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Coconut Oil: Another Reason To Love The Tropics!

Past and current civilizations exhibit health patterns and life expectancies that continue to bewilder health professionals. But why? The coconut might hold some of those answers. Learn more about it right here.

By: Jayson Kroner

Mere mention of the word tropical recalls an endless horizon of mental imagery - breathtaking sunsets, white sand beaches, the tranquil resonance of steel drums and crashing surf. From a medicinal perspective, one of the tropic's most commercially stereotyped fruits conjures images that are far different, though no less inspiring to those seeking wellness. Of course, I'm referring to the coconut.


Coconut Basics

Let's begin with the basics. Coconuts have been consumed for thousands of years, and are regarded by many civilizations as a primary source of food. Interestingly enough, said civilizations exhibit health patterns and life expectancies that continue to bewilder health professionals. But why?

The Coconut Palm:
coconut palm The Coconut Palm (Cocos nucifera), is a member of the Family Arecaceae (palm family). It is the only species in the genus Cocos, and is a large palm, growing to 30 m tall, with pinnate leaves 4-6 m long, pinnae 60-90 cm long; old leaves break away cleanly leaving the trunk smooth.

The term coconut refers to the fruit of the coconut palm.

Some would like you to believe that this is because their diets lack fast and processed foods, are high in fresh fish and vegetables and are rarely served through a window. Ok, so these are all very good points. Still, there is simply no mistaking the blatant connection between consumption of coconuts and the drastically low disease rates among the natives who eat them daily.

cocos nucifera
Click Image To Enlarge.
19th Century Illustration Of A Coconut Palm.


Coconut Benefits

Here's what we know. Unadulterated virgin coconut oil contains a number of beneficial medium chain triglycerides (MCT), including:

    View Top Selling MCT Products Here.

And just so there's no confusion, yes, coconut oil is a saturated fat. But because of its unique "medium chain" molecular structure, you need not worry about packing on the pounds.1

MCT's are unlike other unsaturated fats in that they provide many of the crucial metabolic constituents needed to burn fat, maintain healthy body weight, boost energy and immune system function, regulate thyroid activity, fight fatigue and absorb vital nutrients.2,3,4 And among all of the pro-health compounds inherent to coconut oil, Lauric acid is clearly the most promising and significant.

cocos nucifera
Click Image To Enlarge.
Maturing Coconuts On The Tree.

Lauric Acid & The Immune System:

    Within the body, this ultra-beneficial MCT is converted into monolaurin - a chemical compound the body relies on in order to inactivate enveloped viruses, including cytomegalovirus, influenza, HSV-1, cytomegalovirus, influenza, HIV, and a wide array of other pathogenic invaders.4,5 According to research, this remarkable activity can be attributed to monolaurin's ability to bind to the lipid-protein envelopes of certain viruses, rendering them unable to attach themselves to host cells.6

    In the eyes of a growing body of researchers, this simple method of action makes viral replication and infection (in some viruses) nothing short of impossible. What's even more impressive, there seems to be some pretty solid proof backing this bold theory. A number of studies, including several human trials, have reported significant improvements in CD4 and CD8 counts - a term used to measure total viral loads among patients with challenged immune systems.7

    Other studies have showcased its unique ability to completely eradicate viruses by dissolving the sheath that protects them. Once exposed, many viruses are no match for the relentless immune system. Without its protective lipid membrane, the relationship between the virus and the host cell it invaded goes sour, making it very difficult to replicate, remain dormant or even defend itself.8 And this is the precise influence that monolaurin seems to have on viruses and other pathogenic culprits.

    Based on these findings, Coconut oil and lauric acid have become increasingly popular with HIV and AIDS patients, as they have been shown to drastically reduce viral loads and prevent many of the opportunistic health threats associated with weakened immune systems.9 As a result, physicians now commonly use coconut oil when treating patients with immune challenges.

MCT's As An Energy Source:

    The good news doesn't stop there, however. MCT's, especially those in coconut oil, are not stored in the way that other saturated fats are. Rather, they are immediately metabolized by the liver and used as an instant (and might I add, very noticeable) source of energy.10

    I personally know several people who have been able to kick their coffee habits, and believe that one week of supplementation can convince anyone who doubts its energy producing potential. In fact, many physicians now recommend coconut oil to patients who deal with daily bouts of chronic fatigue.

Digestion:

    In addition, coconut oil is one of the most digestive-friendly compounds on earth. It has strong antiviral, antimicrobial and antibacterial properties that help rid the body of toxins without interfering with the activity of friendly flora.11 And because it is metabolized immediately by the liver and sent to the bloodstream, less strain is placed on the digestive process.12

      View Top Selling Digestive System Health Products Here.

Skin Care:

    The skin is one of the most welcoming of all organs when it comes to reaping the benefits of coconut oil. Taken internally or applied topically, it is well known that coconut oil leaves the skin and hair soft and healthier in appearance and texture. Many users have reported that it clears up acne and blemishes, helps eliminate and reduce the appearance of scars, prevents eczema flare-ups, soothes psoriasis and restores a more color-esque skin tone.

    What Is Eczema?
    A noncontagious inflammation of the skin, characterized chiefly by redness, itching, and the outbreak of lesions that may discharge serous matter and become encrusted and scaly.

    What Is Psoriasis?
    A noncontagious inflammatory skin disease characterized by recurring reddish patches covered with silvery scales.


Conclusion

Coconut oil is a remarkable gift to good health, plain and simple. Surprisingly, it seems as though we've only scratched the surface of the role it may play in disease prevention and the overall quality of life. I would encourage everyone who reads this to learn as much as they can about its potential benefits, and to, at some point, experience it for themselves.

Look for a certified organic Virgin Coconut Oil that contains no less than 6 grams of Lauric Acid. It should be unrefined, unbleached, contain no trans fats and have a soft, distinct taste and texture.

References:

  1. Garfinkel M, Lee S, Opara EC, Akkwari OE. Insulinotropic potency of lauric acid: a metabolic rational for medium chain fatty acids (MCF) in TPN formulation. Journal of Surgical Research 1992;52:328-333.
  2. Portillo MP, Serra F, Simon E, del Barrio AS, Palou A. Energy restriction with high-fat diet enriched with coconut oil gives higher UCP1 and lower white fat in rats. International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders 1998;22:974-9.
  3. Sugano M, Ikeda I. Metabolic interactions between essential and trans-fatty acids. Current Opinions in Lipidology 1996;7:38-42.
  4. Awad AB. Effect of dietary lipids on composition and glucose utilization by rat adipose tissue. Journal of Nutrition 1981;111:34-39.
  5. Enig MG, Atal S, Sampugna J and Keeney M. Isomeric Trans Fatty Acids in the U.S. Diet. Journal of the American College of Nutrition 1990;9:471-486.
  6. Sands JA, Auperin DD, Landin PD, Reinhardt A, Cadden SP. Antiviral effects of fatty acids and derivatives: lipid-containing bacteriophages as a model system in The Pharmaco-logical Effect of Lipids (JJ Kabara, ed) American Oil Chemists' Society, Champaign IL, 1978, pp 75-95.
  7. Thormar H, Isaacs EC, Brown HR, Barshatzky MR, Pessolano T. Inactivation of enveloped viruses and killing of cells by fatty acids and monoglycerides. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 1987;31:27-31.
  8. Enig, MG. Lauric oils as antimicrobial agents: theory of effect, scientific rationale, and dietary applications as adjunct nutritional support for HIV-infected individuals. in Nutrients and Foods in AIDS (RR Watson, ed) CRC Press, Boca Raton, 1998, pp. 81-97.
  9. Isaacs CE, Thormar H. Human milk lipids inactivated enveloped viruses. in Breastfeeding, Nutrition, Infection and Infant Growth in Developed and Emerging Countries (Atkinson SA, Hanson LA, Chandra RK, eds) Arts Biomedical Publishers and Distributors, St. John's NF, Canada, 1990.
  10. Enig, MG. Lauric oils as antimicrobial agents: theory of effect, scientific rationale, and dietary applications as adjunct nutritional support for HIV-infected individuals. in Nutrients and Foods in AIDS (RR Watson, ed) CRC Press, Boca Raton, 1998, pp. 81-97.
  11. Hostmark AT, Spydevold O, Eilertsen E. Plasma lipid concentration and liver output of lipoproteins in rats fed coconut fat or sunflower oil. Artery 1980;7:367-383.
  12. Sugano M, Ikeda I. Metabolic interactions between essential and trans-fatty acids. Current Opinions in Lipidology 1996;7:38-42.
  13. Nanji AA, Sadrzadeh SM, Yang EK, Fogt F, Maydani M, Dannenberg AJ. Dietary saturated fatty acids: a novel treatment for alcoholic liver disease. Gastroenterology 1995;109:547-554.

Coconut Oil: Another Reason To Love The Tropics!
jaysonkroner@yahoo.com

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