Coconut Oil Study #2 It Makes You Hot!

May 20, 2009

Coconut Oil Study #2  It Makes You Hot! 

 Competency # 13 Fats          ReferencePhilippine Journal of Cardiology July-Sept 2003 3:97-104 

 I have to admit,  I have spent much of my life with an attitude against coconuts.  There is something about the texture that bothers me.  My tipping point came when I read the first Tokelau research study.  How could people eat 70% of their calories from saturated fat and be as healthy as the Tokelauns could be?  It seemed impossible.  There is very little research in the American nutritional literature on coconuts.  To find relevant literature, you have to delve into the obscure sources like the Ceylon Medical Journal and the blogs and websites from nutritionists.  

Perhaps the most reputable would be “The People’s Pharmacy,” the well-regarded National Public Radio program that interviewed Sally Falon from the Weston Price Institute. Dr. Falon listed three principal means by which coconut oil exerts its beneficial effects.  

First of all, being saturated is just not a problem.  Coconut oil is a mid-length fat, molecularly speaking.  It’s not as long as saturated fat from animals.  Because of that, it’s absorbed quite differently.  It is taken up directly by cells and shunted into metabolism.  As a consequence, it actually revs you up a bit, raising your body temperature.  That seems to be why it is so widely reported to be helpful to folks losing weight.  Because of its increased “thermogenesis,” your body just plain burns more calories, even more than the calories in coconut oil.  Makes you hot…that’s cool! 

Its second beneficial effect is that of being an “essential oil.”  In that regard, it does something unique to your immune system that seems to turn on your immune response.  The principle fat in coconut oil is lauric acid.  Your body changes that into monolauren.  That compound does things to viruses.  It seems to dissolve their fatty membrane, destroying them.  Interestingly enough, breast fed infants get lauric acid from their feedings in the range of about 1 gram per two pounds of weight.  We adults don’t get any in our diet.  

If we were to consume whole milk from grass-raised cows, we would.  Pasteurized milk from grain-raised cows doesn’t provide that lauric acid. Finally, coconut oil does something good to folks with bowel disease.  The thought is that it is an important element for the naturally beneficial bacteria in your gut.  Whatever the cause, there is no standard literature on it, but there sure are lots of anecdotes floating around the internet about people who claim their Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis got much better when they started taking a couple of teaspoons a day of coconut oil. 

 What’s the bottom line?  There is now clear evidence that coconut oil is not harmful for cardiovascular disease.  As a saturated fat, it seems to be in a class all of its own by nature of it being a shorter fat that is digested differently.  The population studies from around the world have repeatedly shown that coconut oil, consumed in large quantities, is associated again and again with good health outcomes. 

 WWW:  What will work for me.  I don’t have any bowel disease.  If I did, I would take two teaspoons a day.  But I would love to lose some weight.  Next time I’m at Outpost, I’m going to buy a bottle and try the taste.  If I can use two teaspoons a day for a month (on a salad or added to pizza) and lose even two pounds, you’ll hear about it…after I buy 10 more bottles!

This column was written by John E. Whitcomb, MD, Brookfield Longevity, Brookfield, WI. (262-784-5300)