We got a… well, let’s say an “interesting”, question on our live chat yesterday, that sparked a heated argument with our visitor and among us here at the office, including some tears of frustration from our sweet Carol, one of our team members in charge of answering all your fabulous questions on our live chat. Needless to say, nothing makes us more “uncomfortable” than having people just looking to engage in a verbal fight on our live chat service based on misinformation, and unproven pseudo science while ending the argument with “I will be unliking your page and telling everyone I know about your hypocrisy!!!!!!!“. It’s annoying, inevitably increases our blood pressure and ruins our fabulously scented day. But like I always say, there is something to learn and teach after every experience in life, even the bad ones.
The question, and later on unnecessarily aggressive comments, came after we posted these 2 links on our facebook page: https://www.pritikin.com/your-health/healthy-living/eating-right/1790-is-coconut-oil-bad-for-you.html and a more scientific one http://www.livescience.com/47623-is-coconut-oil-good-for-you.html.
These are the snapshots of our facebook page and what we actually wrote on both links:
“Did you know that anything you put on your skin absorbs into your body?”
Answering the fabulous rhetorical question on the right, well not anything! Anyone with a degree in chemistry, biology, medicine, etc, or even with basic knowledge on how our bodies work, knows our skin, – the largest organ in our bodies – like our fabulous Carol nicely explained, absorbs UP TO 60% of what we rub, bathe, or apply to it assuming it’s small enough to permeate the outer layer of the skin. Let me repeat in case I wasn’t clear, UP TO 60%. This is a BALLPARK not an exact measure. The reason this isn’t an exact measure, is because not absolutely everything permeates our skin, and not everything that can go through does it in the same amount or penetrates completely all the layers of our skin to reach our internal organs. If it did, well we would all be walking water balloons after every shower or bath.
“I still can’t believe you are selling something to put on the skin and saying 60% is absorbed through your skin yet you are saying it is bad for you.”
Our skin is a barrier, a protective shield, that keeps almost everything away. What you put on your skin doesn’t have the same effect to your health and overall well-being as if you consume it orally. Is rubbing 1 oz of coconut oil on your entire body the same as eating 1 oz of coconut oil? Certainly not! Is drinking 20 gallons of water the same as bathing in 20 gallons of water?… Is accidentally pouring 1 cup of bleach on your hand the same as drinking a cup of bleach?… I could go on forever with the analogies.
Depending on the size of the molecules, certain compounds permeate the skin more than others and some don’t permeate at all (1). In terms that can be easily understood, some compounds sit on top of the skin without penetrating any of the layers of the skin, some can go in a bit and some can go all the way through. In the case of coconut oil and many other vegetable oils, they can penetrate the stratus corneum (the outer layer of the skin) but do not penetrate completely through to the deeper layers of the skin or our internal organs. (2).
On the other hand it is scientifically proven coconut oil is wonderful as a hair treatment, completely penetrating the hair fibers while reducing the protein loss remarkably for both undamaged and damaged hair when used as a pre-wash and post-wash grooming product. (3, 4). So yes, our skins are permeable up to a point, or impermeable up to a point, however you want to see it.
Saying any ingredient that is good to be applied topically is also good to eat or vice-versa is an assumption that not always applies. Hence the statement “for external use only” on so many ingredients. Soaps and shampoos are wonderful on the skin and hair, they keep us clean and free of harmful bacteria, so can we eat them?… Or perhaps rubbing that yummy stew on our skin could make our skin glow?… I doubt it.
Yes, we do sell and use coconut oil in our products. Every company making cosmetics, soaps, and even laundry detergents uses coconut oil. Chances are you have at least 3 products in your bathroom right now that contain some form of coconut oil, whether saponified, virgin, or a by-product of it. Why? In soaps is the one responsible for those big bubbles everyone loves. In your laundry detergent when fully saponified, is capable of removing those tough stains while still being gentle to the environment. In cosmetics, it’s highly appreciated for its fatty acid content making it a wonderful moisturizing oil good for skin and hair without posing a risk to your health in the form of artery clogging ingredient.
Are we hypocritical for selling a tanning oil based on Coconut oil? No, we’re not. First the tanning oil clearly states for external use only, do not eat. Second, as explained above, rubbing coconut oil, on your body and your hair won’t have the same effect as eating it, as it does not penetrates past the stratus corneum. Yes, we and many scientists claim and have proven coconut oil is a wonderful ingredient in skincare and hair care when applied topically, yet many scientist, doctors, nutritionists and cardiologists say that can and will increase your bad cholesterol levels especially on super robust western diets when eaten daily in unhealthy amounts, which can cause heart related problems. Third, we aren’t saying DON’T EAT COCONUT OIL, what we ARE saying is “consume coconut oil in moderation” as per the expert advise of the health care providers.
“Are you not aware of how GOOD coconut oil is for you? All of the well know health experts talk about the benefits of eating coconut oil!”
I would truly like to know which world “experts” claim that, that don’t benefit directly from the production, promotion and sales of coconut oil. Dr Oz? The coconutoil.com website? Thousands of mom and dad blogs? or real scientists?…
We’ve read claims that coconut oil cures HIV, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and even cancer, but where are the scientific studies to support such claims?… Oh wait! I found one!
According to an article on the Alzheimer’s.net website, Dr. Mary Newport a pediatrician, prescribed coconut oil to her husband suffering from Alzheimer’s and he was on his way to recovery. Well, if it’s in the Alzheimer’s.net website, and a pediatrician says it works, that’s all the scientific proof we need right? I’m going to run to give my mother who happens to have Alzheimer’s but her cholesterol levels are through the roof, massive amounts of coconut oil based on only this, what Dr. Oz says and what the coconutoil.com website has written so far.
Well, no, I’m not going to, chances are she will die from a heart attack before she regains her memory, but for some people this is the only evidence needed to jump on the wagon, disregarding any common sense and true science.
In her last post in 2014, Dr Newport wrote despite after a 6 years diet of coconut oil, her husband’s Alzherimer’s has continued progressing.
Has her personal journey sparked a new research on ketones? yes, it has, will it work for Alzheimer’s patients? time will tell. As of now, the coconut oil diet for Alzheimer’s has resulted in a placebo effect for only 400 people give or take, it hasn’t cured anything. I would like to know how are their cholesterol levels and if such diet has impacted or increased the chances of heart related problems, but that information isn’t available anywhere.
According to this 5,
“Our brains normally use only glucose for energy,” explains National Institutes of Health researcher Richard Veech, who has worked with the Newports.
“But during fasting or starvation, when we draw on our fat stores for energy, our brains can switch to using products of fat metabolism called ketones as a replacement for glucose, provided the ketone levels get high enough in the brain.”
Early on in diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, the brain starts to lose its ability to use glucose, which leads to a kind of starvation of the brain. But the brain can still use ketones.
“If we could get the level of ketones in the brain up high enough in Alzheimer’s patients, the hope is that they can use this for energy in place of glucose and we may be able to restore some of the brain’s mental functions,” says Veech.
But don’t expect that to happen from consuming coconut oil or MCTs, Veech cautions. While cells produce ketones when they metabolize the medium-chain triglycerides in coconut oil, “that doesn’t lead to levels anywhere near high enough in the brain to do much good,” he notes.
According to the Alzheimers.org.uk “The idea that coconut oil could be used as a treatment, or even a cure, for Alzheimer’s disease is not supported by either scientific theory or experimental evidence.”
In this other study 6 it was concluded “saturated fat, hydrogenated fat and cholesterol can profoundly impair memory and hippocampal morphology”.
Such unproven science, which is exactly what government bodies like the FDA in the US, try to control as to protect consumers from harming themselves further, is exactly one of the biggest problems our modern era is facing. And we’re witnessing it with the anti-vaccine movement and the measles outbreak. I don’t completely trust the FDA or any government agency, but the fact of the matter is, in many instances they manage a body of knowledge in science and facts no regular Joe can get their hands on. Following and spreading unproven or untested testimonial accounts as science can and has harmed citizens far more than science itself.
Just like with any industry, there are those bad professionals and good professionals. There are bad scientists, there are good scientists, and there are those that pretend to be scientists but have no clue what they’re saying although they sort of sound knowledgeable to those that are completely ignorant to true science. There are those who try to get the results they need at all costs (usually against our health and well being) to prove their theories, there are those that rely solely on the results regardless if these prove or disprove their theories and there are those whom use and pass testimonial accounts and experiences as science. For the second the real scientist, it’s all about the science, the facts, no matter where these take him. For the first and last one, the bad scientist and the one that pretends to be one, is all about filling their bank accounts. Trying to decipher what’s real and what’s not in an ocean of misinformation, can get complicated at times.
Coconut oil just like olive oil, cold pressed and virgin is wonderful and nutritious, IN REASONABLE AMOUNTS. Would you eat spoons full of butter three times a day? Chances are you’re thinking “no way!”. Well did you know 92% percent of coconut oil fat is saturated while butter is 63%? (7, 8).
The Mediterranean diet is all about balance, which apparently is something unheard of in the US, where the tendency is to stuff our mouths with whatever new super food is in fashion for the year, believing that eating the most of it daily many times a day for months, rather than incorporate it in small amounts to complement our diets, would make us healthier and cure all our illnesses.
In Northern Italy we have a saying (picture my hands dancing in front of your face while reading this) “Mangia un pochino di tutto!” which translates in “eat a bit of everything”. A bit of everything, is the opposite of eating it daily, for months. Without saying, you’re starving your body of other nutrients found in other foods, which are just as important if not more important than the ones found in coconut oil.
In an article published by Dr. Bruce Fipe it’s explained how in the Philippines, a country producer and consumer of coconut oil, water, pulp and other derivatives of this fabulous fruit, there was no incidence of heart disease among the Veddas. Throughout the article it briefly explains the restricted or poor diet the Veddas used to have compared to modern western diets, and how it was “compensated” with the regular consumption of coconut products, not only oil. Although I doubt the Veddas were eating fried foods daily or eating spoons full of coconut. Key on poor diet and key on a number of coconut base products, not only oil.
Although the primary food source of the Veddas used to rely on coconut not only its oil, but water, meat, and derived products, along with high consumption of fish, game and vegetables, the eating habits were completely different from the western world, so no heart conditions were ever recorded, and levels of cholesterol were normal. It mentions a level of daily activity us in the western world don’t have, nor are used to. Unfortunately things changed for the Veddas. From being a population with no heart conditions related to the regular consumption of high fat diets, as the country experienced more western foods entering their diets, it now reflects an 11 percent of deaths from heart related problems.
The consumption of coconut oil in particular has decreased in the Veddas, although it’s still present in their diets, but along with more processed foods seems to be the cause for heart related problems. I can see you screaming in your chair “Aha! So coconut oil was the one responsible to keep the Veddas’ hearts healthy after all! (running to the kitchen to get a spoon of coconut oil)” Not so fast.
We have an overly heavy diet composed of super processed foods and all sort of saturated fats. Adding coconut oil to this unstable diet in the massive amounts people are reporting eating it (daily, in their coffees, toasts, smoothies, by the spoonful, etc), will inevitably have negative consequences on our health, which is exactly what doctors are warning and both articles we shared mentioned.
Many of the articles claiming such powerful benefits of the coconut oil diet fail to point out the Philippines and the Veddas weren’t consuming coconut oil DAILY THREE TIMES A DAY by the spoons fulls but instead incorporated the oil, the meat, the water and many other derivatives of this fruit along with other local unprocessed food sources while keeping high levels of physical activity. This does not apply to any of the populations in the US in particular.
In both articles we referenced we weren’t saying do not eat coconut oil because is bad!, we are saying “consuming this oil in extremely high amounts isn’t good“. Eat it, BUT IN MODERATION. Cook or fry with it once a week, or twice a month. Have a toast once in a while with it. Just don’t stuff your body with it. Just like eating butter daily isn’t good for your heart, eating coconut oil daily isn’t good either.
We get it, you’re passionate about the unproven benefits of coconut oil and all the tv and online “experts” telling you to just dip in it because you’ll live forever. It made your nails better, your skin better, your hair better and probably cure you from a cancer you didn’t even know you had. Just keep an eye on those cholesterol levels and keep your regular doctor appointments. In the end, when all the advice from the online and tv experts fail, the only one that can help you fix the damage you’ve done to yourself is your doctor.
As for telling everyone about our “hypocrisy” because we shared an article on our facebook page about coconut oil in your diet while we formulate with it, well, that’s just childish nonsense based on complete scientific ignorance, but thank you for the free promotion.
We love hearing from you. We learn with each question you ask, and most of the time we are thrilled to see where the answer takes us, but we have to ask you to be respectful with our staff. There is no need for name calling, no need for attitudes, no need for aggression.
Like Carol eloquently put it, Enjoy your coconut oil and have a great day!