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I was out to lunch with a group of Melbourne OMSers today and the subject of coconut oil came up.

On this subject I recently saw a Facebook link to a blog post by Ian Gawler, in which he quoted George Jelinek. This is the link to it, followed by a cut and paste:

http://www.gawlerblog.com/2013/04/cocon ... -nuts.html

Coconut oil - are you nuts?
Is coconut oil safe? What if something you believed to be true was incorrect? I love being constructively challenged, and recently have had a series of passionate people object to me stating in workshops that coconut oil is best avoided.

So I thought it best to go to the Oracle, the best informed expert on things fatty I know, my old friend and colleague Professor George Jelinek, author of Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis and Recovering from Multiple Sclerosis. George also has a terrific website: overcomingmultiplesclerosis.org

Also this week, more important meat research, along with news of the coming Melbourne workshops and an important message for those already booked for Meditation in the Desert, but first

Thought for the day
The human mind is not capable of grasping the Universe.
We are like a little child entering a huge library .....
The child knows that someone must have written those books.
It does not know who or how
Albert Einstein: cited in The Next Thousand Years by A Berry

So here is George’s guest blog answering the question: Is coconut oil safe?

Bhoy oh Bhoy! Is coconut oil the next big thing?

I love Danny Bhoy. I saw his ‘Dear Epson...’ comedy show in Melbourne on Thursday. Danny Bhoy is endearing and very funny. But he is also perceptive. His show is about letters he has written to companies that have misled him with their claims.

Like Clinique with its ‘Aging Reversal Cream’ that he smothered on from head to toe trying to get back from his 39 years to being a teenager. The packet did say ‘clinically proven’ after all, and he was as excited as a puppy about being young again.

This led him to the story of one drunken night as a young man when he fell asleep (read lost consciousness) and woke to find his cat had peed on his head. Realising many years later that he had retained a full head of hair, he felt that is was evidently clinically proven that cat pee prevents baldness!

This started an old scientist in the audience, namely me, thinking about the latest claims for coconut oil, after reading a recent testimonial that said ‘Coconut oil assists with a whole host of ailments from parasites, atherosclerosis, cholesterol, HIV, digestive and nutrient absorption disorders to heart disease; you name it, it helps.’

I have to say when reading this I could not help but think of the cat pee. In medicine, we use a hierarchy of evidence to determine whether something works or not in disease in humans. Suffice to say, the reason there is a lot of debate about coconut oil is that there is not a lot of evidence; if there was, there would be no need for debate.

In the absence of high quality evidence from clinical trials, it is wise to look at the chemistry of what is going on when eating various fatty foods to see if there is a problem with coconut oil. Not widely known or acknowledged is that the major issue with dietary fats is their melting points.

Fatty acids are the building blocks of the membranes, or outer envelopes, of our bodily cells. The composition of our membranes mirrors exactly our dietary patterns of fatty acid intake. Saturated fats, mostly found in meat, typically have high melting points; this is easy to see when you put a chop on the barbecue and the fat only melts when the temperature is really high. When it cools down again, the fat is solid, white and sticky.

So if we eat principally saturated fats, our cell membranes end up hard and sticky. This is a real problem. Most common Western diseases reflect these hard, sticky, brittle properties of cell membranes; think clots in the heart, high blood pressure from hard arteries, strokes and deep venous thrombosis.

Unsaturated fats, including the monounsaturated fats like olive oil, and the polyunsaturated fats like fish and vegetable oils, have lower melting points. You can see that they are liquid at room temperature. Membranes containing these fats are soft, pliable and non-sticky; we know that populations where these fats predominate in the diet have low rates of the common Western diseases.

So the key issue is whether the melting point (MP) of the fat we eat is below that of body temperature (37C); if the MP is below 37C, the fatty acid will be liquid and behave that way in cell membranes. We also know that with saturated fats, the shorter the fatty acid chain, the lower the melting point.

Many who promote coconut oil say that it is composed primarily of medium-short-chain fatty acids, and thus has a totally different effect on the body from typical long chain fatty acids.

So what fats are in coconut oil? Well, we know that one third of raw coconut flesh is made of fat. That fat is 88.7% saturated fat. What are the components of that saturated fat? Well, lauric acid (12 carbon chain) makes up exactly 50%: it has a MP of 44.2C; myristic acid (14 carbon chain) makes up 20%: it has a MP of 53.9C; palmitic acid (16 carbon chain) makes up 10%: it has a MP of 63.1C (see www.netrition.com). Hmmm....

So is coconut oil safe? I guess I could use the logic of Danny Bhoy’s cat, and say that, having not eaten coconut products at all in the 14 years since my diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS), and having had no relapses or deterioration of any sort since, not eating coconut products is clinically proven to protect you from the effects of MS; or I could say that my reading of the scientific literature, which kept me away from these products, as well as other saturated fats, in the absence of better evidence provides enough rationale for me to avoid coconut and its oil. That, among many other health decisions I took, have combined to keep me well. Decide for yourself if you think taking coconut oil is worth the risk.

Many thanks George, I think I will stick to the flax seed oil along with some olive oil,; and I will continue to suggest avoiding coconut oil.

So, this is what I refer my friends to when they ask why I don't eat coconut oil.


OMG December 2011 OMS January 2012 OMS Retreat March 2012 Benign MS Sep 2015
Two Very Mild Relapses since diagnosis. Copaxone May 2013 No new lesions on MRI since diagnosis
Great reading!
Thanks Sue.
Great post Sue thanks.

When I read George's books it made sense and I was content to trust him. So it took me along time to read Fats That Heal, Fats That Kill.

After reading it I finally understand the long,short,medium chain thing and chemical processes.

Now I would say far out! Don't eat coconut oil and don't believe the hype because when u know the truth it is completly impossible for them to be as good for us as they say. Even less so for our MS bodies that have issues with fat metabolism.
Dx 1992 OMS 25-2-09
Yesterday I received yet another mini broadside on the matter of coconut oil. This on Facebook group MS Friends, the claim being that "it is a medium chain triglyceride MCT and is so beneficial for everyone especially PwMS" (this endorsed by hard sell Axe and link, which rather turn me off).

There seems some sort of marketing bandwagon associated with coconut products, with any number of people presenting themselves as medical or nutritional experts, or claiming there's research out there somewhere that endorses coconut as a super-food. In parallel, the zeitgeist chant from foody and nutrition focused types strongly megaphones coconut's magical properties.

George's advice seems rather mild. I hope I'm right it boiling down to (a) there's not much evidence for magic, (b) satfat*'s bad for us, (c) he personally has done OK without it, and (d) we can decide for ourselves.

Well Axe's style is the opposite of my scene, and advice targeted at the masses (85% of americans) with weight problems, seems irrelevant to me. Everyone seems on the "evidence based" bandwagon (claiming it anyway), a fashion which just makes me sigh and assume that significantly more digging will be required by me until I can put away my pinch of salt (meaning give any credulity to what is claimed).

The secret of medium chain triglyceride MCT is not on my radar (perhaps I've forgotten - that's my latest party trick).
Wilson seems to offer morsels of science, and the thumb's down on coconut for us.

My agenda and style is probably unsociably off-piste. Not only is the promise of any elixir appeal-less to me, but is more likely to earn a groan of here-we-go-again (I never bought into the magic fantasy, at least not in food), or pharma-can-fix-all, even that health is defined by what we put in our mouths).

Googling a little hasn't yet snapped things into focus. So I'll drift on without coconut. Besides, coconut oil is processed, and I try to avoid anything that comes from a factory. Not that my dim wits couldn't do with every bit of help.

* Coconut oil: 88.7% saturated fat , components (.mp. = melting point in degrees C, cc = carbonchain):
% .mp. cc fatty acid
50 44.2 12 lauric
20 53.9 14 myristic
10 63.1 16 palmitic

And anyway, I couldn't stomach Bounty Bar confectionary from the earliest age, no matter how skinny, sugar starved, or famished I was.
Came up on the OMS face book group today with a link to
http://nutritionstudies.org/coconut-oil ... hazardous/.
I have previously read a really good article about this.
Anything can be made to look better when compared to a more bad thing but it is still bad. Remember the Times magazine on butter...
Commercially food companies lost the ability to use hydrogenated fats to preserve shelf life of processed foods as the public are more aware now... In strolls coconut oil with an over 90%saturated fat content great for shelf life! So on the heels are all these so called science claims on it. Commercial propaganda self fuelling.
That's a great article Veg by an expert from the Forks Over Knives team and deals authoritively with the claims of special 'qualities'.

The bottom line is that coconut oil is devoid of vitamins, minerals, and most other nutrients. It is pure fat, and worse than that, it’s over 90% saturated fat.
Twice as much saturated fat as lard!

Diagnosis Dec 1998 OMS Feb 2010 Retreat Feb 2012
Ditto (near perfect repost article), thanks Veg.
I'll not reply to the FB thread mentioning it as the bandwagon there have already headed off such responses (illuminations) with the suggestion that such old research/discussions are dated/passe/irrelevant and our comprehension is poor. Best not to engage with flamey circles.
Yes ditto.
If I manage to find the other illuminating article I have read I will post a link here.
Have to remember people love hearing good news about bad habits and the whole sat fat is good for you is a classic example of this. Chopping your toe off is great for you when compared to chopping your foot off but it is still bad lol.
Just thought it was worth posting here in order to bump this thread up on the list for those who may not have seen it already


OMG December 2011 OMS January 2012 OMS Retreat March 2012 Benign MS Sep 2015
Two Very Mild Relapses since diagnosis. Copaxone May 2013 No new lesions on MRI since diagnosis
Another question about coconut oil!

According to Jelinek we shouldn't take coconut oil because of the satured fat and high melting point of the fat-elements.

But....... People tell me, and I also read it on internet, that the melting point of coconut oil is 25 degrees Celsius, so BELOW our body temperature.

Can somebody, perhaps George Jelinek himself, please explain how it is possible that coconut oil has a melting point of 25 degrees Celsius, but we shouldn't take it because of the high melting points of the fat elements in Coconut??

I am really confused about this! :( :o

Thank you :D

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