special pancreatic enzymes to break down and assimilate. They are then absorbed into the intestinal wall and packaged into bundles of lipid (fat) and protein called lipoproteins. These lipoproteins are transported by the lymphatic system, bypassing the liver, and then released into the bloodstream, where they are circulated throughout the body.
As they circulate, the fatty components are distributed to all the tissues of the body. The lipoproteins get smaller and smaller, until there is little if any left. During this time, the lipoproteins are taken up by the liver, fragmented, and used to produce energy or, if needed, repackaged into other lipoproteins and directed back into the bloodstream to be distributed throughout the body in the form of fat storage. Cholesterol, saturated fat, monounsaturated fat, and polyunsaturated fat are all stored together in lipoproteins and carried throughout the body in this way.
There are many different types of saturated fat, just as there are different types of poly unsaturated fats. Each has a different effect on the body and how it consumes or stores them. The saturated fat in coconut oil is unlike the fat found in meats or other commonly used vegetable fats. It is nearly identical to a special and important group of fats found in human breast milk called medium chain fatty acids (MCFA).
The medium chain fatty acids found in Coconut oil are rapidly absorbed directly from the intestines into the portal vein and sent straight to the liver where they are, for the most part, used as fuel. These medium chain fatty acids are not enveloped into lipoproteins but are directly converted into energy by the liver. Customarily they are not stored to any significant degree as body fat as with Long chain Fatty Acids. Basically, MCFAs produce energy. Other dietary fats tend to produce body fat.
Reducing the amount of energy needed by the pancreas, you can reduce symptoms associated with pancreatitis, which in turn can begin to relieve symptoms and reduce health risks associated with diabetes. Long term consumption of Coconut oil can essentially reduce your risk of developing diabetes or slow the progression of the development of this disease by balancing blood-sugar levels as well as improving insulin secretion and utilization of blood glucose.
- · Coconut oil and Inflammatory conditions
I established in a recent article
various health problems associated with acute and chronic inflammation in the body. Inflammation is becoming recognized as one key contributing factors in many common disease processes, including type 2 diabetes, autoimmune diseases, such as Crohn’s disease as well as the top three causes of death in the United States: heart disease, cancer and stroke. Current Neuro-research is establishing a strong link between inflammation and brain disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
This is a disturbing trend, due to the fact that much of today’s common diet is comprised of processed, acidic and inflammation promoting foods. Ingesting a diet of nutrient dense, natural earth-grown foods that are mostly alkali and anti-inflammatory in nature is the key to promoting homeostasis in the body. Coconut oil enhances that absorption of not only the B vitamins but also vitamins A, D, E, K, beta-carotene, CoQ10, and other fat soluble nutrients, minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and some amino acids—the building block for protein. It also has been proven to function as a protective antioxidant- meaning inhibitor of oxidation of molecules.
“This study investigated some pharmacological properties of virgin coconut oil (VCO), the natural pure oil from coconut [Cocos nucifera Linn (Palmae)] milk, which was prepared without using chemical or high-heat treatment. The anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antipyretic effects of VCO were assessed. In acute inflammatory models, VCO showed moderate anti-inflammatory effects on ethyl phenylpropiolate-induced ear edema in rats, and carrageenin- and arachidonic acid-induced paw edema. VCO exhibited an inhibitory effect on chronic inflammation by reducing the transudative weight, granuloma formation, and serum alkaline phosphatase activity. VCO also showed a moderate analgesic effect on the acetic acid-induced writhing response as well as an antipyretic effect in yeast-induced hyperthermia. The results obtained suggest anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antipyretic properties of VCO.”
The antimicrobial properties associated with Coconut oil also play a critical role in reducing inflammation throughout the body. By reducing the amount of non-beneficial or toxin-producing bacteria in the digestive tract- these bad bacteria generate an inflammatory response- inflammation is decreased as beneficial bacteria species are again allowed to replenish and multiply; healing of damaged intestinal begins to occur, and better more complete digestion is promoted. The reduction in intestinal inflammation ultimately promotes an overall reduction in inflammation throughout the entire body.
Early in the 1970s, it was discovered that while the liver burns MCTs immediately to produce energy, others are converted into ketones. Ketones are a tremendously potent form of energy that are used specifically by the brain, it can be used by all the tissues in the body- all but the liver.
Ketones not only provide a high quality spring of energy for the brain but trigger the activation of special proteins that function in brain cell preservation, repair, and growth, thus providing a therapeutic effect in the brain. Ketogenesis has been shown over and over again to alleviate epilepsy symptoms or in other cases, cure it altogether. Since the discovery in the 70s, MCTs have been used in ketogenic diets to treat epilepsy. Today specially modified ketogenic diets, using MCTs amongst other things, are the standard dietary treatment for drug-resistant epilepsy.
Not limited to epilepsy, ketones have been successfully used to treat a number of other neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, ALS, stroke, and brain trauma recovery. Regular consumption of raw organic coconut oil can increase blood-ketone levels to therapeutic levels that can successfully treat all of these conditions.
Patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are presently being treated with coconut oil and are achieving superior results than found with pharmaceutical medications currently marketed to treat these conditions. MCTs can effectively mitigate the effects of Alzheimer’s and a dietary supplement directly designed for the disease was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2009 for the treatment of Alzheimer’s
Coconut oil not only possesses internal health benefits, but also external. People are using it for cosmetic purposes like improving the health and appearance of their skin and hair. Cosmetically, coconut oil is used in wrinkle and scar reducing creams, skin firming agents, as well as lotions and salves.
Studies on individuals with dry skin show that coconut oil can improve the moisture and lipid content of the skin which in turn promotes healthy complexion, reduction in inflammatory skin disorders such as psoriasis, eczema, and dermatitis and dandruff.
Coconut oil can also be used as a preventative against hair damage. It contains Vitamin E (an essential nutrient for skin and hair), lauric acid and capric acid. These compounds all help to encourage protein regrowth in the hair, by penetrating deep into each hair, making it tougher and more resilient to daily stressing. It has been proven that Coconut oil is a very efficient UV blocker when tested as a sunscreen agent. It even showed to be more effective and healthy than many leading sunblock agents sold on today’s market.
Coconut oil stands out in the superfood multitude, coming in second only to Hemp for being one of the richest and most nutritious food sources on this beautiful planet. With information like what I have shared here, coming out into the mainstream in droves, it is no wonder why this “fad” diet item is quickly becoming a highly sought out nutriceutical.
Proximate analysis of the coconut kernel at different ages
Age in months
Ref: Sierra, Z.N. and C.F. Balleza. 1972. Proximate Analysis of the Coconut Endosperm at Progressive stages of development.
National Institute of Science and Technology. Annual Report 1971-1972:3.
Thank you Frankie and Erin Wallace for introducing me to the coconut in a whole new light!