Coconut Oil ~ What're the Facts?
Okay, so raise your hand if you’ve heard that Coconut Oil is not only good for you but, a MUST for your cardiovascular health!
YOU are NOT Alone ~ A survey found that 72% of Americans rated coconut oil as “healthy". This trend has even attracted celebrity endorsements claiming that the ingredient helped blast away belly fat, curb appetite, strengthen the immune system, prevent heart disease and stave off dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Coconut oil is popular in several trending diets including ketogenic and Paleo diets.....BUT only 37% of nutrition experts agreed that it's in fact healthy for you!
So Who's RIGHT?!
First off ~ Did you know that the fat content of your body is about 97% saturated and monounsaturated fat? Your body actually needs fat for rebuilding cells and hormone production, AND it can only use what you give it.
Coconut Oil is 100% fat. In fact, a whopping 80-90% of the fat in Coconut Oil is saturated fat. But, did you know that fat is really made up of still smaller molecules called fatty acids? There are several types of saturated fatty acids in Coconut Oil with trace amounts of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Lauric Acid at 47% is the dominant type of saturated fat in it (with myristic and palmitic acids in smaller amounts which studies show raises harmful LDL levels).
Coconut Oil in Your Diet & Your Health
Unfortunately many of Coconut Oil’s the health claims refer to research using a special formulation of Coconut Oil made of 100% medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). Please note this is NOT the commercial coconut oil available in your local supermarket.
These MCT's have a shorter chemical structure than other fats, and so are quickly absorbed and used by the body. MCT's do not require bile or pancreatic enzymes for your body to digest them. In your intestine, they diffuse through your intestinal membrane into your bloodstream. Next, they’re transported directly to your liver, which naturally converts MCT's into ketones. Your liver then releases the ketones back into your bloodstream, where they are transported throughout your body available and used for energy. MCT's are not stored as fat. MCT's can even pass the blood-brain barrier to supply your brain with energy. The theory is that this quickly absorbed form promotes satiety (a feeling of satisfied fullness) and prevents fat storage.
But, Coconut oil contains mostly Lauric Acid, which is not an MCT. Nope! Actually, Lauric Acid is absorbed more slowly by your body and metabolized just like any other long-chain fatty acid.
This explains why the health benefits reported from a specially constructed MCT Coconut Oil that contains medium-chain triglycerides other than Lauric Acid simply can’t be applied to the commercial Coconut Oils that you find in your local store. However, it's important to note that Lauric acid is most well-known for its antibacterial, antimicrobial and antiviral properties.
Also, while low rates of cardiovascular disease are indeed found in groups of people who include coconut as part of their native diets (e.g., India, Philippines, Polynesia) as shown in epidemiological studies; it is important to understand that many other characteristics (dietary, lifestyle and lower stress), must be considered as part of that equation. Remember too that the type of coconut they eat is different than that which we use in our typical Western diet. Their natural diet includes foods rich in fiber, fresh fruits, vegetables and fish. Their diet has less processed foods and in sugar. They do not eat processed Coconut Oil the way that we do, but the whole coconut as coconut meat or pressed coconut cream. A literature review on the use of coconut products (oil, milk, flesh, or cream) included 21 observational and clinical studies. 
- The epidemiological studies observed people from Samoa, the Philippines, New Zealand, and New Guinea consuming whole coconut as part of their traditional diets. Overall their diets were similar: coconut flesh and milk, fresh fruit, vegetables and fish. Studies found that those who ate higher amounts of coconut oil had increased beneficial HDL cholesterol levels, but also increased total cholesterol and triglycerides.
- 8 small short-term clinical trials lasting from 5-8 weeks with a range of 9-83 participants were examined with an intervention of a coconut oil diet. When compared with a butter or unsaturated fat (olive or safflower oil) diet, coconut oil raised total cholesterol, HDL, and harmful LDL levels more than unsaturated oils, but not more than butter. Coconut Oil was also found to raise total and LDL cholesterol to a greater or similar degree as other saturated fats like beef fat and palm oil.
- The authors concluded that because of Coconut Oil’s effects on raising blood cholesterol including harmful LDL and in some cases triglycerides, and because its cholesterol-raising effects were comparable to other saturated fats, the oil should not be viewed as a heart-healthy food and should be limited in the diet.
Is Coconut Oil better for you than Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil? YES!
It's important to note that Coconut Oil HAS been shown to improve Lipid Profile (your overall cholesterol balance). Research has further shown that Coconut Oil does have some Cardio-protective effects. Coconut Oil also has been found to bring tremendous benefits in normalizing your insulin & leptin sensitivity. For that reason it may be helpful to those seeking to achieve their weight-loss goals. It also has been found to have anti-inflammatory and analgesic benefits.
In fact, it’s best to avoid Corn oil, Margarine (or any butter substitute), Palm oil, Soybean oil, Canola oil, Cottonseed oil, Sunflower oil, Safflower oil, Peanut oil and "Shortening".
Remember that unlike your traditional ‘Old World’ fats (butter, tallow, lard, olive oil, etc.) these new industrial vegetable oils were virtually non-existent until the early 1900’s. As our diets shifted to fast & fried foods, creating a need for “cheap” fat substitutions grew and new chemical processes were invented.
Vegetable oils are bad for you body because they contain very high levels of polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) and these are highly unstable. They oxidize easily. These oxidized fats in your body cause inflammation and mutation in your cells. That oxidation has been positively linked to all sorts of issues from cancer, heart disease, endometriosis, PCOS, etc. PUFAs are bad news.
In addition to the unnatural levels of polyunsaturated fats and Omega-6 fatty acids, they contain a load of additives, pesticides, and chemicals involved in processing. Many vegetable oils contain BHA and BHT (Butylated Hydroxyanisole and Butylated Hydroxytoluene). While these artificial antioxidants keep your food from spoiling as quickly, they have also been shown to produce potential cancer compounds in your body. They’ve also been linked to things like immune system issues, infertility, behavioral problems and liver and kidney damage.
So, when you're considering good healthy fats to include in your diet, some good sources include straight Caprylic Acid Oil for maximum MCT's which convert to ketones far more rapidly, or the more readily available options are Rice Bran Oil, Tea Seed Oil, Avocados, Organic Butter, Raw Nuts (especially Walnuts, Pistachios and Macadamia), and organic animal fats. Oils to consider in moderation, like salad dressings, mayos, and other non-heat foods would be: Walnut Oil, Flaxseed Oil, and Macadamia Nut Oil. Also, use high-quality animal-based omega-3 fat. A good source is Krill Oil.
Last but, not least ALWAYS consult your physician or other health professional before implementing ANY changes in your diet. The information here is not in any way intended as a recommendation.
AND…You can always contact me for Nutritional Consultation! Schedule Your Appointment Now
Jeanne Ricks, CHC
Let’s start here ~ Wheatgrass (triticum aestivum Linn) is mainly used as a concentrated source of nutrients. It is many times richer in chlorophyll and iron than even spinach. In fact, it accounts for about 70% of its chemical composition. Chlorophyll is what gives plants their wonderful green pigment and is found in their photosynthetic cells that convert light energy into ATP and other forms of energy needed for biochemical processes. It’s this chlorophyll, that wheatgrass advocates claim, helps rid your body of toxins, strengthens immunity and improves the micro-flora ecology of your digestive tract.
But, there’s more ~ the protein level in Wheatgrass averages 25% and it contains virtually every vitamin known, along with 20 amino acids, including the 8 that are considered essential for human health. I’m not kidding ~ it contains Vitamins A, B1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, and 12; C, E and K, ascorbic acid, dehydrated ascorbic acid, carotene, sulfur, sodium, aluminum, copper, calcium, iodine, phosphorus, magnesium, alkaline earth metal, potassium, selenium, Iron, Zinc, boran and molybdenum. It also contains amino acids such as aspartic acid, threonine, asparagines, glutamine, proline, glycine, arginine, alanine, valine, methionine, isoleucine, leucine, tyrosine, phenylalanine, lysine, histidine, tryptopha.
Come-on ~ admit it you’re more than a little impressed!
The above-ground leafy parts, roots, and rhizome are used to make medicine. According to the American Cancer Society, there are proponents of wheatgrass claim that it can help:
So what’s the proof to back these claims?
There is a fair amount of evidence to support Wheatgrass extract’s role in beneficially supporting your biological functions. In spite of claims that a 30ml (1oz) shot of wheatgrass contains as many nutrients as 1kg (2.2lbs) of your best veggies, research shows that, pound for pound, the nutrient content of Wheatgrass juice is nearly equivalent to that of your common vegetables, like kale and broccoli. Would that I could amaze you with an overwhelming number of peer reviewed, double–blind studies touting its benefits, but truthfully so far, the anecdotal reports far outweigh the actual science. For instance, there are many cancer survivors who swear by Wheatgrass.
One preliminary study in the Journal of Experimental and Clinical Cancer Research, suggests that fermented wheatgrass extract “exerts significant anti-tumor activity.” This study further concludes that the extract requires further evaluation as a candidate for clinical combination drug regimens. An Israeli study of 60 patients with breast cancer concluded that Wheatgrass juice may reduce myelotoxicity and chemotherapy dosage.
Recently published in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, there was a small study conducted at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, involving 24 patients with ulcerative colitis which concluded that those who took a Wheatgrass supplement improved their conditions versus those who took a placebo.
However, proponents of Wheatgrass believe that because chlorophyll and hemoglobin (a protein that carries oxygen throughout your body) are similar in structure; simply taking wheatgrass juice will enhance a person’s hemoglobin production. But there’s little scientific proof to support this claim. A study published in American Society of Clinical Oncology conducted during a period from January 2003 to December 2005, following 400 solid organ cancer patients in the palliative care unit of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Cancer Research Institute; concluded that Wheatgrass juice was an effective alternative of blood transfusion with a performance improvement status from 50% to 70% (Karnofsky). The journal Indian Pediatrics reported a study which did show that patients with a form of anemia (thalassemia) required fewer blood transfusions after consuming 3½ ounces of Wheatgrass daily, but this could be through its support of other biologic functions. Likewise, there is no evidence to suggest that wheatgrass helps prevent high blood pressure, tooth decay, infection or anemia.
So, while it absolutely contributes towards your recommended daily intake of 5 servings of fruits and veggies ~ sorry, that single shot of Wheatgrass does NOT count as 1 of your 5 for the day.Best Health,
~Jeanne Ricks, CHC
Identity Theft vs. Nutrient Theft
Sure we’ve all heard the discouraging reports about Identity Theft. Some 15 million residents in the US have their identities used fraudulently each year with financial losses totaling upwards of $50 billion. In fact, the Bureau of Justice places the number as high as approximately 7% of all citizens over the age of 16, have their identities misused with each instance resulting in approximately $3,500 in losses.
Grim indeed BUT, a staggering 85% of Americans are suffering from Nutrient Theft daily!
So you’ve loaded up your plate with a variety of brightly colored, organic, farm-fresh veggies, nibbled on raw organic nuts or seeds, had a serving of farm-raised salmon, 8 glasses of filtered water, and complimented all this with a wonderful multi-vitamin, Omega-3 oil, and topped it all off with some additional Vitamin C and D3 ~ yet your body absorbs less than a quarter of all of this nutritional goodness! What’s going on? Who is stealing all the positive benefits that you've earned through all of your good behavior?
Who is the Villain? One word ~ Absorption!
Serving-up the right foods and dietary compliments are not the end of the nutritional story. Simply because the nutrient rich goodies make it into your stomach doesn’t mean that your body will actually be able to use them as planned.
“Whether they’re from food or supplements, nutrients aren’t technically in your body until they’ve been absorbed,” explains Stella Volpe, PhD, RD, Associate Professor of Nursing and Miriam Stirl Term Endowed Chair in Nutrition at Drexel University. “Until absorption, things are just passing through.”
60% percent of the US adult population will experience some type of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) within a 12 month period and 20 to 30 percent will have weekly symptoms. As you read this, approximately seven million people in the United States have some symptoms of GERD. The statistics for Irritable Bowel Syndrome are just a little better. Studies estimate IBS affects 20 percent of the adult population, with most studies ranging from 10 to 15 percent. IBS affects about twice as many women as men and is most often found in people younger than age 45. Here’s the tricky part, only 5 to 7 percent of the adult population has been actually diagnosed with the condition.
But those are the extreme causes of poor nutrient absorption. There are other more common, everyday thieves robbing you of valuable nutrients. Let’s look at 5 of these thieves:
1. Prescription Drugs: Antibiotics are #1 on the list. They non-selectively destroy both “bad” bacteria and also the “good” bacteria in your digestive system that plays a central role in your digestion and absorption of vitamins and minerals. Your other medications themselves can also bind with nutrients and inhibit their absorption. For example, acid-reducing drugs impact your absorption of Vitamin B12. On the other side of this, certain nutrient-rich foods and dietary supplements will interfere with the effectiveness of your medications.
2. Age: As you mature, your body just naturally becomes less capable of actually extracting and absorbing nutrients from foods that you eat, as well as supplements that you take.
3. Caffeine: In fact can promote the excretion of vitamins and minerals and negatively affects hormonal secretions. It’s important to hold your consumption of caffeine to 1 or 2 cups of coffee or tea per day. Also try to have it between meals so that it has less direct effect on nutrient absorption via your meal. In high amounts, the tannins (a type of plant compound) found in caffeine can also prevent your absorption of calcium, iron, magnesium, B-vitamins and Vitamin D contributing to bone loss.
4. Alcohol: There are a number of ways that alcohol affects the absorption of nutrients. It speeds-up the breakdown of pills and capsules before they reach your small intestine where absorption happens. That’s not all; it damages the cells in your stomach and intestine which interferes with just normal digestion, while also interfering with the release of important digestive enzymes to break down foods. Alcohol is known to act as a diuretic, which promotes excretion of stored minerals such as calcium and magnesium. Avoid alcohol within four hours of taking supplements, in order to reduce some of alcohol’s negative impact on nutrient absorption.
5. Stress: It should come as no surprise to anyone that the constant stresses of your daily life take a toll not only on your body, but on your digestion depleting nutrient stores and preventing absorption.
So the bottom line as I tell my clients is that you must take care of your digestion. Statistically speaking most people reading this blog are currently having some type of digestive issue. Stop ignoring it. Stop dulling its affects with over-the-counter aids that merely delay and potentially worsen the issue. Take the time to actively begin the steps necessary to restore your digestion. This is the only way to optimize your health.
Last but, not least ALWAYS consult your physician or other health professional before implementing ANY supplementation. The information here is not in any way intended as a recommendation.
Jeanne Ricks, CHC