The many wonderful benefits of coconut oil
by Dr Mecola
There are no end of wonderful benefits of coconut oil, which for thousands of years has not only been valued as a food, but also for its natural healing abilities.
• Coconut Oil is a rich source of fibre, vitamins (particularly B and C) and minerals (including iron, potassium and phosphorous).
• An effective energy booster.
• Helps reduce inflammation.
• A powerful antioxidant, which helps to boost the immune system and protect the body from the damaging effects of free radicals.
• Has anti viral, anti bacterial, and anti fungal properties.
• Assists in the elimination of parasites.
• Aids digestion, and is beneficial for sufferers of Crohn’s and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
• Helps to restore the electrolyte balance during gastric upsets.
• Can provide relief for constipation sufferers.
• Coconut oil can assist in providing relief from yeast infections.
• Can assist in treating ear infections.
• A great moisturizer.
• Helps alleviate the symptoms of eczema and other skin conditions.
• Beneficial for sufferers of asthma, and other respiratory conditions.
• A lovely hair conditioner and can help to control dandruff.
• Supports and helps to regulate healthy thyroid functioning.
• Helps reduce the signs of fine lines and pre-mature aging.
• A wonderful healthy heart tonic. Naturally helps to lower cholesterol and high blood pressure.
• Assists in the regulation of blood sugars.
• Can put it on cuts and wounds to protect from infection.
• Assists in weight loss. Contrary to popular belief, saturated fat is not all bad! An important point to note though, is DO avoid hydrogenated coconut oil. Coconut oil can in fact, help to speed up your metabolism.
• Can help to relieve the symptoms of urinary tract infections.
• Helps to dissolve kidney stones.
• Assists in alleviating the symptoms of menopause and PMS.
• Assists in the absorption of calcium and magnesium, leading to stronger bones and teeth, and therefore reducing the risk of osteoporosis.
• Coconut oil contains around the same amount of lauric acid that is found in breast milk. This wonderful nutrient is what helps to strengthen the immune systems of new born babies.
• It is heat resistant and therefore is suitable to be used for cooking.
As you can see, there are so many great benefits of coconut oil that I hope I have convinced you that it is definitely well worth considering adding into your diet on a regular basis.
Do make sure that you choose a good quality coconut oil. Look for organic coconut oil that is unrefined, unbleached, and made without heat processing. This will ensure that it also contains no chemicals or genetically modified ingredients.
How worried should drug companies be about supplements eating into their monopoly profits? A lot—as this story will show. Please share it with anyone you know who is suffering from Alzheimer’s or is worried about it.
Of course, just about everyone worries about Alzheimer’s. It currently afflicts 5.2 million people in the US and is the seventh leading cause of death. The cost of treating it is estimated at $148 billion.
Mary Newport, MD, has been medical director of the neonatal intensive care unit at Spring Hill Regional Hospital in Florida since it opened in 2003. About the same time the unit opened, her husband Steve, then 53, began showing signs of progressive dementia, later diagnosed as Alzheimer’s Disease. “Many days, often for several days in a row, he was in a fog; couldn’t find a spoon or remember how to get water out of the refrigerator,” she said.
They started him on Alzheimer’s drugs—Aricept, Namenda, Exelon—but his disease worsened steadily. (It should be noted that the latest research shows that the various Alzheimer’s drugs, like Aricept, have proven disappointing, with little real benefit and often distressing side effects.) When Dr. Newport couldn’t get her husband into a drug trial for a new Alzheimer’s medication, she started researching the mechanism behind Alzheimer’s.
She discovered that with Alzheimer’s disease, certain brain cells may have difficulty utilizing glucose (made from the carbohydrates we eat), the brain’s principal source of energy. Without fuel, these precious neurons may begin to die. There is an alternative energy source for brain cells—fats known as ketones. If deprived of carbohydrates, the body produces ketones naturally.
But this is the hard way to do it—who wants to cut carbohydrates out of the diet completely? Another way to produce ketones is by consuming oils that have medium-chain triglycerides. When MCT oil is digested, the liver converts it into ketones. In the first few weeks of life, ketones provide about 25 percent of the energy newborn babies need to survive.
Dr. Newport learned that the ingredient in the drug trial which was showing so much promise was simply MCT oil derived from coconut oil or palm kernel oil, and that a dose of 20 grams (about 20 ml or 4 teaspoons) was used to produce these results. When MCT oil is metabolized, the ketones which the body creates may, according to the latest research, not only protect against the incidence of Alzheimer’s, but may actually reverse it. Moreover, this is also a potential treatment for Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease), drug-resistant epilepsy, brittle type I diabetes, and type II (insulin-resistant) diabetes.
So Mr. Newport, not being able to get into the drug trial, started taking the coconut oil twice a day. At this point, he could barely remember how to draw a clock. Two weeks after adding coconut oil to his diet, his drawing improved. After 37 days, Steve’s drawing gained even more clarity. The oil seemed to “lift the fog,” and in the first sixty days, Dr. Newport saw remarkable changes in him: every morning he was alert and happy, talkative, making jokes. His gait was “still a little weird,” but his tremor was no longer very noticeable. He was able to concentrate on things that he wanted to do around the house and in the yard and stay on task, whereas before coconut oil he was easily distractible and rarely accomplished anything unless he was directly supervised.
Over the next year, the dementia continued to reverse itself: he is able to run again, his reading comprehension has improved dramatically, and his short-term memory is improving—he often brings up events that happened days to weeks earlier and relays telephone conversations with accurate detail. A recent MRI shows that the brain atrophy has been completely halted.
Let’s take a moment to consider what actually happened here. Synthetic (patentable) Alzheimer’s drugs have failed. A drug company reluctantly decides to put a non-patentable natural substance (medium-chain triglycerides derived from coconut or palm) through an FDA trial. It works. But, darn it, a smart doctor figures out that a natural food can be substituted for the super-expensive drug. Not only that, the ketones from natural coconut oil last in the body longer than the drug version—eight hours instead of three hours. This is enough to make a drug company start worrying about its future. What if this natural health idea really catches on? Goodbye to monopoly profits!
Coconut oil can be found in many health food stores and even some grocery stores. One large chain sells a non-hydrogenated (no trans-fat) brand of coconut oil in a one-liter size (nearly 32 ounces) for about $7. It can be purchased in quantities as small as a pint and up to five gallons online. It is important to use coconut oil that is non-hydrogenated and contains no trans-fat. We would also strongly encourage the use of virgin oil (chemicals used to extract non-virgin oil are potentially dangerous, and better still, virgin organic, still quite reasonably priced.)
For more information, see Dr. Newport’s website. Sadly, you will not find any information on ketones, or the use of coconut oil or MCT oil, on the Alzheimer’s Association website.
Coconut oil is not the only natural product that has the potential to turn Alzheimer’s around. We will cover some other ones, and drug industry efforts to steal some of them, in a future issue.
The Tropics' Best Kept Secret
The truth about coconut oil is obvious to anyone who has studied the health of those who live in native tropical cultures, where coconut has been a primary dietary staple for thousands of years.
Back in the 1930s, Dr. Weston Price found South Pacific Islanders whose diets were high in coconut to be healthy and trim, despite high dietary fat, and heart disease was virtually non-existent. Similarly, in 1981, researchers studying two Polynesian communities for whom coconut was the primary caloric energy source found them to have excellent cardiovascular health and fitness. (2)
Where were all the clogged arteries and heart attacks from eating all of this "evil" saturated fat?
Obviously, coconut oil was doing nothing to harm the health of these islanders.
It may be surprising for you to learn that the naturally occurring saturated fat in coconut oil is actually good for you and provides a number of profound health benefits, such as:
Coconut oil even benefits your skin when applied topically and has been found to have anti-aging, regenerative effects.
So, what are coconut oil's secrets to success?
How Coconut Oil Works Wonders in Your Body
Nearly 50 percent of the fat in coconut oil is of a type rarely found in nature called lauric acid, a "miracle" compound because of its unique health promoting properties. Your body converts lauric acid into monolaurin, which has anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-protozoa properties. (6)
Coconut oil is also nature's richest source of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), also called medium-chain triglycerides or MCTs. By contrast, most common vegetable or seed oils are comprised of long chain fatty acids (LCFAs), also known as long-chain triglycerides or LCTs.
LCTs are large molecules, so they are difficult for your body to break down and are predominantly stored as fat.
But MCTs (7) , being smaller, are easily digested and immediately burned by your liver for energy -- like carbohydrates, but without the insulin spike. MCTs actually boost your metabolism and help your body use fat for energy, as opposed to storing it, so it can actually help you become leaner.
Back in the 1940s, farmers discovered this effect accidentally when they tried using inexpensive coconut oil to fatten their livestock.
It didn't work!
Instead, coconut oil made the animals lean, active and hungry.
Coconut oil has actually been shown to help optimize body weight, which can dramatically reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes (8). Besides weight loss, boosting your metabolic rate will improve your energy, accelerate healing and improve your overall immune function.
And several studies have now shown that MCTs can enhance physical or athletic performance.(9)
And finally, as we have already discussed, coconut oil is incedibly good for your heart. The truth is this: it is unsaturated fats that are primarily involved in heart disease and too much sugar and processed foods, not the naturally occurring saturated fats, as you have been led to believe. (10)
Coconut Oil in Your Kitchen
Personally, I use only two oils in my food preparation.
The first, extra-virgin olive oil is the best monounsaturated fat and works great as a salad dressing. However, olive oil should not be used for cooking. Due to its chemical structure, heat makes olive oil susceptible to oxidative damage. So for cooking, I use coconut oil exclusively.
And polyunsaturated fats, which include common vegetable oils such as corn, soy, safflower, sunflower and canola, are absolutely the worst oils to cook with.
Three primary reasons:
1) Cooking your food in omega-6 vegetable oils produces a variety of very toxic chemicals, as well as forming trans-fats. Frying destroys the antioxidants in oil, actually oxidizing the oil, which causes even worse problems for your body than trans-fats.
2) Most vegetable oils are GM (genetically modified), including more than 90 percent of soy, corn and canola oils.
3) Vegetable oils contribute to the overabundance of damaged omega-6 fats in your diet, throwing offyour omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. Nearly everyone in Western society consumes far too many omega-6 fats -- about 100 times more than a century ago -- and insufficient omega 3 fats, which contributes to numerous chronic degenerative diseases.
There is only one oil that is stable enough to withstand the heat of cooking, and that's coconut oil. So, do yourself a favor and ditch all those "healthy oil wannabes," and replace them with a large jar of fresh, organic, heart-supporting coconut oil.
Dr. Joseph Mercola is the founder and director of Mercola.com
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