Thursday, September 29, 2011

Coconut Oil: Nutritional, Medicinal and Easy to Digest

Coconut Oil...just the thought of this or any oil for that matter used to put me in panic mode, fearful of the painful consequences they can have on our sensitive and slow moving stomachs.  However, my good friend Kinsey and her mega-researching began to convince me otherwise when it came to this nutritional and medicinal fat.
If you can bare with me through a bit of science jib jab I can explain.  Coconut oil is unique from all other fats and oils because of how it is digested and metabolized.  All fats are broken down into fat molecules known as fatty acids which are further classified by their length.  There are short-chain, medium-chain (MCFAs) and long-chain fatty acids (LCFAs).  When joined with another molecule called glycerol they form tryglycerides and MCFAs become MCTs, long-chain LCTs.  Most fats in our diet include LCTs such as soybean, corn, canola and olive oils.  Coconut oil is made up of MCTs which contain the caprylic, capric and lauric acids responsible for the antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal and antimicrobial properties.  Some of us with idiopathic gastroparesis are told it was possibly caused by a virus of some sort in which case coconut oil could be beneficial.  For those with diabetic GP read further.

Medium-chain fatty acids are shorter and smaller than long chain so therefore broken down more easily in the body.  What really makes them special is the fact that pancreatic enzymes and bile salts are not even necessary for their digestion!!!  A perfect companion to anyone with digestive and/or gallbladder issues.
Here is what really impressed me...those who have malnutrition or malabsorption are treated with MCTs because they do not require energy for absorption, utilization or storage.  In fact, I recently realized this is the main ingredient in my formula for the feeding tube and is widely used in supplemental feeding.  A great way to provide quick and easy caloric supplementation with twice the caloric density as proteins and carbohydrates.
MCTs are absorbed and metabolized as rapidly as glucose because instead of circulating through the blood stream like other fatty acids, they are sent directly to the liver and used as an immediate source of energy.  Because of this they can protect  against damage to the liver by alcohol and other toxins as well as improve blood sugar and insulin control, preventing and managing diabetes.
Coconut oil has many other benefits which include improved immune function, regulating the thyroid as well as assisting with chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia.  There is loads of research and information out there and I could go on and on!  For a great book check out Coconut Cures by Bruce Fife, N.D.
Interesting links with some more in depth scientific explanations:
-Coconut: In Support of Good Health for the 21st Century
-Dietary Fat Requirements in Health and Development

Here is a great choice for organic coconut oil!

How to use coconut oil? 
  • Substitute for cooking and baking oils.  It can also be combined with others such as olive oil or butter.
  • Rub with your favorite spices on chicken or fish before baking.
  • A wonderful addition to hot cereal in the morning such as Cream of Rice, Cream of Buckwheat or Quinoa Flakes.  
  • When I make congee overnight in the crockpot there is nothing more comforting than this warm porridge topped with a teaspoon of coconut oil for a taste of sweet and savory.
  • Melt it over cooked vegetables like sweet potato, potato or squash.   
  • Mix a teaspoon with hot tea in morning or blend in fruit smoothie.
Fresh Alaskan cod and spinach sauteed in coconut oil with a bowl of pureed kabocha squash soup
*Please note this works for me at about 1-2 teaspoons per serving but might not work for everyone.  Experiment and start slowly.  It is easiest to digest when melted with something warm as opposed to a cold smoothie.  Cooking with coconut oil has decreased my pain and fullness when compared to other fats and oils.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Stephanie!
    Thanks for leaving a comment on my blog. I have been suffering with GP and other digestive problems for years and at some point had to step down with my course load at university as well. Once I started tube feeding things finally started to turn around for me. I totally credit my ability to be able to work a full-time job to my tube. I still eat some by mouth, but very, very little.
    Take care,