Friday, February 20, 2015

Beneficial Coconut Oil

Coconut oil received criticism regarding its high volume of saturated fats and how they impact on heart health, cholesterol levels and body weight.

Recent medical studies have shown that the exact opposite may now be true. Virgin oil extracted from coconuts actually has some extraordinary health benefits.

Most significant among these is lauric acid, something not found in any other natural source. In addition, coconut oil contains the anti-oxidant properties of vitamin E, vitamin K, and minerals.

The health benefits of coconut oil include proper digestion and metabolism, weight loss, maintaining cholesterol levels, diabetes, stress relief, high blood pressure, hair care, skin care, dental care, bone strength, and stimulation of the immune system. These benefits of coconut oil can be attributed to the presence of lauric acid, caprylic acid and capric acid, and its properties such as anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, and anti-fungal.

The human body converts lauric acid into monolaurin which is claimed to assist in dealing with viruses that cause diseases such as influenza, cytomegalovirus, herpes and even HIV. Monolaurin also assists in fighting harmful bacteria such as helicobacter pylori, listeria monocytogenes, and harmful protozoa such as giardia lamblia. As a result of the various health benefits, though its exact method of action was unknown, coconut oil has been used extensively in Ayurveda, the traditional Indian medicinal system. The Coconut Research Centre has compiled numerous benefits in both traditional and modern medicine.

Internal consumption of coconut oil occurs primarily as cooking oil. Coconut oil assists in improving the digestive system thus preventing various stomach and digestive related problems including irritable bowel syndrome. The anti-inflammatory and healing effects of coconut oil apparently play a role in soothing inflammation and healing injury in the digestive tract which are characteristic of crohn's disease. The saturated fats present in coconut oil have anti-microbial properties and assist in dealing with various bacteria, fungi, and parasites that cause indigestion.

Researchers have recognised that the medium chain fatty acids (MCFA) in coconut oil were digested differently than other fats. This difference has had important applications in the treatment of numerous metabolic and digestive health conditions and lead to MCFA being consistently used in hospital and baby formulas.

Coconut oil has been a lifesaver for many people, particularly the youth and elderly. It has been used medicinally in special food preparations for those who suffer digestive disorders and have trouble digesting fats. For the same reason, it is also used in infant formula for the treatment of malnutrition.

As we get older our bodies do not function as well as they did in earlier years. Our pancreas doesn't produce as many digestive enzymes, our intestines don't absorb nutrients as well, and basically the whole process of digestion and elimination moves at a lower rate of efficiency. As a result, the elderly often suffer from vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Because MCFA are easy to digest and improve amino acid, vitamin and mineral absorption, it would be truly beneficial for those suffering deficiencies if MCFA were included in their diet. This is easily accomplished if meals are prepared with coconut oil.

Weight Loss
The secret to weight loss, a healthy metabolism, and a wealth of energy is pure extra virgin coconut oil. Coconut oil slows down the digesting of food and assists in preventing blood sugar fluctuations after a meal by slowing the rate carbohydrates are broken down into blood glucose. Many people notice that after adding coconut oil to their diet, they are less prone to snacking.

Coconut oil contains both short chain fatty acids (SCFA) and medium chain fatty acids (MCFA). Recent studies with respect to nutrition, link colonic fermentation and microbial metabolites, in particular the short chain fatty acids (SCFA), acetate, propionate, and butyrate to the regulation of energy metabolism. The medium chain fatty acids (MCFA) in coconut oil are linked to the process of excess calorie burning, promoting fat oxidation, and reducing food intake. Most common seed or vegetable oils are comprised of long chain fatty acids (LCFA), also known as long chain triglycerides or LCTs. Long chain fatty acids have large molecules, so they are difficult for your body to break down and are predominantly stored as fat.

The medium chain fatty acids (MCFA) also destroy candida, a condition of yeast overgrowth in the body that often include symptoms of carbohydrate cravings, fatigue, and weight gain. To achieve permanent weight loss, eliminating candida is essential. Coconut oil is an exceptional body detoxification as it cleanses the body of many afflictions, balances the digestive tract and nourishes all cells in the body. These benefits restore your health and pave the way for natural weight loss and longevity.

Immune System
Short and medium chain fatty acids are more water soluble than longer chain fatty acids. They require less energy for the body to utilise and are freely absorbed into the bloodstream as an important source of energy, raising the metabolism of the body. This reduction of metabolic load allows the liver to optimise its own detoxifying functions, bile production and regulation of blood sugar levels.

Saturated fats found in coconut oil are an integral part of the cell membrane structure. Short and medium chain fatty acids in virgin coconut oil such as lauric, caprylic, and capric, have strong anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-protozoal properties and are essential building blocks in boosting the body’s immune system. The digested form of lauric acid, monolaurin, has been shown to be active against lipid coated viruses and has proven to be a successful resource for the reduction in the viral load of HIV patients. The consumption of saturated fat in the form of coconut oil has shown to assist in regulating the healthy function of the thyroid gland and combating hypothyroid-like symptoms such as fatigue, water-retention, and weight gain.

The white blood cells of your immune system are engaged in a never ending battle against invading microbes. These crucial blood cells also clean out diseased and cancerous cells. Regular consumption of virgin coconut oil aids the body in eliminating disease causing viruses and bacteria, thus relieving stress and boosting your immune system.

Heart Health
There is an important property of coconut oil that distinguishes it far apart from other sources of saturated fat. Coconut oil is comprised of medium chain fatty acids (MCFA), also called medium chain triglycerides. Research has demonstrated that medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil actually protect against heart disease and may one day even be used as a treatment. Coconut oil is nature's richest source of these healthy medium chain fatty acids (MCFA).

The theory, called the "lipid hypothesis," was proposed by a researcher named Ancel Keys in the late 1950's, and has been considered the accepted standard ever since. Based on Dr. Keys' conclusions, there is a direct relationship between the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol in the diet and the incidence of coronary heart disease. Keys based his theory on statistics from six countries, in which higher saturated fat intake was found, along with higher rates of heart disease. However, Keys conveniently ignored data from 16 other countries that did not fit his theory. If you include all 22 countries for which data was available, you would find that cultures consuming the highest percentage of saturated fat had the lowest risk of heart disease, exactly the opposite.

Although coconut oil is predominately a saturated fat, it does not have a negative effect on cholesterol. Organic coconut oil tends to increase HDL cholesterol and improve the cholesterol profile. Besides improving cholesterol readings, studies have found lower body fat levels, reduced tendency to form blood clots, and higher levels of anti-oxidants throughout the body. Coconut oil has also been found to reduce the incidence of plaque build-up in the arteries, atherosclerosis, and therefore assists in reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Elevated cholesterol reports are still supporting the critic’s view of coconut oil due to the fact that certain individuals believe that because they take three teaspoons of coconut oil a day, they are free to eat whatever they want. Keep in mind that cultures consuming the highest percentage of saturated fats would probably not have had access to processed foods. Coconut oil has long been the main source of dietary fat for people of the tropics and island countries. Consumption of sugar and processed foods has increased, and are now recognised as contributing to the epidemic of heart disease we see today.

*Note: The type of coconut oil you choose is very important. Organic, unrefined extra virgin coconut oil is the best choice since it preserves all the natural goodness of the oil. Currently there are some opposing professional medical opinions out there that still believe coconut oil is detrimental to cholesterol levels. You may want to contact your doctor or a reputable naturopath for their recommendation as to how much coconut oil you should take.

Topical Use
Skin Treatment
Coconut oil is an effective moisturiser and exceptional massage oil for the whole body, and suitable for most skin types. When used as a moisturiser, coconut oil is generally a safe solution for preventing dryness or flaking skin. Research indicates that coconut oil assists in treating various skin problems including dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, and other skin disorders, while also preventing degenerative diseases and premature aging due to the anti-oxidant properties. Coconut oil is used in the manufacture of various body care products such as creams, lotions, and soap. For topical use of coconut oil as a skin treatment, warm a minimal amount in your hands and gently massage the body and face.

Hair Treatment
Coconut oil is one of the best natural moisturizing treatments for hair. Research indicates that coconut oil provides excellent protection from hygral fatigue damage, and is effective in reducing the protein loss for damaged hair. When used as a conditioner coconut oil provides the essential proteins required for nourishing damaged hair and promoting re-growth. With a high moisture retaining capacity, the hair remains moistened and soft thus preventing breakage. Coconut oil is used in the manufacture of various conditioners and dandruff relief products. For topical use of coconut oil as a hair treatment, warm a minimal amount in your hands and then gently massage into the scalp and hair.

Organic coconut oil has a high melting point and therefore it is solid at room temperature. Organic coconut oil is often preferred by athletes and body builders and by those who are dieting. The reason behind this being that coconut oil contains lesser calories than other oils, its fat content is easily converted into energy and it does not lead to accumulation of fat in the arteries and heart. Coconut oil assists in boosting energy, endurance, and the performance of athletes.