E-Mail Edition Volume 11 Number 2
Published Spring, 2014
Published by Piccadilly Books, Ltd., www.piccadillybooks.com.
Bruce Fife, N.D., Publisher, www.coconutresearchcenter.org
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by Dr. Bruce Fife
The Secret to Successful
Have you struggled with weight issues? Do you find it difficult to lose weight? If so, your problem may be because you don't eat enough fat. Yes, you read that correctly, the reason you may be overweight is because you don't get enough fat in your diet. Low-fat diets actually promote weight gain and obesity.
Dieting Makes You Fat
Susan was like many overweight women. She wanted to lose weight and worked hard at it. She tried one diet after another. Most of them seemed to work—at least at first. She would go on one diet and lose 10 or 12 pounds (4.5 or 5.5 kg), but before long the weight would come right back. She would try another diet and maybe lose 20 pounds (9 kg), but over time the weight would creep on back. Every diet she tried ended with the same results. After years of dieting, not only was she still overweight, but she weighed more than ever. All the dieting she did hadn't helped her lose a single pound. In fact, it seemed to make her even bigger. The truth is, dieting was part of her problem.
According to the Mayo Clinic, 95 percent of those people who go on weight-loss diets gain all their weight back within 5 years. Many add on more weight than they had before. Typical weight-loss diets not only don't work but often make matters worse. Yes, dieting can actually make you fat.
The problem with many weight-loss diets is that they focus only on calorie restriction. While paying attention to calorie consumption is important, it is not the only factor that influences body weight. The sad fact is that all low-calorie, low-fat diets are doomed from the start. No matter what type of food you eat, if the diet relies solely on calorie restriction, it is programmed to fail.
In addition to calories, you must consider other factors. One of these is metabolism. Your metabolic rate is affected by many things. One of these things is the amount of food you eat. Our bodies have a built-in survival mechanism that strives to maintain a balance between our metabolism and the environment. This mechanism was vital for our ancestors who were greatly influenced by the seasonal availability of their foods. When food was plentiful, metabolism ran at the height of efficiency. A higher metabolism has advantages in that it raises energy levels, keeps the brain alert, improves immune system function, and speeds healing, tissue growth, and repair. During winter or famine when food was less plentiful, metabolism slowed down. The advantage was that less energy (i.e. food) was needed to fuel metabolic processes. People were able to survive on fewer calories during times of scarcity.
Today with modern food preservation and delivery methods, getting enough to eat is no longer a problem for most people. Food is abundantly available all year around. However, our bodies still maintain the ability to adapt quickly to famine. If we suddenly start to eat less food, it signals to our bodies that there must be a famine and, as a means of self-preservation, our metabolism decreases to conserve energy. The problem with this is that when we diet, we cut down on calorie consumption and the body thinks it's starving, so our metabolic rate slows down. Slower metabolism also means our bodies have less energy and we become fatigued more easily.
When you go on a calorie-restricted diet, your body reacts as if it were experiencing a famine. For the first week or so, while your metabolism is still running at normal, the restriction in calories works and you lose weight. Weight loss is always greatest for the first few weeks. After a while as your body adjusts to lower calorie intake, metabolism gradually slows down. Now the calories you consume are balanced with the calories you burn. Weight loss slows or even stops.
In order to lose more weight you must cut your calorie intake even further. If you do, you will lose a few more pounds until your body adapts and your metabolism again slows down. As long as you continue to restrict calories, your metabolism will drop to balance calorie intake with calorie output. Dieting becomes very restrictive and uncomfortable. This is why some people can decrease their total daily intake to less than 1,000 calories and not lose any weight, or in some cases may even gain weight.
When you decide to end the diet, even if you still eat less than you did when you started, the extra calories start to add on weight because your metabolism is depressed. It still thinks you're in a famine. Now when you increase calorie intake, the excess calories are packed on as fat, even though you may be eating fewer calories than you did before you started the diet. By the time your metabolism has figured out that the famine is over, you've added back the weight you've lost. In addition, your body tends to add on more fat to protect itself in case of another famine. So after dieting, you gradually gain back all the weight you lost and a few extra pounds for good measure. In the end, you weigh more than when you started. This whole cycle may take only a few months or drag out for several years. The end result is the same.
The next weight-loss diet you attempt has the same outcome, as does the next and the next. Each time you diet, you end up weighing more than you did before. This process is termed "dieting-induced obesity" or the "yo-yo effect."
All Calories Are Not Equal
Innumerable books have been published on low-calorie, low-fat diets promoting the concept that all calories are alike. An entire weight-loss industry has been built around this belief. It doesn't matter if your calories come from carbohydrate, protein or fat—a calorie is a calorie, they say. Fat contains more than twice as many calories as either carbohydrate or protein. One gram of carbohydrate or protein each supplies 4 calories, while a gram of fat supplies 9 calories. If all calories are equal, it appears to make sense to cut down on fat consumption as a means to reduce total calorie intake. As a consequence, fat has been targeted as the villain and eating too much fat is often blamed as the root of our obesity epidemic. The problem is that fat consumption has declined over the past 30 years from about 40 percent to 32 percent, but at the same time overweight and obesity has skyrocketed. If we eat less fat, why are we fatter? Something must be wrong with the theory.
Also, most overweight people don't over consume fatty foods. In fact, just the opposite. They are the ones who are most likely to choose low-fat foods, trim off the fat from meat, and limit the amount of foods they eat. Slim people, on the other hand, generally eat whatever they please, gorging on fatty foods, and eating until their heart's content. This has been demonstrated in obesity studies. Those people who have a history of weight problems are more likely to eat low-fat foods than normal weight individuals. They eat fewer calories but have greater difficulty losing and maintaining their weight.
Dietary fat has become such a villain, that people just assume that any fat we eat will automatically be converted into body fat. If that is true, why do people who eat low-fat diets seem to have the greatest difficulty losing weight?
Most of the fat in our bodies does not come from the fat in our diets, it comes from the carbohydrates we eat. All of the carbohydrate in our diet, which is not used immediately for energy, is converted into fat and stored in our fat cells. That spare tire around your middle was once the stack of pancakes you ate for breakfast, the donut you had as a snack, and the large order of fries you wolfed down at lunch. The vast majority of food we eat comes from carbohydrates. On average, we consume about 60 percent of our daily calories in the form of carbohydrate, only 40 percent comes from a combination of protein and fat. Most of the protein and fat we consume is used as structural materials to build and maintain muscles, bones, and other tissues. Only a tiny fraction of the protein and fat we eat is used to produce energy or is stored as fat. The body does not need to use protein and fat for energy because there is so much carbohydrate available, even an excess. This excess carbohydrate is what ends up as body fat.
Studies have shown that a carbohydrate-rich diet, like we normally eat, increases the synthesis of fat and cholesterol. When some of the carbohydrate is replaced by fat, fat and cholesterol production in the body decreases!1 These studies disprove the theory that all calories are equal. Therefore, replacing most of the carbohydrates in the diet with fat will lead to less fat production and lower body weight (and cholesterol levels improve too). It is really that simple.
You Must Eat Fat to Lose Weight
In the 1950s two British scientists, Alan Kekwick and Gaston L. S. Pawan, discovered that the source of the calories plays a significant role in weight management. Kekwick and Pawan set out to study the relative effects of fat, protein, and carbohydrate on weight loss in a low-calorie diet. They put 14 obese patients on four different diets in succession over a period of time. Each of the diets provided 1,000 calories per day, but differed in the amount of fat, protein, and carbohydrate. One diet had 90 percent fat, the next 90 percent protein, the next 90 percent carbohydrate, and the last was a normal mixed diet. The patients rotated through each of the diets. The subjects stayed in a hospital so they could be kept under constant observation to insure strict dietary compliance.
If all calories are equal, as most scientists believed at the time, the 1,000 calorie diet should have produced the same amount of weight loss in each of the subjects. But that is not what happened. The 90 percent fat diet (high-fat, low-carb) produced the greatest weight loss, followed closely by the 90 percent protein diet. Next, came the mixed diet. Last of all was the very low-fat 90 percent carbohydrate diet.2 This study demonstrated that low-fat diets are the absolute worst as a means of weight loss. In essence, the higher the carbohydrate content, the lower the weight loss; the higher the fat content, the greater the weight loss.
In a follow-up study, Kekwick and Pawan compared the weight loss of obese subjects on a high-carbohydrate diet with a high-fat diet, eating twice as many calories as in the previous study. Subjects on a high-carbohydrate 2,000-calorie diet failed to lose any weight. The same subjects on a high-fat diet not only lost weight at 2,000 calories, but lost weight even when calorie consumption increased to 2,600!3 Wait a minute! Eating 2,600 calories is not exactly a low-calorie diet, yet with ample fat the subjects still lost weight! One of the subjects in the study designated as BJ, illustrates a typical example of what happened. After eight days on the high-carbohydrate, 2,000-calorie diet, BJ didn't lose an ounce, but lost 9 pounds in 3 weeks on the 2,600-calorie, high-fat diet. Wow, what at concept—add more fat, eat more calories, enjoy delicious tasting, rich foods, and lose weight! This doesn't sound like a diet at all, but a great way to eat while achieving optimal body weight.
Kekwick and Pawan discovered a hormone-like substance that apparently stimulates the breakdown and burning of body fat, resulting in increased weight loss. Thus, adding fat into the diet stimulates the burning of stored body fat. Eating fat, it turns out, increases the body's utilization of stored fat, leading to weight loss. This provided the reason why eating fat caused greater weight loss than eating carbohydrate or protein. It also demonstrated again why all calories are not alike.
Eating Fat is Better Than Fasting
Eating a high-fat diet is even more effective than eating nothing at all. In the 1960s Dr. Frederick Benoit and colleagues at the US Naval Medical Research Institute compared two groups of overweight subjects; one group ate a high-fat diet, while the other group consumed no food at all. The subjects' weight loss over time was measured. The high-fat group consumed 1,000 calories a day, 90 percent of which came from fat. The other group consumed no calories at all, only water. After ten days the fasting group lost 21 pounds on average, but most of that was from lean body tissue and water; only 7.5 pounds came from body fat. In comparison, the high-fat diet group lost on average 14.5 pounds, 14 of which came from body fat.4 The group that ate 1,000 calories, mostly from fat, lost twice as much fat as the group that ate nothing! Plus, they lost very little water and lean muscle. A reduced calorie diet with ample fat and limited carbohydrate will produce much greater weight loss than any low-fat diet, regardless of the number of calories consumed—even if this number is zero! Therefore, including an ample amount of fat in the diet is essential for greatest weight loss. This is a very important concept to remember for anyone trying to lose weight. You need to eat fat to lose fat. The discoveries of Kekwick, Pawan, and Benoit disprove the common belief that a calorie is a calorie. The source of the calories is important.
Dietary Fat Maintains Metabolism
Another reason why weight loss is greater with a high-fat diet is that fat contains more calories than carbohydrate or protein. That may sound like a contradiction, but in fact, it is not. It is a contradiction to the old outdated theory that "a calorie is a calorie," but we just saw that all calories are not alike. Low-fat dieting causes diet-induce obesity. When you cut fat out of a low-calorie diet the body interprets it as a famine and pulls the breaks on your metabolism. However, if you eat an ample amount of fat, even on a low-calorie diet, your metabolism remains normal! Dietary fat, with its higher calorie density, singles a time of plenty and that there is no threat of famine or starvation, even though total calorie intake may be reduced. Consequently, there is no drop in metabolism. The body does not interpret the reduction in food as a danger sign but simply a choice not to eat as much.
An additional benefit of adding fat into the diet, particularly a reduced calorie diet, is that fat curbs hunger. Eating adequate amounts of fat satisfies hunger and maintains this feeling far longer than other foods. So by choice, people often tend to eat less when on a high-fat diet simply because they are satisfied with fewer calories. They don't suffer the constant nagging hunger pangs that always accompany low-fat dieting.
A More Satisfying Way to Eat
On a high-fat diet you are allowed to eat a variety of rich, flavorful foods such as steak, chops, roasts, eggs, butter, cream, and cheese, as well as a variety of vegetables prepared with tasty meat drippings, gravies, butter, and sauces that are far more delicious than bland steamed vegetables with a squirt of lemon. You can eat this way and lose more weight than if you refrained from eating any food at all. You eat until you are satisfied and because the foods are filling, they will sustain you until your next meal. In fact, you will often not be hungry for your next meal and will tend to skip meals simply because you do not feel the need to eat.
The ideal weight loss diet would be one that limits total carbohydrate intake yet allows all the fat you want. The source of carbohydrate should come from non-starchy, low-carb vegetables, fruits, and nuts. A low-carb, high-fat diet will trigger the liver to produce ketones—a type of high-energy fuel the body makes from stored body fat. When a person produces ketones, he or she is said to be in a state of ketosis. Ketosis is a sign that stored body fat is being broken down and removed from the body. It is an indication that you are losing excess body fat and becoming thinner and healthier.
The weight loss effects of a low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet can be enhanced when the primary source of fat in the diet comes from coconut oil. The reason for this is because coconut oil has certain properties that enhance weight loss—it increases energy thus promoting greater physical activity, stimulates metabolism to burn off calories at an accelerated rate, satisfies hunger better than other fats reducing calorie intake, and stops sugar cravings dead cold to help keep you from eating the wrong types of food (see the article The Fat That Can Make You Thin). This type of diet is called the Coconut Ketogenic Diet or simply the Coco Keto Diet.
If you tried losing weight with low-fat dieting and failed, it is now time to try the Coco Keto approach. ■
1. Pennington, A.W. Obesity. Times 1952;80:389-398.
2. Kekwick, A. and Pawan, G.L.S. Calorie intake in relation to body weight changes in the obese. Lancet 1956;2:155.
3. Kekwick, A. and Pawan, G.L.S. Metabolic study in human obesity with isocaloric diets high in fat, protein or carbohydrate. Metabolism 1957;6:447-460.
4. Benoit, F., et al. Changes in body composition during weight reduction in obesity. Archives of Internal Medicine, 1965;63:604-612.
Is Coconut Oil the New Listerine?
Oil pulling has antibacterial benefits,
The new trend of "detoxifying" your mouth with coconut oil is catching on.
Oil pulling has become a hot topic recently. Celebrities such as actresses Gwyneth Paltrow and Shailene Woodly claim it makes their teeth whiter and brighter and gives them that Oscar-winning smile. Dr. Mehmet Oz, the star of the Dr. Oz Show, has extolled its virtues on his program. Prompted by the celebrity interest, news programs are also covering the topic. All this publicity has spurred new interest in this ancient art of oral cleansing, and oil pulling is fast becoming a hot new beauty trend.
Proponents claim that oil pulling can whiten teeth, banish bad breath, heal swollen and inflamed gums, destroy disease-causing bacteria, and generally improve oral health. It also has a potent detoxifying and health promoting effect on the entire body, resulting in the relief of various health issues such as psoriasis, acne, arthritis, chronic fatigue, asthma, and improve heart and stomach conditions, to name just a few. Gwyneth Paltrow swears it helps keep her skin blemish free.
Oil pulling is very simple, all you do is put a spoonful of oil (preferable coconut oil) into your mouth and swish it around like a mouthwash, then spit it out. This is done daily just as you would brush your teeth. The process "pulls" bacteria, viruses, fungi, plaque, mucous, pus, and other toxins out of the mouth, leaving the mouth much cleaner and healthier.
At first, this procedure might seem absurd. How can swishing oil in the mouth whiten teeth, kill germs, and improve overall health? Critics claim it's just a wives' tale with no merit. Their claim is based solely on belief and prejudice and nothing more. Most critics have never tied it, so they have no first-hand experience with what it can do. They consider themselves too intelligent to be suckered into wasting their time on such an obvious scam. The primary argument to justify their position is that there have been no studies done that demonstrate its worth. However, that is just a blind accusation. Obviously, they have never even researched the issue to see if there are any studies or other evidence. If they had done a little investigation, they would have been surprised.
by Dr. Bruce Fife
Oil pulling is an age-old practice that came from Ayurvedic medicine in India. It has been used for thousands of years and has proven to be completely harmless, as you might imagine. We put fats and oils in our mouths and eat them all the time, simply swishing a dietary oil in the mouth and spitting it out is certainly not going to be harmful. It is a common practice in India and in recent years has been gaining popularity around the world. Thousands of people swear by it. Most people, especially if they have dental or other health issues, generally see marked improvement. Even dental professionals are taking notice.
Dr. Ted Reese, DDS recommends oil pulling to all his patients at his Indianapolis Density clinic. He has researched oil pulling but says seeing is believing, "Our patients are very impressed with the results they're seeing. I'm impressed with the results we're seeing in terms of hygiene, reduced bacteria, and improved health in the gums."
Dental hygienist Jessica Lowe is seeing a healthy transformation in her oil pulling patients, "I'm really, really impressed with this natural approach...specifically patients who had periodontal disease. They're the ones who have the gum infections, the inflammation, the bleeding, the tenderness, the bad breath." She oil pulls herself. "This is amazing because I've been able to whiten my teeth and not have sensitivity."
Dr. Marc Lowenberg, DDS, a New York City-based cosmetic dentist, whose clientele includes famous movie stars and models, has found oil pulling useful for celebrities whose careers demand a perfect smile. "The toxins in your body are fat-soluble so they join with the oil and are removed when you spit it out," he says. "Since the mouth is loaded with plaque, it makes sense that there would be a reduction."
Another perk from the practice is better breath. "A lot of bad breath comes from bad bacteria," Lowenberg says. "Whereas mouthwash makes your breath better for around 10 minutes, if this [oil pulling] really takes the toxins out of your mouth, your breath should stay fresher longer." And that appears to be the case.
Lowenberg recommends oil pulling for 15 to 20 minutes first thing in the morning before eating anything. If swishing oil for that long seems like a lot to swallow, then distract yourself with household chores. "You can move around, take a shower," he says. "If you focus on other things while you're oil pulling, the time goes by quickly."
The claim that there are no studies on oil pulling is simply not true. A number of studies have been published in dental journals. Several of them are summarized in the book Oil Pulling Therapy. As might be expected, the greatest amount of research activity on oil pulling is coming out of India, where oil pulling has been immensely popular. For example, Dr. H.V. Amith, DDS and colleagues at the Department of Preventive and Community Dentistry at the KLES Institute of Dental Science in Belgaum, India compared the effects of oil pulling with tooth brushing and antiseptic mouthwash. They discovered that oil pulling was just as good, and even slightly better, than both brushing and mouthwash in reducing dental plaque. More impressive, however, was that oil pulling was up to 8 times better than either of the other two methods in reducing gingivitis (gum disease).1
In order to reduce plaque and gingivitis, as well as cavities, the bacteria that cause these conditions must be reduced. Studies have clearly shown that oil pulling significantly reduces the amount of bacteria responsible for these conditions.2-3
Bacteria are the major contributor to bad breath. People can have pearly white teeth and still have bad breath because their mouths are overloaded in potentially harmful bacteria. Oil pulling has proven to be more effective than antiseptic mouthwash in reducing bad breath. A study conducted by researchers at Meenakshi Ammal Dental College in Chennai, India compared oil pulling with chlorhexidine mouthwash, which is considered the most effective antiplaque and antigingivitis agent because of its powerful antibacterial effects.4 Their results showed that over a 14-day period, oil pulling was superior to chlorhexidine in preventing bad breath and reducing oral bacteria.5
Sesame, safflower, and other vegetable oils have been used for oil pulling, but coconut oil is the most effective. One of the reasons for this is that coconut oil possesses potent antimicrobial properties and kill microorganisms that are known to cause gum disease and dental cavities.6-7 Other oils don't have this character. Coconut oil possesses anti-inflammatory effects.8 Most vegetable oils actually promote inflammation. You wouldn't want to use these oils in a mouth that is already plagued with inflamed tissues. Coconut oil has tissue healing properties not found in other oils. When applied on the skin or mucous membranes it speeds healing, regeneration, and knitting of the tissues.9 This is a valuable healing feature for a mouth that may be suffering from swelling and open sores. One of the reasons why coconut oil is so healing is because of its ability to speed up metabolism.10 An increase in cellular metabolism quickens the repair process. Coconut oil is also more palatable and more water soluble than most other oils, making it the ideal oil pulling solution.
The claim that oil pulling can improve both oral and whole body health is often questioned. How can removing bacteria and toxins from the mouth affect the rest of the body? The mouth is not isolated from the rest of the body; what happens in the mouth affects the entire body. If you have poor dental health, the health of your entire body will suffer. Bacteria in the mouth can and do migrate into the bloodstream, especially if the gums are infected or inflamed. This fact has been extensively documented over the past 100 years. In fact, a report produced by the US Institutes of Health has documented the connection between oral bacteria and numerous health problems ranging from heart failure and diabetes to dementia and premature births.11
One of the systemic conditions coconut oil and oil pulling seem to help with is Sjogren's syndrome, an autoimmune disorder that causes extremely dry mouths and eyes. See the following article for more details. ■
1. Amith, H.V., et al. Effect of oil pulling on plaque and gingivitis. JOHCD 2007;1:12-18.
2. Asokan, S., et al. Effect of oil pulling on Streptococcus mutans count controlled, triple-blind study. J Indian Soc Pedod Prevent Dent 2008;26:12-17.
3. Anand, T.D., et al Effect of oil-pulling on dental caries causing bacteria. African Journal of Microbiology Research 2008;2:63-66.
4. Jones, CG. Chlorhexidine: Is it still the gold standard? Periodontaol 2000 1997;15:55-62.]
5. Asokan, S., et al. J Indian Soc Pedod Prevent Dent 2011;29:90-94.
7. Huang, CB., et al. Short- and medium-chain fatty acids exhibit antimicrobial activity for oral microorganisms. Arch Oral Biol 2011;56:650-654.
8. Intahphuak, S., et al. Anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antipyretic activities of virgin coconut oil. Pharm Biol 2010;48:151-157.
9. Nevin, KG and Rajamohan, T. Effect of topical application of virgin coconut oil on skin components and antioxidant status durling dermal wound healing in young rats. Skin Pharmacol Physiol 2010;23:290-297.
10. Dulloo, AG., et al. Twenty-four-hour energy expenditure and urinary catecholamines of humans consuming low-to-moderate amounts of medium-chain triglycerides: a dose-response study in a human respiratory chamber. Eur J Clin Nutr 1996;50:152-158.
Coconut Oil and Sjogren's Syndrome
Do the wonders of coconut oil ever cease?
After winning her first-round match during the 2011 US Open, 31-year old tennis star Venus Williams unexpectedly withdrew from the competition. Williams, a former Wimbledon champion and seven-time Olympic gold medalist, had been struggling physically following her recent diagnosis of Sjogren's syndrome. Williams' diagnosis brought this relatively little known disease into public awareness.
Sjogren's (pronounced "show-grins") syndrome is an autoimmune disorder that affects as many as 4 million people in the United States. Most people who develop this condition are more than 40 years old at the time of diagnosis. Women are nine times more likely to develop Sjogren's syndrome than men. The primary symptoms are excessively dry eyes and mouth. Other common symptoms may include fatigue, dental cavities (caused by lack of saliva),
difficulty swallowing or chewing, hoarseness, changes in the sense of taste, blurred vision, sensitivity to light, corneal ulcers, skin rash, dry skin, dry cough, vaginal dryness, oral yeast infections (thrush), and joint or muscle pain. Arthritis is common in Sjogren's patients. Like other autoimmune disorders, Sjogren's is accompanied by chronic inflammation.
Doctors don't know what causes Sjogren's syndrome and there is yet no known cure. Treatment consists of easing symptoms of dryness with artificial tears and saliva products along with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and other medications.
Over the past several years many people have contacted the Coconut Research Center to relate their success in using coconut oil for various health problems. One of the conditions mentioned from time to time is Sjogren's. "I was diagnosed with Sjogren's syndrome three years ago," says CJ. "I was taking prescriptions for a number of secondary conditions associated with Sjogren's. After much research and experimentation, I changed the way I eat. My diet now is mostly low-carb and grain-free with lots of water to stay hydrated. I eat coconut and cook everything in coconut oil. The new diet along with coconut oil has been a lifesaver. I've been able to get completely off all my medications. I feel so much better now."
Dr. Conrado Dayrit, MD, author of the book The Truth About Coconut Oil, tells of a colleague of his who developed Sjogren's later in life. "He was my classmate in medical school and he had attended our monthly class reunions. We celebrated our Silver, and then our Golden and Diamond anniversaries. Then he stopped coming. He was sick. His mouth had little saliva; he could not swallow without drinking water. His eyes were smarting and he needed artificial tears every hour or two to moisten the dry conjunctiva. His skin was dry and cracking. Worst of all, his anorectal passage was dry and moving his bowels was torture. He lost much weight. He consulted various specialists. Being a doctor himself, he had to agree with the diagnosis of Sjogren's syndrome. He read medical textbooks, combed the literature and the Internet seeking for newer therapies. The prognosis was gloomy, the recommended treatment unsatisfactory. Fortunately, he did not suffer any complications like arthritis, lupus, nephritis, or thromboangitis, but he was miserable. We learned about his illness when he forced himself to attend one class reunion. I suggested that he try taking four tablespoonfuls daily of virgin coconut oil. He followed my advice. Two months later, he reported to me by phone. He was 70-80 percent improved! He could eat and move his bowels normally. His skin had regained its elasticity. His eyes needed no more than two or three drops a day. He had gained back his strength, energy and well-being. All this just with virgin coconut oil and no drugs...Virgin coconut oil is the only treatment so far that has shown such dramatic effect as this."
How coconut oil is able to help those with Sjogren's syndrome has yet to be determined but it is probably due to some combination of the oil's anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, immune regulating, and nutritional properties.
It is apparent that consuming coconut oil can have a positive effect on Sjogren's syndrome but some people have reported remarkable benefits by simply swishing it in their mouths—a process known as oil pulling. "I have been oil pulling with coconut oil for a month," says Velta M. "Already have seen so many improvements in my health. I have Sjogren's syndrome with dry eyes, dry mouth, and fatigue. Sores in mouth are gone, eye specialist said my eyes are better than they have been in three years, my sinuses are clearer, I am sleeping better, way better energy—and I am able to yawn widely, which I have not been able to do for years because of TMJ. It is truly miraculous!"
The evidence showing that coconut oil taken internally or used in oil pulling can help treat Sjogren's syndrome doesn't come entirely from the testimonials of doctors and patients. A pilot study conducted by Dr. Leslie Laing, PhD, DDS, an assistant professor of dentistry at the University of Toronto, has shown similar results when Sjogren's patients used coconut oil for oil pulling.
"Since my primary research is with the autoimmune disorder of Sjogren's Syndrome (SS)," says Laing, "I'm on the lookout for methods to increase either salivary flow or to moisturize the mouth of those afflicted with SS, which affects up to 430,000 post-menopausal Canadian women." The problem can be so bad that some people wake up having to "peel their cheeks off their teeth," Laing says. "I thought oil pulling might at least provide lubrication for their mouths. The emerging evidence in the literature that such a safe product might also inhibit bacteria associated with cavities, gave me the idea that this might be worth investigating."
Before embarking on her pilot study, she tested the procedure on herself and her two sons for several weeks. "I found that the oil had not only a pleasant taste, but also lubricated the mouth. Even my dogs like the VCO!" she says. Most dogs love the taste of coconut oil and it cleans and whitens their teeth and eliminates bad doggy breath too.
"The technique itself caused stimulation of saliva production at least in me and I ended up with a lot more liquid in my mouth after 15 minutes of oil-pulling than when I had started! I reasoned that the shear mechanics of the technique may have a stimulating effect on saliva production in the SS patients."
Encouraged by the results, Laing had a dozen of her Sjogren's patients in addition to others who had xerostomia (dry mouth) due to other causes, try oil pulling. The subjects oil pulled with virgin coconut oil for 20 minutes every day for three weeks. She measured their bacterial and fungal loads before and after the study. When the results came in, Laing was astounded.
The subjects were pleased with the effect stating that their mouths felt more comfortable after the oil pulling and that they didn't have to interrupt their sleep at night to have a drink of water.
"Not only did they find their mouths felt a lot moister, they also noticed that whatever teeth they had left—because they might have been decayed—they looked brighter," Laing said. "There seemed to be a glossiness to them which they wouldn't have had with a dry mouth."
Amazingly, bacterial counts decreased in some of the subjects by as much as tenfold. Laing found reductions in the two major bacteria species that cause dental cavities and reduced levels of yeast (Candida), which can cause oral thrush. Reducing these yeast levels can help with bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, headaches and even depression, Laing said. "These were very encouraging results."
Why does oil pulling seem to work? "There is a possibility that the components of the VCO, such as capric acid and/or lauric acid, may interfere with the binding of the caries-associated bacteria to the teeth," says Laing. "As a result, the numbers of bacteria decrease and the caries risk is reduced. As far as moisturizing the mouth, it makes sense that oil would linger in the mouth, particularly in a dry mouth. Furthermore, since the teeth of a person with a dry mouth tend to have more of a matte finish than a glossy finish as seen in someone with a normal amount of saliva, that the moisturizing barrier or coating left in the mouth after oil pulling would give a shinier appearance to the teeth."
Oil pulling can have a detoxifying effect on the body and bring about some temporary cleansing symptoms. "None of the patients in my pilot study, however, have reported any negative effects. They have even stated that their gums used to bleed when they flossed but after the VCO oil pulling technique they no longer do so."
Dr. Laing plans on repeating the pilot study with more patients to confirm her results, but for now Laing says oil pulling has clear antibacterial benefits and appears to offer hope to Sjogren's sufferers.
"I'm not making claims that this is a be-all and end-all. These are preliminary results. But I am liking what I'm seeing," she said. ■
1. Dayrit, CS. The Truth About Coconut Oil: The Drugstore in A Bottle. Anvil Publishing, Inc., Pasig City, Philippines, 2005.
Dr. Oz Admits
He Was Wrong—Saturated Fats Are Not Bad After All
If you have ever watched the Dr. Oz show or read any of his newspaper columns, you would know that Mehmet Oz, MD advises against eating too many foods high in saturated fats. In a recent segment of his TV show, however, Dr. Oz confessed that he was wrong. "For years I have warned you about a diet high in saturated fat," said Dr. Oz. "I've come to a shocking realization; 40 years of dietary advice may be completely wrong! In a revolutionary reverse, more doctors, including myself, are now saying that saturated fat may not be so bad for you after all." You can watch the show here.
Dr. Oz has long criticized saturated fats, including coconut oil, as promoting heart disease and other health problems. In 2011 he shocked his listeners and most of the medical community when he reversed his stance on coconut oil, admitting that there are some good saturated fats, namely the medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil. He was so convinced of the merits of coconut oil that he stated that he eats it every day. He did several segments in his shows devoted to the benefits of coconut oil and wrote glowing articles on it, which are posted on his website. Last year he shocked us again when he proclaimed red palm oil to be the next miracle superfood and that it could help protect against a number of health problems, including heart disease. Yet, he still maintained the belief that animal-based saturated fats should be avoided.
Now, in a complete reversal, Dr. Oz has admitted that he was wrong. Saturated fat, whether from plant or animal sources, do not promote heart disease and that they can be added back into the diet without fear. The real culprit contributing to heart disease, diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer's, and other major health concerns is actually the over consumption of sugar and refined carbohydrate. The obesity and diabetes epidemic we have been experiencing over the past 30 years has been caused, to a great extent, by removing saturated fats from the diet and replacing them with sugar and refined carbohydrates.
The change in Dr. Oz's long held opinion on fats has come after the publication of a number of studies [1-6] over the past few years exonerating saturated fats from wrongdoing and identifying the real culprits—refined carbs. When saturated fats are removed from the diet, the calories must be replaced with another source of calories, generally that has been carbohydrates—mostly refined grains, starches, and sweets—all of which contribute to a whole host of health problems formerly attributed to saturated fats.
It's good to see the doctor recognize his error and accept the fact that foods high in saturated fat are not going to kill us and that some saturated fats are actually good for us. It took a few years, but that is normal, especially when false ideas are so thoroughly ingrained into one's schooling and career as they are in the medical field. Many health care professionals aren't as willing to admit publically or privately that they made a mistake and that the dietary advice they have handed out to their patients over the years was wrong. We have got to give Dr. Oz credit for standing up and admitting his error. Hopefully more doctors will follow his lead and take the time to examine the evidence. ■
1. Chowdhury, R., et al. Association of dietary, circulating, and supplement fatty acids with coronary risk: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Ann Intern Med 2014;160(6).
2. Siri-Tarino, P.W., et al. Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2010;91:535-546.
3. Micha, R. and Mozaffarian, D. Saturated fat and cardiometabolic risk factors, coronary heart disease, stroke, and diabetes: a fresh look at the evidence. Lipids 2010;45:893-905.
4. Lemieux, H., et al. Dietary fatty acids and oxidative stress in the heart mitochondria. Mitochondrion 2011;11:97-103.
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Copyright © 2014, Bruce Fife. All rights reserved.