Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Case for Coconut Oil

People usually give me a strange look when I tell them I cook with coconut oil. I get an even stranger look when I tell people I drink coconut oil with hot water and honey. It is almost as if they think they can see my cholesterol rising and my risk of heart attack creeping up. Most people in America have been convinced that coconut oil is an evil, fatty, dangerous oil to be avoided at all costs. The evidence though is much to the contrary and I am always thrilled to share the REAL information with anyone who will listen.

Coconut oil has a long history of use for both pharmaceutical and consumption purposes spanning nearly 4000 years. It was used in the US until the tide began to change based on some research in 1954 by David Kritchevsky. His research indicated that there were beneficial effects of consuming polyunsaturated fatty acids from the oil of corn, soybeans, safflower and sunflower seeds for the lowering, at least temporarily, of cholesterol in the blood. The Soybean and corn industry jumped on this in a blink of an eye. Coconut and tropical oils became the supposed catalyst of heart disease, obesity and high cholesterol and polyunsaturated fats became the saving grace. Strangely, our rates of heart disease and obesity have continued to rise in this country despite these claims from the influencing soybean and corn industries. If you ask me, it's all about money, power and influence, which is a shame when we are considering the health and well being of our population.

Let's take a closer look at Coconut Oil and its properties. Coconut oil is indeed a saturated fat. What the money makers in the US have failed to tell you though is that not all saturated fats are bad for you. I won't go into the details of lipids and atoms. If you would like detailed information on the difference between fats you can go here. Saturated fats come in three subgroups: short, medium and long chain fatty acids. Each subgroup is vastly different and offer different benefits metabolically, biologically and nutritionally.

What is often lost in the great debate over saturated fats is the fact that not all subgroups of saturated fats are created equal. Coconut oil happens to be 62% medium chain fatty acid (MCFA)which actually makes it healthier than unsaturated fats which are mostly composed of long chain fatty acids. MCFA put less strain on the digestive system by requiring less energy and enzymes for absorption. MCFA are also transported directly to the liver where they are consumed as an energy source. They aid in the absorption and retention of calcium, magnesium and amino acids and has also been shown to benefit thyroid function. Aside from all of the biological systems that are benefited by MCFA, modern research indicates that some MCFA (Coconut Oil included) benefit and strengthen the immune system and aid in fighting bacteria, fungus and viruses in the body.

My absolute favorite "talking point" about Coconut Oil is the majority presence of Lauric Acid (48% of the MCFA in CO). The antimicrobial benefits of Lauric Acid was noted in 1966 by Dr Jon Kabara. In the last several years we have learned even more about its powerful and beneficial benefit of fighting bacterial and viral infections. Lauric Acid converts to Monolaurin once digested. Monolaurin is attracted to viruses, attaches itself to them and then breaks the fluid membrane open, killing the virus.

The powerful benefits of the MCFA in Coconut oil is found in only one other natural product and that is a human mother's milk. The benefits of monolaurin have been documented with dental care, HIV/AIDS, Herpes, liver disease, Hepatitis C, and Prostatic Hyperplasia.

The fact is in the scientific literature that Coconut oil boosts the immune system and provides benefits only found in breastmilk. It also has not shown to raise cholesterol, heart disease or obesity. It is consumed predominantly in countries whose rates of each of these health issues is dwarfed by those of the US. I guess the choice is yours. Do you want to cook in and consume unsaturated fats which are seriously inferior to the benefits of coconut oil? I for one will continue to cook in and consume coconut oil knowing that it is not only tasty but is providing myself and my nursling healthful benefits.

Links for more information on Coconut Oil:

Coconut Oil Research
More Coconut Oil Research

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Detox Road

I have been making slow and steady progress at detoxing our family. When I started looking into the chemicals and toxins in everyday products around our home, that we even put on our children's skin, I became quite horrified. To me, it is no surprise we have a drastic rise in auto-immune disorders and other behavioral disorders that are thought to be neurological in origin. It seems simple to me to eliminate all I can from our homes to make them as healthy as possible.

When I started making a list of all I have already done I was pretty impressed. It has been little by little but I really can see that it is making a difference. Brad and I were just discussing the fact that he has not had any migraines for months. I don't think this is a coincidence but rather the result of concious exclusion of toxic products in our home. I specifically think our laundry soap could have been contributing to his issues.

You may not even know that many of the things I am going to list as being eliminated from our home are toxic. That is where I hope this blog can be useful to some other families.

Items elminated/changed:

Laundry Detergent

Switched to all natural detergent from Seventh Generation.
Switched to Non-Toxic dryer sheets
Going to make continued improvements by using infused vinegar I make myself in our laundry, hydrogen peroxide and baking soda for whitening.

Cleaning Supplies

Eliminated all toxic cleaning supplies
We now exclusively use a mixture of Vinegar, Water and Tea Tree oil. Vinegar is a natural antibacterial, killing up to 90% of germs and bacteria. The TTO kills anything else left on the surface and is a powerful anti-bacterial, anti-fungal. I also add other Essential Oils (EO) for scent like Bergamot or Rosemary.
Dish Soap is also a naturally based product from Seventh Generation

Personal Products
We have eliminated all chemical/toxin laden personal products for the most part (a couple of Brad's products linger).
We now use California Baby and Nature's Baby Organics for the kids bath products. I am using Pure and Natural for soap and I use the kids shampoo also. I use Organic Coconut Oil on their skin instead of lotions and also use the Coconut oil and strategic "shade management" for sunscreen since Coconut Oil is a natural SPF 4. I exclusively use Coconut Oil on my skin also.

The two diapered kidlets are now in cloth diapers. It is so easy, less wasteful and a million times better then toxic disposables (more on that later). We have done away with wipes also. If the kids have to be in disposables they are chlorine-free, dye-free, fragrance-free.

What is still to come?
I have many things still to change. Here is part of the changing list.

Eliminate processed foods as much as possible. Of particular interest are eliminating: High Fructose Corn Syrup, Partially Hydrogenated Oils, Genetically Modified foods, Hormone and antibiotic laden foods (Dairy and Meats), Artificial Sweeteners (Aspartame, Splenda, Sucralose, etc.), Artificial colors, Artificial flavors.

We plan to have our own garden and purchase as much as we can at the Farmer's market for fresh, organic, natural fruits and vegetables. We also have joined the Nebraska Food Co-op which will allow us to get locally raised, grass fed meat.

I would like to start canning our own sauces and other foods so we have them available when needed and are confident in how they were made.

The kids hopefully will snack on only healthy foods. They love fruits and veggies so this is not a hard one for us. I am increasing consumption of foods rich in Omega Fatty Acids and Miles gets an Omaga 3-6-9 Supplement. I am cooking almost exclusively in Coconut Oil which is a Medium Chain Fatty Acid and rich in healthy fats. It also contains Lauric Acid which is only found in Breastmilk. When processed in the body it is converted to Monolaurian which is a natural antiviral, antibacterial fighter.

I think that is all of the big changes. Of course, little changes take place and still have a big impact on our health, well-being and pocket book. I do have a method to my madness. All of the changes I have made or plan to make are based on a combination of science and instinct. I plan on using this blog to provide links of information on the why and how of making these changes in your life, for your family.

Until next time....