Coconut Oil Health Benefits

Traditional or folk medicine use coconut oil to treat an amazing array of health problems.  These include: abscesses, asthma, baldness, bronchitis, bruises, burns, colds, constipation, cough, dropsy, dysentery, earache, fever, flu, gingivitis, gonorrhea, irregular or painful menstruation, jaundice, kidney stones, lice, malnutrition, nausea, rash, scabies, scurvy, skin infections, sore throat, swelling, syphilis, toothache, tuberculosis, tumors, typhoid, ulcers and upset stomach among others.  However, coconut oil health benefits are also used to assist with serious conditions.



Heart
Studies have been done on indigenous populations of Pacific coastal regions where coconuts abound.  In one study done in the 1980's, diet and health of the population of the Kiriwina Islands, off the coast of New Guinea, was investigated.  It was found that the 12,000 inhabitants consumed approximately 80% of their calories from coconut and coconut oil.  Interestingly, their levels of heart disease were very, very low.

The researchers did a similar study on the population of Kitava, which is an island the same area of the Pacific as the Kiriwina Islands.  In this study the researchers found virtually no stroke or heart disease.

The science behind why coconut oil is so good for you and helps combat diseases is twofold.  First, all fats and oils are made up of several fatty acids.  The fatty acids are combined into a molecule of different lengths, depending on the number of carbon atoms.  The different lengths are classified as short, medium, long and very long.  Most of the oils and fats we eat are long-chain.

The composition of coconut oils is medium-chain fatty acids, also known as medium-chain triglycerides.  The body metabolizes the triglycerides of different sizes in different ways.  The shorter the triglyceride chain the easier it is for the body to assimilate it.  The medium-chain triglyceride of coconut oil resembles carbohydrates more than the usual long-chain of most fats and oils and therefore is more easily digested.  This means more energy and increased metabolism.

Second, the effect that the medium-chain triglycerides have on cholesterol is very important in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.  Medium-chain triglycerides increase the amount of the "good cholesterol" or High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL).

Diabetes
Coconut oil slows the digestive process and therefore has a substantial positive effect on blood sugar levels.  Because the medium-chain triglycerides are more easily digested the body uses this for energy so the carbohydrates can be broken down into glucose more slowly, thus lowering the overall glycemic index of a meal.  This index measures how carbohydrates affect the blood sugar levels.  This avoids an insulin spike that can occur if carbohydrates are used by the body too quickly.

Overweight diabetics can appreciate that coconut oil also increases metabolism.  Increased metabolism improves insulin function while aiding weight loss, which is always recommended to overweight diabetics.  And, because it is a fat and very "satisfying", it acts as a natural appetite suppressant.

Alzheimer's
More and more is being discovered about this devastating disease.  Some experts now say that Alzheimer's is akin to diabetes of the brain.  The symptoms start to appear 10 to 20 years after the process starts.  Simply, the primary fuel for brain cells is glucose.  Insulin problems prevent the brain cells from getting the needed glucose.  If the glucose is missing, the cells die.
Another fuel that can be used by brain cells is ketones.  Ketones are metabolized in the liver after medium-chain triglycerides have been eaten.  Coconut oil is made of medium-chain triglycerides and therefore a good source of ketones.

Drug research for the later stages of Alzheimer's has not succeeded in finding a remedy.  Researchers are now looking at what can be done at the earlier stages of the disease.  Hopefully, dietary changes early on can prevent this horrible disease.

This is information gained by research.  For actual treatment, a healthcare provider must be consulted.

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