E-Mail Edition Volume 2 Number 4
Originally published Fall, 2005
Published by Piccadilly Books, Ltd., www.piccadillybooks.com.
Bruce Fife, N.D., Publisher, www.coconutresearchcenter.org
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Dr. Bruce Fife a.k.a. "Dr. Coconut" answers two of the most often asked questions about coconut oil.
I hear some people claim that one brand of coconut oil is better than another because it has a higher lauric acid content. Is this true?
Fats and oils are composed of fat molecules known as fatty acids. The character of each fat or oil is determined by the amounts and the types of fatty acids it contains. Coconut oil is composed predominately of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA). This is what makes coconut oil so different from other fats and what makes it incredibly healthy.
Medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA) provide many health benefits: they are quick and easy to digest, boost energy, balance blood sugar, and protect against cancer, among other things. One of their most remarkable features is their ability to kill disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Because of these antimicrobial properties coconut oil is used as a natural antibacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal remedy. Since coconut oil is a food, it is harmless to us but is effective in killing many microorganisms that cause illness.
Although many fatty acids possess antimicrobial properties, MCFAs are the most potent. Lauric acid, which is one of the MCFAs, appears to have the greatest antimicrobial effect.
On average, coconut oil consists of about 47 percent lauric acid. Since lauric acid possesses the greatest antimicrobial power, some people have reasoned that the higher the lauric acid content in the oil, the more effective it is. Some coconut oil distributors proudly advertise that their oil contains more lauric acid than others, inferring that their oil must be better. Producers are even attempting to alter coconut oil chemically or genetically to increase the lauric acid content.
People argue that oil containing 48 or 49 percent lauric acid is better than those with only 47 percent. Will one or two percent make a difference? Not hardly. A difference of one or two percent is insignificant and meaningless.
Also, percentages can and do vary even from the same manufacturer. The fatty acid content of the oil will vary depending on the age of the coconuts, variety, seasonal changes, etc. So even if a batch of coconut oil had a lauric acid content of 49 percent in one test, in another month it may drop to 46 percent. The company may claim 49 percent and have documentation to prove it (on that one batch), but the majority of the oil they sell may contain only 46 percent. So you can't trust what manufacturers claim.
What about oil that contains significantly higher amounts, such as 55 percent or more? Is there an advantage in high lauric acid coconut oil?
Coconut oil is composed of 10 different fatty acids. Most all of them possess antimicrobial properties. Each is unique and affects microorganisms differently. One fatty acid may be very effective in killing certain types of bacteria, while another is more effective in killing viruses or other types of bacteria. Lauric acid has the greatest overall antimicrobial effect, but it is not the best for all types of organisms. Caprylic acid or capric acid, two other MCFAs may be better at killing certain types of organisms. All of the fatty acids work synergistically together for the greatest overall effect. Synergism means that the total effect of all the fatty acids is greater than the sum of the individual effects. Coconut oil contains a variety of fatty acids. This is how nature has designed it.
When you increase the percentage of one fatty acid, such as lauric acid, you must decrease the percentage of another. Which one or ones you do eliminate? Do you take out caprylic or capric acid? Will removing a fatty acid reduce the synergistic effect of the entire oil? Even if you increase the most active fatty acid, taking out or reducing another fatty acid may lower the overall antimicrobial effect of the oil. When you tamper with nature's design, the results aren't always predictable or desirable.
And what about the other health effects of coconut oil, such as digestion, energy production, blood sugar control, and so forth? How will altering the fatty acid content affect these? Lauric acid does not digest as readily as caprylic or capric acids. So increasing the lauric acid content by decreasing these other fatty acids will decrease the benefits the oil has on digestion. Other health benefits may also be negatively affected.
So, I would not pay much attention to marketing ploys about lauric acid content.
Also, a high lauric acid coconut oil can still be of low quality and undesirable. The best criterion for choosing a good quality coconut oil, regardless of its lauric acid content, is by evaluating its aroma and flavor. If it smells and tastes good, then use it. ■
Coconut Dietary Fiber
A New Dietary Supplement
Nutritionists recommend that we get 20-35 grams of dietary fiber a day. Most Americans only get about 15 grams. Good sources of dietary fiber are whole grains, legumes, and nuts. Coconut is an ideal source of dietary fiber. Coconut has one of the highest percentages of fiber among all plant foods. Seventy-five percent of the total carbohydrate content is fiber. In comparison, the carbohydrate in green beans is only 30 percent fiber, in okra it is only 25 percent, and—corn it is 18 percent.
Because of its high fiber content, coconut can make an excellent dietary fiber supplement. Coconut flour is a new source of dietary fiber made from finely ground, dried, and defatted coconut. Coconut flour has a higher fiber content than many other flours. It contains four times as much fiber as oat bran and twice as much fiber as wheat bran or flaxseed meal. Unlike psyllium husk and wheat bran and most other sources of dietary fiber, coconut tastes good!
A tablespoon or two of coconut flour can be added to beverages, smoothies, baked goods, casseroles, soups, and hot cereal. This is a simple and easy way to add fiber into your daily diet without making drastic changes in the way you eat. Another way to add coconut fiber into your diet is by using it in your baking. You can add a few spoonfuls of coconut flour into batter and dough when making bread, muffins, cookies, etc. This would greatly increase the fiber content of your baked goods without altering the taste.
Coconut flour has all the benefits of other dietary fibers; it lowers risk of heart disease, helps prevent cancer, improves digestive function, helps regulate blood sugar, etc. It also has several advantages over most other forms of fiber, including relieving symptoms associated with Crohn's disease, expelling intestinal parasites, and improving mineral absorption. Let me briefly discuss a few of these.
Although we do not get nourishment from fiber, it feeds friendly bacteria in our gut that are essential for good health. These bacteria produce vitamins and other substances that are beneficial in promoting health and wellness. When we eat adequate amounts of fiber, intestinal bacteria flourish. Harmful bacteria and yeast such as candida, which compete for space in the intestinal tract, are kept under control.
One of the most important reasons why friendly bacteria are important to our health is that they produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). Short-chain fatty acids are fats that are synthesized from dietary fiber by intestinal bacteria and are vital to our health and the health of the colon.
While these SCFAs are harmless to our tissues and friendly bacteria, they are deadly to many forms of disease-causing bacteria and yeasts that can infect the intestinal tract. SCFAs can kill these troublesome organisms. The benefits which intestinal bacteria provide us are dependent on the amount of fiber we feed them. The more fiber we eat, the more friendly bacteria will thrive and produce SCFAs, thus keeping our colon healthy and nasty microorganisms in check.
Another benefit is SCFAs ability to pass through cell membranes and into the mitochondria without the aid of special hormones (insulin) or enzymes (carnitine). Therefore, they can easily enter the cells in the colon where they are utilized as fuel to power metabolism. SCFAs are an important source of nutrition for the cells in the colon. In fact, SCFAs are the preferred food of colonic cells and are necessary for a healthy intestinal environment.
Researchers have discovered that an abnormally low level of SCFAs in the colon can lead to nutritional deficiencies, which can cause inflammation and bleeding. Researchers found that SCFAs administered rectally into the colon relieve these conditions.
The fiber in coconut acts as food for gut bacteria. Consequently, coconut helps increase SCFAs in the gut and helps prevent and relieve symptoms associated with Crohn's disease, irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, and other digestive disorders. Many people have reported that even eating as little as two coconut macaroon cookies a day relieves their symptoms. A newspaper health column from King Features Syndicate published a letter from a reader who had an interesting experience involving coconut.
"More than 20 years ago I was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Tests revealed no cause. Diarrhea attacks accompanied by severe abdominal pain rarely gave me time to find a bathroom before it was too late. I would suffer several times a week. At 6 feet 2 inches tall I weighed only 147 pounds and could not gain weight, even eating 5,000 calories a day. Imodium A-D daily provided minimal help. Ten months ago I read in your column about a man with Crohn's disease who had been helped by eating two Archway Coconut Macaroons daily. I had nothing to lose, so I gave it a try. IT HAS CHANGED MY LIFE! In these past 10 months I have had only a few mild attacks, none involving pain. Even the worst of these was milder than a good day before. I stopped carrying a change of clothes in my car, as I haven't needed them once. Twenty years of suffering, and all I needed to do was eat cookies! There is not one medication on the market that can boast fewer side effects. My weight is now stable at 180 pounds, ideal for my height."
Sometime later another reader wrote in and stated, "I've read in your column about coconut macaroon cookies as a treatment for chronic diarrhea. My dog has been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, for which he has been prescribed prednisone. I know you were suggesting the cookies for people, but I figured, why not for my dog? On two coconut macaroons a day and no prednisone, he is getting much better. I wish I had known about this approach for my mother who had Crohn's disease."
While the people reported here used cookies made with coconut, coconut flour added to foods can be just as beneficial.
Dietary fiber in general is known to slow down the absorption of sugars thus helping to keep blood sugar under control. Coconut flour is highly effective in controlling blood sugar. Studies have shown that when coconut flour is added into foods or taken with meals, it significantly lowers the glycemic index of the foods and thus lowers the effect foods have on raising blood sugar levels. In one study, for example, it was shown that adding coconut flour into a meal consisting of sweet breads (brownies, cake, etc.) that diabetic subjects' blood sugar levels were the same as the nondiabetic subjects. In other words, the sugar and other carbohydrate in the foods did not have an adverse effect on blood sugar levels when coconut flour was included in the meal.
Simply adding a tablespoon of coconut flour into a glass of juice or mixing it into the foods during a meal can have dramatic results. Diabetics are experiencing incredible results. For example, one lady explained that her diabetic husband suffered a stroke and was in the hospital. While in the hospital he was given the American Diabetic Association (ADA) diet. His blood sugar levels were in the 300-400 mg/dl range. This is extremely high. A person is diagnosed as being diabetic when blood sugar levels are 126 or higher. Levels of 100 and lower are considered normal.
She took her husband off the ADA diet and placed him on her own low-carb diet. His blood sugar levels dropped to 140-170 range. Still high, but much lower than the ADA diet. She then purchased some coconut flour and started giving it to him with his meals. His blood sugar levels dropped to 100-108.
An interesting benefit of coconut fiber, not found in other fibers, as far as I'm aware, is that it acts as a vermifuge (i.e., expels parasitic worms). Eating coconut to get rid of parasites is a traditional practice in India that was even recognized among the early medical profession. It was included in a handbook of tropical medicine published in India in 1936 and in an Indian Materia Medica with Ayurvedic medicine published in 1976.
In 1984 researchers in India published a study on the effectiveness of this traditional remedy. Fifty individuals infected with tapeworm participated in the study. Various coconut preparations followed by Epsom salt were administered to the volunteers. The researchers found that within 12 hours after eating dried coconut, 90 percent of the tapeworms were expelled. Some of those tapeworms were over six feet long. Continued use resulted in 100% expulsion.
At the time of the study, the researchers reported that except for Niclosomide, no drug was as effective in the treatment of tapeworm infestation as was coconut. Niclosomide, however, causes tapeworms to waste away or separate, releasing toxins that can cause undesirable side effects. The researchers concluded that since coconut is nontoxic, palatable, easily available, and fairly cheap, and because it is highly effective in expelling tapeworms without causing side effects, it is a safe and effective treatment for tapeworm infestation. They recommended the use of coconut dietary fiber as a good source of fiber to use for the purpose of removing intestinal parasites.
Many researchers believe that the fiber in our foods can influence mineral absorption. The foods with the highest fiber content are legumes and grains like soy, wheat, and oats. One drawback that has been reported by researchers with the bran or fiber from these sources is that they contain phytic acid, which binds with minerals in the digestive tract and pulls them out of the body. Consequently, mineral absorption is decreased. Some of the minerals that are bound to phytic acid include zinc, iron, and calcium. It has been suggested that eating too much phytic acid can lead to mineral deficiencies. Even dietary fiber levels of 10 to 20 percent are believed to interfere with absorption of minerals in the digestive tract. Yet, we are counseled to get between 20 and 35 percent dietary fiber in our diets. What are we to do? We need fiber for good digestive health, but too much may cause nutritional problems. The perfect solution to this problem is not to reduce fiber consumption, but to replace some of the fiber we get from grains and legumes with fiber that does not pull minerals out of the body. Coconut flour fits that description. Coconut does not contain phytic acid and does not remove minerals from the body. You can eat all the coconut you want without worrying about it negatively affecting your mineral status.
If anything, coconut fiber improves mineral status. Fiber slows down the emptying of the stomach, allowing foods to be bathed in gastric juices for a longer amount of time. This allows more minerals to be released from the food we eat; so more are available for absorption. ■
Coconut flour is available at your local health food store or you can order it online.
By Lita Lee, Ph.D.
The fight against fluoridation continues to rage years after fluoride was scientifically proven to be unrelated to dental caries and very toxic to all life on earth. If fluoride is a voter issue in your city or state, this information will be valuable to you, especially if you have been told that fluoride is safe.
Cities are using the citizens' tax dollars to pay the fluoride polluting industries (phosphate fertilizer, aluminum and others) to get rid of this toxic industrial waste by forcing the people to drink it in their water supply.
The EPA states that HF (hydrogen fluoride) is the 6th most common air pollutant in the U.S. It is the 3rd most emitted pollutant from industries.
The USDA reports that "airborne fluorides (from at least 15 industries) have caused more worldwide damage to domestic animals than any other pollutant and have been killing and crippling human beings since the 1930's." Water emissions from at least 7 industries add to the air emissions.
Fluoride pollution began in the 1850's at the beginning of the industrial revolution and was a key chemical in atomic bomb production in the 1940's. Millions of tons of fluoride (uranium hexafluoride) were used to manufacture bomb-grade uranium and plutonium for nuclear weapons during and after World War II. At the height of World War II, a severe fluoride pollution incident occurred in Gloucester and Salem counties downwind of the DuPont chemical factory in Deepwater, New Jersey, which was secretly producing millions of pounds of fluoride for the Manhattan Project. This area was noted for their high quality produce and the produce was fried. Farm workers who ate it vomited all night and the next day. Animals—horses, cows, chickens, etc. —became crippled and couldn't walk. The New Jersey farmers sued DuPont and the Manhattan Project. The lawsuits were ultimately stymied by the government's refusal to reveal how much fluoride DuPont had vented into the atmosphere during World War II on the grounds that "disclosure would be injurious to the military security of the United States." The farmers received token financial settlements, in some cases amounting to little more than $200.
Because of a major safety study by the Atomic Energy Commission, the federal government became involved in the suppression of information about fluoride poisoning. Formerly restricted government documents are now available under the Freedom of Information Act.
Grand Rapids, MI became the first city to officially fluoridate its drinking water in 1945. To date, 70% of the cities in the USA are now fluoridated. Out of the 50 largest cities, 41 are fluoridated. This adds up to 130 million Americans and 250 million people worldwide.
In 1998, the EPA estimated that 155,000 tons (310,000,000 pounds) of hydrogen fluoride were released into the air by industrial plants. Emissions into lakes, rivers, and oceans are estimated to be as high as 500,000 tons a year. No one can escape this poisoning. Because fluoride compounds aren't biodegradable, they accumulate in the environment, in the food chain, and in your bones, teeth, cells and organs.
In 1959 the average American ingested about 1.1 mg of fluoride daily. In 1988 this increased to 6 mg daily.
Fluoride Toxicity and Health Effects
Fluoride is cumulative and toxic to all forms of life even at extremely low dosages. Double-blind studies prove adverse health effects at a 1 ppm level in water. Airborne fluorides have caused more worldwide damage to domestic animals than any other air pollutant. Even in minute doses, fluoride accumulates in and damages the brain/mind development of children leading to reduced IQ in children.
Fluoride causes hypothyroidism. The effects of fluoride on the thyroid gland have been studied so extensively that it baffles the mind how experts on thyroid disease from Harvard or the University of Toronto can claim that fluoride doesn't affect thyroid gland function, especially when it has been used to suppress thyroid function in hyperthyroid people.
Fluoride causes cancer. In 1981, Dean Burk (Chief Chemist at the National Cancer Institute) testified at congressional hearings that over 40,000 yearly cancer deaths are attributable to fluoridation. He said that no chemical causes as much cancer, and faster, than fluorides. Public health officials say his data aren't verified, but the reverse is true. This information is well documented, verified and confirmed by epidemiological and animal studies.
The New Jersey Dept of Health found that the risk of bone cancer was about three times as high in fluoridated areas as in nonfluoridated areas. This is because bone is a target for fluoride.
The Journal of Carcinogenesis says that "fluoride not only has the ability to transform normal cells into cancer cells but also to enhance the cancer-causing properties of other chemicals."
Fluoride causes genetic damage. An article in Mutation Research says that a study by Proctor and Gamble, makers of Crest toothpaste, did research showing that 1 ppm fluoride causes genetic damage. Results were not published.
A National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences publication, Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis, also linked fluoride to genetic damage. "Fluoride exposure in cultured human and rodent cells results in increased chromosome aberrations resulting in birth defects and the mutation of normal cells into cancer cells."
Fluoride poisons over 100 enzymes in your body.
Fluoride disrupts collagen, the major connective tissue of the body, causing premature wrinkling and aging.
Fluoride causes seizures in humans and animals.
Fluoride causes bone disease—skeletal fluorosis—severe damage to the musculoskeletal and nervous systems resulting in muscle wasting, limited joint motion, spinal deformities, calcification of the ligaments and neurological damage. The US hip fracture rate is now the highest on earth.
Fluoride causes dental fluorosis: 2% of children drinking water with 1 ppm fluoride get dental fluorosis. Up to 23% of children living in areas with 4 ppm fluoride develop severe dental fluorosis. Other research gives higher figures of from 51 to 80%. Dental fluorosis is more than a cosmetic problem. It is associated with elevated tooth decay levels. A class action suit has been filed in England against fluoride-toothpaste makers on behalf of children suffering from dental fluorosis.
From 1967 to 1975, intentional dumping of massive quantities of fluoride into the air and water caused severe fluoride poisoning on a Mohawk Indian reservation. "Cows crawled around the pasture on their bellies, inching along like giant snails. So crippled by bone disease, they could not stand up, this was the only way they could graze. Some died kneeling, after giving birth to stunted calves. Others kept on crawling until, no longer able to chew because their teeth had crumbled down to the nerves, they began to starve..." Industrial fluoride pollution devastated the herd and the Mohawks' way of life. The Mohawks filed suit against the Reynolds Metals Co. and Alcoa in 1960 but ended up settling out of court where they received only $650,000 for their cows.
Fluoridation Does Not Prevent Tooth Decay
Children who live in areas of the U.S. where the water supplies are fluoridated have tooth decay rates nearly identical with those who live in non-fluoridated areas.
School districts recently reporting the highest caries free rates were totally non-fluoridated. Dental caries either didn't increase or actually decreased in cities where fluoridation was discontinued.
More children had decayed teeth and fluorosis in the high fluoridated areas than in non-fluoridated areas. This confirms the association between high fluoride levels in the drinking water and dental caries and fluorosis.
Regarding Water Filters and Fluoride
Carbon filters do not remove fluoride and there is no fluoride removal system that I know of that will reduce fluoride fast enough for a shower or a bath. The only purifiers I know of that reduce fluoride are reverse osmosis, distillation, and ion exchange. Distillers, reverse osmosis, and pitcher filters produce water very slowly and require a storage reservoir to collect the water. For example, distillers require 4-8 hours to produce one gallon of pure water. Reverse osmosis units require 3-6 hours to produce one gallon. On the other hand, ion exchange purifiers produce one gallon of pure water per minute. There are probably many companies who sell both filters and ion exchange units that will work for your drinking/cooking water, but not your shower. The one I recently contacted is Custom Pure and their web address is www.custompure.com.
This article was first published in To Your Health newsletter October 2004, by Lita Lee, Ph.D. www.litalee.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.
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Copyright © 2007, 2005, Bruce Fife. All rights reserved.