I Heart Coconut Oil

Coconut Oil Miracle

Beginning in the 1960s, research began to emerge that some forms of saturated fat can increase blood cholesterol.  In general, saturated fat became feared as a major cause of heart disease, clogging our arteries and killing us slowly.  Coincidentally, at that time, the farming and production of soy products domestically was becoming a huge industry and the American Soybean Association was seeking to eliminate imported tropical oils from the market.  By the 1980s, the government and media jumped on the bandwagon against coconut oil and vegetable/canola oil became the “healthy” choice.  As a result, our products changed and we were no longer getting the nutritional benefits of coconut oil in our food. Since that time, our nation has actually seen an increase in heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity.

How do you decide what to believe when it comes to your health?  This is the ultimate question I get when I tell people I write a wellness blog because there are so many contradictory opinions and “facts” out there.  Since I seem find myself always going against the grain on what’s generally accepted as healthy, I have to explain my rationale a lot.  While there’s much more that plays into my beliefs, it usually comes down to this: look at the facts and the research, but focus on the sources.  Personally, I am less likely to believe information coming from a medical journal published by a pharmaceutical company or a government recommendation based on profit to the economy.  Often, the source of the information really sheds some light on possible motives involved in the dissemination of that message.  For example, compare the likely credibility of a doctor who supports some drug and just happens to make lots of money from said support versus the doctor who is standing up against their institution and risking losing their job or research funding because of it.  While it may seem like a dramatic example, I find it all too common in my research.

Okay, back to the topic at hand: enter our current world of everything canola oil and a country dying of chronic illnesses. The Coconut Oil Miracle opened my eyes to all the health benefits the fruit has to offer – it’s pretty amazing and we’ve really been missing out.  What I loved about the book is that it uses research based on real cultures: “Coconuts (and coconut oil) have been used as a major source of food for thousands of years by millions of people in Asia, the Pacific Islands, Africa, and Central America.  Traditionally these people have had much better health than those in North America and Europe who don’t eat coconut.”  The book also explains the science behind why the fat in coconut oil is so beneficial to us.  The main reason it’s so beneficial is that it’s comprised of medium-chain and short-chain fatty acids, which our body breaks down for energy rather than storing as fat like the long-chain fatty acids in vegetable oil.

Let’s talk for a bit about free radicals. Free radicals cause cellular damage as they seek to steal electrons from other molecules, causing a chain reaction creating more free radicals stealing electrons.  They attack our cells, causing damage and mutations.  Ultimately, they cause degenerative diseases like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, failing memory, reproductive problems, aging… the list goes on. We encounter free radicals throughout our environment and some occur naturally so they cannot be completely avoided, but many of the additives and toxins in our food promote their destruction.  It’s important to limit your exposure to free radicals and incorporate antioxidants into your diet as they’re the only way to stop them. Vegetable oils contain a high amount of free radicals because they are chemically unstable and oxidize so easily.  Coconut oil, on the other hand, contains none of these and also helps fight the ones you experience in your environment by giving you a boost of antioxidants, plus it’s safe and still beneficial after heated during cooking – a rarity among oils.

The book goes on to detail all the proven health benefits coconut has and the list will astound you:

  • “Coconut oil protects the heart and arteries from injury caused by bacteria, viruses and free radicals.  By removing the cause of arterial injury, coconut oil prevents further damage, allowing the arterial walls to heal, thus not only reducing the risk of heart disease but actually promoting healing.”
  • An New Caledonia island study revealed that islanders near ports eating modern foods “had an incidence of dental cavities of 26 percent, and those who lived inland and on a diet of native foods an incidence of 0.14 percent.”  These islanders with phenomenal dental health ate lots of coconut and “never brushed their teeth, never flossed, never used antibacterial mouthwash and never saw dentists.”
  • “Today people are suffering and dying from illnesses that science predicted 40 years ago would be wiped off the face of the earth…. Experts say our overuse of antibiotics is largely to blame: antibiotics encourage proliferation of drug-resistant bacteria.”  “Even the super germs are vulnerable to the lifesaving coconut derivatives. The unique properties of coconut oil make it, in essence, a natural antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and antiprotozoal food.” *emphasis added
  • “By far the best and richest natural sources of lauric acid are coconuts and coconut oil.”  Lauric acid kills lipid-coated microorganisms like HIV, measles, herpes, influenza, leukemia, hepatitis C, staph, and strep, just to name a few.
  • The medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) in coconut oil work for our immune system just like they do for newborns from a mother’s breast milk.  MCFAs kill bacteria that causes a multitude of STDs, staph, food poisoning, meningitis, ulcers and sinusitis.  They also defend against parasites that can cause food allergies and chronic fatigue.
  • The vegetable oils that you consume attack your thyroid and make you fat.  Replacing those oils with coconut oil, which adds MCFAs to the mix and increases your metabolism, can actually help you lose weight.
  • “Polynesian women are famed for their beautiful skin and hair, even though they are exposed to the hot blistering sun and chafing of the ocean breeze every day.” Free radicals in our food and environment cause advanced aging to occur, but the antioxidants in coconut oil work to combat that. Coconut oil also protects your skin from germs, acts as a healing agent and is an incredible moisturizer.  I use it as a lotion, as a hair conditioning treatment, and as my sunscreen – it “enables the body to adjust naturally to sun exposure, naturally increasing the body’s tolerable level over time.”
  • Coconut oil is considered a catch-all healing medicine in many countries, helping with digestive issues, nourishment to newborn babies, osteoporosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, cancer, diabetes and liver disease.

So how can you incorporate coconut oil into your diet and routine?  The book recommends 3 1/2 tablespoons daily… you can cook with it (replace any oil with it, same amount), put it in your coffee (if you love lattes, check out this amazing recipe), or use it on your skin.   You’ve got to put this book on your reading list… it’s such an easy read and there is so much more information and case studies that will really amaze you.

Will you give coconut oil a try?  Let me know what you think… I’m hoping you all become just as obsessed as I am!

Source: The Coconut Oil Miracle written by Bruce Fife, C.N., M.D.

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Soy it ain’t so…

No more soy!

Thanks to the marketing efforts of the soy industry in the U.S. (we are the top producer of soy, contributing around 35% of the world supply), we’ve been deceived into thinking that soy is a phenomenal health food. It’s supposed to be heart-healthy and keep you young. Vegetarians rely on it as a protein source. It’s a widely available alternative for those with lactose intolerance. And the Japanese, whose diet is considered one of the healthiest in the world, have eaten it for years. Unfortunately, the truth is that it’s cheap, easy to process, and therefore has great margins for making money, hence the pervasive marketing. Even worse, it’s toxic to our bodies when not prepared or grown appropriately. Bad news is that the toxic kind is how it’s currently produced and consumed by all of us today.

Soybeans contain two chemicals, goitrogens and phytoestrogens, that affect your thyroid and sex hormones. Traditionally, the Japanese would soak and ferment the soybeans before using them, which neutralizes these harmful chemicals and creates tasty and healthful miso, tofu, etc. But now, in commercially made soy products (even in many of those organically grown), the fermentation process is skipped because it’s cheaper & quicker to do so; instead it is hydrolyzed, a process that does not remove the toxins. So the soy sauce, soy milk, infant formulas, soy protein bars, tofu and most processed products you buy in stores and eat at restaurants are passing those chemicals straight to your body. These chemicals cause thyroid (regulates growth, metabolism and energy levels) issues, like hyper/hypothyroidism and thyroid & pancreatic cancer, as well as reproductive organ problems for both men and women. Soy is also one of the most common allergens, especially among infants and toddlers.

In addition to the fact that already-present chemicals are not removed, the toxic solvent hexane (a chemical by-product of gasoline refining) is used to process soy proteins. Hexane can cause cancer, birth defects, reproductive issues, and adverse effects on the environment.

Even worse, 90% of soybeans are genetically modified, a serious health issue I discussed at length here. The GMO quality of these beans only adds to the health effects, now being linked to sterility and infant mortality.

Seeing a trend here? I don’t know about you, but when I learned about all this, I was immediately motivated to remove soy from my diet. Personally, I saw amazing changes in some hormonal issues I was suffering from within just a few weeks (starting with getting rid of my daily soy-protein bars at breakfast). Here’s a few suggestions to get you started:

  • When shopping, go for fresh foods instead of processed items. If you do buy packaged (even organic), look at the ingredients label and avoid these substances: soy, soy protein (isolate/hydrolyzed), soy lecithin, hydrolyzed plant/vegetable protein, monoglycerides, MSG, and soybean oil
  • If you are lactose-intolerant or vegetarian, go for cashew, almond or, my favorite, coconut milk. I find that unsweetened, full fat coconut milk tastes the most similar and works in recipes as an easy substitute – plus it makes delicious and healthy whipped cream!
  • Start your babies off right – most infant formulas contain GM soy. Breast-feeding is best, but if you must use formula, you will have to make your own, find a local goat farm for milk, or participate in a milk sharing program. Unfortunately, there are no soy-free options available for sale in the United States, but you can import from Europe (Holle brand in Germany).
  • Attention meat eaters: many fast food restaurants put soy flour and soy protein in their meat and buns, among other things…
  • Lastly, you can still enjoy those tasty Asian dishes with traditionally fermented soy sauce instead. I have found it at every grocery store I’ve visited and I actually like the taste better. Here’s one brand to try.  Or, you can use coconut aminos, which has a very similar taste and is completely soy-free.

I’d love to know… Is this the first you’ve heard about the dangers of soy? Will you try removing it from your diet?

A Birthday Treat

Coconut-Honey Mousse with Toasted Coconut, Almonds & Dark Chocolate Chips

I can’t resist celebrating my birthday with a little something sweet. Here’s a recipe that won’t destroy your health, but sure doesn’t taste healthy.

Whipped Coconut & Honey Mousse

Ingredients:

  • 1 can full fat (this is the good kind of fat) organic coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons local honey
  • 1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
  • Optional toppings: dark chocolate chips, roasted coconut flakes & sliced almonds

Open the can of coconut milk and put in the fridge overnight uncovered. You’ll find that the top 3/4 of the can has hardened enough where you can scoop out the coconut milk. Scoop out the hardened part (its okay if you get some of the liquid at the bottom) into a mixing bowl. Add the honey and vanilla extract and then whip with beaters or your whisk attachment until it has the consistency of whipped cream. Then separate into a few ramekins – I usually get 5-6 servings out of a full can. I toss some coconut flakes and sliced almonds in some melted coconut oil, a dash of cinnamon and a little honey before putting on a cookie sheet to toast in the oven for a few minutes. And/or you can add a few dark chocolate chips – I found some without any soy at Natural Grocers!

And now time to devour the deliciousness by the spoonful…. Enjoy!

Spoonful of Goodness