Coconut Oil; The Good The Bad and the Ugly?

Why! does eating healthy have to be so complicated?!

Do we all need to get our education as a dietitian to understand how to eat healthier?

Eat this, don't eat that...geez... it makes my head spin and I'm fairly well versed in the healthy eating arena. 

The problem as I see it with almost all of the news reports we get today is fragmented information. The reporters only have so much time and space to share the info they've collected, or they are paid to sway us to a particular belief about any given subject (especially food ads) and we are left as the consumer to fill in the blanks. That is if we think there are any blanks to fill in! Sadly most of us take those bits and I mean bits of information and speak to them as Truth. If only deciphering the so-called facts about the food we eat was so easy. 

Many years ago when ingesting coconut oil became a craze I thought humm... what is it about this food source that is so good and how can it improve my life? So, as I often do I used myself to experiment with it.  As a massage therapist, I was taught to use coconut oil as a tool in my practice. I used fractionated coconut oil for years. But I like many hadn't used it to cook with or add to my foods. 

I was a smoothie drinker way before it was cool, in fact, most people looked at me like I had three heads when they heard me say I would make one to replace a meal. Anyway, I decided to add a teaspoon of this oil tropical to my smoothies. I had been doing this every day for a couple of weeks and feeling really good about doing something that had yet unforeseen benefits. 

One day while coming home from work I started to cry because my hands hurt! I mean they hurt deep in the joints. My hands, at that time, were my living so I was crying not only because I was hurting but because I didn't know what I would do to make a living if I had was forced to quit the practice I'd built. And I didn't want to disappoint the people who had come to count on me to be apart of their health regiment. 

Now if you know me at all you know I'm a fixer. I don't like being stuck and this was not going to get the best of me. I began to think back...when had my hands started to hurt? What had changed in my life to cause this nearly debilitating pain? I realized the only thing I'd changed up in my life was adding the coconut oil to my smoothies. 

I have a very close friend of mine how has dryer skin and I knew she had been using this on her skin for a long time. She is a very health conscience gal and researches everything so I gave her a call. As the line was ringing I remember her saying how she had been hurting all over and hadn't changed anything in her life. She ate the same foods, hadn't been shopping for new clothes in a while, hadn't changed dish or clothes detergents. She had no clue why she was in so much pain. 

As we talked I asked her if she was still applying coconut oil to her body and she said yes! and I've even added it to my foods. BINGO! We were on to something! 

This is what I learned; Coconut oil is high in saturated fats, these are the fats that cause inflammation. And it had done just that for both myself and my friend. Since neither of us had bought into the 'no fat in our diet' trend we were getting plenty of all the fats our body needed and was able to process through what we ate. By adding that teaspoon of oil to our diet it caused inflammation. My hands were the most used part of my body so that is where the pain showed up. Once I quit adding it to my daily drink the pain went away...and has never returned. 

I do still use coconut oil to cook with because it is much better than using olive oil at higher heats. Olive oil is great to add to salads, pasta, pizza (after it's baked) but it breaks down when it reaches a higher temperature like stirfry or saute'. 

The Good - cook with coconut oil when frying, sauteing, and stir-frying. 

The Bad - it is very high in saturated fat, this is the fat that can cause inflammation as other problematic health issues. Use sparingly. 

The Ugly - We need to be research minded consumers. Don't take the info on these daytime doctors shows or what you see in the news as exhaustive info on any subject!  Do your own research! Use the rule of 3. Find three solid research papers that have been published that say close to the same thing before putting anything in your body as a supplement. Use resources like the National Institute of Health (NIH) ask your pharmacist you can even ask your doctor but don't be surprised if they're not up on the latest crazes. They only have so much time in a day.  

Moral of the story is we need to stop taking every tom, dick and harry's word for things. We need to do our own research. Ask a friend to do some too then compare notes to save time. Pay attention to your body, pain is meant to get out attention. 

Please share with those you care about! 

As Always, 

"Thank You For Allowing Me To Be A Part Of Your Wellness Journey" L~

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