In order to reap the many benefits of adding MCT Oil to your life, there's some important facts to understand first and this article is a continuation into the importance of MCT Oil comprising of pure Caprylic and Capric acids. Here we dive deeper into how to start making MCT oil a "must have" ingredient in your kitchen and in your whole family's diet every day!
When we embark on a journey to improve our health and undo the damage that modern 21st century life has imposed on our bodies the first thing to do is reinstate a healthy gut microbiome. Just as the rainforests and rivers of the world have been devastated and polluted by unscrupulous commercial interests and indigenous communities sidelined in the name of development, so to has our healthy intestinal flora been decimated by powerful forces involving thousands of toxic foreign compounds from a vast array of food, drug and environmental sources. This has allowed the intrusion of inflammatory molecules and an unhealthy mix of bullies in the form of bad bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites and heavy metals into territory that was originally inhabited by friendly microbes with which we have a synergistic relationship and depend upon to provide nutrition and cellular protection.
Symptoms of increased intestinal permeability and a leaky gut
While the common symptoms are intestinal pain, wind, chronic diarrhea or constipation, often times the constant intestinal irritation has become so normal that we no longer realize that anything is wrong and just go about our "normal" lives. Indeed in the early stages even our doctors can find nothing wrong and can only recommend symptomatic treatment and this allows the symptoms to worsen, resulting in:
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Lowered immunity
- Headaches, brain fog, memory loss
- Chronisc fatigue
- Skin issues such as acne and eczema
- Cravings for sugar or carbs and junk foods
- Arthritis or joint pain
- Depression, anxiety, ADD, ADHD
If unresolved this can lead to serious autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, celiac disease or Crohn's and chronic inflammatory conditions; diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular issues, hormonal imbalance, reproductive disorders and so on.
How does a disturbed intestinal ecosystem occur?
While many factors in modern living wreak damage on our intestinal ecosystem, such as antibiotics and certain drugs, infections and an imbalanced diet, it is now being understood that the greatest damage comes from specific dietary components that create major damage resulting in a condition known as "leaky gut" in non-medical layman terms or in language a Doctor can accept "increased intestinal permeability of the enterocyte tight junctions". Our intestinal lining integrity serves as the main barrier to the passage of macromolecules from our diet. After we eat a meal it is the job of our intestinal barrier, along with the process of digestion, mucus, immunity and our microbiome to protect the body from absorbing incompletely digested macromolecules and toxins that may be present in the foods and drinks we consume or the byproducts of metabolism, and to prevent these metabolic endotoxins from entering our bloodstream.
A leaky gut occurs when the intestinal wall cells called enterocytes are damaged allowing for microscopic holes in the intestinal lining through which some of the contents of the gut can leak out into the bloodstream or lymphatic system. The most common dietary macromolecule involved in leaky gut issues is incompletely digested proteins, of which it is now considered that lectins (carbohydrate binding proteins) are some of the biggest offenders.
Enter a new dietary villain, Lectins
While gluten found in wheat, barley and rye is the most well-known immune disturbing lectin, it is now increasingly being understood that even more damaging are the lectins found in legumes such as beans, peas, lentils, soy and peanuts as well as other grains, such as corn, rice, oats, most seeds, pumpkins, squash and the nightshade vegetables, such as eggplant, potatoes, and tomatoes (see the full list here from Dr. Gundry). The lectins found in these common foods are large proteins that create a breach in the intestinal wall that then allows for larger molecules to also gain entry into our body. While a little will do no harm in an otherwise healthy individual, the onslaught of new high lectin foods that our ancestors never had to deal with plus the damaging effects of pharmaceutical, dietary and environmental toxins has pushed our intestinal system microflora over the edge.
While lectins do the initial damage they also allow for other molecules to gain entry to unleash further damage, in particular particles of bacterial endotoxins known as lipopolysaccharides (LPS). It's increasingly being understood that humans are much more sensitive to LPS than other animals and this invader through our intestinal wall is a major contributing factors in a host of diseases, including autoimmune conditions, obesity, liver damage, neurological conditions including Alzheimers Disease and Parkinsons and of course more commonly, chronic inflammation of the gut. More than 2,000 years ago Hippocrates famously stated that "All disease begins in the gut" and when our immune system detects these invaders that have no place entering through our intestinal barrier, it is perceived as an attack and it initiates an immune war response that encourages whole body inflammation and interfere with metabolism and the function of the immune system. See: Wikipedia, Intestinal Permeability, for more info
Traditional food preparation to remove lectins has largely been lost
A large proportion of the lectins in common foods are removed via fermentation and our ancestors knew this and had multiple preparing and cooking methods to remove the harmful lectins but one by one these time tested techniques have been abandoned in the rush for convenience and fast food production.
To understand this point let's look at the new superfood Quinoa, marketed as an important gluten free seed grain from South America that residents of the Andes eat for energy. It turns out this is far from the truth. In reality it is a seed grain that requires hours and hours of traditional processing by roasting and rinsing to remove harmful saponins and even then it was not consumed very often and almost never at night because of the effects it can have in creating wind and aggravating a leaky gut! Every time we add another new high lectin food that we or our ancestors have never had to deal with then we take another step towards developing a leaky gut.
In Asian traditional food culture soya beans were always subject to fermentation first before eating, destroying much of the lectin content. This includes the many fermented soy products from China and Korea or Miso, Tamari and Natto from Japan or Tempeh from Southeast Asia. However again today you have an abundance of modern soya based products that have completely skipped the traditional fermentation and use it as some kind of wonder food, unknowingly overdosing unsuspecting health food lovers and vegans with excessively high levels of lectins at every meal. For more info on how lectins may be destroying your health I invite you to read the Plant Paradox : The Hidden Dangers in Healthy Foods That Cause Disease and Weight Gain by Dr Steven Gundry, M.D.
Repair your intestinal wall before wasting your money on probiotics!
For the past 20 years the prevailing understanding to deal with an imbalanced microflora has been to pop an expensive probiotic capsule or consume yoghurt. We have been led to believe that by introducing a range of healthy bacteria then these will repopulate and undo any damage when needed or after antibiotics. Indeed, so successful has the marketing of these products been that just about every home in the modern world will have some of these products in their kitchen. The problem is that once our intestinal ecosystem has been damaged then we are locked in a viscous cycle of inflammation together with entrenched microorganisms that makes all these well meaning interventions pretty much a wasted effort. Probiotic capsules are little more than an expensive placebo if you do not first repair the damaged leaky gut and remove the opportunistic invaders that have advanced to occupy the valuable territory of your intestinal wall. If you are suffering from a chronic health issue that has been with you for months and years or if you are permanently on pharmaceutical medication for an existing condition or have been diagnosed with a more severe inflammatory or autoimmune condition then it is almost guaranteed that a severely disturbed intestinal microflora is a major causative factor that needs to be addressed as part of a holistic restorative program.
Ok a leaky gut and LPS's are bad, what's that got to do with MCT Oil?
As we know, the unique fatty acids in coconut oil are called medium chain triglycerides, or MCT’s and the main fats in supermarket variety vegetable oils are primarily inflammatory causing omega 6 long chain fatty acids, or LCT's, such as sunflower oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, soya oil, canola oil and so on. The 2 unique medium chain fatty acids found exclusively in MCT Oil, caprylic and capric acids do not elevate LPS levels because they follow a different route of metabolism and are absorbed directly by the portal vein and do not cause chylomicron formation, the route that LPS's use to taxi themselves around the body.
So can we just cook with Coconut Oil instead to get this benefit?
Unfortunately no, because when we want to heal the gut lining and prevent the invasion of LPS's that wreak havoc on immunity and inflammation we need to give our digestive system a break to allow this repair process to occur. While regular coconut oil is one of the best oils for normal cooking due to it's high heat tolerance and contains a low percentage of long chain fatty acids (that rapidly oxidize with heat), it still only contains a relatively small amount of pure Caprylic and Capric acids, at around 15%. The main MCT in coconut oil, Lauric acid, at around 50% of coconut oil does not have the same LPS blocking effect. This is why only pure MCT Oil has 7x the potency of regular coconut oil in achieving this intestinal repair and mitochondrial energy support needed when we need to restore healthy gut function after it has been damaged.
Super gut bug buster duo - Caprylic and Capric acid MCT's!
In addition, Caprylic and Capric acids are some of the the most potent antifungal foods on the planet against yeasts in our intestinal system such as Candida albicans, a major opportunistic intruder when we are suffering from intestinal microflora dysbiosis. These MCT's directly kill Candida and prevent its adhesion and biofilm formation and this is essential to achieve before we start taking expensive probiotic supplements. This antimicrobial effects of Caprylic and Capric acid extends to a broad spectrum of gram positive and gram negative bacteria, including; Streptococcus spp, H.pylori, C. trachomatis, Chlamydia trachomatis, N. gonorrhoeae, E. coli, Salmonella spp, S. aureus, Cronobacter spp. and many more. So effective is Caprylic acid as an antimicrobial against bacteria, viruses, yeasts and certain protozoa that it is also used commercially as food contact surface sanitizer in commercial food handling and as a disinfectant in health care facilities!
So MCT's are important to restore our healthy intestinal flora and prevent leaky gut but why must I cook with it to get the full benefits?
Adding just a spoon or 2 of MCT Oil to your morning coffee is a great start but it is in home cooked meals where you have the greatest power to reverse the damaging effects of inflammatory ingredients, starting with cooking with MCT Oil, nature's own intestinal detoxifier. While we all know the saying "let food by thy medicine" it is equally important o realize that sometimes it is what we do not eat that allows our body to heal. So when we remove oxididized omega 6 vegetable oils and high lectin foods and cooking with small amounts of MCT Oil in every dish we prepare then you will be amazed to see how quickly the digestive health of your whole family will improve.
Dietary Fatty Acids to repair a leaky gut
|Oils to heal leaky gut and reduce inflammation
|Heat tolerance for cooking
|MCT Oil, Caprylic and Capric Acid
|High, may be used for all types of cooking and also improves the taste and satiation effect of foods. Start small as it does not need to be used in large amounts to be effective.
|Omega 3 Fish Oil (high DHA and EPA), Flaxseed Oil
|Low, unable to be used for cooking. Taken as food supplements daily with meals
|Omega 9 Extra Virgin Olive Oil
|Low, to add liberally to salads or foods after cooking only
The regular variety supermarket Omega 6 vegetable oils will only exacerbate the inflammatory cascades that are taking place after every meal and functional medicine doctors and practitioners are unanimously recommending to limit or remove these from our diets (more info here). To reduce inflammation we all need to increase the healthy Omega 3 oils found in fish oil and certain plant oils, but unfortunately we cannot cook with these as they are rapidly oxidized under heat. First cold pressing Extra Virgin Olive Oil, high in monunsaturated Omega 9 is also sensitive to heat and best added liberally to foods after cooking or to salads. So this then leaves us with the one and only pure MCT Oil that when used for cooking over time helps to target the cause of intestinal leaky gut and the systemic inflammation that this causes.
We recommend everyone spend a week or two every few months on an intensive intestinal repair program to which a high vegetable, low carb, low lectin and high healthy fats diet should be followed to which additional herbs to support the removal of intestinal microorganisms including parasites should also be considered. So before you go running off to purchase your next probiotic supplement looking for a quick fix, consider the foods that you are feeding your family as the core determining factors for a healthy intestinal environment. Once this intestinal cleanse is over then make sure to increase prebiotic foods that are subsequently fermented by the beneficial bacteria in the gut and used as a source of fuel to help enhance gut flora health even further.