By Marguerite Fly Bevis, R.N., B.S.N.
If I could choose only one thing to keep in my medicine chest, it would
be virgin cold-pressed coconut oil. This one substance is a superfood,
providing health benefits in addition to supplying important
nutrients, including some also found in breast milk. It is also a
medicine; it fights bacteria and viruses and fungus. It can be used
all over the body, inside and out. It can be used to treat insect bites,
rashes, burns and wounds. Used internally, it boosts metabolism
and shifts energy levels into high gear. Unlike caffeine, the effects
are gradual but not addictive.
What makes coconut oil so
special? The difference is in the
fat molecules that make up the
oil. All fats and oils are composed
of fat molecules known as fatty
acids. Most of us are familiar with
one way of classifying fatty acids,
based on saturation: saturated
fats, monounsaturated fats and
polyunsaturated fats. Another
way to classify fatty acids is based
on the size of the molecule, the
length of the carbon chain within the fatty acid. There are short-chain
fatty acids (SCFAs), medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) and longchain
fatty acids (LCFAs). Most of the fats in our diet are composed
of long-chain fatty acids (LCFAs). Corn oil, olive oil, canola oil, lard,
soybean oil, and chicken fat are composed entirely of LCFAs.
Coconut oil, on the other hand, is composed mainly of MCFAs which
give it its unique medicinal and nutritional properties. Triglycerides
are the combination of three fatty acids, which are joined together
by a glycerol molecule. There are short-chain triglycerides (SCTs),
medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) and long-chain triglycerides
Our bodies metabolize fatty acids differently depending on their
size. MCFAs digest more easily than LCFAs and are easily soluble in
water. This means that enzymes from the pancreas are not necessary
for their digestion.
Foods containing long-chain triglycerides (LCTs) pass through the
stomach and are released into the intestinal tract. Enzymes from the
pancreas and bile from the gallbladder are needed. As the LCT’s are
digested, the bonds holding the individual fatty acids together are
broken. The individual fatty acids are absorbed into the intestinal
wall where they are bundled into little packets of fat and protein
called lipoproteins. Lipoproteins then pass into the bloodstream
where they circulate throughout the body. While circulating, small
particles of fats break off in the bloodstream. These fats end up in fat
cells and as arterial plaque. Excess fat and clogged arteries are the
source of many health problems.
Medium-chain triglycerides travel through the stomach but are
already broken down into individual fatty acids before they leave
the stomach. Because they don’t require digestive enzymes they are
absorbed immediately into the portal vein and sent directly to the
liver where they are used as fuel to produce energy. Because MCFAs
bypass the lipoprotein stage in the intestine and the liver, they do not
circulate in the blood to the extent the others do. As a result, they
do not get lodged inside fat cells or clog artery walls. They produce
energy not body fat and arterial plaque.
MCTs improve the digestion of other nutrients such as minerals
(magnesium & calcium), B vitamins and fat-soluble vitamins (A, D,
E, K and beta carotene) and some amino acids (proteins.)
Coconut oil is a better option than sunscreen because it protects
against sunburn and against cancer. Unlike sunscreen, coconut oil
does not block the UV rays that are necessary for Vitamin D synthesis.
Apply liberally and frequently. Eating coconut oil helps strengthen
the skin, making it less prone to sunburn. If you do stay out too long
and get burned, coconut oil is soothing and helps heals the burn. It has the added benefit of making skin look and feel healthy, improves
blemishes, fungal infections, wounds and sores. Some precancerous
lesions and moles may begin to disappear with regular use.
I have been using coconut oil as an insect repellent for several
months. It is effective but needs to be reapplied periodically. One
word of caution: coconut oil will stain clothes and cloth furniture
unless you wash it off immediately with warm soapy water. It is also
very helpful for insect bites you receive before you think to put it on. All you need is one product for both bites and prevention.
Ironically, coconut oil is useful for both weight gain and weight loss. It is a natural low-calorie fat. Coconut oil satisfies hunger better
than any other fat or food, and it elevates metabolism levels. As
metabolism levels rise, calories burn faster. More calories burned
means fewer calories converted into body fat. On the other hand,
people who are malnourished become healthier and gain weight
when coconut oil is added to their diet. The less body fat you have,
the less effect coconut oil has on stimulating metabolism. It turns
out coconut is ideal for helping you reach and maintain your optimal
Mothers who are breast-feeding can temporarily increase the MCFA
content of their milk by 18% by adding three tablespoons of coconut
oil to a meal. This enhances the protective properties while providing
easily digestible fatty acids necessary for growth and development. Low birth weight infants given coconut oil in their formula grow
faster and have a higher survival rate.
Those who use coconut oil daily externally and internally report
many benefits. Chronic health problems disappear. Its mild antiinflammatory
effect speeds up the healing process, reducing swelling
and pain of all types including arthritis, back pain and fibromyalgia.
There is much to learn about this miracle oil. Recommended is
any book by Bruce Fife, particularly “Coconut Cures: Preventing
and Treating Common Health Problems with Coconut,” which is
the primary source for this article. Thank you, Mr. Fife for giving
permission to use the illustration from your book.
Disclaimer: If you are ill, please see a doctor or nurse. The
information here is not intended to substitute for medical care.
The BELIZE AG REPORT