Why Coconuts Deserve a Spot in Your Medicine Cabinet

| Sep 24, 2015

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The world of medicine has changed dramatically in recent years. Gone are the days when the healing power of foods and natural substances was wholly rejected. The truth is the research evidence in favor of dietary healing is now too compelling to ignore.

Coconuts have become one of the stars of our current healing food revival (with coconut oil grabbing most of the attention)—and their path to societal acceptance is a sort of “rags to riches” story. For years, medical dogma stated that saturated fats are horrendously unhealthy—that consuming them easily leads to obesity, cholesterol problems, heart disease, and more.

While it seems intuitive enough that fats make you fat, it’s simply not true (at least not in the case of saturated fats). Researchers have since gained a deeper understanding of the difference between healthy (saturated) fats and unhealthy (polyunsaturated fats). It turns out that the latter are actually to blame for all the health woes mentioned above.

Coconuts have gradually regained the reverence as a health tonic and keystone ingredient of a healthy diet. This perspective is in keeping with that of many indigenous cultures, who have known of coconuts’ incredible healing properties for centuries.

We are still in the process of learning  just how healing coconut products actually are. Most mainstream scientists would still probably wince if they heard coconut oil referred to as a “medicine”—if there’s one food that deserves this characterization, though, this is it.

The ultimate functional food

An increasing number of studies demonstrate that coconuts are not just a healthy food, but also a functional food—that is, a nutrient-dense food with condition-specific medicinal properties. As one of the most versatile foods of this type on the planet (along with turmeric), coconuts are leading the charge in the legitimization of functional medicine, which seeks to target the root causes of disease using nature-based substances and treatments.

Here’s a smattering of the amazing medicinal benefits conferred by coconut products.

Weight loss. We might as well start with the most ironic one first. After decades of blaming weight gain and obesity on saturated fats, researched have conclusively demonstrated that medium chain triglycerides, the primary fat in coconuts, is a powerful fat-burner. According to one study, just 30 ml of coconut oil per day for twelve weeks led to a reduction in waist size and a significant cholesterol improvement.[1] [Cholesterol improvement study.]

Reduced inflammation. Coconuts are powerfully anti-inflammatory, and they work their magic without side effects (unlike NSAID’s like ibuprofen, which can suppress the immune system and cause stomach issues). Coconut products can actually be used to prevent and treat the ulcers often caused by painkillers—one study even showed that coconut milk does so as effectively as the leading drug sucralfate).[2]

This means that coconuts provide effective and long-lasting relief from aches, pains, and even fevers. And because systemic inflammation is rightfully called by many health experts “the root of all disease,” the anti-inflammatory power of coconut products dramatically decreases the overall incidence of disease (especially when consumed as part of an all-around anti-inflammatory, detoxifying diet).

Reduced oxidative stress. Coconuts also fight disease, heal the stomach, boost brain function (more on that below), and even combat cancer by reducing oxidative stress, which is another huge risk factor for nearly all major health conditions. They even improve bone structure and prevent diseases like osteoporosis by combatting oxidative stress inside bones.[3]

One study demonstrated that this reduction of oxidative stress even leads to a significant testosterone level increase in men.

Hormonal balance. Endocrine system balance—which is also absolutely critical for optimal health—is another specialty of coconuts. Coconut oil has been shown to improve thyroid function (and it doesn’t tax it like polyunsaturated fats, which easily become rancid and burden the endocrine system with oxidative stress).

Healed wounds and defeated pathogens. Some of the compounds in coconuts (particularly lauric acid) make them disease fighters par excellence. Coconut oil acts as an effective antiseptic for treating (and accelerating the healing of) wounds, a natural antibiotic that combats bacteria, viruses, and other microbes, an anti-fungal agent capable of treating conditions like Candida, and even an insecticide for getting rid of head lice.

Optimal brain health. We have written in the past about why coconuts are the brain’s best friend. Their incredible ability to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain allows for clearer thinking, greater memory consolidation, more communication between the hemispheres of the brain, and a lowered risk for neurological disease. A well-known study from 2006 showed that daily consumption of coconut oil can lead to measureable cognitive improvement in patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.[4]

And that’s just scratching the surface…

Researchers have only just begun to demonstrate the full potential of coconut products—as data continues to surface, it’ll be more and more of a no-brainer to include them in your daily dietary rituals. Coconut oil offers a simple and delicious way to integrate this miracle-food into your diet: you can cook with it, mix it in smoothies, and even use it as a skin moisturizer and ingredient in various homemade hygiene products.

To learn even more about how coconut oil can revolutionize your health, check out this great book on the subject.

The Coconut Oil Revitalization Blueprint is a comprehensive, easy-to-read how-to guide that leads you step-by-step through the process of optimizing your health (hint: coconut oil plays a central role in the transformation).

It offers a wealth of suggestions for integrating this wonderfully versatile saturated fat into your life, and reveals tons of ways in which you can start using coconut oil immediately (you’ll be shocked by how many different applications it has).

If there’s one functional food about which you should educate yourself, it’s coconut oil…and this book is the perfect way to do so. Once you start working with coconut products on an ongoing basis, you’ll see that the coconut craze is much more than just a passing fad.

 


References

[1] http://www.hindawi.com/journals/isrn/2011/949686/cta/

[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18521965

[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22927879

[4] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15123336

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