The intestinal composition of gut micro-organism and their activities play a key role in maintaining the intestinal health of human being.
Therefore the various host and environmental factors which affects the intestinal microbial communities also affect the intestinal health of a person.
The diet-related factors are the pivotal factors influencing the development of intestinal microflora.
Therefore it is noticed that there is a high degree of instability in infant gut microbiota as compared to the adult, and the micro-flora reaches to a consistent state after 2-3 years of age with the establishment of solid diet food.
The other factors responsible in affecting individual intestinal flora and therefore its intestinal health is genetics, mode of birth of a child, child feeding patterns, antibiotic usage, the standard of living conditions and long-term dietary habits and diet composition.
Therefore any changes in the above factors, especially diet-related lead to a number of intestinal disorders which includes:
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBSS)
- Stomach ulcers and duodenal ulcers
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
- Ulcerative Colitis
- Crohn’s Disease
- Twisted and Reluctant colon
These all diseases of intestine are related to the poor health of intestine and digestive tract.
There are a number of natural home remedies such as the use of coconut oil in the diet which helps in alleviating and relieving these digestive related and intestinal problems due to their powerful medicinal and therapeutic properties and hence used as a part of traditional medicines from ages.
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Coconut oil for Intestinal health
The main function of the digestive system is to break down the food into its simpler forms such as glucose (sugars), amino acids (protein) and into fatty acids (fats) to provide nutrients and energy for the body.
The broken food is then absorbed by bloodstream from the small intestine and the nutrients from food are taken to each cell of the body for proper functioning, growth, and development.
A large number of microbe including mainly different types of bacteria inhabit in large intestine with some degree in other parts of the digestive system ( stomach, small intestine, pancreas, liver, and large intestine) which helps in breaking down these food particles and maintaining healthy digestion in the body.
Scientist says, food rich in high fibre content helps in proper growth of these friendly bacteria in our gut and hence plays an essential part of a well-balanced diet.
In the presence of high fibre diet, these friendly bacteria in intestine flourish producing more vitamins and other substance which helps in promoting good health and wellness of an individual.
Another benefit of having a healthy growth of intestinal micro-flora is that when these bacteria grow and increase in their population in the gut, they tend to inhibit the growth of other harmful bacteria and disease-causing microbes thus preventing their actions from causing infections and digestive related problems.
Their beneficial effect on the body is because these friendly bacteria produce a special type of fatty acid known as short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) which are synthesized from dietary fiber food.
These SCFAs are generally harmless to tissues and normal flora in the gut but have a dangerous effect on disease-causing bacteria and yeast.
Therefore fiber-rich food containing SCFAs are found healthy for our colon and overall intestinal health of a person.
Nutritionists recommend therefore, that a well-balanced diet should contain 20-35gms of dietary fiber which should be consumed daily for proper intestinal health.
Good sources of dietary fibre include whole grains, nuts, legumes and fruits where coconut is found to be an ideal and excellent source of dietary fibre.
This is because 75% of total carbohydrate in coconut is in form of fibre content, making it one of the highest source of fibre among all plant foods.
Coconut oil which is extracted from the kernel of mature coconut fruit has gained importance in the diets of millions of people from generations to generations because of its huge health benefits.
Coconut oil and its fat components (fatty acids) are used in cooking and in various food preparations like coconut cookies and sweets.
Because of its excellent medicinal and therapeutic properties, it is has found its use in nutritional formulas for hospital patients as a carrier for transdermal delivery of medicines either by tube feeding or through intravenously.
They are preferred over other oil in eternal feeding formulas for adults and even for infants due to their powerful antimicrobial activities.
The unique fatty acids present in coconut oil has the ability to kill or inactivate pathogens inside the intestinal gut thus protecting patients from any other infections.
Another benefit of SCFAs present in coconut oil is that it has high ability to pass through cell membranes of organelles in intestinal cells and entering efficiently into the mitochondria providing as an excellent source of fuel for power metabolism.
This penetration of SCFAs in cells is so efficient that it does not require the help of special hormones like insulin or enzymes like carnitine.
Therefore because of all these beneficial effects, fatty acids present in coconut oil is found be a preferred food for colonic cells providing a rich source of nutrition and thus promoting the overall healthy intestinal environment.
Therefore records have indicated always that diet deficient in fiber content result in nutritional deficiencies which lead to various intestinal related problems like inflammation, bleeding, and other discomforts.
Hence researchers suggest incorporating coconut oil in the diet which helps in preventing and relieving symptoms associated with various intestinal problems such as colitis (inflammation of colon), Crohn’s disease (inflammation of bowel system), and irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive disorders.
This is because studies have shown that the fibre found in coconut oil is a rich source of SCFAs which helps our normal flora to flourish and having the thus detrimental effect on pathogens found in the intestinal tract.
Along with SCFAs, coconut oil is very rich in medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) which are little longer than SCFAs but still possess strong anti-microbial properties.
In total coconut oil contains 10 different type of fatty acids which all have a beneficial effect in killing disease-causing microbes in the gut.
Lauric acid (one type of MCFAs) which is present in about 47% in coconut oil possess the greatest anti-bacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties.
Caprylic acid and capric acid, the other two types of MCFAs are also effective in killing bacteria but only certain types.
The beneficial effect of MCFAs was proved in an experiment when 50% of dietary fatty acids were replaced by MCFAs from coconut oil in 4-week old rat model suffering from intestinal colitis.
It was recorded when the rat was administered with MCFAs partially in their diet, there was marked decrease in the incidence of colitis and intestinal inflammation, proving the positive effect of coconut oil improving the status of intestinal disorders like colitis.
Studies have proved that the overall effect of coconut in fighting against a large number of different type of disease-causing microbes in the intestinal gut is due to the synergetic effect of all fatty acid present in the oil.
In vitro-studies have proved that MCFAs and other mono-glycerides present in coconut oil are very effective in killing broad spectrum of disease-causing microorganism such as streptococcus, staphylococcus, H. pylori, Chlamydia trachomatis, Neisseria, candida, giardia, , influenza, hepatitis virus, Epstein- Barr virus, herpes virus and even human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) thus proving the strong anti-microbial properties (antibacterial, antifungal, antiparasitic and antiviral) of fatty acid present in coconut oil.
The MCFAs fat components present in coconut oil is highly effective against bacteria because of these fatty acids and mono-glycerides causes lysis of the strong lipid bilayer of the plasma membrane of disease-causing bacteria.
This causes the disintegration of their cell organelle which further leads to the death of bacteria and thus preventing their harmful effect in the body.
From the list above, it is also clearly indicated that coconut oil has got the powerful anti-viral effect. These anti-viral property attribute to coconut oil is also due to the presence of monolaurin (one type of mono-glyceride present in lauric acid).
This mono-glyceride is effective in solubilizing the lipids and phospholipids found in viral envelope thus causing the lysis and disintegration of the viral outer membrane.
Evidence also has shown MCFAs found in coconut oil interfere with viral signal transduction and viral assemble and its maturation processes, resulting in their death.
Synergism is a phenomenon where the total effects of all components of fatty acids are greater than the individual one thus making coconut oil as an excellent home remedy in the treatment of various intestinal related problems.
Researchers have also proved coconut oil possess strong anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and healing properties along with anti-microbial properties.
This was proved in a study published in where virgin coconut oil was found to have an inhibitory effect on chronic inflammation in a rat model.
The soothing and healing effect of coconut oil again makes it an ideal choice in alleviating ulcers, inflammations, bleeding in battling with painful intestinal diseases like colitis, Crohn’s or stomach ulcers.
Studies have shown consumption of coconut oil in such painful conditions aid to some extent in soothing and healing the pain and discomfort caused by inflamed tissues of the digestive tract.
Coconut oil is easily digestible and metabolized by the body because of its fatty acid composition which further promotes better absorption of vitamins such as vitamin B, A, D, E, K and beta-carotene and some amino acids thus proving to be a quick and easy source of energy.
The scientists believe that the high fiber food can have a remarkable influence in the absorption of essential minerals in the intestine from food which we ingest.
But not all are equally beneficial like coconut oil. Some high fiber food, especially obtained from brands such as soy, legumes, wheat, and oats contains phytic acid which binds to essential minerals in the digestive tract and removes them out and decreasing mineral absorption.
Some of the essential minerals that bind to phytic acid are iron, zinc, and calcium thus depriving the body of these essential mineral components.
Therefore health experts suggest not to eat food containing too much of phytic acid as this lead to mineral deficiencies in the body.
Therefore nutritionist recommends replacing some of this fiber which we get from legumes and grains with that fibre rich food which does not pull minerals out of the body.
Coconut fit the latter category perfectly well as coconut fruits and its products such as coconut oil does not contain phytic acid which removes essential minerals from the body, on contrary coconut oil helps in proper nutrition absorption in the body thus helping in the overall digestive health of a person.
The high fiber content present in coconut oil slows down the activity of the stomach and making food to be completely dissolved in gastric juices thus promoting better absorption and digestion of food.
And all these effective qualities of coconut oil makes it an excellent home remedy in the treatment of various digestive related problems and therefore consumption of coconut oil regularly will promote the overall better intestinal health of a person.
How to use coconut oil in the diet
Because of it numerous health benefits on intestine and digestive tract, coconut oil is found to be an appealing fat source for overall good health.
You can integrate coconut oil in your diet and consume regularly by following these steps.
- Substitute butter or margarine or other animal fats with coconut oil. It can be used as cooking oil for all dishes and mainly can be incorporated in the baking process. Coconut oil can be also used as a rich topping for bread.
- Use 1 to 2tsp of coconut oil while making smoothies made from fruits and yogurt. This also imparts a rich thick texture to smoothies.
- You can use coconut oil for a high-temperature cooking process such as frying. This is because coconut oil is mainly resistant to oxidation and stable to high heat environments due to the presence of high saturated fats.
- You can consume coconut oil directly to get its maximum health benefits. Coconut oil has natural aroma and flavor and 1-2tsp can be taken directly taken from the jar as to boost energy in between meals.
Coconut oil is also available in capsule form.
This is a convenient way when you don’t find its taste so appealing or you don’t have time to incorporate in the diet.
That time just swallowing coconut capsule will be advantageous (not the best way though)
How to Use
Coconut oil is non-toxic and safe when used in cooking. But mostly recommended using in moderate quantity as it can add more calories to the diet.
It is recommended to use smaller quantities in the diet than consuming large quantities to avoid any discomfort such as nausea and stomach upset, hence it is advised to gradually increase the quantity of this oil in diet then directly consuming more quantity at once.
If you are suffering from high cholesterol or any heart disease, you need to take proper medical advice as coconut oil is rich in saturated fats.
You have to also be careful if you have any allergy towards coconut oil and therefore you need to use inadequate quantity depending on your body diet plan and the level of physical activity you are involved.
Thus from a number of studies, it was reported that coconut oil possesses excellent antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and healing properties which makes it a promising home treatment remedy in various intestinal disorders like ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease Irritable bowel syndrome etc.
Thanks to our researchers who proved through their number of analysis that the fatty acids present in coconut oil are healthy fats which play a critical role in combating various ailments and diseases.
Thus coconut oil has found to be promising natural therapy in maintaining and promoting the overall intestinal health of a human being.