Coconut oil is the new fertility food
Coconut oil has been making new headlines in recent years as more people rediscover the beneficial compounds associated with this natural plant extract. Coconut oil uses vary widely and include topical applications for skin & hair, make-up remover and detoxification. While one of the most common coconut oil uses is as part of a healthy diet, it’s also becoming a popular fertility food.
Considered to be one of the original superfoods, coconut oil has been used widely for cooking and in medicinal treatments for many thousand years. A sustainable resource, tropical communities globally have long relied on the coconut palm and its fruit.
Coconut oil uses over history
For thousands of years people have been using derivatives of coconuts. Some of the earliest documented evidence for coconut oil uses goes back to the Ayurvedic medicine in Sanskrit from 1500 BC.
The oil, water, milk, and flesh of these tropical fruits are considered staple foods in tropical regions. Coconut oil also has industrial applications and is used as an alternative fuel source.
In traditional medicine coconut oil and other coconut derivatives have been used to treat a wide range of health aliments. Some of the common coconut oil uses include in the treatment of asthma, abscesses, bruises, burns, baldness, bronchitis, colds, cough, constipation, dysentery, ear-ache, fever, flu, gingivitis, kidney stones, lice, irregular or painful menstruation, jaundice, malnutrition, nausea, rash, skin infections, sore throat, scabies, scurvy, swelling, syphilis, toothache, tumours, ulcers, upset stomach, and wounds.
Changing perceptions of coconut oil
In the 1980s coconut oil was unpopular, because it was wrongly thought to be unhealthy. This was largely due a scare lobbying campaign initiated by producers of alternative vegetable oils. A leading player in this transition was the American Soybean Association (ASA).
The ASAs agenda was to elevate the sales of soybean oil and in doing so they sought out to discredit competing products. Coconut oil was especially targeted by the ASA because it was so widely used and very popular.
Reports were released stating that coconut oil was a harmful saturated fat. This ‘anti-coconut oil’ campaign had an instant effect and food manufactures stopped using tropical oils almost immediately. Instead they replaced these oils with soybean oil.
Over the next decade, coconut oil virtually disappeared and was no longer available in supermarkets. The public were erroneously convinced that coconut oil and other coconut-derived products contained ‘artery-clogging fats’.
The truth about coconut oil benefits
Coconut oil does contain fatty acids, which are in fact extremely beneficial. It’s main fatty acid is called Lauric acid, a medium chain fatty acid (MCFA), which is also found in high concentrations in human breast milk.
The coconut oil ‘scare campaign’ labelled lauric acid as being unhealthy because it’s an MCFA. However, MCFAs are easily absorbed and digested by the body, making them a source of direct energy. Lauric acid is converted into monolaurin in the body.
This monoglyceride has antibacterial, antiviral, antiprotozoal, antimicrobial, and antifungal properties. It disrupts lipid membranes in organisms such as bacteria, fungus, and virus, effectively killing them. These properties make monolaurin effective in the treatment of fungal and viral infections such as athlete’s foot, ringworm, herpes, measles, hepatitis C, HIV, and influenza.
The body needs a plentiful source of lauric acid to produce monolaurin. It is therefore widely believed that people who regularly consume coconut oil are less likely to be sick. Also, since breast milk is a good source of the MCFA, it may explain why infections are less common in breast-fed babies.
In addition to the internal protective qualities of lauric acid, this MCFA also has topical benefits. Many cosmetic companies use coconut oil in natural skin care treatments. It has soothing qualities for people suffering from conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, rosacea, and dermatitis.
How does coconut oil benefit fertility in women and men?
There are several health benefits from regular consumption of coconut oil that may help to enhance fertility:
Maintenance of body fat
Many studies have shown that obesity can adversely affect male and female fertility[1. “Pasquali, et.al. (2007). Obesity and infertility. Current Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes, & Obesity. Volume 14, Issue 6, (pp. 482-87).”], [2. “Parihar, M. (2003). Obesity and infertility. Reviews in Gynaecological Practice. Volume 3, Issue 3, (pp. 120-6).”], [3. “Hammoud, A. et.al. (2008). Impact of male obesity on infertility: a critical review of the current literature. Fertility and Sterility. Volume 90, Issue 4, (pp. 897-904).”]. Increasing the availability of lauric acid has beneficial weight loss effects. MCFAs are readily oxidized by the liver and are a quick source of energy for the brain, heart and muscle[4. “Dayrit, F. (2015). The properties of lauric acid and their significance in coconut oil. Journal of the American Oil Chemist’s Society. Volume 92, Issue 1, (pp. 1-15).”]. Thus, the metabolism of lauric acid helps to increase satiety and subsequently can lower calorie intake. Researchers have found that MCFA’s can play an important role in preventing obesity and supporting healthy bodyweight[5. “St-Onge, M, and Jones, P. (2002). Physiological effects of medium-chain triglycerides: Potential agents in the prevention of obesity. The Journal of Nutrition. Volume 132, Issue 3, (pp. 329-32).”]. In turn, this can help to improve fertility.
Healthy hormone production
MCFAs such as lauric acid help to maintain hormone balance. Healthy fatty acids are needed to form the structural components of hormones, including the regulation of sex hormones. If the body is lacking these important fatty acids it can disrupt the production of key sex hormones such as oestrogen or testosterone. This will adversely affect fertility.
Improved immune function
Coconut oil is excellent for immunity. The high concentration of lauric acid in coconut oil allows the body to increase monolaurin availability. This anti-vital agent will protect the body from a variety of viruses and pathogens[6. “Lieberman, S. et.al. (2006). A review of monolaurin and lauric acid: Natural virucidal and bactericidal agents. Alternative and Complementary Therapies. Volume 12, Issue 6 (pp. 310-4).”]. Regular consumption of coconut oil will help to detoxify and cleanse the body. This helps to reduce inflammation and assists in maintaining good health and wellbeing.
Quality coconut oil sources
There are several brands retailing coconut oil:
Their raw coconut oil is organic, cold pressed and unadulterated. This coconut oil is ideal for cooking, frying, baking, and a range of topical applications. Certified Fair Trade, this coconut oil is imported from the Philippines.
Unlike most other producers, Niugini Organics utilises exclusively wild harvested coconuts. They are single-origin, exclusively grown in Papua New Guinea supporting seven entire villages on the island of New Britian. This helps to maintain sustainability, community conservation and prevents native habitat destruction.
The oil is bottled in reusable Kilners jars on site, which ensures 100% pure, virgin quality.
There is no refinement, deodorisation, or bleaching. Common uses for this product include a spread for breads, cooking ingredients, and external use on hair and skin.