vegetable oils

Coconut oil, its protective effects both cellular and shellular.

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I have written many times on why saturated fats have many proven benefits over unsaturated fats and the risk they pose. This blog is a brief summary of how and why coconut oil can be used for both cellular and shellular (ok I made that word up and yes my drawing sucks!). One of the many problems associated with vegetable, nut and seed oils is their double carbon bond, which is pictured below and explains why these oils become problematic when aged or of most importance, when they become heated during cooking. Their propensity to cause inflammation and significant health issues is well documented and for further reading, please read the work of Ray Peat PhD.

molecular structure

molecular structure

Coconut oil has many advantages over so called essential fatty acids. 1. It doesn't have the issues associated with cooking at high temperatures and instability. 2. It is readily used by the mitochondria or energy producing cells without the need for carnitine, which is used to transport fatty acids into the cell. 3. It provides structural cellular protection.

Many bloggers and health advocates have touted the use of coconut oil as a form of sun block. That's fine, if you are of darker skin, where you are already protected from the suns harmful ultraviolet rays but if lighter skinned, here's the huge fail that you may have experienced. Coconut oil despite it's protective nature will burn fair skinned people, to which some of my friends have found out the hard way. However coconut oil can still be protective even for fair skinned people when used correctly and here's how.

You may have found that when using regularly sun block, you now often burn quicker with less sun exposure. There are two reasons why this may happen.

1. The sunblock that you use often contains vegetable oils as recepient of the zinc oxide and allows it to soak into your skin. 2. Your diet is high in vegetable and seed oils, nuts, green vegetables and foods high in PUFA's. Ever notice brown pigmentation spots on the skin too? The use of coconut oil should be applied post sun and also at night as a natural moisturiser of the skin. Applying coconut oil in conjunction with lowering the amount of PUFA's consumed in your diet and to avoid using sunblock. You should gradually introduce your time of exposure in the sun. Staying in the sun for long periods of time will ultimately age the skin but using these guidlines will help you to tolerate the suns ray's and gain the essential, hormone like Vitamin D and healing red rays.

When spending longer periods of time in the sun and for children. My friend Eric Lepine has devised this useful home made sunblock that doesn't have the PUFA's often found in commercial products. To make it he recommends the following.

½ ounce of organic beeswax 2 ounces of coconut oil 2 ounces of shea butter one capsule of Unique E (for extra antioxidizing properties; for women, I've even had them use Progest-E, for similar effect, plus the added bonus of the progesterone).

2 TBS of micronized zinc oxide (at that concentration, it will be about 20% of total volume, and should confer an SPF of about 30). The micronized version will have you avoid the zombie/pasty white look. You can opt for the non-micronized version if you prefer though.

Just melt the first three ingredient one at a time, progressively, waiting until the preceding one has completely melted before adding the next one. Once the first 3 ingredients are melted, squeeze the vitamin E capsule into the melted mixture, followed by the zinc oxide powder (if using micronized zinc oxide, use caution while mixing it in. While its safety is well-proven when it comes to topical use, the safety issues with micronized powders arise from the risks associated with breathing in the fine particles. The risk is likely mostly a matter of how often one is exposed to these fine particles but, extra precaution is always warranted). Mix well using a whisk. Transfer to a small pot with a large opening before the mixture solidifies (small mason jar or something similar). The mixture might need one last good mixing once it solidifies so, preferably, the container should have enough space to allow for this without making too much of a mess.

It's time for sunlight to get the credit it deserves for promoting health and stops being demonised. It's free, it's much better than poorly produced vitamin D supplements and an essential part of life. So if you need to use a block for longer periods. Try the one above or at least spend time getting used to sun light without the vegetable oils. If you want to know more about enhancing skin health with sun exposure check out this more recent blog.

Are nipple cream and formula increasing food allergies?

As I am about to become a father again, I am often interested in the recommendations that are suggested to my wife when it comes to food and tips that might be of use once junior has arrived.  With the huge rise in sensitivities and allergies (some valid and some just neurotic) that are seen both in my practice and across the globe I thought it might be worth looking at possible etiologies of these issues. Now I am not someone who recommends expensive food allergy tests. I would rather look at other factors that can help to bring resolution with the digestive system and simple exclusion diets can help to determine food allergies.  If we look at gluten and wheat for example, there are some well founded issues such as celiac disease which warrant exclusion from the diet. When the digestive system is stressed we can often become more sensitive to gluten but many people do not have gluten issues. Poorly produced grains may be part of the problem of a failing metabolism. easy way to try, cut it out, do you feel better. Ok exclude it for a short while!

It’s nothing new to say that the quality of air, food and water, have gone dramatically downhill, I think most intelligent people agree on that. The ingestion of poor quality and chemically loaded foods can do a great deal to trigger immune responses in both mother and baby. It is also clear that the ingestion of Poly-unsaturated fatty acids or PUFA’s can lead to these changes too. The sad thing is that many of these products find their way into milk replacements such as baby formula.  I am not going to get caught up in the, how long a mother should breast feed for, as it is clearly beneficial to breast feed for as long as possible. In a recent study the following was suggested

'PUFAs may predispose to allergy and a diet rich insaturated fatty acids and low in PUFAs may be one factor explaining the low allergy prevalence among children growing up on dairy farms.'

A previous blog talks about PUFA's

This is part of my own confirmation bias that PUFA's are far worse than saturated fats so I would encourage you to make your own conclusions on this.From the suggestions that my wife has received there have been two very clear factors that struck a cord with me and warranted further investigation.

These were pre and post and post natal nutrition recommendations and nipple cream. Yes nipple cream but first the nutrition recommendations!

 The doctor recommended a supplement that had omega 3 fatty acids which by many accounts show links to increased allergies, as can omega 6 PUFA’s.  Another recommendation was for baby formula. Below are the ingredients of a well-known baby formula that made my eyes roll…

Lactose, Vegetable Oils (including Structured Vegetable Oil), Skimmed Milk Powder, Whey Protein Concentrate (enriched in Alpha-Lactalbumin), Emulsifiers (Soy Lecithin), Sodium Citrate, Magnesium Chloride, Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Bicarbonate, Potassium Citrate, L-Tyrosine, Vitamin C, Calcium Chloride, Potassium Chloride, Calcium Hydroxide, Potassium Hydroxide, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Inositol, Ferrous Sulphate, Zinc Sulphate, L-Tryptophan, Cytidine-5'-Monophosphate, L-Carnitine, Antioxidants (Tocopherol-Rich Extract and Ascorbyl Palmitate), Disodium Uridine-5'-Monophosphate, Vitamin E, Niacin Adenosine-5'-Monophosphate, Pantothenic Acid, Disodium Guanosine-5'-Monophosphate, Disodium Inosine-5'-Monophosphate, Vitamin A, Thiamin, Copper Sulphate, Vitamin B6, Riboflavin, Vitamin D, Folic Acid, Manganese Sulphate, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin K, Biotin, Sodium Selenite, Vitamin B12.

There are many factors in here which could provide a possible pathway to the development of a food allergy. It’s worth noting that most (90% of produced) vegetable oils and soy (which is highly estrogenic) come from genetically modified sources. There are significant studies that show that these foods are known carcinogens and could certainly assist in the development of an allergy.


Now onto that nipple cream! Lanolin was recommended some of my wife’s friends. Lanolin..I had only heard that word echoed by the great Ron Burgandy in Anchorman so I decided to check it out.  Lanolin is a moisturiser secreted into sheep’s wool  and used in treating cracked skin but get this. When ingested it can lead to poisoning and skin conditions…and women put it on their nipples when breast feeding!?  Is it possible that lanolin ingestion by new born babies could trigger allergenic responses? It’s a possibility for sure.  Instead of reaching for creams like lanolin, using good quality saturated fats like coconut oil can provide a much safer alternative and cost next to nothing.

Less is often more and whilst I believe that we may still be evolving to deal with threats of known toxins that permeate life across the globe. Natural products like coconut oil can serve to help protect both mother and child without the need for chemicals that may cause a problem.

1.  Van den Elsen, L; van Esch, B; Hofman, G; Garssen, J; Willemsen, L. A high fat soy oil diet prevents oral tolerance induction and enhances allergic symptoms in a mouse model of cow's milk allergy Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands