I started wearing anti-wrinkle cream at 19. NOT JOKING. I was also obsessed with fitness and nutrition; almost extremely so as some of those close to me would have said. Well, they did say it and they were right. At the time, I didn’t understand how it would shape my eventual education leading to my ultimate career at 34.
For the longest time, I would feel extremely embarrassed when others would ask what I used on my face, hair, skin, etc. I HATED any attention like that. My silent obsession was just that, my personal journey. As the years have gone by and, with further understanding of my God-given affinities, I get really excited to share knowledge (especially when someone brings me a $400 facial “system” to purchase or samples to try). Guess what? Health, wellness, longevity and graceful aging are attainable AND AFFORDABLE (I will probably be de-friended by some on social media for that comment).
Where do you start? Organic extra virgin coconut oil. Coconut oil is amazing for so many things. To start, it’s one of the best beauty secrets for a multitude of reasons. Coconut oil is anti-viral and anti-microbial due to half of its fat content coming from Lauric Acid, a medium-chain fatty acid. What does this mean? For your skin, think acne. One of the main causes of acne is due to bacteria. Lauric acid helps provide a shield of protection for your skin and it helps destroy acne causing bacteria (Shilling, et.al., 2013).
Coconut oil’s other best-kept beauty secret is its anti-aging properties. Yes, ladies (and gents too)!! The only needles I have ever had in my face were for external eye surgeries; NO facial injections here! Coconut oil fights the effects of free radicals that cause oxidative stress. What do free radicals do to your skin? They cause a change in your skin tone, weaken the elasticity of your skin so, it may appear loose or saggy, fine lines and wrinkles. Just go ahead and put a thin layer of coconut oil all over your body, your skin will thank you. Don’t forget the backs of your hands (especially during the winter…..major moisturizing effects!)(Mercola, 2010)!
If organic extra virgin coconut oil contains anti-microbial and anti-aging properties for my face, what about ingesting some? Well, that same anti-microbial and anti-viral properties carry over to the inside of your body too. Coconut oil contains the most lauric acid out of ANYTHING so, we aren’t getting much from our diet. Your body metabolizes lauric acid into monolaurin. Monolaurin can destroy viruses like measles and the flu (Mercola, 2010)!
Ingesting coconut oil will also help to improve gut health by improving your gut microbiome. The anti-microbial properties will help destroy harmful gut bacteria. What does this mean for your tummy? Less inflammation and easier digestion. By ingesting coconut oil, your digestive system will have a much easier time absorbing essential vitamins like magnesium (we will discuss magnesium later because it deserves a spotlight all on its own). This leads to improvement to other gut related issues (too long of a list to name them individually but, you get the point) (Axe, 2016).
If your gut isn’t as inflamed, does that mean it will be a little flatter? Essentially, yes! How about fat loss? Coconut oil is made up of about 65% medium-chain triglycerides or, MCT’s. MCT’s have a bi-product during metabolism called ketones. Simply put, ketones are a naturally satiating (natural appetite suppressant) and a product of FAT metabolism (your fat source – those MCT’s). Yes! Fat metabolism! Let’s not forget that ketones are a preferred fuel source for the brain (Attia, 2016).
*Disclaimer: ketone production from fat metabolism is also greatly influenced by your diet in general. Eating low fat and high carbs will lessen ketone production greatly.
*Disclaimer: Nutritional ketosis is NOT ketoacidosis
This leads me to the last benefit of coconut oil I want to discuss (although there are scores more) and that’s brain health. The medium chain fatty acids found in coconut oil (we discussed one: lauric acid) help repair brain function, improves brain function and improves memory through their byproducts during metabolism (remember ketones? Pun intended….sorry, couldn’t myself) (Axe, 2016).
Alzheimer’s is a very dear disease to myself and my family as my grandmother suffers from it and I also lost my great aunt last year to the degenerative disease. An Alzheimer’s patient’s brain loses the ability to create insulin to help metabolize glucose to power its brain cells. Ketones, the by-product of fat metabolism, provide an alternative fuel source for the brain. How? Simply put, it doesn’t require insulin to reach the cell to be metabolized for energy (Nafar, et.al, 2014).
I have only touched on a few benefits of coconut oil whether applying externally or ingesting, either way you choose or, coupled together, you WILL reap the benefits! The information provided is by no means meant to cure, diagnose or dissuade you to seek information from your primary care physician or healthcare provider. Always check with your primary care physician or healthcare provider before changing or adding to your normal health routine. Remember, anything related to your health and body is up for discussion; ask questions, make suggestions and ALWAYS have a conversation.
Sandi Lanham, B.S.P.H
Naturopathic Physician Student
COO of Kentucky Life Realty
Partner of KASA Properties
Want to research some of the science for yourself (which I ALWAYS encourage….knowledge is power as the old adage says)? Here are a few resources/references to check out:
Attia, P. (2016). Ketones. Ketogenic Diet Resource, Change Your Diet, Change Your Life. Retrieved from http://www.ketogenic-diet-resource.com/ketones.html
Axe, J (2016). 20 Coconut Oil Benefits & Side Effects (#5 is Life Saving). Dr. Axe, Food is Medicine. Retrieved from https://draxe.com/coconut-oil-benefits/
Batovska, D et.al. (2009). Antibacterial Study of the Medium Chain Fatty Acids and Their 1-Monoglycerides: Individual Effects and Synergistic Relationships. Polish Journal of Microbiology.
Mercola, J (2010). Coconut Oil: This Cooking Oil is Powerful Virus-Destroyer and Antibiotic… Mercola.com.
Nafar, F et. al. (2014). Coconut oil attenuates the effects of amyloid-beta on cortical neurons in vitro. US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
Shilling, M et.al. (2013). Antimicrobial effects of virgin coconut oil and its medium-chain fatty acids on Clostridium difficile. US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
Tianguang, L et. al. (2004). Medium-Chain Fatty Acids Attenuate Agonist-Stimulated Lipolysis, Mimicking the Effects of Starvation. Obesity: A Research Journal.