Read an Excerpt
The Coconut Diet
By Cherie Calbom
Warner BooksCopyright © 2005 Cherie Calbom and John Calbom
All right reserved.
Chapter OneWeight Loss Secrets of the Tropics
Healthy, trim, energetic, and alive! That's what you can be when you make The Coconut Diet your weight loss secret. With coconut oil, you can watch the pounds melt away. This secret ingredient has promoted great weight loss success for many, many people. You'll learn what makes coconut oil a fast-burning fat and how that increases metabolism and promotes weight loss. You'll hear from scores of people who have lost weight-for many, lots of weight-and health problems, too. Most important, you'll experience a diet that works. Coconut oil received very bad press several decades ago. You'll learn why that was completely unfounded. But first I'd like to tell you how people have eaten in tropical, coconut-growing countries for centuries. You may be surprised to learn that a high-saturated-fat diet is the reason why most tropical islanders remain trim and healthy all their lives when they stick to eating their traditional foods rich in coconut oil.
COCONUT: A DIETARY STAPLE IN THE TROPICS
In tropical cultures where coconut is often a staple in the diet and traditional foods the local fare, one can find a preponderance of healthy, trim people, even though their diet is high in calories and fat-particularly saturated fatfrom coconut oil.
Prior to World War II (and for several decades afterward), people who ate traditional foods in countries such as the Philippines were rarely sick or overweight. The diet in most communities consisted mainly of rice, coconuts, vegetables, root crops (especially garlic and ginger), herbs, and meat that was raised locally. Many people ground their own rice by hand, leaving intact most of the bran and nutrients. Food processing changed following World War II. Rice mills replaced the need to hand-mill rice. These first mills were "crude" and did not polish the rice; thus people still ate healthy high-fiber grains. Later, the mills became more sophisticated and polished the rice, making it bright white, stripped of the bran and most of the nutrients.
The food consumed prior to World War II would be considered "organic" by today's standards. People had no access to chemical fertilizers or pesticides. The animals, such as chickens, cows, and goats, all grazed on natural green vegetation.
Coconut and coconut oil were used daily. The usual diet was quite high in fat-the saturated fat from the coconut. Many people made their coconut oil by hand using either the traditional boiling or fermentation method. For many Filipinos and other inhabitants of the tropics, the traditional method of making coconut oil fell out of vogue after World War II. Coconut plants and coconut oil mills were established for the booming baking industry in the United States. Refined coconut oil made its way into the local economy. Though some still made coconut oil the "old-fashioned" way, many people chose to buy the cheaper, odorless, refined coconut oil, which was readily available in the marketplace. But even the refined coconut oil made from copra (dried coconut meat) was done through a mechanical pressing that did not use solvents (chemicals).
Pharmaceuticals were introduced in the Philippines and other tropical countries after World War II, but people in many rural communities could not afford them. They had their own traditions of dealing with sicknesses using local herbs and coconut oil. When people did visit the doctor, which was rare, it was usually not for the ailments that plague Westerners today such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and thyroid problems. These illnesses were virtually un known prior to the 1980s, when Western foods began to saturate the market. People visited the doctor to treat wounds or because of sicknesses common in the tropics, such as malaria, dengue (tropical diseases transmitted by mosquitoes), and diarrhea.
Since entering menopause, my body really changed and I developed fat on my belly, the underside of my arms, my chin-all kinds of places that I never had fat before. I dieted and dieted. I always ate low-fat and low-calorie foods and never really lost any weight until I tried low-carb dieting with coconut oil. There are many low-carb diets but this is the only one that has worked for me. I eat all the fat [virgin coconut oil] I want and I don't worry about it. I now have only 10 pounds to go to be where I was in college. The virgin coconut oil has also been very good for my skin. I know that exercise and virgin coconut oil will help me get rid of the last 10 pounds. -Laurel
This picture of life in rural tropical communities is typical for those who grew up in the 1950s, '60s, and '70s (and before) eating traditional foods with an abundance of saturated fat from coconut oil. Sadly, this way of life is no longer the norm. Beginning in the mid-1970s, demand for coconut oil dropped so low that most coconut farmers could no longer afford to support their families on the income of coconut harvests. Many people left their farms and moved to the cities to find better employment, where they adopted Western-style diets.
Cheaper, mass-produced foods have replaced most of the local traditional fare people used to raise themselves. Snack foods and other fast foods made with hydrogenated coconut oil, which keeps them solid at sweltering tropical temperatures, made their way onto store shelves. Polished rice grown with chemical fertilizers is now a staple. Soft drinks loaded with refined sugars and chemicals are found on nearly every street corner. These drinks have replaced the natural buko juice-water from the inside of the coconuts-that earlier generations enjoyed. Even the coconut water drinks, once natural and healthy, are now loaded with refined sugar. The traditional high-fat, low-refined-carbohydrate diet has been replaced with many refined, high-carb substitutes.
In the 1950s it was very rare to see anyone in the tropics who was considered overweight, and almost never did people see someone who was considered obese. Since traditional diets have changed in these countries and coconut oil has been exchanged for refined oils, weight problems and diseases are on the rise.
Researchers have discovered that cultures that make coconut oil part of their daily diet enjoy great health. Research on the benefits of coconut oil also suggests that by making this oil part of your daily diet, you can also experience the weight management and health benefits long enjoyed by people of the tropics. In the pages that follow you will find a preponderance of research and supporting evidence as to why coconut oil is such a weight loss wonder.
THE WEIGHT LOSS SECRET
The weight loss secret is in the chain-the chain of molecules that make up the fat of coconut oil. These shorter-chain fatty acids that dominate coconut oil are known as medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). They burn up quickly in the body. They're a lot like adding kindling to a fire, rather than a big damp log. That's the secret to coconut oil's weight loss success!
Following rapid breakdown and absorption in the intestinal tract, MCTs are transported directly to the liver. Once there, they freely enter the mitochondria (the energy-producing elements of the cell) and are rapidly converted to ketones, which are almost immediately converted into energy. On the other hand, long-chain triglycerides (LCTs), which comprise most other oils, are transported from the intestines as chylomicrons (relatively large fat droplets). They are eventually dumped into the bloodstream near the heart. These fat droplets must then be transported through the entire body before they reach the liver.
This difference in metabolism means that the body treats MCTs in a completely different manner than the way it deals with other fats. LCTs are slow to metabolize in the body, and as a result, are more easily stored as fat. MCTs, on the other hand, rapidly burn for energy use, thus are less likely to contribute to fat storage. If you consider your body's metabolism to be like an oil furnace, eating LCTs is like adding oil to the storage tank, whereas consuming MCTs is like pumping fuel from the delivery truck right into the furnace. Less is stored; more is burned.
Because the LCT molecule is so large, the body cannot process it very efficiently; it prefers to simply store it in adipose tissue (fat cells). On the other hand, MCTs can be rapidly converted into energy. Here's how it works: The body removes the carbon atoms two at a time and transforms them into ketones, which are high-energy molecules that pass easily back into the bloodstream and are carried quickly to the cells. Once in the cells, they can be rapidly turned into ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the energy molecules of the body. Eating MCTs could be likened to putting premium fuel in the gas tank of your car-it burns more efficiently.
Thermogenesis is the rate at which the body burns fuel for energy. A unique quality of MCTs is their ability to increase the rate at which the body burns fat for fuel. This could account for the trim, healthy constitution of most Pacific Islanders who eat a diet high in traditional fats that are primarily composed of MCTs. One of the most popular epidemiological (population) studies was conducted in the South Pacific islands of Pukapuka and Tokelau near New Zealand. The studies began in the 1960s before either island was exposed to Western refined foods. These populations ate only natural foods, and coconut foods were the most prevalent, being consumed at each meal in one form or another.
While most people in Western countries were getting 30 to 40 percent of their calories from fat, these islanders averaged between 50 and 60 percent of their calories from fat, most of that being saturated fat from coconuts. The overall health of both groups of islanders was extremely good compared with Western standards. There were no signs of kidney disease or hypothyroidism that might influence fat levels. There was no hypercholesterolemia (high blood cholesterol) either. All inhabitants were lean and healthy despite a very high saturated-fat diet. In fact, the populations as a whole had ideal weight-to-height ratios as compared to the body mass index (BMI) figures used by doctors and nutritionists. Digestive problems were rare. Constipation was uncommon; they averaged two or more bowel movements a day. Atherosclerosis, heart disease, colitis, colon cancer, hemorrhoids, ulcers, diverticulosis, and appendicitis are conditions with which they were unfamiliar.
I have been using coconut oil for about six weeks and following a healthy diet with plenty of organic fruits, vegetables, and meat, and few manufactured foods. I eat only a small amount of carbs-some pasta or rice, but only one time a week, if that. No bread, only Ry-Krisp. The only fats I use are olive oil and coconut oil. I have lost three inches off my hips and two inches off my upper arms so far. Hurrah! I am delighted; [it's been] so easy eating great food. Everybody can see an increase in my energy and mobility level[s], which have been low since I was injured in a car accident some years ago. I don't know the actual pounds [lost], but I'm not really hung up on that. A tape measure and my clothes [let me know how I'm doing]. I'm feeling great! -Liz
HEALTH SECRETS OF THE TROPICS
Not only do MCTs raise the body's metabolism leading to weight loss, they promote health as well. The health secret of the tropics is the same as the weight loss secret-the fatty acids of coconut oil lead to healing and disease prevention. The incredible health properties of MCTs were researched and documented by Dr. Jon Kabara as far back as 1966.
The most predominant MCT in coconut oil is lauric acid. The lipid researcher Dr. Jon Kabara says, "Never before in the history of man is it so important to emphasize the value of lauric oils. These medium-chain fats in coconut oil are similar to fats in mother's milk and have similar nutriceutical [medical food] effects. It is the fat content that offers the health benefits. The medium-chain fatty acids and monoglycerides found primarily in coconut oil and mother's milk have miraculous healing power." Outside of human breast milk, coconut oil is nature's most abundant source of lauric acid and other medium-chain fatty acids. MCTs have been part of infant formulas and hospital formulas for many years. Much of the research completed on coconut oil, and, specifically, lauric acid, has centered around the antimicrobial and antiviral properties of this unique fatty acid. Today, many strains of bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics. Studies have shown that antibiotics are generally ineffective in treating viral infections. When lauric acid is consumed in the diet, either in human breast milk or in coconut oil, it forms a monoglyceride called "monolaurin," which has been shown to help destroy a variety of lipid-coated viruses, including HIV, herpes simplex virus-1, vesicular stomatitis virus, influenza, and cytomegalovirus and a variety of bacteria such as helicobacter pylori. Additionally, there is evidence that the MCTs in coconut oil kill yeast infections such as Candida albicans.
I'm a nurse working at a natural alternatives wellness center in Missouri. I use virgin coconut oil as a foundational product for all of my clients. It is one of the most powerful supplements I have ever worked with. I have been in the healing arts for 30 years and natural approaches for 20 years. Most of my clients are able to use three to four tablespoons [of coconut oil] per day from the start with amazing results such as improved immune system and energy level, stabilized blood sugar, improved thyroid function, weight loss, increased mental clarity, and improved emotional/mental stability. In addition to being a wonderful supplement, coconut oil is a basic food, which should replace all other oils in the diet. I don't know of any other product that covers so many bases-and it tastes great too! -Marie
TRADITIONAL TROPICAL DIETS
A number of studies on the effects of diets heavy in saturated fat offer evidence that coconut oil helps maintain optimal health and weight levels. For example, Dr. Weston Price, a dentist who conducted a number of studies in the 1930s among Pacific Islanders, spent significant time examining the islanders' traditional diets. He looked at their general health, and specifically their dental health, as compared with islanders who ate more modern diets consisting of refined foods.
Doctor Price found that those islanders who ate a traditional diet consisting of high concentrations of coconut were in very good health and were not obese, even though they had a very high-fat diet. Those who traded commercially with Western countries and ate more refined foods high in carbohydrates suffered from common Western diseases, including dental decay.
Excerpted from The Coconut Diet by Cherie Calbom Copyright © 2005 by Cherie Calbom and John Calbom. Excerpted by permission.
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