Perhaps the most important effect of coconut oil is to increase the disease fighting capability of the human or animal consuming the coconut oil.
Below are just a few of the numerous and unparalleled coconut oil benefits many are already enjoying:
Benefits of Using Cocanut Oil
- Reduces risk of having heart disease
- Stimulates metabolism
- Promotes normal thyroid function
- Helps lose and maintain ideal body weight
- Kills viruses, bacteria, fungi and other pathogens
- Functions as an antioxidant
- Lessens chronic inflammation
- Relieves symptoms of gallbladder disease
- Protects against cancer
- Prevents premature aging and degenerative disease
- Expels tapeworms, lice and other parasites
- Ward off skin infections
- Controls dandruff
- Reduces epileptic seizures
- Accelerates healing of wounds, cuts, burns, etc.
- Prevents diabetes and relieves health risks associated with it
- Prevents periodontal disease and tooth decay
- … and much, much more …
Coconut Oil and the Immune System
I would like to review the rationale for the use of coconut oil as a food that will serve as the raw material to provide potentially useful levels of anti-microbial activity in the individual.
The lauric acid in coconut oil is used by the body to make the same disease-fighting fatty acid derivative monolaurin that babies make from the lauric acid they get from their mothers’ milk.
The monoglyceride monolaurin is the substance that keeps infants from getting viral or bacterial or protozoal infections. Until just recently, this important benefit has been largely overlooked by the western medical and nutrition community.
Recognition of the anti-microbial activity of the monoglyceride of lauric acid (monolaurin) has been reported since 1966. The seminal work can be credited to Jon Kabara, who, with others, observed, that certain fatty acids and their derivatives can have adverse effects on various micro-organisms: those micro-organisms that are inactivated include bacteria, yeast, fungi, and enveloped viruses.
The medium-chain saturated fatty acids and their derivatives act by disrupting the lipid membranes of the organisms. The action attributed to monolaurin is that of solubilizing the lipids and phospholipids in the envelope of the virus causing the disintegration of the virus envelope.
Some of the viruses inactivated by these lipids, in addition to HIV, are the measles virus, herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1), vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV), visna virus, and cytomegalovirus (CMV).
Many of the pathogenic organisms reported to be inactivated by these antimicrobial lipids are those known to be responsible for opportunistic infections in HIV-positive individuals. Thus, it would appear to be important to investigate the practical aspects and the potential benefit of an adjunct nutritional support regimen for HIV-infected individuals, which will utilize those dietary fats that are sources of known anti-viral, anti-microbial, and anti-protozoal monoglycerides and fatty acids such as monolaurin and its precursor lauric acid.
No one in the mainstream Western nutrition community seems to have recognized the added potential of anti-microbial lipids in the treatment of HIV-infected or AIDS patients. These anti-microbial fatty acids and their derivatives are essentially non-toxic to man; they are produced in vivo by humans when they ingest those commonly available foods that contain adequate levels of medium-chain fatty acids such as lauric acid. According to the published research, lauric acid is one of the best ‘inactivating’ fatty acids, and its monoglyceride is even more effective than the fatty acid alone.
Loss of Lauric Acid from American Diet
Increasingly, over the past 40 years, the American diet has undergone major changes. Many of these changes involve changes of fats and oils. There has been an increasing supply of the partially hydrogenated trans-containing vegetable oils and a decreasing amount of the lauric acid-containing oils. As a result, there has been an increased consumption of trans fatty acids and linoleic acid and a decrease in the consumption of lauric acid. This type of change in diet has an effect on the fatty acids the body has available for metabolic activities.
How Much Lauric Acid is Needed?
It is not known exactly how much food made with lauric oils is needed in order to have a protective level of lauric acid in the diet. Infants probably consume between 0.3 and 1 gram per kilogram of body weight if they are fed human milk or an enriched infant formula that contains coconut oil.
This amount appears to have always been protective. Adults could probably benefit from the consumption of 10 to 20 grams of lauric acid per day. Growing children probably need about the same amounts as adults.
The per capita daily intake (1985) of lauric acid countries in such as the Philippines, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka, and consuming countries such as Singapore, was approximately 4.3 grams. In India, intake of lauric acid from coconut oil in the coconut growing areas (Kerala) ranges from about 12 to 20 grams per day whereas the average for the rest of the country is less than half a gram.
The USA Experience
In the United States today, there is very little lauric acid in most of the foods. During the early part of the 20th century and up until the late 1950s many people consumed heavy cream and high fat milk. These foods could have provided approximately 3 grams of lauric acid per day to many individuals. In addition, desiccated coconut was a popular food in homemade cakes, pies and cookies, as well as in commercial baked goods, and 1-2 tablespoons of desiccated coconut would have supplied 1-2 grams of lauric acid. Those foods made with the coconut oil based shortenings would have provided additional amounts.
The coconut oil industry needs to make the case for lauric acid now. It should not wait for the rapeseed industry to promote the argument for including lauric acid because of the increased demand for laurate. In fact lauric acid may prove to be a conditionally essential saturated fatty acid, and the research to establish this fact around the world needs to be vigorously promoted.
Although private sectors need to fight for their commodity through the offices of their trade associations, the various governments of coconut producing countries need to put pressure on WHO, FAO, and UNDP to recognizes the health importance of coconut oil and the other coconut products. Moreover, those representatives who are going to do the persuading need to believe that their message is scientifically correct — because it is.
Among the critical foods and nutrition “buzz words” for the 21st century is the term “functional foods.” Clearly coconut oil fits the designation of a very important functional food.
Thank you for your interest in the article Add Coconut Oil to Your Diet to Boost Your Immune Response