The benefits of coconut oil

iStock_000014677101XSmall

Our body is well designed to run primarily on fat as a source of energy and when it does, it produces ketones bodies, which is perfectly healthy. Ketones are what the body produces when it’s using fat for energy in the absence of glucose. These ketones are a preferred energy source for the brain and heart.

Of the fats in coconut oil, 92% are healthy saturated fats. This makes it highly stable under heat when cooking and solid at room temperatures.

The main fatty acid content comes from Lauric acid (45-50%). Lauric acid is a medium chain triglyceride (MCT) with a 12 carbon structure (C12:0). These MCTs are digested and assimilated easily in the body and are transferred directly to the liver where they are immediately converted into energy, also meaning they are not directly stored as body fat.

Other MCTs of importance found in coconut oil are:

  • Caprylic acid (C8:0);
  • Capric acid (C10:0).

Generally speaking, the shorter the fatty acid carbon length (Cx:0), he faster the body can turn the fatty acids into usable energy.

Once mistakenly believed to be unhealthy because of its high saturated fat content, it is now known that the fat in coconut oil is unique and different from almost all other fats and possesses many health giving properties.

Lauric acid is a powerful virus and negative bacteria destroyer, and coconut oil contains the most lauric acid of any substance on Earth!  Capric acid, another fatty acid present in smaller amounts, has also been added to the list of coconut’s antimicrobial components.

Coconut oil has been shown to consistently raise HDL cholesterol levels in humans. Higher HDL is linked to a reduced heart disease risk.

Benefits of Coconut Oil
More than 2,000 studies have been performed on coconut oil, demonstrating a wide range of benefits. Here is a list of some of the benefits associated with the consumption of coconut oil:

  • Enhance immunity and fight infections;
  • Improve your cholesterol numbers;
  • Decrease risk of heart disease;
  • Promote weight loss;
  • Boost metabolism;
  • Boost energy levels and enhance athletic/physical performance;
  • Assist with blood sugar regulation & prevention/treatment of diabetes;
  • Improve digestion;
  • Improve brain health;
  • Improve skin health;
  • Improve hair health; and
  • Improve thyroid function.

Using Coconut Oil
Coconut oil can be used both internally and externally. It is an excellent source of energy and when ingested as a food oil or health tonic. It adds both flavour and has therapeutic benefits.

Some of the more popular uses of Coconut Oil:

  • Coconut oil is one of your best cooking alternatives as it is so stable that when heated it will not oxidize or go rancid;
  • Mix it into smoothies, herbal teas or hot water;
  • Mix it into black coffee (instead of milk or other creamers);
  • Use it as a skin and hair moisturizer;
  • A natural SPF 4 sunscreen;
  • Oil pulling (using it as a mouth wash, will help with gum disease and tooth infection); and so much more.

Why Paleo?

“Ten thousand years ago the Agricultural Revolution was the beginning of a drastic change in the human diet that continues to this day. Today more than 70% of our dietary calories come from foods that our Paleolithic ancestors rarely, if ever, ate. The result is epidemic levels of cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, arthritis, gastrointestinal disease, and more.”

– Dr. Loren Cordain

The Paleo Diet is based upon everdyday, modern foods that mimic the general diet of pre-agricultural, hunter-gatherer societies. It focuses on consuming whole, nutrient dense foods such as, meats, seafood, fruits, vegetables, nuts and healthy fats.

Conventional wisdom would suggest that the paleolithic man had a far shorter lifespan than what is the norm for today, although multiple studies have shown that a large percentage of the population lived into their 60’s and were virtually free of chronic degenerative disease. Taking a look at modern day hunter gatherer societies such as the Inuit people of the Arctic region, you will find that they live free of modern disease until they adapt a more modern diet.

Basically, with the Paleo Diet, one will be returning to the diet that humans are genetically designed to eat.

Foods to Eat

Meats, poultry, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts and plenty of healthful fats.

Foods to avoid

Cereals and grains, legumes, vegetable and seed oils, sugars (including artificial sweeteners) and diary (can be a moderation food if tolerated well).

Some of the benefits of a Paleo Diet

  • improved body composition
  • weight loss
  • increased energy and focus throughout the day
  • increased athletic performance
  • improved sleep quality
  • omega-3/omega-6 balance
  • reduced systemic inflammation
  • reduced risk of modern disease assosiated with metabolic syndrome such as, hypertension and cholesterol, diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, osteoperorsis, and anything ending in “itis”

Just another low carbohydrate diet?

The Paleo Diet is generally thought of as a low-carbohydrate, moderate to high protein and fat, nutrient dense diet. People who choose a lower carbohydrate approach generally have weight loss as a goal. Athletes on the other hand, require a greater carbohydrate intake to help with recovery from repeated physical efforts. Depending on the individuals requirements (ie: weight loss, reduce insulin resistance, athletic performance, etc.), you can adjust accordingly.

Most modern low-carbohydrate diets are really high in protein and only contain moderate levels of fats much lower than the Paleo Diet. Whilst a modern low-carbohydrate diet may be great at promoting weight loss, many people who follow these diets only achieve short term success.

When compared to modern day low-carbohydrate weight loss diets, the Paleo Diet includes 100% of the nutritional elements (correct ratios of protein, fat, carbohydrate, vitamins and  minerals) required for both weight loss and promoting health and well being.

My own experience with the Paleo Diet

I have been using ancestral type diets for approximately six years now. In that time I’ve dropped nearly 8kg (without muscle loss) and currently I weigh about the same as I did ten years ago. I am bit more liberal with my nutrition these days. I’ve returned high quality full fat diary products like butter and some cheese back into my diet with success. I’ve never felt better. I’m rarely sick. I’m faster, fitter and stronger than ever.

But the biggest positive would have to be the reduction of acne. I had tried various medications and creams over the years but was unable to relieve facial acne. It wasn’t until after I had noticed my face had completely cleared that I learnt about the link between insulin resistance and acne. These days I’ll only have a minor breakout if I consume consecutive meals with high-glycemic load carbohydrates.

Feel free to comment on your own experiences with Paleo type diets or contact me if you have any questions and would like more information.