Coconut Oil the Natural Healer
Coconut oil is one of the most versatile and multifaceted oils available on the market. Used for both health applications on the skin, hair, and body, it’s also an oil that is consumed regularly as a part of both the cooking process and as a meal ingredient. The good news is that coconut oil is a very healthy and highly effective oil and is one of the best oils available for a myriad of uses.
Coconut oil is a tropical oil, widely available in tropical countries, but only easily found in Western supermarkets within the past few years. Historically, the coconut tree has been used for thousands of years by people who live in the Pacific Rim area and in many Asian countries. Coconut trees were used for many reasons, as the coconut meat was a source of food supply, the coconut tree’s leaves were used to weave mats and baskets, and the flowers which bloomed on the trees produced a sap which is used to make syrups. However, the most widely spread product of coconut trees is definitely coconut oil, which is made from pressing the meat of the coconut nut.
In the 1950s, coconut oil was readily available on supermarket shelves, because it was one of the most common cooking oils of the day. Housewives used coconut oil to fry foods and also in their baking. Unfortunately, medical studies went on to report that eating saturated fats led to high triglyceride levels, and as coconut oil is high in natural fat, many people were scared off of using coconut oil in their foods in order to avoid elevated triglyceride levels. This research found that all saturated fats raise your cholesterol levels, and therefore, should be eliminated from diets, including fats such as butter and coconut oil.
Unfortunately, these studies were based on hydrogenated coconut oils, which is a highly processed form of oil and is entirely different to naturally processed organic virgin coconut oil, which is the kind of oil whose use is encouraged. This detail wasn’t public knowledge when these reports emerged, however, and the American edible oil industries could not resist the opportunity to promote polyunsaturated vegetable oils to the general public in place of oils which included saturated fats. The result of this is the commonality of vegetable oils in your local supermarket in the modern day.
Ironically, scientists have recently discovered that in fact, eating too many polyunsaturated fats in the form of vegetable oils is not in fact as healthy as was once promoted, and can be damaging to your health. The issue with a diet which is high in vegetable oils is you may ingest too much omega 6 fatty acids, which cause inflammation throughout your body and therefore increase your risk for heart disease and inflammatory conditions in joints and skin such as arthritis.
It’s now been found that it’s entirely likely that vegetable-oil focused diets may be the reason for the high rates of heart disease, arthritis and asthma seen throughout Western countries. In contrast, French diets include fatty foods loaded with butter and plenty of red wine, but they also have one of the lowest rates of heart disease in the entire world. As well, research has found that residents of tropical countries have a lower rate of heart disease when compared to Western societies. Scientists are examining whether the use of tropical oils such as coconut oils may be a part of this phenomenon.
It’s important to understand the difference between heavily processed, hydrogenated coconut oil and virgin coconut oil, which is naturally processed. Virgin coconut oil has special fats which do not raise your cholesterol level or contribute to heart disease. Virgin coconut oil contains medium-chain fatty acids, also known as Medium Chain Triglycerides, which are a kind of fat which follow a healthier pathway in your body which leads to more efficient fat burning and weight loss. When your body consumes MCFAs, they’re not stored in your body cells like typical fats. Instead, they’re immediately transported to the liver to be metabolized.
Coconut oil is one of the healthiest dietary oils avails, is free of trans-fatty acids and does not contain any cholesterol. Instead of running towards polyunsaturated oils, an oil with this many health benefits and no downsides should be embraced!
Coconut oil has many applications and can lead to wonderful outcomes when used in a targeted manner.
The top 15 benefits of coconut oil include…
A study conducted in 2009 examined the weight loss link between women’s consumption of coconut oil and discovered that abdominal obesity was reduced. Coconut oil is very easy to digest and also protects the body from insulin resistance, which can reduce the risk of diabetes. Adding coconut oil to your diet for weight control purposes is easy: begin by adding a single teaspoon a day to your diet before gradually working your way up to four teaspoons per day.
One of the great things about coconut oil is that just merely adding it to your diet will lead to fat loss. It’s also strong at helping to target the dangerous fat which rests around the abdominal cavity.
Coconut oil is digested via a metabolic pathway which is more efficient than most. As coconut oil is thermogenic, eating it increases energy expenditure when compared to the same level of calorie intake from other fat sources, making it a superior fat to choose when looking to increase weight loss without sacrificing satiety.
One study has found 15-30 grams, or 1-2 tablespoons, of medium chain fats (MCFAs) per day increased energy expenditure by 5% for a total of 120 calories per day. Other studies have examined this further and proven that when humans replace fats with MCT fats, they do indeed burn more calories.
This goes to show that not all calories are created equal – a calorie from coconut oil does not have the same result as a calorie from olive oil or butter.
The other way coconut oil helps to reduce weight is in its appetite reduction. MCFAs have been proven to increase feelings of fullness when compared to the same amount of calories from other fats. This leads to an automatic reduction in calorie intake, as people have less desire for food due to their levels of satisfaction. It’s well known that ketone bodies, which is what the liver produces when you eat coconut oil, has a powerful appetite reducing the effect.
An impressive result was found in a study carried out on 6 healthy men. Those who were eating a higher amount of medium chain triglyceride fats were automatically eating up to 256 fewer calories per day, which has a strong effect on weight loss and weight control on an ongoing basis.
Coconut oil is a powerful tool in the fight against weight gain, as it both boosts fat burning by increasing the calories out and also reduces the appetite, therefore reducing the calories in.
2. Eases digestion
Many people suffer from poor digestion, bloating or other digestive issues. Coconut oil is a great natural treatment for those who are struggling with the passage of food through their body in a healthy and natural manner. Scientific studies have proven the use of coconut oil in treating digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome and microbial related tummy bugs. The fatty acids which coconut oil contains include antimicrobial properties which lead to a soothing affect on bacteria, candida, and other parasites which can lead to digestive issues in the short and long term.
Coconut oil has also been found to help heal leaky gut syndrome, as it can work to seal the lining of the digestive tract.
Because coconut oil is so easily digestible, it puts less strain on the pancreas and digestive system than other fats. It also helps the body to absorb nutrients including important vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
In order to reap the benefits of coconut oil’s gut healing abilities, try to cook with coconut oil and incorporate coconut oil into your daily diet on a regular basis. There are many ways to do this, from adding coconut oil to yogurt, smoothies or coffee, to adding it to your popcorn instead of butter. You can also look to get more coconut in your diet through drinking coconut water and coconut milk.
3. Management of Type 2 Diabetes
Too many people in the Western world suffer from type 2 diabetes, which as a chronic impact on daily routines, overall health and quality of life. The risk of type 2 diabetes can be reduced by consuming coconut oil, as it protects against insulin resistance, which is one of the causes of this particular type of diabetes. MCFA fats are small enough to be absorbed into cells before being quickly converted to energy. This process not only reduces the amount of fat which is converted into ‘storage’ in our bodies but also actively works to improve our insulin sensitivity.
4. Healthy fats vs. unhealthy fats
The word ‘fat’ has extremely negative connotations, due to the focus of the diet and image industry on fat as a culprit for disease, weight gain, and health issues. However, not all fats are created equal, and some are incredibly useful for our body and the functions it needs to thrive and survive. The fats coconut oil contains – MCFA fats – are a healthy form of saturated fat compared to trans fat. Trans fatty consumption has direct links with heart problems, depression, and increased cholesterol leaves. Instead, MCFA fats are metabolized by the liver, where they’re immediately converted in energy which fuels brain and muscle function.
5. Provides immunity support
Coconut oil is made up of healthy fats lauric acid, caprylic acid and capric acid. These fats contain antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties which have immune-boosting effects, improving your body’s chances of avoiding disease and strengthening its systems to fight off parasites, bugs, germs, and infections. Lauric acid contains the highest concentration of MCFA fatty acids at approximately 75%. The body uses this fat to convert it into monolaurin, which can assist in healing viruses such as herpes, influenza, cytomegalovirus, helicobacter pylori, and candida.
6. Metabolism boosts
With so many intriguing and powerful properties, many studies have been carried out on coconut oil to verify its validity and discover its full potential. The Journal of Nutrition reported results showing that coconut oil boosts metabolism. Research was conducted that discovered the consumption of two tablespoons of coconut oil per day burned more kilojoules than those who did not consume coconut oil in these levels. A fast metabolism works to boost the body’s immune system and works to keep the weight from settling onto your hips (or anywhere else!).
7. Hydrating for skin
Many people have taken to using coconut oil in the mornings in place of moisturizer, as coconut oil is so rich and hydrating for the skin. It works to strengthen the skin’s connective tissues, therefore preventing sagging and wrinkles. It’s simple to use – just apply it directly to your skin, softening the appearance of fine lines, or incorporate it into your daily routine with application across your face and body to achieve a healthy goal. It’s crucial to use virgin coconut oil which does not have any additives and to stay away from the hydrogenated coconut oil, as this will not have the same hydrating and strengthening effects.
8. Safe for cooking at high temperatures
Many oils which are used in everyday cooking are actually unsafe for cooking at high temperatures, although the companies promoting their sales don’t go to great lengths to mention that on the label. However, coconut oil is a reliable, durable and safe oil, even under the pressure of extreme heat. Because it’s a medium chain saturated fatty acid, it has a higher smoking temperature than most polyunsaturated or monounsaturated oils. Even olive oil will oxidize at high temperatures and create free radicals, but coconut oil is great for cooking at high temperatures without its makeup changing.
9. Reduces sugar cravings
It’s common for a 3 pm sugar hit to affect office workers at desks around the world, and lead them to reach for the lolly jar. Instead, coconut oil is a great choice, as it’s a good quality fat which is more satiating than carbohydrates. By cutting down on sugar, your body will feel less ravenous and far more satisfied. Many of us believe being hungry constantly just means we need to eat more when instead, it’s a sign that we’re not feeding our bodies currently. When they’re provided with the proper amount of fats and protein, energy reserves are fuelled properly, instead of causing our bodies to send us on a constant run for sugar for high energy injections before it drops immediately after. When the next sugar craving hits, swallow a teaspoon of virgin coconut oil instead.
10. Prevents Heart Disease and High Blood Pressure
The high level of natural saturated fats in coconut oil works to not only increase the healthy cholesterol (HDL) in your body, but also helps to convert bad cholesterols into good cholesterols. This has a carry-on effect of promoting heart health and lowering your risk of heart disease via regular consumption.
11. Reduces inflammation and arthritis
The high level of antioxidants found in virgin coconut oil actively work to reduce inflammation. Research has also found that coconut oil has been more useful than many leading medications in healing arthritis. As well, coconut oil which is harvested at a medium heat has been demonstrated to suppress inflammatory cells, which helps fight inflammation all over your body, keeping things in working order and your health to a high standard.
12. Cancer prevention and treating abilities
There are two elements coconut oil possesses which position it as a cancer-fighting and preventing agent. Firstly, the ketones which are produced when it’s digested do not feed tumor cells in the same way that digested sugars and carbohydrates do. Tumor cells are not able to access the energy in ketones as they’re dependent on glucose, and coconut oil’s saturated fat does not convert into glucose. Many studies have proven the value of a ketogenic diet as a possible component in cancer patient recovery journeys.
Secondly, the MCFAs work to digest the lipid walls of bacteria, killing the helicobacter pylori bacteria which can increase the risk of stomach cancer. Studies have conducted experiments where cancer has been chemically induced, and even then, the introduction of coconut oil has then prevented cancer from developing, which is an extremely encouraging result when it comes to its abilities to fight cancer in human systems.
13. Memory and brain function improvement
The MCFAs in coconut oil are powerful little agents, bringing with them many benefits. A 2004 study published by the Journal of Neurobiology of Aging discovered that MCFAs found in coconut oil have improved memory problems in their older subjects. All of the patients who consumed coconut oil saw a marked improvement in their ability to recall, which is the result of the easy absorption in the body of the MCFAs, which can be accessed in the brain without the use of insulin and therefore are able to fuel brain cells more efficiently.
14. Energy and Endurance improvement
When it comes to the kind of foods we consume, the best food source is that which will convert into a long-sustaining energy source. Sugar, when consumed, converts into what we call a ‘sugar hit’, where we can feel its energy racing through our body almost immediately. Unfortunately, this is followed by a crash, as these sugars do not have the sustenance required to truly support bodily function. Instead, the body thrives off easily digestible food which produces a longer sustained energy, such as proteins and healthy fats. Coconut oil is easily digestible, therefore increasing your metabolism and provided an energy which sustains itself for a much longer time than sugar or carbohydrates. As the MCFAs are sent directly to the liver, they’re put to use in nourishing the brain and body immediately.
Many triathletes use coconut oil as their source of fuel during training and races for long distance events, as their bodies need a quick hit of energy in a form that’s going to be useful rather than detrimental, and one which will give them a long-sustaining energy source as they continue to push their body to perform over an extensive period.
A homemade energy fuel mix can be made by combining coconut oil, raw honey and chia seeds. An easy tablespoon of this consumed 30 minutes prior to exercise will provide a long-burning energy hit to see you through a workout and keep your spirit and energy levels high.
15. Prevention of Gum Disease and Tooth Decay
Many cultures over centuries have used oil pulling with coconut oil as a means to remove bacteria from the mouth and heal periodontal disease. Out of the oils available, coconut oil is one of the most effective oils for pulling, due to its high concentration of antibacterial MCFAs.
Oil pulling is an age-old remedy which has its roots in Ayurvedic medicine. It cleans and detoxifies teeth and gums. It also has the added bonus of naturally whitening teeth during the process.
To do this, simply swish coconut oil in your mouth for up to 20 minutes. Oil is able to cut through plaque and remove toxins without causing damage to the gums. It’s best to do this in the morning before you’ve eaten or drunk anything. The 20-minute time frame is important, as this is long enough to break through plaque and bacteria. Any longer and the body may begin to re-absorb the toxins and bacteria. By the time you spit it out, the oil will have thickened and should have a creamy, white appearance. Many people struggle to swish for the full 20 minutes when first beginning, so if you need to, begin by swishing for 5-10 before getting more used to it and working your way up to the full-time period.
It’s also important to spit the oil into the trash can, and not down the sink. The oil may thicken and cause pipes to clog. Of course, don’t swallow the oil, as the whole point is to pull bacteria, toxins, and pus from your mouth and remove them from your system.
After you’ve finished swishing, rinse your mouth well with warm water in order to remove any remaining oil. Follow up by brushing your teeth.
Alongside these top benefits, there’s a wide range of creative uses for coconut oil – many which you definitely would not have thought of! These include…
Use it on your toast instead of butter – this will give you a slight coconut flavor and a great taste.
Smoothie nutrient booster – add 1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil to a fruit smoothie in order to boost its cholesterol-fighting compounds.
Create homemade mayonnaise – use coconut oil in the place of other oils to make a great homemade mayonnaise that’s going to contribute to your healthy fat intake.
Sports drink replacement – coconut oil is a great way of giving the body a quick energy boost, and is a wonderful alternative to sugar and processed sports drinks.
Natural throat lozenge – the next time you’re suffering from a scratchy throat, use coconut oil instead of store-bought lozenges. Swallowing 1/2-1 teaspoon up to 3 times a day will work wonders in helping to ease the pain of a sore through or a cough.
Natural skin moisturizer – although coconut oil can go solid at room temperature, it quickly melts once more when it comes into contact with hands. A great routine to get into is scooping some out before bed and rubbing it into your face in a circular motion. Let it sit for 5 minutes before wiping off what still sits on the skin’s surface and has not yet been absorbed.
Natural makeup remover – sick of paying top dollar for makeup remover at the chemist? Turn to your trusty coconut oil instead. A small dab of this oil will liquefy eye makeup and make it very easy to remove. It also won’t sting eyes, and also works to hydrate the skin right around the eyes.
Bathe in it with Epsom salt – by adding 1/4 cup of Epsom salts and 1/4 cup of coconut to a warm bath, you can create a relaxing and rejuvenating bath which will heal your skin. The Epsom salts actively draw out toxins while the coconut oil soothes dry skin, therefore removing the bad and replacing with the good while you close your enjoys and enjoy the calming water.
Lip balm – the changing of the seasons can really take a beating on our lips, causing them to dry and crack. Coconut oil is a great natural lip balm which has no processed ingredients. The healing properties coconut oil possesses helps nourish the lips and also provides some sun protection. To make your own coconut oil lip balm, combine 2 tablespoons of coconut oil with 2 tablespoons of beeswax, alongside 1 tablespoon of shea butter. When it’s melted together, use a small funnel to siphon it into lip balm containers. After it has set for 6 hours it will be ready for use.
Natural deodorant – coconut oil’s natural antibacterial properties can help to keep body odor levels down. It makes for a great deodorant on its own but can also be combined into a paste with baking soda and your choice of essential oils.
Wound salve – coconut oil has a rich history of use as a wound salve as it speeds the healing of rashes, burns and open wounds. Its antibacterial and antifungal properties help keep the area free of infection, and its lauric acid component contributes to faster healing.
Fight cellulite – by mixing 1 tablespoon of coconut oil with 10 drops of grapefruit essential oil, you can create a balm which is then massaged into affected areas. Following this massage with dry brushing will help to stimulate circulation and encourage cellular detox.
Shaving cream – rather than paying full price at the store, coconut oil can be used as a soothing shaving cream. Wiping a dab of it on the area to be shaved before shaving helps to protect from skin irritations, razor burn and to soothe ingrown hairs.
Sunburn remedy – coconut oil is both a natural sunscreen and a sunburn remedy. Rubbing coconut oil onto your sunburnt skin will not only promote its healing but will help to soothe the pain.
Anti-fungal cream – because coconut oil has antibiotic capabilities, it can be used topically as a treatment for athletes foot and skin fungus. Apply it to the affected area and wipe it off once it’s had time to set in and any excess remains on the service.
Cold sore treatment – many people suffer from cold sores on a regular basis. Rubbing coconut on them continuously throughout the day can help to reduce healing time and the pain of the cold sore. It’s also likely to help reduce scars and discoloration once the cold sore has healed.
Foot rub for cracked heals – coconut oil can provide relief for cracked heals by massage application. Adding other essential oils, such as lavender oils, can further help to reduce dryness and bacteria, as well as leaving your feet with a relaxing scent.
Natural hair conditioner – people have used coconut oil as a conditioner for thousands of years. It can help strengthen hair and also promote moisture retention in the hair itself. Working the oil into your hair in a conditioning lather will help to strengthen your hair and provide it with much-needed moisture.
Baby ointment – coconut oil is a wonderfully soothing tool for painful diaper rash. By rubbing it on the affected area, you can sooth swelling, redness, itch, and burns. It needs time to be absorbed by the skin in order to promote healing and reduce further information.
With so many incredible uses, it’s no wonder coconut oil sits in the pantries and on the shelves of so many homes. See if you can discover more uses for yourself!