HEALTH AT EVERY SIZE
Health at Every Size - these are the buzz words around the internet these days. Are you healthy? Do you want to be healthier?
What is health? The World Health Organization defined health in its broader sense in 1946 as "a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity". Being healthier doesn't mean losing weight. To you it might mean:
- eating better (such as reducing processed foods)
- exercising/moving more
- stopping smoking
- working on that depression
We are very happy to announce that we have a Registered Dietician on staff who will be writing our Health At Every Size series as well as answering a reader's question each month. You can read about Shari's philosophy and experience on our staff page. If you have a question for Shari, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclaimer: This advice is not intended to be a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional medical, health or nutritional advice.
Coconut oil: A true health food or just another hype?
Coconuts contain saturated fats so coconut oil must be unhealthy for the heart. Plus, coconut oil is... well, oil. Since anything oily makes you gain weight, coconut oil is something to avoid like the plague. Right?
- Saturated fats from real foods like coconuts or grass-fed animals will not increase your risks of heart disease or strokes.
- Healthy oils like coconut oil can, in fact, make it easier to manage your weight by improving your hormonal balance, stabilizing your blood sugar levels and helping your body use fat for energy more effectively. Plus, did you know that not eating enough healthy fats can make it harder for you to control your weight?
And guess what? There are over 1,700 published studies to back these claims!
What makes coconut oil so impressive?
It all boils down to the caprylic acid, lauric acid and capric acid present in the coconut. These unique healthy fats, also known as medium-chain fatty acids (or MCFAs), are different from other types of fats since they:
- Are rapidly processed by the liver instead of being stored as fat
- Can provide immediate energy
- Possess anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties
Top 15 health benefits of coconut oil
Numerous studies indicate that coconut oil could help:
1. Protect the heart by increasing HDL cholesterol and normalizing high blood pressure
2. Reduce inflammation thanks to the various antioxidants it contains. Coconut oil is very useful for people with autoimmune diseases such as arthritis or eczema.
3. Improve memory & brain function - coconut oil is, in fact, very useful for individuals with Alzheimer's disease.
4. Improve hormone balance - coconut oil could have positive effects on estrogen levels.
5. Enhance insulin sensitivity - this can reduce insulin resistance and type II diabetes.
6. Reduce the risks of stomach cancer by killing the helicobacter pylori bacteria.
7. Enhance digestion
8. Reduce stomach ulcers
9. Alleviate ulcerative colitis
10. Boost the immune system thanks to its anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties.
11. Protect the liver
12. Heal urinary tract infections
13. Prevent gum disease and tooth decay
14. Help the body burn fat and promote muscle growth
15. Improve skin and hair health
As you can see, coconut oil is something you want in your kitchen and your medicine cabinet. However, here are two things to consider before you start using coconut oil:
- Choose your coconut oil wisely
You don't want refined or processed (deodorized) coconut oils since these are often bleached, subjected to extremely high temperatures and harsh chemicals to increase the shelf-life. This processing adversely affects the quality and composition of the fats in coconut oil. Instead, go for extra virgin coconut oil to reap the most of coconut's oil health benefits.
- Listen to your body
If you're already used to eating a high fat diet, you can use coconut oil as many times as you want during the day provided that you use the oil as a substitute for other oils. Otherwise, if you've been on a low-fat diet for a while, allow your body to adjust to a higher fat intake by starting with one to two tablespoons of coconut oil spread throughout the day.
Top 12 ways to use coconut oil
1. Cooking at high heat - coconut oil has a high smoking point which means that you can use it to saute veggies, fry fish or chicken and in curries.
2. As a spread
3. In smoothies - The MCFAs will provide an energy boost while preventing blood sugar spikes.
4. As a natural creamer in your coffee or hot cocoa.
5. To bake cookies, muffins, cakes.
6. As a topping for baked sweet potatoes.
7. On the skin - Coconut oil is a great facial and whole body moisturizer on top of being a natural makeup remover. It can even help reduce wrinkles and soothe cracked heals.
8. As a lip balm and mouthwash
9. For cold sores - Coconut oil can help speed up healing of cold sores in and around the mouth.
10. In baths - Just add about 1/4 cup of Epsom salts and 1/4 cup of coconut oil for a relaxing bath that will help draw out toxins and soothe your skin.
11. As a hair conditioner - Coconut oil can help prevent dandruff by toning down inflammation.
12. As a nail cuticle oil
In case you were wondering, yes, it is perfectly safe for you to use coconut oil daily, several times a day. But, again, as a substitute for unhealthy fats. However, if you notice that your poop starts floating, that's a sign that your body isn't being able to digest all the coconut oil. Dial down the amount of coconut oil you use and work with a qualified healthcare professional to improve your digestion.
Submitted by: Shari
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