Nobody could afford coconut oil during the war in the 1940s. Although it had been used in European and American, not to mention Caribbean and Filipino, cooking for centuries, Americans lost their access to it, except at exorbitant prices. (If you’re wondering, that’s how soy was able to get such a foothold in our eating practices.)
When coconut oil reentered the market, the national food and health authorities had turned on it – they claimed it was basically lard. Coconut oil is 93% saturated fat, and during the 1950s, there wasn’t a dirtier curse word in the medical community.
We thought it clogged arteries and caused heart disease.
Fifty years ago, butter was evil too – now it’s front-and-center in the Keto movement. And as we’ve shifted back towards encouraging good cholesterol, coconuts have regained their former glory.
But the truth is, cultures and peoples in tropical climes have known about the healing powers of coconut for years.
And these days? It’s the catch-all for everything. You can cook with it, moisturize with it, put it in your coffee, eat a teaspoon of it – you get it.
Today, we’re going to break down what coconut oil versus coconut milk can do for your gut.
Coconut oil is great for your digestion.
You see, because of its high fat content, it helps the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins (like calcium and magnesium). It also improves absorption of elements like Omega-3s, making them more bioavailable.
It also contains caprylic, capric, and lauric acids. Those acids are famous for destroying bad bacteria and yeast, like candida (which erodes stomach acid, resulting in difficult digestion and inflammation.) Not only does coconut oil help to prevent inflammation, it helps to calm it, meaning that it could be a helpful tool for those with inflammatory bowel disorders.
Plus, the substance formed when the body digests lauric acid is called monolaurin. Monolaurin is known to kill pathogens, like bad bacteria, fungi, and viruses.
Tangentially, there’s evidence to suggest that coconut oil can help temper hunger pangs. What that means for your gut is that the chance of your overeating (and thus slowing down digestion and forcing your digestive tract to exert extra energy) is reduced.
Eating coconut oil in the morning has been shown to reduce hunger cravings throughout the day because of the MCTs, or medium-chain triglycerides, contained within coconuts.
Those same MCTs can also work to balance out gut bacteria.
Now, coconut milk, because it comes from the same original fruit, will share lots of properties with coconut oil.
Just like with coconut oil, the MCTs are a huge reason people love to use coconut products to juice their gut health. MCTs have a metabolic effect on the body, operating through a process called thermogenesis, which refers to energy production through heat.
Now, coconut milk can do something that coconut oil can’t: It can replace the need for dairy milk in your diet.
With the increase in the lactose-sensitive population, the market has clamored to concoct an acceptable alternative. Between oat milk, almond milk, soy milk, and other lactose-free options the market is, well, saturated.
Coconut milk is naturally lactose-free, low-FODMAP fiber source.
It’s easier to digest because it doesn’t pull water into the bowels like high-FODMAP foods. And fiber literally pushes food through your digestive system to make the process run more smoothly.
Coconut oil and coconut milk alone aren’t enough to restore your body to the holistic pattern in which it’s meant to run.
But both share elements that are naturally healing, in that they help to rid the body of harmful bacteria – particularly the gut – and support lower food consumption, lower inflammation, and digestive harmony.
Coconut oil and coconut milk can both share a seat at the table! Be careful, though – good calories or not, they are both high in fat.
Use in small amounts (a tablespoon a day of coconut oil and a glass a day of coconut milk.)